Furu Ushi – dry aged Wagyu and Nebbiolo delivered to your door

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

It’s not often an offer like this comes along. A kilo of dry-aged Furu Ushi (old cow) wagyu and a bottle of Moondarra Nebbiolo delivered to your door in metro Melbourne, Drouin, and Warragul for just $90.

To make the deal even sweeter, the pack is hand-delivered by one of Victoria’s food and wine greats – Neil Prentice from Moondarra Wines and Wagyu. A former punk, he poured chardonnay in a St Kilda footy vest at the Dog’s Bar in St Kilda when it first opened in 1989. He opened a sexy, funky bar/restaurant/club in The George, St Kilda building called the Birdcage specialising in sushi and textural white wines. Over the past 20 years, he has concentrated on developing his wagyu herd and vineyard on his farm at Moondarra in the foothills of Mount Baw Baw.

The Furu Ushi range of dry-aged beef from older cows has been a long time in the making. When Prentice’s breeding cows reached a point where they were too old to have calves, at around 10 years of age, they used to be sold off for pet food.

A crying shame in Neil’s eyes, he wanted to follow the Spanish Basque country tradition of nurturing older breeding cattle, turning them into prime steak. Although incredibly well cared for throughout their lives, the animals are fed on prime pastures and a little extra grain in their last weeks. Their meat is then dry-aged for 30 to 90 days, an essential step to tenderise the meat of older animals.

The beef is beautifully full-flavoured with the marbling you’d expect from wagyu, with intramuscular fat interlacing lovely ruby-red flesh. You will need a sharp steak knife, but it’s also juicy and deeply, earthily flavoursome. The cuts will vary from flatiron steak to ribeye to rump, depending on the aging process.

The Nebbiolo Neil has chosen to go with your steak is macerated on skins before fermentation retaining about a third as whole bunches. Neil ‘dances’ in the wine three or four times a day through ferment (more traditional winemakers call this pigeage) to extract colour and flavour. It is a delicious dry but aromatic medium-bodied wine that pairs beautifully with the beef grown on the same soil as the wine.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Moondarra Furu Ushi old cow wagyu and Nebbiolo delivered to your door
WHEN: Until December 2021
MORE INFO: Email neil@moondarra.com.au

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Your Guide to the Goulburn River and Ranges

The Goulburn River might not have the PR team of the mighty Murray but as Victoria’s longest river it has long been a part of peoples’ daily lives. It is the region’s lifeline of agriculture, a cultural and historic touchstone as well as a magnet for outdoor activities.

Your road trip offers so many waterways to choose from, including one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, enchanting waterfalls and secluded fishing spots. No matter the season, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking scenery, pretty little towns and down to earth hospitality as you wind your way through this special part of central Victoria – all within a short, easy drive out of Melbourne.

Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

Goulburn River & Ranges Road Trip

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images supplied

Central Victoria was sometimes seen as a drive-through rather than a drive-to area; a place where you’d stop to use the restroom facilities, grab a coffee or fuel up the car.  Our Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip proves otherwise.

Goulburn Rover Things to DoIt is a place that is filled with a rich history, both recent and more ancient. A place of sweeping landscapes, enchanting waterways and stunning scenic drives, all within an easy drive out of Melbourne.

Head north-east from Melbourne firstly to Marysville and Eildon then on to Yea.  From Yea it’s over to Trawool and Tallarook before heading north to Seymour, Avenel then Nagambie and finally arriving at Euroa.

Marysville
#oneandahalfhoursout

EuroaOn the edge of the Yarra Valley is the (in)famous Black Spur Drive. Marvel as the road twists and turns beneath towering eucalypts and movie-worthy mist. Soon enough you arrive in Marysville, a pretty little town with a big heart. It is also a convenient jumping-off point to visit Lake Mountain, with plenty for adventure seekers no matter the time of year.

If you want to stretch the legs a little further, Steavenson Falls (Victoria’s tallest with a drop of 84m) is just the ticket. Be well-rewarded for an easy 250m walk from the carpark with sensational views of one of the region’s most iconic waterfalls.

Eildon
#twohoursout

Lake EildonNext up is the town of Eildon and one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, with a whopping 500km coastline. Lake Eildon was created in the 1950s with the damming of the Goulburn River for supply of drinking water, hydro-electricity generation and irrigation.

Naturally this makes it a popular spot for all the water recreational activities you can think of: boating, fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, sailing and house boat hire. It’s also an ideal place to just kick back and watch the changing reflections of the clouds and hills on the water.

Yea
#oneandahalfhoursout

Yea WetlandsOur next stop is Yea – yay! A perennially popular stopping-off point to refuel both the car and the driver, Yea easily recalls the grandeur of the area’s gold mining past with historic buildings and graceful wide streets. It is also where the Goulburn River meets the Yea River and the Yea Wetlands, a treasure trove of flora and fauna.

Yea’s historic Gothic-styled railway station is beautifully preserved with its red brick façade. It’s a great place to pick up The Great Victorian Rail Trail or allow the kids to let off some steam at the playground.

Trawool
#oneandahalfhoursout

TrawA short drive and it’s on to the district of Trawool, for there is no township as such. It is here that the Goulburn Valley Hwy plays cat and mouse with the Goulburn River and its lagoons. Holiday makers have been visiting Trawool Valley from the early 1900s to take in the area’s scenic charms and it’s easy to see why.  A visit to the iconic Trawool Estate will not disappoint.

Tallarook
#onehourout

Tallarook Farmers’ MarketNext stop is Tallarook and the start of the 134 km Great Victorian Rail Trail connecting Tallarook to Mansfield. Whether you choose to explore the trail by foot, by bike or by horse it certainly offers a unique way to take in some fresh air. Like so many townships along this great drive, a weekend trip to the farmers’ market is a great way to sample local produce and stock up at the same time. Since 2009, locals and visitors have been filling up their baskets and supporting producers and makers alike at Tallarook Farmers’ Market on the first Sunday of the month.

Seymour
#oneandahalfhoursout

Food SeymourA short drive from Tallarook is Seymour, located on the banks of the beautiful Goulburn River. Very much the platonic ideal of a country town with its wide, welcoming streets and riverside parks, Seymour has always been a major stop on the Melbourne-Sydney route. The area has also had strong military connections since the establishment of a nearby training camp prior to WW1 and then later Puckapunyal Army Base.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during blueberry season (summer) a stop-off at Blue Tongue Berries needs to be top of the list. The Brewer’s Table is your best bet for quality local food, craft beer and cider. While your wine needs are all taken care of with a visit to Wines By Sam, Sam Plunkett’s cellar door in the expertly refitted old Seymour dye works building.

Avenel
#oneandahalfhoursout

AvenelThe historic township of Avenel was established in 1849 as a stop-over point between Melbourne and Albury. It is also known as the place where Ned Kelly’s family lived in the 1806s. Ned is now known as a bushranger and outlaw, but he was once hailed a hero after rescuing a young boy from drowning in a local creek. Fowles Wines is the perfect lunch spot; after all who can resist a wine with the name Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch?

Nagambie
#oneandahalfhoursout

Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal ArtNagambie calls and it’s our next stop. It is little wonder wineries are a great drawcard of Nagambie and surrounds. The cool climate (influenced by the Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie) combined with the area’s red sandy loam soil adds up to a distinctive wine region.

Look no further than the historic Tahbilk Winery and Mitchelton wineries for evidence. Situated within the Mitchelton estate in a disused underground wine cellars you’ll find the Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art, regional Victoria’s largest indigenous art gallery, celebrating the art of Australia’s First People, including local Taungurung people.

Euroa
#twohoursout

EuroaOur last stop is Euroa at the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges. You’re definitely in Kelly country now – Ned Kelly and his gang bank robbed a local bank here in 1878. These days the town is a good base to explore the nearby Strathbogies, take a scenic drive to the Gooram waterfalls or perhaps take a quick dip in one of the popular swimming holes if weather allows.

Whether you are seeking a nature-lovers paradise, a taste of the region’s best restaurants and wineries or a relaxing getaway full of country hospitality, a Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip has it all. Murrindindi, Mitchell and Strathbogie regions are an easy drive out of Melbourne with no end of things to experience whatever the season.

We suggest you plan to stay a while.


DOWNLOAD GOULBURN RIVER & RANGES ROADTRIP MAP

Goulburn River Road TripDiscover the huge variety of attractions across the region with this printable map. Download here.

Or use our helpful itinerary to plan your trip around the region.

 

 

 

 


 

We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

 

Muscat Gin – Two Worlds Colliding

Images Supplied

This is a gin as beautiful and unique as the collaboration that made it. Muscat grapes macerated for eight weeks in gin made with Australian botanicals. On the nose, it is aromatic, floral, and rich, the clean, lean juniper dancing around old-fashioned blousy roses. On the mouth, it is luscious and full-bodied, the unfermented sugar from the grapes clinging to the lips, the dryness of the strawberry gum and peppermint gum like a bush track on a hot still day.

Muscat Gin is a 50/50 collaboration between Lee Attwood from Backwoods Distilling Co. in Yackandandah and Rowly Milhinch from Scion Wine in Rutherglen. Milhinch’s brown muscat grapes were trucked to Yackandandah and allowed to steep in Atwood’s gin for 56 days.

Backwood’s gin is itself a beautiful creature, made with premium, resinous juniper berries and gum leaves, which are native to the region. Alongside these are classic gin botanicals like orris root and angelica for body and sweetness, the dusky spiciness of cardamom, high notes of coriander and a little citrus tang from lemon myrtle, which appears long after the gin has been swallowed. After two months the grapes were basket pressed, and all that ruby muscat colour, sweetness, and complex floral notes became one with the gin.

That the muscat and gin work so well together comes as no surprise, as the men who made them are now great mates. Attwood and Milhinch met at the clearance sale of historic Mount Prior Estate in Rutherglen. They were trying to outbid each other on old oak barrels in which tawny port had been aged. At the end of the day, packing up the spoils of the auction in the backs of their utes, they started talking. That conversation has not stopped, and the result is this Muscat Gin, marketed under the Still & Stem brand.

Still & Stem Muscat Gin has enough natural sugar from the grapes, around 100g per litre, to give it great body and balance to enjoy it neat on a large block of ice, perhaps a few drops of water to help liberate the aromatics. Rowly also recommends pouring a few fingers of the gin over ice, dropping in a slice of dehydrated orange, and topping up the glass with Capi tonic to your taste, long or short. Get in quick as only 1100 bottles were made.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Still & Stem Muscat Gin
WHEN: Release – September 15 2021
MORE INFO: Scion Wine or Backwoods Distilling

Hanging out with Tony Lee from Foxey’s Hangout

Images Supplied

While Covid lockdowns have paused the restaurant side of things, wineries still need to go about the job of producing wine. Vines still need to be pruned, soil health needs to be maintained and wine still needs to be bottled.  We spoke with Tony Lee co-founder and winemaker at Foxey’s Hangout to see how things are faring on the Mornington Peninsula.

“Our work hasn’t changed much. All our full-time staff are continuing to come to work because we are working in vineyards. It’s just that we don’t have any customers. We went through last winter pruning our vineyards with our full-time restaurant staff, so they’re getting pretty good at it. The difference is last year we had JobKeeper.”

Aside from the obvious issue of revenue, Tony cites the challenge of maintaining a connection to his customers when they’re no longer walking through the door each weekend.

We work to communicate with them by email, by phone, by social media because when we re-open, everyone from Melbourne is going to want to come back to the Mornington Peninsula. From Christmas till June this year, we were busier than we’ve ever been and that will happen again this summer if we get open.

“We’ve also been talking with our restaurant customers and while last year there was light at the end of the tunnel, there’s not that same view this time. We’ve been trying to cheer them up with a few bottles of new vintages to take home and drink. I think there was more joy last year than this lockdown.”

Tony’s background as a chef is on display when pressed to nominate what it is he’s currently missing most. “I miss the camaraderie of doing service on a weekend. We have a strong connection with our staff. We all start at the same time in the morning, do mise-en-place together, and at 11 o’clock when we open everyone goes to their section. At the end of the day, we all sit down and have a meal together, then clean up and then finish together. It’s the starting together, having a meal together and finishing together that builds that extra-ordinary camaraderie and we all miss that.”

Of course, there are some silver linings to be found in the endless rounds of lockdowns. “We have lots of wine-training sessions, wine-tasting sessions and wine-drinking sessions. We’re constantly thinking and talking about wine and our staff are getting better and better at communicating about wine.”

To close, we share some wise words from a hospitality veteran of 40 years – “It’ll be a beautiful summer down here on the Peninsula when people are let out. All the restaurants will be full which is good because they’ve been closed for a long time. But there are places that are doing it hard and I’d like to encourage everyone to keep supporting a restaurant or winery that you love. Buy some takeaway food or some wine. Some industries are having a good pandemic but hospo is one that is doing it tough and I think it’s the support from loving customers is what’s getting a lot of people through.”


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Foxey’s Hangout
WHERE: 795 White Hill Rd, Red Hill
WHEN: Open 7 days 11am – 5pm wine sales and tasting, lunch Friday – Monday
MORE INFO: Foxey’s Hangout

Cosy up at the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival

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Winter is the ultimate season to enjoy a smooth, rich glass of red. Over the first weekend of July, you can taste some of the very finest drops at the Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival; the region’s biggest celebration of all things shiraz.

With 26 participating wineries from Jack Rabbit Vineyard to Mt Duneed Estate, locals and travellers alike will be spoilt with a wide selection of the region’s cool-climate wines, plus delicious food and various tasting experiences at each location.

Across two days and three different sub-regions – Moorabool Valley, Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast – there’ll be winery tours, barrel tastings, degustation dining and best of all, some talented chefs will be whipping up some hearty winter fare to pair with the wines. For those with a penchant for wine education, pop into one of the wine masterclasses or meet some of the makers for a yarn about their winemaking process. We’re certain you’ll be taking leaps and bounds on your journey to wine connoisseur – your friends will definitely be impressed.

So why not put your feet up by the fire, learn the art of wine tasting straight from the horse’s mouth, or just make it a weekend of fun with friends and a good drink? We are certain you’ll come home with a fuller mind, heart… and belly.

If you plan on doing lots of drinking, we recommend booking some local accommodation or an all-included tour (featuring a designated driver). Head over to their website below for more info.

THE DETAILS
WHAT: Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival
WHERE: Various wineries
WHEN: 3 – 4 July 2021
MORE INFO: Geelong Winter Shiraz Festival


We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

How Bendigo plans to ignite your senses this wintertime

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Australia’s first (and only) UNESCO Creative City and Region of Gastronomy is taking things up a notch this wintertime with its magical Ignite Festival.

With a sprinkle of razzle and a whole bunch of dazzle, the city will be transformed into a centre of vibrant activity where spirit and imagination abound!

Featuring a plethora of food and drink events, masterclasses and retreats, art and cultural soirees, markets and music festivals, there is an experience set to indulge all.

Here are some of the ways Ignite is set to sparkle your senses this winter season.

See the magic unfold

Ignite BendigoThere is an abundance of performance and culturally instilled events taking place during Ignite, making up the core of the festival program.

The Awaken event will illuminate Rosalind Park, and the Mary Quant Fashion Revolutionary exhibition will continue at the Bendigo Art Gallery (with an accompanying 60s Quant Up Late event).

Taste and smell the fine fare

As a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, you know you’re in for a real (culinary) treat no matter when you visit Bendigo. But come time for the Ignite Festival, and the city’s cafes, restaurants and bars put their best foot forward with a whole series of specially-curated events showcasing the best in local food and drink.

Enjoy a high tea in style, sit down for a Bastille Day feast, experience a Spanish Christmas in July, devour regional fare at the launch of Bendigo’s newest foodie neighbourhood Lyttle Eat Street, get your meat fix at the Slow Smokin’ Saturdays, share a night of wonder and wine under the stars with the Astronomical Society of Victoria, and savour a whole lot of other dinners, lunches and brunches in regional Victoria’s leading food destination.

Proud Dja Dja Wurrung, Latje Latje and Wotjabulluk woman Raylene Harradine will also be hosting a 6Seasons Dinner along with chef Gina Triolo from Bendigo’s Hoo-gah Cafe. The special degustation-styled event will feature six courses, each focussed on the six Aboriginal annual seasons of Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang.

Hear the tunes and tales

Ignite BendigoAnother sure way to warm up during the chilly months is with some sweet melodies and stories – blues on the Victorian Goldfields Railway train or live at Castlemaine’s Taproom, a two-day festival of Americana bands at Shiraz Republic or a session of storytelling about People and Country at the Ulumbarra Theatre.

Feel the warmth as your hands make and create

The festival program has all the hands-on folk covered too, with workshops and masterclasses that will ignite a passion for cooking, creating, cheesemaking and croissant-ing (don’t mind our love for alliteration).

Take up cheesemaking sessions with resident French makers at Long Paddock Cheese, learn the art of croissant making from a Michelin-trained pastry chef, enrol in a cooking class or two, enjoy a one-day mosaic workshop, or try your hand at writing at the Hidden Writer retreats.

Once you’re done making, you can also head to one of the different markets and find some handmade goodness for yourself – nicely rounding off your Ignite experience.

Now there’s a delight for the senses.


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Ignite Bendigo
WHEN: 1st June – 31st August
FIND OUT MORE: bendigoregion.com.au/explore-bendigo/ignite-bendigo

Wine-filled long weekend on the Mornington Peninsula

Images Supplied

Get ready to get up close and personal with a winemaker at Winter Wine Weekend on the Mornington Peninsula.

What began in the early 1980s as a way to showcase Mornington Peninsula wines has grown from strength to strength, becoming an annual event on every wine enthusiast’s calendar. The Winter Wine Weekend – Saturday 24th  of July – is proudly presented by the Mornington Peninsula Wine.

Mornington Peninsula as a wine region

Whether the peninsula means camping on the foreshore over summer school holidays, a golfing trip with mates or a ride on the Arthurs Seat chairlift, there’s no denying the area occupies a soft spot in the heart of many.

For such a small area geographically, it exhibits incredible diversity when it comes to wine. Surrounded by ocean on three sides, the peninsula is webbed with hills and valleys and hosts an array of soil types from yellow and brown soils to red volcanic clay and sandy loam.

All this adds up to a patchwork of micro-climates when it comes to wine production, meaning there’s an infinite number of wine styles for your drinking pleasure. Good thing the Winter Wine Weekend over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend gives you the opportunity to try as many as you like.

Region’s top varietals

The region’s signature varietal is undoubtedly pinot noir, making up half the fruit grown in the region. Chardonnay is a close second with pinot gris/grigio also making a noteworthy appearance. There are also independent winemakers challenging expectations with tempranillo, arneis, savagnin, gamay and more.

Elegant pinot noir is the star of the region as it thrives in the cool climate. Though exact flavour profile varies across the sub-regions thanks to soil, elevation etc. Mornington Peninsula pinot noir is generally light to medium in body, with bright berry notes balanced by soft, savoury tannins. Saturday’s showcase is the ideal time to find your perfect pinot.

Chardonnay also loves the cool conditions, producing a restrained wine with delicate melon and citrus notes, as well as the expected mineral, flinty aspects often found in maritime wine regions. Pinot gris/grigio has a growing fan base thanks to its crisp, food-friendly flavour profile.

Exhibition and tasting Saturday

Saturday’s showcase takes place over three sheds at the Red Hill Showgrounds. Each shed will represent one sub-region with that area’s wineries and restaurants determined to convince you of their excellence.

In total, there will be 45 wineries and over 200 wines to sample so you’re going to need a plan of attack. Grab a buddy and secure your booking. They’ll provide a complimentary Riedel tasting glass, you just need to bring boots, a warm jacket and a willingness to eat and drink.

Ten Minutes by Tractor, Foxeys Hangout, Avani Winery, Mantons Creek Estate and Ocean Eight are just a handful of the wineries participating in the extravaganza, as well as debuting the new ‘Heartbreak’ gin from Bass & Flinders Distillery made with local pinot noir grapes.

Choose from tempting menus by Barmah Park, Lindenderry Red Hill, Many Little Bar & Bistro, Montalto, Paringa Estate and Pt Leo Estate. Red Hill Cheese will be providing their quality artisan cheese for your snacking requirements and Brew Up Bar coffee will keep you caffeinated throughout the day.

Covid-safe practices are built into the program, with each shed accommodating 300 people for a 90-minute session before rotating out and onto the next shed. Tickets are selling fast and with a strict limit of only 900 tickets, bookings are essential.

 


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Mornington Peninsula’s Winter Wine Weekend
WHERE: Red Hill Showgrounds, 190 Arthurs Seat Rd, Red Hill
WHEN:  Saturday 24th of July
MORE INFO: Mornington Peninsula Wine