Peterson House – Hunter Valley

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I’m pretty lucky in my line of work. I get to chat to all the wonderful boutique wineries around Australia, encouraging them to advertise with the largest circulating Lifestyle. Food and Wine magazine! I also get to organise events for our lovely members which can include wine tastings and food matching and sometimes we even get to have a celebrity chef come in and cook up a storm for a lucky few who then sit back, taste and enjoy with wonderful, hand picked Australian wines.

My trip out to the Hunter Valley just before Christmas was a little treat as well as getting to chat to beautiful people.

When we stopped in at Peterson House we were greeted by such welcoming staff and shown to our special VIP table for a wine tasting and lunch. Of course we started on the 2008 Pinot Noir Chardonnay and moved through the whites, onto the reds and then a sticky at the end.

We all ordered lunch half way through the tasting and they truly exceeded any expectation I had.

Myself and James ordered the Barramundi fillet pan fried on a panzanella salad of sourdough, Adina olives, grilled capsicum, cherry tomatoes & ripped fresh basil tossed  in red wine vinegar & extra virgin olive oil served w a house made aioli. – Amazing and a must for any fish fanatic!

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There were four of us at lunch, both the girls had had a massive breakfast so opted for entree’s instead of mains.

One chose the Tempura battered king prawns on a seaweed salad w a fresh mango & coriander salsa (DF)

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The other one ordered the Semi dried tomatoes & caramelised onion tart w Binnorie Dairy feta and house made caramelised balsamic (which I didn’t get a photo of) but with a side of amazing polenta fries!

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These were absolutely amazing!

We were all so full from our lunch but the lovely girls at Peterson’s decided that we needed cheese to be served with the sticky white right at the end.

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All in all an amazing afternoon with great company, food and wine! What more could you ask for?!

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Creature Comforts

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately. Not for any other reason they I just didn’t feel like I had anything important or worthwhile to say.

Brad and I have been out for breakfast a few times in the past few weeks and I have still been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, namely clean eating stuff but a few treats also.

My writers block got me thinking though…..why was I struggling so hard to write? Was I concerned about what others would think? Is what I want to put down on this blog important and worthy of others reading and enjoying/hating/not caring what was written and then it hit me…..I go through moments every now and then (and they are gradually getting less and less and don’t stick around for as much time) of “homesickness”

Now I have written homesick but really it’s just a craving for creature comforts I grew up with back in Wales. 5 years ago when I first came here I craved three things so badly!

  1. Hellmanns Mayonnaise
  2. Unsmoked bacon
  3. A proper good Indian curry

About 3 years ago, Brad and I drove out to see some friends for a lunchtime birthday party. We arrived and found out it was BYO so Brad shot off, like the dutiful husband and went and bought me a beautiful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Drift NZ) there was a Bi Lo in the complex where this bottle shop was and someone, a while before, had told us that they had seen Hellmans mayo in a Bi Lo. Brad decided to quickly pop into this shop and what did he find? Hellmanns mayonnaise! I was elated when he came back to the restaurant bearing to gifts, one of wine and one of mayo! Of course being imported from the UK we now paid a premium of nearly $7 per jar – but we have not bought any other mayonnaise since

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Next was the curry, Brad and I decided that we would venture out into Hamilton and find someone where to eat, midweek. We walked for a few moments down Beaumont Street when we stopped and looking into a shop front window, this is how we found, Indiana Raj.

From the outset it looked like someone’s living room, but we decided to give it a go and walked in to literally be greeted by the whole family. We were seated and ordered and oh my goodness did my taste buds do a little dance!!! This food was amazing and the experience didn’t stop there! After dinner, the music paused before following on with a loud bollywood track and the staff/family members encouraged all the patrons to get involved with a makeshift bollywood dancing class! Well, what fun I had, but I’m pretty pleased I’d had those 3 glasses of red wine prior!

And lastly my search for British, unsmoked bacon.

When Brad and I went back to the UK for our wedding, I had been in Australia 11 months. My mum asked me what I wanted in her flat food wise for when we were there. Hellmans and Bacon were on the top of the list.

Once Brad had his first taste of unsmoked British bacon there was no turning him back. He was a convert and walked miles every morning just to buy more bacon for us to have for breakfast.

We have not stopped searching for butchers in Australia who would leave this cut in it’s purest form and yet we constantly failed. I have been in Australia 4 years and 11 months and I had all but given up hope of ever achieving final tick on my list of three.

Last weekend I needed to go to a different shopping complex to pick up my engagement ring that had been in for a clean. I decided as I was there I would just do my weekly shop in the Coles. I was slowly pushing my trolley around as I had never been here before and I was concerned I would miss important food items, when a reduced sticker on a pack of pre-packaged bacon caught my eye!

Usually I get my bacon from the deli counter, but if there is a deal to be had I love getting them, so I walked over to the fridge and picked up this packet bacon to study it further. LOW.AND.BEHOLD the label read “Authentic British Bacon” Oh wow did my heart start racing, I checked the bacon itself and YES it was raw! There as a deal on the “not coming up to used by date” two packets for $10 so I through the reduced packet down and grabbed two fresh packets. How I couldn’t wait to get home and show hubby!

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We actually froze the two packets and had it for breakfast the following weekend and it was DELISH!

So there you have it! I have achieved everything on my tick list for things I really would like in my life here in Australia and less than 5 years have achieved them all. Yum yum yum! I just think it’s going to make me very poor buying $7 mayo and $10 for 500g of bacon!

Crushed Expectations

You may think I’m being dramatic, over analysing, or just plain fussy but I kid you not, my expectations when it comes to a restaurant, bar or when eating out is ALWAYS crushed should I visit an establishment more then three times, or order the same dish more then once!

Don’t get me wrong this hasn’t only happened to me when it comes to food. Only 5 weeks ago my world came crushing down around me when a hairdresser, I thought had done an amazing job on my hair 6 weeks previously, proceeded to hack away at my hair and obviously was more focused on me saying I was “thinking” about having it cut off for summer, then remembering that she was “thinning” my hair, not leaving my head practically bald in spots and me devastated.

But back to my food conundrum, so last week, on our regular Friday Work Lunch, we decided to head to The Wharf Bar in Honeysuckle, NSW. Secretly inside I was exploding with excitement! The last time we had been there I was attempting a low fat diet and had a grilled chicken burger and no bun. What I secretly longed for though, was the most amazing Reef and Beef pizza with a thick, salty, zesty aioli swirl on top. *dribbles* So on Friday, when I got told this was where we were heading, I knew I didn’t even need to glance at the menu. I was having that pizza. I ordered a beer which by all means was lovely and cold. We all ordered our food and I sat back in anticipation for this beautiful reef and beef pizza (another way of saying Surf and Turf) We were being updated by Kate and Victoria about their separate journeys into buying houses when our food was finally delivered.

Talk about crushed expectations. Although I did not take a photo of my disappointing, flavour lacking pizza, I’m sure the below pictures can relay my disappointment. The first picture portrays the most amazing, flavour filled pizza, carefully constructed to be able to attack each and every taste bud I own, and the second pizza is that pure stingy felt, heart lacking, non-picturesque pizza that was actually delivered.

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Why is it that you can go and try a new cafe, bar, restaurant out and have THE most amazing experience there and then you get all geared up to go back  only to be disappointed with the lack of service, the quality of food or just the general place itself?

Above has been a long running trend for my husband and I. When I knew my mum was coming to visit from the UK, we searched for the best breakfast place in town that would offer the most extensive Gluten and Dairy free options around. We did and we went there three times before my mum eventually got to us, only to take her there and wait for over 50 minutes to get our breakfasts! Disaster, one because I was embarrassed at how much I had “bigged” this restaurant up and two because I turn nasty when I’m hungry and especially hungover!

Even friends of ours, Daisy and Christian, had raved about a local breakfast place that was close to us and that we had to try out. Again, the service was atrocious and my sweetcorn fritters with a side of Smoked Salmon came out (very late) as a soggy pancake and a pile of smoked salmon. (not complaining about the amount of smoked salmon, but it was evidently apparent that the amount of salmon on the plate was the reason they could charge $18 for this mess). Our poor friends were mortified. We have however discussed this further and are aware they have usually gone there for brunch and we were there in peak 9.30am breakfast time. But still it’s that crushed expectation when you have in your mind how amazing this experience should be.

Am I the only unlucky one who has been unfortunate enough to experience this? Is there a particular reason why this happens? Are your expectations raised after the first amazing visit and therefore you are your own worst enemy? But aren’t expectations there fore a reason, should you not strive to reach perfect of culinary expertise, or enjoy a comfortable clean environment or in fact not walk away from a salon with half your head of hair missing? Will i ever learn?