17 May 2009

Lovedale Long Lunch 2009, Hunter Valley (16-17 May 2009)

Lovedale, Hunter Valley NSW 2320

The Lovedale Long Lunch was started in 1994 and includes seven wineries and vineyards to visit over the Long Lunch weekend. Last year at Lovedale Long Lunch 2008 I tried all the meals and desserts but this year I noticed many of the dishes were repeated at Emma's Cottage, Gartelmann and Warraroong Estate so I preferred to try new dishes from Sandalyn Wilderness Estate, Wandin Valley, Tatler Wines and Allandale.

Prices for entrees were increased by $3 this year. “LLL” commemorative tasting glass $5. Plate of entrée size gourmet cuisine $23 matched with a complimentary glass of the winemakers’ specially selected wine to accompany it. Desserts $8, local cheese $8, fresh coffee from $2.

Saturday was the most popular and busy for wineries with packed buses creating a dust storm on the dirt roads and dropping off a plentiful supply of fun-loving visitors. Many groups coordinated dress up themes like Where's Wally, Pirates, Retro, Western or simply Hen's Night feathery head pieces — lots of fun and very entertaining to watch. Sunday was a lot more civilized and peaceful and less chaotic for wine tastings and lining up for meals.

The desserts impressed me more than the meals this year, especially Tatler's lime tart with wild strawberry gelato and mixed berry compote which was a standout for me. I also liked the tiramisu from Warraroong and the blueberry cheesecake from Gartlemann. The best meal I sampled was Tatler's char grilled king prawns with smoked Atlantic salmon and crab rolls. Warraroong's potato gnocchi with local chorizo sausage was also a notable tasty combination.

I'm sure if all of the dishes were freshly cooked to order they'd be much better but sadly because the wineries are catering for 1000's of visitors most of the pre-prepared dishes are not as fresh and appealing as I would prefer and are served a bit too dry for my liking. I guess there's a large market of very hungry touring bus visitors but when I start to compare what you could have cooked to order in a fine dining Hunter Valley restaurant for an entree without wine it makes me think for the quality of food there's possibly better value elsewhere. An abundance of rocket leaves in the dishes were again present like last year — I wish they'd be more creative and different and use it less as a plate filler.

Some entrees prices at fine dining restaurants for example:
Esca at Bimbagen Estate are $23 or a tasting plate with wine for $31.50
Roberts at Tower Estate are $24-27
Fishes & Leaves are $21
Rock Restaurant are $17-23
Margan Restaurant are $18-24
but of course you don't get a glass of wine, live music entertainment and the outdoor party atmosphere — although at restaurants there's table service so you don't have to queue up for your food and find a table after.

Tatler Wines

Tapas of mini fillet mignon wrapped in prosciutto served with mixed mustards plus lamb Souvlaki skewers (lamb fillet) marinated in greek spices served with minted yoghurt on a salad of fresh rocket, parmesan, pear and walnuts.
2006 Archie's Paddock Shiraz

Tapas of char grilled king prawns marinated in chilli and garlic plus smoked Atlantic salmon and crab rolls with zesty lime dressing on a salad of fresh rocket, parmesan, pear and walnuts.
2008 Tatlers "Whispers" Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc

Individual lime tart served with wild strawberry gelato and mixed berry compote

Wandin Valley Estate
Tender barbequed pork loin medallions on oven roasted seasoned baby potatoes, topped with white balsamic apples and finished with a red current glaze.
2009 Wandin Valley Estate Verdelho

Grilled Portuguese style beef skewers marinated in paprika, lemon, garlic & oregano accompanied by a timbal of steamed rice dressed with a tomato & lemon thyme jus.
2007 Wandin Valley Cabernet/Merlot

Trio of cheeses accompanied by chutney and crackers

Warraroong Estate
Pan fried home made Potato Gnocchi, with local chorizo sausage, roasted butternut pumpkin, pine nuts and basil pesto.
2007 Warraroong Estate Long Lunch Red

Traditional Italian Tiramisu served with seasonal berry compote, fresh whipped cream and shaved Callebaut chocolate

Emma's Cottage Vineyard
I didn't try the meals here because they were similar to last year but was keen to try the dessert of Belgian chocolate tart again but they had run out on the Saturday afternoon when I visited. Here are a couple of photos of the fun-loving atmosphere with visitors dancing to the beat of the live musicians.

Allandale Winery
Balinese prawn and calamari curry with roast pumpkin, coriander and lime leaf dumplings.
2008 Allandale Verdelho

Lamb shank pie with caramelised root vegetables and rocket salad.
2007 Allandale Matthew Shiraz

Binnorie Brie with tomato relish, crackers and crusty breads

Gartelmann Hunter Estate
Thyme and garlic infused tenderloin of lamb, with duo of warm minted potato salad dressed with Gartelmann's olive oil.
2005 Gartelmann Wilhelm Shiraz

Lemon peppered chicken, with oven roasted Autumn vegetables and balsamic onions with citrus dressing.
2008 Gartelmann Jessica Verdelho

Blueberry cheesecake tart with mixed berry ragout and freshly whipped cream

Sandalyn Wilderness Estate
BBQ honey soy ocean trout served on a roasted pumpkin and cous cous salad with preserved lemon and parsley aioli.
2006 Sandalyn Estate Chardonnay

Redsalt’s Black Label Scotch Whisky fudge-cake with double cream and chocolate velvet sauce (I didn't try this one but it's a variation on their dessert from last year)

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