This is it – the final instalment of our Hunter Holiday, and it’s my favourite one. FOOD.
Just a few days before we were due to leave for our trip, we found out Jared had made it into his university of choice. This was big news. Just over a year ago at the age of 25, he was going to go down a completely different life path and pursue his passion for architecture. He worked really hard in his bridging course last year, getting distinctions and high distinctions in all of his assignments. And then spent most of December and January waiting nervously to see if he got into any universities as a mature age student. As it turns out, he was given offers by all the universities in the area, so he had the luxury of choosing where he wanted to go. Such a smart cookie, I was so proud of him! Anyway, because of that, I wanted to really spoil him as a way of saying congratulations. So for our last night in the Hunter, I had booked a dinner for 2 at the amazing Muse restaurant.
Among the foodie community, Muse is quite well known as the quality of their meals is just phenomenal. As much as I had wanted to try their tasting menu, complete with matching wines, my student budget just couldn’t stretch that far. We instead got a 2 course meal from the A la Carte Menu, which was still beyond amazing. This was one restaurant that definitely lived up to it’s hype.As a starter, they served up mini bread rolls, caramelised onion filled brioche scrolls, their housemade garlic butter and flakey rock salt. I’m not going to lie, we had seconds. That brioche was unreal. Then it was followed by a complimentary platter full of delicious bite sized morsels. We were surprised to see it come out, as it wasn’t on the menu. But it was a good surprise, let me tell you. The platter had pork crackling topped with apple confit, savoury macarons with a spicy filling and crispy trout skin. For entrees, Jared got the sashimi with verjuice, pickled ginger, dashi, whitebait and I got the seared scallops with pickled watermelon, sea urchin and miso butter. There was nothing on my plate I could complain about, it was all beautiful. As for Jared, well we all know he is a giant fan of sashimi, and he said it was a solid 10/10. There was no hesitance in this rating as well. After our entrees, we were served some lime sorbet and watermelon granita to cleanse our palates. The sorbet was just a tad too sour for my taste, but the granita was amazing.For mains, Jared got the venison with Tinkler’s plum, quinoa, shiso and eschallot dressing, star anise and I got the partridge with white bean and toffee puree, portobello, sage, pedro ximenez. The venison was incredibly juicy and tender, and the partridge was also amazing. My favourite part of it was the king oyster mushrooms though, so meaty and flavour packed. Also as a surprise to us, we were served their homemade toasted marshmallows for dessert. I’d never eaten homemade marshmallows before that, and I was not disappointed. So sticky, sweet and soft! I was completely stuffed (much like my partridge) by the end. Was it worth the $75pp? HECK YES. I’d pay it again and again to have food that amazing. And might I also add here, the staff were absolutely brilliant. Polite, friendly, prompt and welcoming. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking to dine somewhere special while in the Hunter Valley. We left feeling incredibly satisfied, a perfect place to celebrate Jared’s new journey. If you’re looking for somewhere a little less fancy and easier on the bank balance, I’d recommend The Deck Café. We went there for brunch before we headed back home and it was the perfect way to end our trip. Beautiful setting, great menu and staff were very friendly. Jared got the Big Breakie with a side of house cured salmon, and I got the Avocado Vego Delight with a plate of fruit to share. They were very generous serving portions but Jared cleaned his plate (I honestly don’t know where he puts it!) and I got through most of mine, bar half a slice of sourdough. Great brunch spot, I’d definitely go back there! And that’s a wrap! That was our Hunter trip, you guys. I had so much fun. We ended up briefly visiting a couple more wineries and a smokehouse in Lovedale after brunch and decided then and there that we’d come back and stay in Lovedale next time so we can explore some of their wineries, food and cooking classes! I can’t wait!
We both came home with a greater appreciation for wine, a fair few bottles to add to our collection and more relaxed than I’ve been in quite some time.
Thank you Hunter Valley, until next time!