A girlfriend and I initially decided to come up for the Lovedale Long Lunch, but upon arrival and spotting the crowds and long lines to get into one of the venues, we counted our lucky stars that we didn't pre-purchase tickets, and instead embarked on our own long lunch of sorts. It had also started to rain so that cemented our decision even further.
Our first stop - 'Life's flat without bubbles' is the cute catch phrase at Peterson House, a specialist producer of sparkling wines in the Hunter Valley.
Pink Blush sparkling rose
We had sampled a few wines at the Cellar Door before nabbing a seat for a early lunch at Restaurant Cuvee.
We opt for a glass each of their popular Pink Blush; a light and fruity sparkling wine. It has fresh fruity aromas, with a clean finish and has the plus of not being overly sweet.
The menu has a variety of mouth-watering options; it's hard to decide! I take a fancy to the entree side of things, so we decide to get a mish-mash of dishes to share, rather than the traditional entree-main-dessert route.
Mediterranean vegetable terrine
This vegetarian option includes locally made labne and pearl cous cous infused with saffron and is served with smoked paprika oil.
Pork belly with red slaw
I order the pork belly as my main dish; the tender pieces of pork belly, with crisp crackling are a perfect accompaniment to the side dishes.
Locally grown heirloom tomato salad with basil, buffalo mozarella and sea salt
Fresh produce does not really need much, as demonstrated by this dish. You also really cannot go wrong with delicious buffalo mozarella!
Chargrilled baby carrots and asparagus and house made condiments
This was, surprisingly, my favourite dish. So very simple, but the vegetables really were the star of the show; flavoursome and sweet with a hint of that beautiful chargrilled flavour.
Australian blue lentil croquettes, tzatziki made with house grown mint, with a salad of spiced root vegetables and marinated Yarra Valley feta
Restaurant Cuvee had an abundance of interesting vegetarian options, which was great. So often, the vego options just seem to be a version of a meat dish, minus the meat, without any imagination.
The blue lentil croquettes were a tad dry on their own, but perfect when slathered with the house made tzatziki. Again, the vegetables in the spiced root vegetable salad were the highlight.
Strawberry and apple crumble with buttermilk ice cream
Unfortunately, our first choice of dessert was no longer on the menu, so we opted to share this strawberry and apple crumble. It was absolutely divine! Stewed apples and strawberries with a nutty crumble; finished with a scoop of vanilla bean laden buttermilk ice cream. A fantastic finish to the meal.
After such a great meal; we do the usual thing and stop off at several wineries and The Smelly Cheese Shop. I lost count of the amount of kangaroo/wallabies we spied, especially ones with a joey in their pouch - so adorable!
Wine and cheese by the fireplace - bliss!
Even though the vines are bare, Autumn/Winter is still such a lovely time to visit the Hunter Valley; especially by the fireplace.