Going for Broke
A few weeks ago now, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited along to experience everything the Broke Fordwich region of the NSW Hunter Valley has to offer. As guests of the Broke Fordwich Wine & Tourism Association, Roma of Roaming Required and I were given something of an all access pass to wine country.
If you’re curious about my experience in wine country as a dyed in the wool beer drinker, you can read about a Wine Rookie in Wine Country.
While the obvious reason to go to wine country might be the wine, my time in Broke taught me that there’s a little bit more to it than that. Beyond the obvious liquid refreshment, I quickly learned that Broke was a place to find a little serenity, learn a little bit more about the country’s first inhabitants, and (most importantly, judging by the belly on me) – dine out with a little decadence.
Food in Broke Fordwich
Wine and food belong together. They’re like Pam & Jim, Romeo & Juliet (without the grisly end), or maple syrup and bacon. Whether you’re pairing your food with wine to bring out hidden flavours or eating to balance your liquid to solid ratio, there’s a wealth of options in Broke Fordwich.
Motty’s Farm Cuisine
Our first night in Broke featured dinner under the stars catered by Mel at Motty’s Farm Cuisine. If I’d been under any illusions that wine country was synonymous with nose-in-the-air pretentiousness, Mel’s down to earth personality and simple yet delicious food quickly dispelled them.
Motty’s Farm offers up healthy servings of delicious food made from locally grown ingredients. You’re not going to get impossibly small portions of too beautiful to touch food here, with Mel’s menu offering up such savoury delights as her spicy chili garlic and lemon spaghetti, a positively decadent sticky date pudding, and (my personal favourite) oven roasted mushrooms stuffed with feta.
What I particularly liked about Motty’s Farm Cuisine is that Mel & Paul do more than just cater events. For those arriving in Broke on a Friday evening and hankering for something delicious to eat, Mel even does delivery to local hotels and even the local campground!
Motty’s Farm Cuisine gets that wine escapes don’t need to be all about posh restaurants and subsisting on a diet of crackers and wine; her food is something than the family can enjoy just as easily as the experience wine connoisseur.
You can also find Motty’s Farm Cuisine on Facebook.
Now, if you are after something a bit fancy – you can’t go past the award winned Margan’s Restaurant. Having won awards such as Best Restaurant in NSW (2010, 2011, and 2012) and even the prestigious Best Restaurant in Australia (in 2012), Margan’s is also unique in that it is a largely self sustaining restaurant. Many of the meats and vegetables served at the restaurant are grown not only locally – but right outside in the estate’s extensive gardens.
We were lucky enough to be treated to a farewell dinner at this beautiful restaurant on our final night in Broke. While the well spoken and wine savvy servers and the fancy food might put you in mind of upper crust dining, there’s a pleasantly local feel about it that meant a hayseed such as myself didn’t feel totally out of place.
Our menu for the evening included a number of Margan’s Estate wines and what I can only describe as the finest dessert I’ve ever had. A mixture of deliciously sweet white chocolate, super bitter grapefruit sorbet, rich caramel fudge, and pistachio exploded in my mouth in a way I didn’t think possible. There may have been some toe curling and eyes rolling towards heaven.
While prices are a tad on the expensive side for a guy who is used to Chinese prices, there’s nothing wrong with spoiling yourself a little while you’re away in wine country.
When you’re on a Wine Tour in Broke and have already paid a visit to a few local wineries, chances are you’re going to start feeling it as lunch time approaches. That’s certainly how our motley crew of bloggers and media types felt when the bus pulled into the car park outside Nightingale. It’s a wonderfully green oasis for a hot summer’s day, with both indoor and outdoor seating affording a fantastic view of the surrounding vineyards.
In the words of Paul and Margueritte of A Wine Tour in Broke and Barb of Ascella Organic Wines, Nightingale is where the locals come to eat. The very personable manager, Don made us feel right at home with a joke and a smile as soon as we arrived.
With slightly more affordable prices than neighbouring Margan’s, you’re not losing out in terms of quality or portion size. If anything, I found we had to leave some delicious morsels on the table when it came time to leave.
Our menu for the day included a wide selection of tempting starters, a bit of chicken with feta infused mashed potato (to die for), and a dessert sampler that well and truly tested my commitment to my new diet.
Nightingale has recently come under new management who seem determined to take the restaurant to the next level, having it open every day (it currently only operates Wednesday through Sunday for lunch) and doing their part to make sure that Nightingale becomes synonymous with a weekend in Broke.
If you’re looking to take a little bit of Broke home with you when it’s time to leave, a visit to Pickled & Pitted is a must. This quaint store, set in a rustic old shed laden with throwbacks to a bygone era, is positively packed with delicious treats. Olives, feta, olive oils, jams, butters, dukkah, vinegar… It’s a great place to grab some locally grown and/or prepared produce to take back to your family and friends.
A cute little farm out back gives the kids a distraction while you do a little shopping, and Roma and I had a great time chatting with the staff as we looked over the smorgasbord of tasty treats and scented soaps they had on offer.
Many of its ingredients coming from the nearby Riverflats Estate, which offers accommodation for those visiting the area.
It’s not quite a meal, but I couldn’t talk about food in Broke without mentioning the delectable wine and chocolate pairing that is available at Stomp!
Our visit to this quaint little vineyard was one of the highlights of the day, as we were given the opportunity to sample four Stomp wines alongside four chocolates from the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company.
I was surprised by how the chocolate and wine pairings complimented one another to produce an entirely new taste. The Stomp Tawny Port coupled with the Dark Chocolate Chili Truffle was a fiery surprise.
You can read more about chocolate and wine tastings at Stomp through their blog.
Ascella Pure Wine
The final stop on our day long tour of Broke was Ascella Pure Wines, where Geoff & Barb have carved themselves a slice of heaven and set up a unique winery within the region. Specializing in organic wines, Ascella is a beautiful property that runs tours and tastings all week long. This is something of a rarity for Broke, where many cellar doors are open only on weekends.
I mention Ascella here because their tasting is also accompanied by the opportunity to sample some organic cheeses and olives. Much like with the chocolate tasting at Stomp, you’ll be surprised by how different cheeses produce an entirely different taste when paired with a wine.
Another interesting (although not edible) element of our visit to Ascella was the opportunity to interact with their WWOOFers. I’m putting together a piece on the often overlooked opportunity to work in the wine region while backpacking, and it was fun chatting with the motley collection of Europeans who were on hand at Ascella to help out.
You can also interact with Ascella Pure Wines on Facebook.
Have you been lucky enough to visit the Broke Fordwich region yet? Did I miss anybody?