Paddock to Plate: A Foodies guide to Mudgee
Mudgee is a town which blends the best of two worlds. It combines loveable country charm, with a cosmopolitan blend of top class restaurants, wine bars and vineyard style dining.
Whether you’re after degustation dinners, long lunches, good coffee or fresh local market produce; Mudgee’s earthy, fresh and down to earth approach delivers for any city slicker in need of a foodie fix.
Come with me, as I take you on my ‘must-do’ fresh foodie experiences in Mudgee.
Long lunch at The Zin House
This three hour long lunch overlooking Lowe’s Wine’ is something special. You feel like you’re rocking up to a friends rustic country house for the afternoon.
The ethos of the place is all about simple, local and fresh produce, with the menu constantly changing, pending what’s in season. Owner and Chef Kim Currie has developed weekend lunch menus based around six classic courses with an optional wine to match.
Surrounded by fruit trees, the Lowe Wines vines, veggie gardens and even the resident ‘pigs in mud’, we’re encouraged to wander the garden to get a feel for the place. It really does feel like spending a lazy afternoon at a friends place.
Our heavenly six-course lunch starts in pretty fine form, with a platter of freshly baked potato, rosemary, onion bread, marinated alto olives, spiced carrot dip and herb butter, alongside charcuterie of fresh meats, beetroot chips, fig, and a desert lime rocket salad. All paired perfectly with a glass of crisp 2013 Organic Headstone Rose. Officially in foodie heaven.
As the afternoon progresses we dine on a sweet corn tart with heritage tomato and Mudgee feta salad; Putta Butta Pork Belly (cooked perfectly with the right amount of crackle) and some delicious cheeses, fruit pastes and grapes.
The highlight in my eyes is dessert. The rhubarb and hazelnut crostata (made with Kim’s homemade pastry), served with honey ice cream which is made out of eggs and honey from the property. What really sets it off is the 2013 Nullo Mountain Late Harvest Riesling, matched perfectly.
Upon leaving, after enjoying our wine so much, we pop into the cellar door down the road and pick up a couple of bottles of Lowe Wines to take home. Just so we can take a little part of the Zin House and Lowe Wines back to the city with us.
Dinner as the sun sets at Pipeclay Pumphouse
Located on Robert Stein’s vineyard, this is a fairly unique fine dining restaurant experience.
For starters, it’s set in the original pumphouse for the Robert Stein vineyard, giving it a real rustic feel. There’s also quirky and charming feature pieces such as the corrugated iron roof, stone floors and the selection of regional art.
Plus, the owner and head chef Andy Crestani, a former Sydney-sider who took a tree change, has ensured the menu uses produce from the property’s paddock, or from the local region.
Perfectly positioned overlooking the lake, arriving at sunset is the perfect time to soak up the views of the restaurant.
So we get a taste of everything, we opt for the seven-course degustation dinner with matching wines. You can also choose to eat from the à la carte menu, or a slightly different 10-course degustation menu.
After cleansing our palate with a seasonal amuse bouche, we slowly work our way through. Our waitress expertly explains each dish, and the reasons behind each wine matching.
Some early favourites include the tuna carpaccio, which melts in my mouth, served with Robert Stein 2013 Half Dry Riesling, as well as the squid and corn risotto served with Robert Stein 2014 Saignee.
The real highlight is the pan roasted duck breast served with a duck and hazelnut sausage, garden beetroot and heirloom radish, matched with Robert Stein 2011 Reserve Shiraz. The combination of flavours, the tender duck breast and the creamy radish are incredible.
After a seared beef filled with Mudgee Leemoore, mushrooms and parsnip, we manage to squeeze in dessert, a delicious dark chocolate and hazelnut delice, with caramel marscapone, alongside a night cap of Robert Stein NV Rum Cask Tawny.
One of the great things about the Piperclay Pumphouse degustation dinner is that you don’t leave feeling too full. Portion sizes are perfect, dishes are relatively light and the staff leave a good amount of time between each course – leaving you feeling oh-so-satisfied on departure.
Last but not least, all budding foodies must pay a visit to the Mudgee Local Farmers Markets, held at St Mary’s Catholic Church on the third Saturday of every month. Here you can pick up fab local delicacies like locally made olive tapenades, freshly made pasta sauces, organic veggies and delicious fig jams.
Stock up and take some of that wholesome country goodness back to the city with you.
Still hungry? Other hot tips for dining in Mudgee include:
- Breakfast or lunch at The Butcher Shop Café.
- Lunch time pizza’s at Di Lusso Estate
- Dinner or lunch Blue Wren Restaurant
Need somewhere to stay after your gourmet extravaganza? Check out my recent review of the Mudgee Homestead Guesthouse.
Have you got any foodie tips in Mudgee? Share them with us in the comments!
- Flights to Sydney
- All Mudgee Hotels
- Thinking of visiting Mudgee? Check out VisitNSW.com for great things to do!