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A LITTLE BIT OF ITALY IN BROKE
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The highly-anticipated culinary celebration that is A Little Bit of Italy in Broke is once more promising another incredible Italian-style weekend as stunning Broke Fordwich comes to life with all the vitality and warmth long associated with Mediterranean hospitality.

The event will run onSaturday 13 and Sunday 14 April and will span 12 venues, bringing with it a weekend full of fun and hospitality – as well as an abundance of fresh, authentic cuisine, local produce, cooking classes, workshops, demonstrations, vineyard tours and the region’s renowned local wines.

 Set in the stunning rural scenery of Broke Fordwich, the festival, now in its 15thyear, offers the perfect foodie escape. Showcasing the region’s diverse wine offerings along with its abundant local produce, A Little Bit of Italy in Broke offers the visitor the best of local hospitality with a touch of that special Italian magic.

A well-loved short-break destination, the area is a premium wine-producing sub-region located in the Hunter Valley. Its peaceful, laid-back vibe and welcoming community make it the perfect setting for visitors to chat with growers and makers while sampling the wines and produce of the region.

Relaxation and indulgence is yours for the taking, with plenty to see, do, eat and drink. Many of the venues are teaming up with local restaurants for the festival to bring gastronomical delights to visitors, with a host of options available for delicious, fresh, authentic Italian cuisine.

The weekend will kick off with the famed Margan Welcome Dinner on Friday night where a three-course Italian-inspired menu in the stunning piazza under the stars will set the tone for the Festival. Over the weekend the Margan piazza will continue to be a drawcard, offering antipasto platters, salads, cheeses, coffee and sweets to guests as they indulge in all the pleasures of the cellar door.

Among some of the incredible cuisine on offer will be gourmet Italian barbecue, organic cheese and olives at Ascella Organic Wines; gourmet Italian picnic share hampers from Greenway Wines; wood-fired pizza and gelato in the Tuscan-inspired courtyard at Krinklewood; and delicious antipasto platters at Winmark Wines.

Visitors will also love the dishes at Mount Broke Wines such as traditional wood-fired pizza, antipasto, truffle gnocchi and delicious Itallian desserts; while Greenway Wines will host the famed Long Red Table on the bank of the Wollombi Brook. Tinonee Vineyard Estate will tempt you with classic favourites like gelato and Italian-originated macaroon, while at Whispering Brook a mouth-watering menu of Italian favourites will be served. And for the sausage lover, Somerville Wines is the place to go for home-made Italian sausages by the Barbalance family.

Dinner will also be available at Catherine Vale Wines and Nightingale Wines.

Once again there’s plenty on offer for those who love cooking and creating as much as eating, with gnocchi-making classes; Italian cooking demonstrations; Zafferano wine masterclasses; the Margan harvest and cooking school; and an ‘You are what you eat – why organic?’ workshop at Ascella Wines.

There’ll be olive oil appreciation workshops at Nightingale Wines, food pairing and cooking demonstrations at Greenway Wines, a grape tasting and heritage tour at Ascella Wines; Whispering Brook will host a vineyard and olive grove tour, and Catherine Vale Wines will host an olive oil masterclass.

Some workshops and demonstrations are free, while others charge a fee and require bookings.

Once again, a Little Bit of Italy in Broke has partnered with the Singleton Cancer Appeal and glass sponsor Zafferano, with $2 from every Zafferano glass sold going to the appeal.

 Transfer buses will run on Saturday and will pick visitors up from a wide range of accommodation in the Cessnock, Rothbury, Lovedale or Pokolbin areas, with shuttle buses running between festival venues over the course of the weekend. Be sure to book these in advance. And of course, there are plenty of accommodation options as well. 

The full program and more information can be found at italyinbroke.com.au

Christina Atherton
A recipe for success - Alessandro and Anna Pavoni visit the Hunter Valley this Spring
Alessandro and Anna Pavoni - The Ormeggio Group

Alessandro and Anna Pavoni - The Ormeggio Group

Restaurateurs Alessandro and Anna Pavoni are set to bring their passion for the hospitality industry to the Hunter for this year’s Hunter Culinary Association (HCA) Spring Seasonal Lunch to be held at the acclaimed Margan Restaurant in Broke.

The highly-regarded husband-and-wife team operate four successful Sydney venues: Ormeggio at the Spit, Via Alta, Sotto Sopra and Chiosco by Ormeggio and are famed in the industry for their passion and dedication.

Alessandro will give guests a rare opportunity to see Italian cuisine prepared by one of the industry’s best. Always generous with his knowledge, Alessandro’s love of contemporary flavours, techniques and textures, combined with a passion for safeguarding Italian culinary culture, are an unforgettable combination.

He will be joined by his partner and wife Anna, a founding board member of Women in Hospitality and a highly-regarded force in the industry. Anna will share her back of house experiences across four venues, her passion for customer service, what she has learned about the hospitality industry, and the ‘business of business’.  Italian culinary culture is close to Anna’s heart, as is her passion for educating others in what she sees as a central part of her role as a restaurateur. 

The spring seasonal lunch is the second being hosted by the Hunter Culinary Association (HCA) in 2018 and will be held at the award-winning, one-hatted Margan Restaurant on Monday, 12 November. Following Alessandro’s cooking demonstration, Margan head chef Thomas Boyd will prepare a three-course lunch, which will be served with a premium selection of Margan wines.

HCA Chairman Gus Maher said the spring seasonal lunch was always a highly-anticipated event.

‘Alessandro and Anna have an incredible depth of invaluable industry knowledge and experience that can only be learned and accumulated through hard work, passion and dedication – not to mention talent and a love for Italian cuisine,’ he said. 

‘HCA workshops are aimed at educating apprentices, members and guests about the new trends, produce and technology being used in the industry and Alessandro is well-known for his passion for imparting his knowledge and developing young talent. 

‘It is an opportunity for our guest chefs to share their knowledge, talent, experience and passion with local apprentices, members and guests.  This type of industry exposure can make a huge difference to a young chef’s career development and the HCA is passionate about guiding and empowering the regions young and aspiring chefs through mentoring and guidance. ‘

SPRING SEASONAL LUNCH DETAILS 

Date: 12 November 2017.

Time: 1130am – 3pm.

Location: Margan Restaurant, Broke.

Cost: $100 for HCA members, $130 for non-members and $30 for apprentice chefs. 

To book visit www.hunterculinary.com.au

Christina Atherton
hunter valley heaven by the sea at Uncorked Balmoral
Pic credit: Mount Pleasant Wines

Pic credit: Mount Pleasant Wines

The sunny shores of Balmoral Beach is the place to be on Sunday 7 October. Hunter Valley Uncorked Balmoral will burst to life on the iconic Esplanade bringing with it the good life and all the incredible epicurean delights of the Hunter Valley.

Presented by Wine Selectors, it’s the perfect opportunity for pleasure-seekers to immerse themselves in the amazing food and wine of Australia’s oldest wine region. Balmoral will be turning it on with all the sights, tastes and stories of the Hunter – known the world over for its exquisite wineries and award-winning vintages.

Visitors can explore the best of the Hunter on their doorstep sampling the finest drops and gourmet delights, while enjoying tunes from Soul Shack Entertainment. The day will kick off with some jazz-inspired vibes and include live DJ sets later in the day to groove along to. 

A highlight of the day will be six Alfresco Tasteswine and barbecue sessions featuring expertly paired tasting glasses of Hunter Valley wines with a delicious gourmet barbecue dish. Hosted by Wine Selectors in partnership with Everdure by Heston Blumenthal, each session will showcase various barbecuing techniques and entertaining tips, as one of Everdure’s talented chefs creates a sumptuous summer dish on the barbecue.

Session times are as follows: Tex Mex: 11.30 and 2.30; Greek: 12.30 and 3.30; and Desserts: 1.30 and 4.30. Sessions are $10 and are available directly from the Wine Selectors stall on the day. 

For the first time, Uncorked Balmoral will be host to the Hunter Valley Distillery, producer of an exceptional range of top shelf spirits, including vodkas, liqueurs, schnapps and the award-winning Copperwave Distilled Gin.

Entry is free with wine-tasting packages available from $26 to $31 per person. Guests can pre-purchase tasting packages and go in the running to win a mixed dozen case of premium Hunter Valley wine valued at more than $300.

There are some exciting new additions to this year’s line up with three first time wineries showcasing at the event along with a number of old favourites returning with some new release wines. This year you will find Allandale Winery, Boydell’s, Briar Ridge Vineyard, Brokenwood Wines, Colvin Wines, De Iuliis Wines, Glandore Wines, Hungerford Hill, Leogate Estate Wines, Margan Wines, Mistletoe Winery, Mount Pleasant Wines, Oakvale Wines, Pepper Tree Wines, Peterson House, RidgeView Wines, Saddler’s Creek Wines, Tamburlaine Organic Wines, Thomas Wines, Tulloch Wines, Tyrrell’s Wines, Vinden Estate Wines and Wine Selectors. 

Satisfying all your food cravings on the day will be a number of restaurants and producers including The Deck Café Lovedale, RidgeView Restaurant, Oaks Cypress Lakes Bar & Bistro, Bar Coco Coffee & Gelato, Cupcake Espresso, Hunter Valley Cheese Factory, Pukara Estate, Sydney Oyster Girls, The Red Apron Gourmet Kitchen and Two Fat Blokes Euro Deli. 

Uncorked Balmoral begins at 11am, with the last wine vouchers being sold at 4.30pm and last wine poured at 4.45pm for a 5pm finish. 

The Mosman Rider will provide easy access to the event with additional free shuttle buses running every 15 minutes from Mosman and Spit Junction to Balmoral Beach.  Hunter Valley Uncorked Balmoral is supported by Mosman Council.

Visit www.winecountry.com.au for more information or to pre-purchase tickets!

Christina Atherton
Shiraz the star of the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show
Sarah Crowe, Chair of Judges.

Sarah Crowe, Chair of Judges.

Glasses have been raised, wines have been tasted, results have been tallied and the winners celebrated at last Friday’s CCL Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show Celebrations Luncheon at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.

 Over the three days of judging, this year’s panel tasted over 700 wines, with 49 gold, 77 silver, 210 bronze and 20 trophies being awarded to the winning wine producers. 

 With the Hunter Valley experiencing one of the best vintages on record in 2017, the week’s judging was dominated by last year’s stunning vintage, which continued to impress the panel throughout the tasting, including this year’s international judge, Asia Wine Service and Education Centre Senior Wine Educator Corinne Mui.

 ‘At this moment, Australian winemakers are making the best wine ever,’ she said.

‘The Shiraz in particular is fragrant and elegant, bursting with vibrant fruit.’

Chair of Judges Sarah Crowe said it had been an extremely rewarding week, with Hunter Shiraz just pipping Semillon at the total medal count post to be the most successful variety entered.

 ‘Shiraz from 2017 really stole the hearts of the judges and dominated the medal tally,’ Sarah said.

‘Pristine fruit with flavour intensity has been handled with respect in the winery, and the many beautiful examples meant it was a delight to judge. These wines are youthful and have a very strong future and I expect they will perform well in future shows too. 

‘Teasing out the top wines was very difficult and full respect goes to the winemakers who showed restraint with oak and bottled their wines so bright and fresh. These are the wines collectors should seek out for cellaring.’

Sarah said the very young 2018 Semillons also performed well and she expected them to be even better again next year once they’d had time in the bottle.

‘The 2017 Semillon classes were stunning, the wines showing great purity of fruit with pristine acidity,’ she said.

‘In the museum Semillon class, the 2013 vintage was very strong. With five years’ bottle maturation, coupled with the intensity of fruit, they are now hitting their straps and were rewarded accordingly. Having said that, there were also stunning examples of 2009, 2006 and 2005 showing how remarkable a wine style Hunter Semillon is.’ 

Other high-performing whites were Chardonnay and Verdelho, which Sarah said had ‘returned to form’ with a trophy going to a bright, fresh style of a well-loved variety.

‘A new variety to the Hunter, the Fiano, also had the judges talking,’ she said.

‘The Fiano seems well suited to the Hunter Valley and we’re looking forward to watching this variety in the future.’

Hunter Valley Wine Show President David Flynn said the show not only showcased the quality of the region’s excellent wines, it was also a valuable tool for winemakers to gain a valuable industry benchmark.

 ‘It was great to see the fruits of last year’s fabulous vintage – our winemakers have once again demonstrated the excellence the Hunter Valley is so highly regarded for,’ he said.

The Hunter Valley Wine Show is considered one of Australia’s oldest wine shows and has been held continuously since 1974. The annual regional wine show aims to assess and showcase the quality of wines being produced by the Hunter Valley, with medallists selected through a rigorous tasting process. 

Christina Atherton