Where – Kangaloon, Southern Highlands NSW
When – Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 October 2018
When people think of the Southern Highlands, it is not normally the food and produce of the area that immediately comes to mind…and I’d like to change that!
Join me for a 3-night retreat in the beautiful countryside, just 1 ½ hours out of Sydney, during the most special time of the year when the natural world is waking from its winter slumber! There are so many experiences to be had over the three days, I couldn’t be more excited to share some of my favourites with you!
During the retreat you will have the chance to see a master chef in his element, chatting with you while creating seasonal dishes from the local area that you will then enjoy during a long lunch on the farm. You are invited to visit the farm of a local beef and lamb producer who sells his own meat at his butcheries in the area. You will also have the unique opportunity of visiting a working ewe’s milk dairy, who are for the first time opening their farm gate, to introduce you to their gorgeous ewes, their lambs and a taste of their award-winning cheeses during afternoon tea on their property!
Were you aware that the area has some of the state’s finest wineries in its own backyard? Well, along the way you will also be sampling some of the nationally acclaimed wines produced locally and visit three vineyards to chat to the winemakers who make it happen!
You’ll be staying on my 100-acre farm in Kangaloon, a working cattle farm overlooking acres of gardens and open paddocks. It will be an opportunity to leave the everyday madness behind and ensconce yourself in the beauty and deliciousness of the local area. Park your car on the Thursday afternoon, take a deep breath and allow yourself to be transported to a different world.
TO GIVE YOU A TASTE OF WHAT TO EXPECT…
JAMES VILES, HEAD CHEF AND OWNER OF BIOTA DINING
One of the key players in the Australian paddock to plate obsession, chef James Viles will be coming to the farm to have a chat with us all while creating dishes for us to enjoy at a long lunch!
James is the chef and director of Biota Dining in Bowral, one of the most widely awarded regional restaurants in NSW. He is known for his commitment to seasonal eating, supporting local growers and producers, growing his own produce in the restaurant’s large garden and glasshouse along with foraging for elements to include in the restaurant’s ever-changing menu, completely in line with nature and its seasons.
The day will be a special opportunity to have a chat with a hatted chef, learn some of his tricks, have a front row seat to his creating all while being able to have a friendly chat with him along the way…not to mention, enjoy the delectable dishes he will serve up during the day!
Being such a key Southern Highlands foodie, I couldn’t think of a better way to complete the retreat than by enjoying Sunday lunch at James’ signature restaurant, Biota Dining at Bowral. The attention to detail that is in the food, décor and staff is absolutely exceptional!
MAUGER’S MEATS – PADDOCK TO PLATE FARM TOUR
Farming locally for generations, the Mauger family prides itself on hand selecting and raising their own stock to ensure the highest quality meat for the consumer. The extra special part of their story comes from the fact that they sell their own grass-fed beef and lamb at their butcher shops in Burrawang and Moss Vale, two local villages.
As part of the weekend’s agenda, you will go on a paddock to plate tour of the Mauger farm, “Laurel View” in neighbouring Robertson. You will be able to immerse yourself in the experience by hearing from Mr John Mauger, head farmer and butcher while he talks and answers any questions about his grass-fed farming and production methods. Aside from this you will enjoy a light lunch while also being provided with the opportunity to “Meet the Mob” whilst there.
PECORA DAIRY – AFTERNOON TEA AND FARM TOUR
Michael and Cressida McNamara have achieved such success from their beautiful dairy farm in Robertson on the Southern Highlands escarpment. Their artisan ewe’s milk cheeses are multi-award winning and can be found in top restaurants across the state.
They are quite literally leaders in their chosen field and are also the first dairy in Australia to have been approved by authorities to make cheese with raw milk. It’s a super exciting time for Pecora Dairy at the moment as they have just released a new type of cheese, Yarrawa, which is so special as, aside from a little culture to kickstart the process, it is made entirely from raw ewe’s milk. In their words, “The taste of the cheese is the result of the incredibly diverse indigenous microflora which is found naturally in our raw milk…Yarrawa is an expression of our farm’s entire ecosystem”.
We are crazy fortunate that Michael and Cressida have agreed to open their farm gates and allow us to have a private tasting of their delicious cheeses along with a small tour of their farm. It will be an experience unique to us and to say I am thrilled about the chance to show their passion and dedication to cheesemaking would be an understatement. They are nothing short of inspiring…and also just the loveliest and most generous people!
BURRAWANG PUB DINNER
The Burrawang Village Hotel is located in the charming town of Burrawang, known for its picturesque quaintness and its nineteenth century charm. In fact, a number of the town’s churches and cottages date back to colonial times.
The heritage listed historic pub in the middle of town has recently undergone a renovation however has managed to still retain its old-world character – its gardens are beautiful, the view from the beer garden is exceptional and the pub food they serve up is plain delicious!
We’ll be coming here for an ol’ fashioned pub meal, where the food will come second only to the magnificent view of the rolling hills.
WINERIES – SUNDAY MORNING TASTINGS
Whenever you think of NSW wineries, no doubt your mind travels to the Hunter Valley…but that’s going to change!
The fertile soils of the Southern Highlands, along with the high altitude and seasonal changes make it an ideal climate for cool-climate vineyards. In fact, there are over 60 vineyards and a dozen cellar doors in the area and we’ll be visiting three of the best, all award winning and featured on the wine lists of some of the best restaurants across the area and state, including Biota Dining!
Tertini Wines are a family owned winery and practice minimal intervention in order for the wines to show both a variety of grape along with a distinct sense of space. They specialise in Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay wines. We are fortunate that one of the winemakers along with the cellar door manager will be at hand during the tasting to ensure any questions you have may be answered and they also offer free shipping for their wines Australia wide!
Artemis Wines will be our second stop and is also a family run winery. They are known as the Pinot Noir pioneers of the area as the Balog brothers were the first to plant this variety of grape in the Highlands. They pride themselves on combining old world methods of winemaking with new world techniques and have a most beautiful cellar door near Mittagong.
The last stop for our winery tastings will be Centennial Vineyards in Bowral. Here a focus on single vineyard wines has resulted in blocks of vines showing their unique character through the variety of wine. Specialising in Riesling, Pinot Noir and Sparkling varieties, they have also expanded the vineyards to include varieties of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer to name a few.
There are so many amazing wineries in the area however these three are the perfect introduction to show you what the local winemakers are achieving!