Hunter Valley Lovedale Long Lunch preview at Redsalt Restaurant

The Lovedale Long Lunch is an annual event held during the third weekend of May in the Hunter Valley which brings together fine food and wine across various restaurants and wineries in the Lovedale region. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the gastronomic event and one of the restaurants taking part is Redsalt Restaurant from the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley where we previewed their upcoming lunch dishes which showcase fresh produce from the region.

Redsalt Restaurant functions as the main dining option at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, featuring both indoor and outdoor seating. Unfortunately, it is bucketing down with rain during our visit to the resort, but luckily we still get a magnificent view of the resort pool and other facilities from the inside. The Lovedale Long Lunch menu on offer at Redsalt Restaurant is a two-course meal, with two options to choose from for both the main and dessert. Each main course is matched with one of the local wines from the family owned Sandalyn Wilderness Estate winery.

Seared Atlantic Salmon with Thai Noodle Salad and Chilli Lime reduction
Recommended wine match: Sandalyn Estate Chardonnay

The first of the mains is the Seared Salmon which is cooked well, retaining a nice amount of moisture in the flesh but it lacks some crispiness on the skin. Despite this, it goes wonderfully with the Thai noodle salad which is very light and refreshing, thanks to the fish sauce and lime juice in the dressing. It makes an excellent main for those looking for a lighter, less meat-heavy option. The seafood main has been matched with a crisp Sandalyn Estate Chardonnay which complements the freshness of the salmon.

Char-grilled white Pyrenees Lamb Cutlets with Ratatouille and Boulangere Potatoes with Caramelised Balsamic Onions
Recommended wine match: Sandalyn Estate Shiraz

The other main dish which patrons can choose from is the Chargrilled Lamb Cutlets. These have been grilled to perfection, slightly pink in the middle, and are still very tender and juicy. The side of Ratatouille is quite flavoursome with tomatoes, zucchini and potatoes all contributing to the colour and taste; however I think the real hero of the dish is the lamb and it is my preferred main. It is paired with a lovely Sandalyn Estate Shiraz which balances out the stronger flavours of the lamb.

White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Berry Compote

After we’re done with our mains, the desserts make their way out shortly! The first choice is the cheesecake which has subtle hints of white chocolate and surprisingly isn’t too sweet, although there is a rich chocolate filling in the middle of the cake. There is also a dollop of cream and scoop of sweet berry compote to add some extra textural elements and flavours to the already tasty cheesecake.

Hunter Valley Brie and Smoked Cheddar Cheese selection with Fruit Chutney and Warm Lavosh

The other main is a Cheese Platter of brie and smoked cheddar cheese. The brie is delightfully creamy, and the cheddar slightly smokey, both going wonderfully with the lavosh flatbread. The fruit chutney tastes like a plum jam, but it isn’t really my thing and I think the cheese is good enough by itself without the chutney. I find that the cheese platter is a bit much to finish on my own (best to share), but when given a choice the cheesecake is my preferred option.

If you do happen to head up to the Hunter Valley for the Lovedale Long Lunch, I would definitely make a weekend of it and try to check out some of the other wineries/restaurants on offer. If you do travel with the family, the Crowne Plaza has a huge number of facilities which can entertain the kids whilst you enjoy some wine tastings. We were treated to a tour of the spectacular resort and I am so impressed by how much there is on offer – giant swimming pool, a kid’s club, gaming room (Xbox, Wii, Playstation) that also screens new release movies every night (The Avengers was screening on the night we visited), table tennis, giant bouncing balls, giant chess board, volleyball court…the list goes on, and I’m not quite sure if the kids will be having more fun than the adults! For the grown-ups  the hotel facilities include a decked out gym with new equipment, spa/massage, wine tastings and even their own private golf course.

(image source: Starr PR)

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend exploring the 130 hectares that is the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, along with sampling various wines and dishes as part of Redsalt and Sandalyn’s menu from the Lovedale Long Lunch. If you’re looking for a nice weekend escape to eat and drink with other food lovers, perhaps the long lunch is the weekend you’ve been waiting for.

The Lovedale Long Lunch Hunter Valley will be held on the 18-19th May 2013. Visit their website for more information on the participating restaurants/wineries and how to buy tickets.

Excuse Me Waiter dined and stayed at Crowne Plaza as guests of Crowne Plaza and Starr PR.

Redsalt Restaurant (Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley)
430 Wine Country Drive, Lovedale, NSW, 2325
Ph: (02) 4991 0900

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