A progressive lunch is a foodie's take on the pub crawl, and all those who love to lunch would have been at the annual Lovedale Long Lunch. If you missed out, add next year's event dates into your calendars now! (It is always held on the third weekend in May.)
So what is it?
The Lovedale Long Lunch is a progressive-type lunch where visitors wine and dine their way around the seven participating wineries in Lovedale (in the Hunter region) over the weekend enjoying glasses of wine, gourmet food, fabulous music and art! It is the perfect excuse to gather your family and friends for an indulgent weekend getaway.
I didn't get a chance to stay for the entire weekend but managed to visit three wineries during the single day I was there.
How it works is you first purchase a tasting glass and meal package ($42) which consists of 1x Lovedale Long Lunch commemorative tasting glass, 1x meal ticket and 1x dessert/cheese ticket. Supplementary meal tickets can be purchased for $25 each and dessert/cheese tickets can be purchased for $10 each. The tickets can be exchanged for food at any of the participating wineries and the meal ticket includes a complimentary glass of the winemaker's specially matched wine. There's also free wine tasting at all the venues.
First stop was at Gartelmann where I had the cured ocean trout with cucumber and carrot salad, creme fraiche and salsa verde by Chez Pok. It was matched with a refreshing glass of the vibrant and medium-bodied 2009 Gartelmann Jesicca Verdelho. The ocean trout was delicate and paired beautifully with ribbons of cucumber and carrot.
Events such as this are the ultimate social gathering venue with plenty of groups dressed up outrageously in themes such as pirates and mermaids - and of course there are also the hens parties as well. Our group was more sensible, sticking to a coloured theme of black. The below pic features Leonie, Lachlan and Penny who were lovely lunching companions.
Next stop was Emma's Cottage where I decided to take advantage of the boy's dislike of dessert and picked up both the vanilla seed panna cotta and cheese plate all for myself! The cuisine was by Amanda's On The Edge.
The atmosphere at Emma's Cottage was a lot livelier than at Gartelmann Hunter Estate but it also meant the queues were longer.
The kalamata olives served on the cheese plate were disappointingly bland and not the quality you would expect at a food and wine event. The vanilla seed panna cotta was slightly better and although mine was served with a bruised strawberry, the panna cotta itself was pleasantly creamy with a lingering vanilla aftertaste.
While I'm savouring my two desserts, the boy finally has his lunch - the flame grilled tiger prawns tossed with white wine and garlic on a warmed roasted pumpkin, spring onion and herb couscous. This was served with a matching glass of wine, 2010 Emma's Cottage Semillon.
Lunch by the vineyards was spectacular. It is amazing that a two hour drive could transport you to tranquility like this.
We then move onto the last stop, Sandalyn Wilderness Estate. We shared Redsalt's Black Label Scotch Whisky fudge-cake with double cream and chocolate velvet sauce which was rich and dense and fell straight into a nap beneath a shady tree.
Perhaps it was the wine (I'm a cheap drunk!), or the fact that I had been up since 7am... Nonetheless, a power nap in the afternoon can always top off the most indulgent weekend.
Lovedale Long Lunch 2010