I like to give a helping hand, I gather up the feathers,
It's really all our pheasant plucking keeps us pair together.
(In his previous post, Dad raved about the offerings cooked by my Mum at their farm. Here's another example above)
Deeb’s Kitchen, located in the century old Eurunderee School House on the edge of town has been serving big flavoured traditional Lebanese delights to satisfied locals and travelers for a decade. As our boys Oscar (8) and Dugal (6) are not welcome there, the writer has not had the pleasure of tucking into Deeb’s signature dish of whole baked lamb marinated in cinnamon and garlic and stuffed with rice, nuts and spices, served with a red wine reduction, Oozie. Foodie, and sometime mentor to Fifi, Maeve O’Meara, says the dish “sings on the plate”. The Qantas in-flight magazine was similarly enthusiastic.
Set in a large timber cavern overlooking kegs and an even larger tasting area, and surrounded by more kegs, and the sweet moist aroma of cellar air, Wild Oats in the old Craigmoor Winery is sure to satisfy the traveler in search of something from the culinary eclecticism sometimes called “modern Australian” cuisine, or simply, and more accurately, simple food done well. The atmosphere is relaxed, unless a bus tour has landed, in which case the traveler should drive on. The menu is extensive, service good, and the food very agreeable. Two years later, three senior, and mildly critical members of the writer’s family still recall with salivation the ten hour cooked pork belly they savoured at Wild Oats. The boys were not welcome there either, but two hours of snoozing in the vehicle in the shade of a peppercorn tree did them no harm. Click here for more on Wild Oats and navigate carefully to the Wild Oats Restaurant page to avoid a tedious spiel about some sailing boat by the same name.
(the view from my parents' farm, Snowgoose, in the Capertee Valley)
An abiding favourite place for lunch when Fifi and the writer drive to Mudgee to shop is the High Valley Wine and Cheese Co, just past the racecourse on the northern edge of town. The boys are welcome here, and often not even required to be tied up. The sandstone and corrugated iron buildings, vine covered pergolas, manicured lawns and paved outdoor eating areas invite relaxed lunches of vegetable salads, interesting open sandwiches, cheese platters, frittatas and quiches, served with local wines by the glass. The service is excellent, and hospitable, perhaps because the owners are hands on. Toby’s Estate coffee, and baristas who do it justice are added attractions. The traveler seeking something to embody the memory of a Mudgee sojourn could do worse than browse the quirky and unusual fare on sale at the High Valley. The “posh brekkie with fresh sourdough, organic eggs and strong coffee” remains a yet to do for the Snowgoose crew, but the endorsement of the 2010 Good Food Guide means it is a matter of when, not whether.
(Fifi & Y enjoying another delicious lunch at Snowgoose farm)
Depending upon the day of the week, Eltons Brasserie offers breakfast, lunch or dinner. The authors of the 2010 Good Food Guide rated Eltons a respectable 12.5 out of 20. As the boys are not welcome, the writer has not eaten at Eltons, but friends who have are repeat customers.Another yet to try restaurant for Fifi and the writer is the Wineglass Bar and Grill, located in the very traditional Cobb and Co Boutique Hotel in the centre of town. Rated 13.5 out of 20 by the authors of the 2010 Good Food Guide, the menu is contemporary, and made from seasonal regional produce. The local stock and station agents, whose word can generally be relied upon in this regard, report that the food is good, and there’s always plenty of it. The urban authors of the Guide consider it “hearty country staples”, which probably means pretty much the same thing. For the traveler, boutique accommodation at the Cobb and Co is potentially a bonus.
Five minutes past the racecourse on the way out of town lies the Blue Wren Winery and Restaurant, and its distinctive blue (naturally) colourbond buildings. Here the boys are welcome, as are travelers. The Wren is a handy fall-back for when other places are closed, or packed on some weekends in winter. Not bad, not great, the Blue Wren is a place where a reasonable meal can be enjoyed in pleasant surroundings. Enough said?
Thus fortified, as Willy Nelson recommends, it’s on the road again, the boys happily off loaded at Anne Underhill’s kennels just out of town. Hopefully, when lexeat diversifies, the boys will post a report on the cuisine there. For now though, in the Toby Keith tradition, let’s just stick to me, me, me.
The novice traveler may be tempted to detour via Sofala, an old gold mining town on the dribble of water that passes for the Turon River in those parts. This the less inexperienced would never do. In the unlikely event of imminent starvation, the café at the museum which sits looking down on the town could be resorted to for a passable pie and vegetable collation, or a mug of thick soup with even thicker bread, although the BMW wagons with rows of mini-seats children which often litter the carpark suggest that children’s feeding time should be avoided. The setting is pretty much straight out of a Jack London novel, lots of knotty timber, woodfire smoke and low ceilings, without the snow and howling of wolves in the hills above, probably evocative for those who have never before traveled beyond the shadow of Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower.
My friends who live in Fulham are in Australia for a month and have asked me to check on their house and cars a couple of times. This is a 2 hour round trip on the tube for me, so I had to make it worth my while! Y's cousin Erenie suggested we meet at the Harwood Arms in Fulham for dinner. I vaguely recalled it being recommended and was happy that at least we'd get a decent pub meal in return for trekking to Fulham in the rain. During the day Erenie emailed to say she'd been able to secure an 8.30pm table, but only because someone had cancelled - can other people be going to this Harwood Arms place as well? Just before we ran out the door I tweeted my dinner destination and was met immediately with these two responses:
tehbus: SUPER SUPER JEALOUS (don't like using caps, but I think this tweet deserves it)
sulineats: Most excellent - can't wait for your report - it's on my to-eat list.
Huh, perhaps I should take the camera? Maybe this might be worth mentioning on the blog? My excitement level increased somewhat and I was actually looking forward to the Fulham pilgrimage. (I did take iphone photos but it was rather dim and the photos not worthy)
Y & I stumbled from the rain into an oasis of warmth and cosiness on a seemingly suburban Fulham street. We were greeted instantly by a smiling face, proffering a paper serviette for Y to remove the rain drops from her glasses! We had been going to meet an hour early for a drink, however our table was ready and we were shown straight to it. Pottery jugs of water and a little hessian sack of warm bread arrived at our table shortly after. Whilst we were waiting for Erenie the heavenly aroma of the bread was too much and we had to devour some. How do they get the bread to taste this good?! The dark rye bread in particular was astonishingly good. I was sold - I love this place!
We perused the menu with excitement. Y had been on the website reading about how the deers are humanely hunted and explained the procedure to Erenie and I as we considered the merits of pheasant Kiev versus rainbow trout.
As a starter the 3 of us shared the ham hock and crispy pigs ear on toast with bitter leaves and picalilli - um, delicious! The ham hock in particular was beautiful.
Our mains arrived and I just enjoyed the amazing smell for a few seconds before tucking in. I had beef cheeks braised in ale with smoked bacon, clotted cream mash and roast carrots - the beef fell apart with the prod of a fork. The meat was beautiful with a hint of gelatinous goodness - seriously good stuff. Y had the special which was T-Bone of Linkenholt Estate fallow deer with black cabbage, crispy potatoes and wild mushrooms - perfectly cooked and another really impressive meal. As good as our meals were, Erenie may actually have trumped us with the slow braised shoulder of English mutton with purple sprouting broccoli, white onion and caper berries. Not a complaint from anyone.
We were rather satiated, but if a menu says "Bowl of warm Bramley apple donuts with whipped cream" and the waitress tells you they're so good she eats them for breakfast, you can't go back to Islington without trying them, can you? You don't need me to tell you they were good. But they were good.
Lovely atmosphere, excellent and very friendly service, top quality food. Another destination worthy of the trip!
I'm never a big fan of New Year's Eve and normally proceed on the basis that the more low key the more fun I have. Y & I therefore decided upon dinner and then off to dance the night away with her favourite DJ at Madame JoJo's. When we discovered one table left at the 6.30pm sitting at Launceston Place in Kensington we snapped it up. I was super excited - I'd read so much about the restaurant (see reviews here from fellow bloggers Gourmet Chick and A Forkful of Spaghetti - their photos are far better than mine so do take a look) and its head chef Tristan Welch (formerly of the 2 Michelin Starred Petrus, where I'd been to the chef's table shortly after the split between Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay) and of course professional Master Chef winner, Steve Groves. The restaurant has won many accolades of late - click here for more details.
What an incredible experience. A beautiful, warm, subdued setting with gorgeous charcoal walls, soft furnishings and cool art work. We were greeted warmly and the night only got better from there.
There was a considerable number of wait staff of different ranks, however, the contrast to the over the top pretentious service we experienced at La Gavroche could not be greater. Australian food writer Jill Dupleix says in one of her books "I love that mix of being serious about the food and casual about everything else". This to me sums up Launceston Place, because the food was exceptionally good, the staff extremely competent but relaxed, friendly, happy to engage - fancy that! What also struck me was the loyalty of the wait staff to Head Chef Tristan Welch. On more than one occasion he was referred to as "my chef" - "my chef made these himself", "this is a little something from my chef" - I got the feeling the waiters were proud to work there and to be serving such beautiful food - and why wouldn't they?