Gourmet hotspots in the Hunter Valley
- Food News
It’s Australia’s most visited wine region with a world class reputation, but it isn’t just the wine that is delighting the lucky visitor. The Hunter has a thriving food culture, which showcases the premium quality of its local produce. From cheese to chocolate, it’s the ideal region for taking a tasty tour that is sure to please. Let’s sample some of the highlights.
Binnorie Dairy – a cheese lover’s heaven
Right in the heart of the Pokolbin vineyard district, Binnorie Dairy have perfected the craft of soft cheese making with distinctive flavours that reflect the quality of the Hunters’ dairy production. The signature product is a Marinated Fetta with a rich and creamy texture quite removed from the more commonly available crumbly style. It’s delicately flavoured in a blend of canola and olive oils infused with selected herbs.
The Binnorie Washed Rind achieves a complex flavour and a silky texture when fully ripe, while the Labna captures a pleasing Mediterranean character with its chilli, rosemary and garlic marinade.
Relish the flavours of Pukara Estate
The region’s thriving olive plantings are well represented by the produce of Pukara Estate. On the sprawling terrace tasting area you can begin by sampling the fruity tang of their Manzanillo and Kalamata Table Olives. These are processed on site to produce a delicious range of Olive oils infused with aromatic ingredients, such as lemon, garlic, wasabi, truffle and chilli.
Vinegar is another speciality, using mother cultures that have been actively used since the late 1800’s. Try their barrel aged balsamic or one of the varieties flavoured with fig, blackcurrant or pomegranate. Pukara’s savoury delights also extend to mayonnaises, dukkahs, relishes, tapenades, pestos and jams, all produced lovingly on site and packaged ready for you to take home to stimulate your own gourmet flourishes.
A bonus is the shared tasting area with neighbouring Ballabourneen wines, which allows you to discover wines to complement Pukara’s products.
Lovedale Smokehouse and Gourmet Pantry
There is nothing like a smokehouse to stimulate the salivary glands and when it is skilfully employed to produce a range of smoked fish, bacon, sausage and cured meats it truly turns into a foodie’s paradise.
These products can be sampled in the restaurant or café or you can pick some take away items to fill your picnic hamper. Imagine savouring some luscious smoked trout or duck breast. Or perhaps some pungent prosciutto, salami or smoked ham. Then there are rich pates and terrines, such as chicken & pistachio or rabbit. Cheeses
chutneys, jams, honey and preserved fruit and vegetables are also on offer.
Fresh picked produce from Tinklers family farm
After all that richness, you may want to sample some of the fresher tastes of the Hunter’s seasonal produce from the gardens of Tinklers Farm. Table grapes, peaches, nectarines, avocados, figs and citrus are all seasonally available, as well as a range of vegetables. Tinklers have also enhanced their farm fresh fruits and vegetables in a range of jams, marmalades, pickles and relishes that are sought after by top restaurants and home cooks alike.
Hunter Valley Chocolate Company
Of course no trip to the Hunter could be complete without some sweet treats to round off the tour. The Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is ready to seduce you with the finest Belgian couverture chocolate, skilfully produced by the resident chocolatier and married with Australian dried fruits, nuts and pure fruit oils. The tastes are blended in simple harmony that keeps the chocolate as the hero.
They run three retail outlets in the region and the Lovedale location is where you can witness the chocolatier’s art in practice. They also produce fudge that is to die for, so you are guaranteed to leave with plenty to take home.
In need of somewhere to stay? Try the Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel.
If you want to take your time to sample the fare over a weekend or even a week, then The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley is the ideal base. The old world elegance of this luxury retreat is surrounded by 70 acres of gardens and offers breathtaking views of the vineyard-cloaked hills of the Hunter Valley. The sumptuous accommodation is complemented by a choice of leisure activities, including heated pool, sauna, gym, tennis court and billiard room. You can also relax around the open fire in the lounge or dine in the elegance of the either of the two Restaurants.