I think we were all winners at this point, especially anyone who managed a nap before the final official event of the weekend. A bumpy ride to Broke (from Pokolbin) brought us out to a chilly night and into a stunning setting for dinner.
|The Barrel Hall at Margan Restaurant, Milbrodale Road, Broke, Hunter Valley|
|The Barrel Hall at Margan Restaurant|
|Barrels in the Barrel Hall at Margan Restaurant|
|Crusty ciabatta with fresh pressed olive oil and aged balsamic, |
and local marinated olives
It keeps us quiet as we hear from Andrew Margan, winemaker and founder of Margan Wines, who talks about the Margan winery and restaurant. Most of the vegetables we'll dine on at dinner come from their very own one-acre fruit and vegie garden, whilst other produce is selected from local producers in most cases.
|Jerusalem artichoke soup, seared scallop, apple salad, lobster oil|
Amid the creamy and nourishing soup, the sweet diced apple salad was a surprise in the bottom centre of the bowl. The three scallops were still nice and juicy while the Manjimup truffle shavings were just the luxurious icing on the cake.
|Venison carpaccio with fried goat's cheese ravioli and spicy beetroot|
The venison was surprisingly delicate and almost too thin to even pick up from the plate. The combination with goat's cheese was definitely a winner, however, for quite the innovative dish.
There was plenty of wine at the table, and I mean plenty. There would have been four different whites down one end of our table alone (I vaguely remember a Scarborough Semillon), which were changed out for several bottles of red wine as we got to mains (having too good a time to remember them all, sorry).
|Slow braised lamb shoulder, parmesan cavalo nero, eggplant and oregano|
The vegetable component seemed to have some Middle Eastern flavours, including cumin, that was near overpowering the more delicately flavoured lamb. The meat was, as expected, able to be eaten by spoon; so tender and fall-apart soft it was.
|Braised wagyu shin with baby veg from the garden, horseradish and cauliflower cream|
No meal is complete without dessert, some say (and indeed, it seems no meal is complete without three courses in the Hunter Valley). At this point, the Margan Botrytis Semillon comes out of hiding, along with the Scarborough Late Harvest Semillon (and possibly other sticky wines too).
It's hard not to fall in love with anything late harvest, but especially so the Scarborough sticky which tastes of many tropical fruits having a late harvest party on my palate.
|Poached rhubarb, toasted almond cream, and mint|
|Chocolate marquise with caramel and salted hazelnuts|
Surprisingly, the big star of this dessert was actually the hazelnuts: perfect crunch, perfect roast flavour and without doubt, the best hazelnuts I've ever had.
|Lights and ceiling in the Barrel Room|
We all probably would have stayed in the charming Barrel Room all night (and probably would have drank all the wine too) if not for our homeward bound transport awaiting us, returning us all to our accommodation with warm thoughts of food, wine and the adventure-filled day in Hunter Valley.
|So sad to leave Margan Restaurant|
The Hunter Valley is easily a favourite weekend getaway for me: the proximity to Sydney and the quality focus of the food and wine make compelling enough arguments. But add a dash of bike riding, a dusting of helicopter rides, perhaps even a middy of boutique beer - and I think the race is on to get back as soon as permitted and possible.
Food, booze and shoes and guest attended the 'Amazing Hunter Valley Race' famil courtesy of Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism and the fabulous girls at Agent99 PR.