Vanessa: For those of you that read my previous post, (Weekend in Orange, Part 1), I’m sure you got the sense that we were heading for a full blown food coma..and you would be correct! Picking up from where we left off after a very memorable meal at Lolli Redini, we had an agenda on Saturday to hit the wine trails. Orange is well-known for its picturesque vineyards and red grape varietals which we would discover more of that day.
The wineries are in fairly close proximity to each other which makes the “booze cruise” quite an easy one. Our first stop was at Philip Shaw Wines, with its very inviting cellar door.
We were quickly greeted by a staff member who motioned for us to take a seat and then brought over a tasting menu. My first thought was that this would be a different experience to that I had previously had wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, where we often visit.
We were taken through 3 or 4 types of both red and white varietals and were given a detailed overview of each wine. It was a really relaxed experience and we walked away with a couple of cheeky bottles of what I think is my new favourite drop (The Wire Walker Pinot Noir 2013) and hit the road for our next stop a short drive up the autumnal tree-lined road.
Ross Hill Wines is a beautiful winery situated amongst the grape vines and surrounded by apple orchards.
The lady who took us through the tasting happened to be one of the owners and offered to take us on a bit of tour to show us the barrels. This was another lovely touch and a real show of country hospitality.
Ross Hill had some fantastic reds on offer and once again we walked out with probably a few more wines that we needed..but when in Rome, hey!
We were recommended by our lovely host at Ross Hill to stop in for lunch at Fiorini’s Ristorante which let me say it loud and clear, the pasta we had here was possibly one of the best I’ve had outside of my nonna’s house.
The restaurant’s exterior is very reminiscent of an older-style country cottage and that same homely atmosphere continues on the interior. The kitchen is pretty much situated on the dining room floor so you can see everything that is going on.
Mr M ordered the spaghetti alla frutti di mare which was mammoth serve of al dente spaghetti tossed with all types of seafood and finished off with garlic, parsley and fresh tomatoes – a truly delicious dish and one well worth trying.
I had the more humble choice of spaghetti with tomato and basil. The flavour of this dish coming from the richness of the tomatoes and was delicious.
I would recommend stopping into into Fiorini’s to put some solid carbs into your system to counter act the wine tasting but be prepared that it is on the pricey side.
We made our way to the last stop of the day which was a must on Mr M’s agenda. Small Acres Cyder is a boutique cidery which has tapped into the abundance of apple orchards in the region. They have created a range of ciders which are intended to compliment food as they are less sweet than regular cider.
Mr M was like a kid in a candy store here so we pretty much walked away with one of each variety which range from dry to slightly sweet, they even have a sticky cider which is pretty delicious. If you are a cider fan then you must put this on your list of places to go in Orange.
Sunday, our final day, was all about Mr M’s birthday and to celebrate the occasion I had booked us in for a leisurely lunch at Racine Restaurant. What an absolutely beautiful location for a special occasion!
Overlooking the rolling hills, Racine’s offers a finely tuned, contemporary menu in a tranquil setting, so it is no wonder it has been awarded an SMH Chef’s Hat.I couldn’t have been happier that we were given our own table outside, which happened to be the only table on that side of the restaurant so we felt like we had a very personalised experience.
Racine’s has a 3 course minimum for $75 which is extremely reasonable for the quality of the food and location. They also offer a 5 or 7 set menu, but after the indulgence of the previous two days some control was exercised. They also have an apple icon next to any of the menu items which indicates that at least 75% of the dish had been locally sourced.
Settling into enjoy the next few hours of our picturesque dining experience was made even more enjoyable as the waitress brought us over an panfried scallop as an amuse bouche, probably one of the juiciest I have ever eaten.
Our entrées arrived very swiftly which reflected the pace of which each course was brought out. I chose the heirloom tomatoes, sheep’s milk feta, pangratata. A flavoursome dish which wasn’t very substantial (but then again my stomach had probably stretched by that point) but ideal for a light, dish to get the palatte going.
Mr M chose the blue eye cod served with eggplant cream, quinoa and enoki. In stark contrast to my entree, this was an extremely decent portion of fish which could pass as a main. The fish was cooked perfectly and left Mr M very happy with his choice.
For main I chose the Beef Short Rib with with smoked onion and mustard. The beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare temperature and was quite rich.
Mr M chose the Pork Cheek with beets, fennel and prune. The pork was rich, full of flavour and slightly heavy but as it wasn’t an overly large portion it all balanced out. We also ordered a side of roasted potatoes which added that little extra filler.
For our final course, the staff graciously accommodated my wish to present Mr M’s strawberry, raspberry and pistachio cheesecake with the obligatory birthday candle. This was a double winner because Mr. M’s birthday dessert was fresh, fruity and truly delicious.
I was delighted that I chose to finish off with the St Agur with apple sorbet and pepper crumble.
At first I was wondering why no crackers were brought out to enjoy this generous serve of cheese, but when i had a bite with all of the elements together..I realised there was no need. The pepper crumble went so perfectly well with the strong blue vein tones of the cheese and was lighted by the crisp, green apple ribbons. A stellar way to end a very memorable meal. In fact, that wasn’t the end as we were also presented with a variety of petit fours along with our coffee.
I couldn’t think of a better place to wind up our weekend in the beautiful town of Orange. We took in our surroundings as well as some deep breaths of clean, country air and relunctantly made our way back towards Sydney town to get ready for the working week.
We will be back to experience more of what Orange has to offer and next time we intend to try our hand at berry and fig picking, if the season permits.
If any of our readers have been/or go to Orange, I would love to know your thoughts and any gems you discover.