Lovedale Long Lunch

Tina and I have a tradition of going to the Lovedale Long Lunch in the Hunter Valley. (That is to say, we went for the second time this year. How many times do you have to do something to make it a tradition?) Basically you buy a wine glass, and at each of seven participating wineries you can buy your choice of two meals and get your glass filled up. Or you can get dessert, or you can just do some wine tasting and listen to the entertainment that most of the wineries provide for the day. To be honest, the queues are long, the meals are expensive, and you struggle to find somewhere to sit; but there’s something indulgent about it that makes it worthwhile. And if you’re driving (as I was), you have to take your time and stay at each place for an hour or so just to be able to get around legally.

We just went up for the Saturday, and more or less made up our route as we went.

Capercaillie

Not actually one of the participating wineries, but Tina loves their Dessert Style Gewurztraminer, a very light lychee-like affair. We got four bottles of that and a 2004 Ceilidh Shiraz.

Allandale

The same place we started last year. We both had the “Persian style lamb shank, on caramelised onion and potato mash” – normally we try to do the couple thing of getting different meals and sharing, but this was too much for either of us to resist. This went with their 2003 Shiraz, which I scribbled down as “coffee, dark berries, white pepper”.

Wandin Valley

I doubt anyone who grew up with Australian television manages to resist humming the theme to A Country Practice when visiting Wandin Valley Estate. We were originally going to try to get some profiteroles, but the food queue was too long so we just did some tastings, and bought a bottle of their Muscat.

Emma’s Cottage

I was massively torn between the two meals here – “Steaming noodle bowl with sticky BBQ pork, prawn meat and poached chicken, Asian leaves, chilli jam and crisp shallot”, and “Twice cooked lamb shank char-grilled with African spices on slow cooked ragout of tomatoes, chickpeas, dressed with lemon labna and pappadam flakes”. Eventually I settled on the lamb, despite the similarity to Allandale. Tina had a dessert, a “Three cheese Pashka with toasted lavosh and candied fruits”. The 1997 Shiraz was definitely showing its age, and tasted mouldy. We tasted a few of the other wines but nothing really stood out.

Cooper

By the time we got to Cooper it was starting to rain. Finding a dry seat while keeping the umbrella over both of us was an exercise in relationship dynamics. We got some desserts, a “Chocolate, caramello cheescake with vanilla bean creme anglaise” and “Jindi brie, crusty bread, tomato and fig relish and crackers”. Both were good, but between the previous meals and trying to balance the umbrella we didn’t finish either of them. It’s a bit of a shame, we finished at Cooper last year as well, and you don’t really appreciate the last stop as much. Maybe we’ll try it first next year.

Stay tuned for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend trip to the Barossa…

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