Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morpeth Fiery Food Festival

Back in April Mel and I attended the Morpeth Fiery Food Festival.
We both like chilli, not too hot but we do regularly cooking with them, so were very much looking forward to trying all sorts of different types of food involving different types of chilli.

Morpeth was established in the early 1800's, being located on the Hunter River, it was an important river port during the early days of 'European Settlement'.

Located about 10km North East of Maitland, or approx 50km North East of Pokolbin, Morpeth
 is a beautiful little town with shops and café’s lining both sides of the main street.

(photo source)

It is the home of the famous Morpeth Sourdough bread that can be bought throughout the Hunter Valley. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
We were expecting street stalls selling different types of food, music and real festival/party type atmosphere but driving down the main street looking for a parking spot it would have been hard to know that it was anything other than a normal Sunday at Morpeth.

We walked the length of town thinking to ourselves we must have the wrong weekend. So we grabbed a coffee and noticed the café had 3-4 specials on the menu that did involve chilli’s so thought we could still be on track but weren’t convinced.

Eventually we get to the other end of town and find a sign saying welcome to the Fiery Food Festival outside of the Ginger Beer Factory.

To our surprise the Fiery Food Festival was 40-50 different types of sauces, oils, jams and other bottled goodies that you could taste with broken rice crackers. We did the circuit and tried a few things that appealed but it was nothing that you cant do at any of the many markets that are scattered all over the Hunter Valley, and many of the wineries also stock these sort of items and have them available for tasting.  

The Woodfire Pizza café put on a special chilli pizza for their contribution and the nut shop had some hot nuts and some spicy condiments, but they looked as though they would always be available in the shop every week of the year.

The Morpeth cellars had Chilli wine to taste but we’d lost a bit of interest by now after looking forward to so much more.

Not sure how many years this festival has been running for but hopefully it develops a lot more over the years as we were left quite disappointed.

9 & 10 April 2011
Morpeth, NSW
Tel: (02) 4933 1407

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jungle Juice Cup - Cessnock Races - 5 July

Cam from Hunter Valley Grapevine will be attending this year's Jungle Juice Cup at the Cessnock Races on 5 July.
Jungle Juice Race Day
Cam has been to several meetings at the Cessnock track, but this year will be his first Jungle Juice Race Day.

One of the most popular Country NSW meetings of the year, the Wine Country Race Club, along with the Newcastle Jockey club, organise bus loads of racegoers, who converge on the track, to have a picnic, or enjoy the offerings in one of the marquees on course.

Dr Jurd's Jungle Juice is quite famous, or shall we say infamous!  For more info on the beloved juice read on >
A jug of Dr Jurd's Jungle Juice
From the Newcastle Jockey Club website:

The following packages are currently available:

• Jungle Juice Private Marquee
A private marquee is the perfect venue to socialise and has great views towards the finishing line. Call NJC to arrange a quote for your corporate or social group marquee.

• Wine Country Race Club Charity Marquee
The WCRC Charity Marquee is supporting the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, who provide a much needed service to Newcastle and the Hunter. The Charity Marquee package includes:
-Return Bus Transport from Broadmeadow Racecourse
-Racecourse Entry
-BBQ Lunch
Price: $77.50pp

• Jungle Juice Bus
Looking to enjoy racing at your own leisure - why not book a seat on the Jungle Juice bus. Includes:
-Return Bus Transfer from Broadmeadow Racecourse
-Racecourse Entry
Members Price: $25pp
Non-Members Price: $35pp

• General Racecourse Entry
Pre-purchase your ticket prior to the day for only $12pp ($15pp on the day).

For bookings & enquiries call Newcastle Jockey Club on 4961 1573.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month - June

If you're coming up to the Hunter Valley this weekend, keep in mind that June is Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month, a month long celebration of Hunter Valley wines and fresh local produce.
From the HVWF website:

Throughout the month of June, our Fireside Series, will have guests cosying up by the fire for supreme indulgences while our Winemaker’s Table Series will allow dining up close and personal with iconic Hunter winemakers and chefs. The Edible Experience will have guests creating their own magic in the kitchen and interacting with some of the best gastronomic names using delicious local produce.

Our new Diverse Region Experience is perfect for the explorers amongst us who want to learn about the diverse areas within the Hunter Valley and what each unique region has to offer. And of course, no trip to the Hunter Valley would be complete without a visit to a local winery and sampling a few of the world-class wines from Australia's most historic family wine region.

This is only a taste of the many unique events that guests will be able to enjoy throughout the month... which will make staying for the weekend or longer in the Hunter Valley even more irresistible.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Emma's Cottage - Lovedale Long Lunch review - part 3

The second stop on our “Lovedale Long Lunch” bus tour was Emma’s Cottage.
We discovered Emma’s a few months back when we received a menu for their pizza restaurant- Tilly's Gourmet Pizza Cafe - in the mail and have been out there with family and friends on a couple of occasions now and always leave with a smile.
We arrived around Midday and as soon as you stepped off the bus you could tell the place was rocking. The staff had dressed up with a Grease (the movie) theme. The girls were Pink Lady’s and the boys T’Birds. The band was in full swing pumping out old favorites from the 60’s and 70’s and the crowd were getting right into it with a packed dance floor.
Some Pink Ladies
The band was great and the crowd were quickly on their feet
Band - Scratch Me Happy
For those looking for something even faster paced, there were Harley rides around Lovedale provided by Wild Ride Australia.
Wild Ride Australia provided harley rides
We grabbed a cheese and olive platter and a bottle of Rose that we already knew was beautiful from previous trips, found our group and settled in to listen to the band.
Emma's Rose - delicious and very easy to drink!
The food at Emma’s was supplied by Amanda’s Restaurant and our crew sampled the pan seared garlic buttered king prawns on a warmed roasted pumpkin, spring onion and herb cous cous which they said was very good and few also tried the aromatic Sri Lankan chicken curry with steamed jasmine rice, coriander, mango chutney and yoghurt raita, which they enjoyed very much, and they didn’t share any.

Dessert was a warmed chocolate fudge brownie with Belgian chocolate sauce, strawberries and cream. Not sure if anyone had this but thinking back I wish I had.
Emma’s Cottage is a must do if your visiting the Hunter. You’ll be greeted in the tasting room by the glamorous Katie who will take you right through the whole range of wines available and anyone who enjoys desert wine the aptly named “Perfect” is well worth trying.
A wander through the art gallery, most of which is supplied by one of the owners in Megan Barrass is highly recommended. Every time we’ve gone through it I have to remind Mel we are there for lunch not to buy paintings. 

Then move onto the pizza café which does traditional Italian style pizzas which are as good as you will get anywhere and I’d know as I’ve eaten way more than my share of pizzas.
Art by owner Megan Barrass
Cam and Mel of Hunter Valley Grapevine were paying attendees at the 2011 Lovedale Long Lunch

Wilderness Road, Lovedale NSW
Tel: (02) 4998 7734

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Flavourfest @ Hunter Valley Gardens - 11-13 June

This coming long weekend the Hunter Valley Gardens are hosting FlavourFest, we attended the inaugral FlavourFest in 2010, and it was a great day out, over 6,000 people attended over the 3 days.

From the HVG Website - The festival features fine food, exquisite wines, exotic tastes, deluxe merchandise and inspiring music - showcasing the flavours, luxuries and sounds of the Hunter and beyond....

Also featuring Celebrity Guests, cooking demonstrations, seminar sessions, entertainment, wineries and restaurants, cocktail flaring showcases, Kids in the Kitchen and exhibits packed with tasty offerings, fresh produce and specialty merchandise.

Come ready for a weekend of culinary, wine, taste and music delights, all set inside Australia's Largest Display Garden.

The Celebrity Chef's are a big attraction, last year we sat in the 2nd row of a couple of celebrity chef 'shows' and really enjoyed them.

This year the chefs include:

Peter Everett - not a chef, but host of Ready Steady Cook
Alvin Quah - 2010 Masterchef favourite
Callum Hann - 2010 Masterchef favourite
Janelle Bloom - Ready Steady Cook
Alvin Quah (photo source)
Callum Hann (photo source)
Other attactions include cocktail making shows, a Marketplace showcasing local produce, Beer Wine & Cocktail Hall, Eat Street and Flavours of the World, Eat to the Beat Concert Stage, Bar-Be-School Seminar, Art Exhibition, Kidspace, Kids Show with Miss Fruitcake, Kids In The Kitchen.

The bonus is not only do you get all the above Foodie attractions, you can explore the amazing Hunter Valley Gardens, entry price for FlavourFest is $23.50, which is the same price as entry for the gardens, crazy value, 2 for 1!

Last year Mel and I spent around 4-5 hours at FlavourFest then another hour or so wandering the gardens, a great day out.

So if you're coming to the Hunter Valley for the June Long Weekend, be sure to checkout FlavourFest!
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