It already seems like a lifetime ago. The weekend before last, Geoff and I escaped for a weekend away in the Hunter Valley about two hours North-west of Sydney. The Hunter Valley is wine country and we were staying at Cypress Lakes with Muscular Dystrophy NSW to attend Jazz in the Vines. We had an absolutely awesome time and really enjoyed living the high life.
Geoff took Friday off work and we went on a detour to Morpeth “on the way” to pick up the tea cosies which I’d bought on my last visit. We also had to restock our supplies of coconut ice, peanut brittle and fudge from Campbell’s and we enjoyed a lovely lunch.
We settled into our hotel and I had a short, long bath if that makes any sense. It was so relaxing and I could have stayed there for the night but we were off to the group dinner in the hotel restaurant. The food was magnificent even if I can’t quite remember what it was…a fish, a chicken dish perhaps. I don’t think I’ll ever get a job as a food critic.
Breakfast was included with our package and my excuse for eating so much was not having to buy lunch. I was good and started the day with yogurt, muesli and fruit but it soon went downhill and I was devouring the hash browns. There’s nothing like hash browns on a hotel buffet breakfast. They didn’t have pancakes on Saturday but they did on Sunday morning. They were only fair…not the best I’ve had.
After breakfast, we all boarded the bus out to the Tyrell’s estate for Jazz in the Vines. Jazz in the Vines was celebrating its 20th Anniversary with an impressive line up of talent. We had special seating in the tent. I was just leaving the toilet when I heard Tom Burlinson (of Man From Snowy River – the movie fame) singing New York New York. I rushed down the front with my camera in tow like a woman possessed and captured a few new memories. I remember a band called Paris Dumper doing New York New York at the Nagg’s Head in Glebe too many lifetimes ago. We all used to do the Can Can back then when we could LOL!
Lisa Hunt was the final performer and she was fabulous. My favourite song was Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia. It was amazing. It was so good that I tried recording it on my mobile phone. I’ve never done that before but it was really, really good. Unfortunately, the recording sounds dreadful. Not worth keeping. I was down the front in what I guess you’d call the mosh pit and it was awesome being amongst it all. Looking at all the crazy and outlandish outfits and trying to dodge the many wine bottles which were rolling around in the grass. They did look rather deadly.
Jazz in the Vines wasn’t all just about wine. The Hunter Valley Cheese Company had a stand and we bought ourselves a cheese platter for lunch. Yum. Made plans to visit the factory on Sunday to continue my adventures of a cheesy.
As much as we loved Jazz in the Vines, perhaps the real entertainment was on the bus on the way home. There was a very interesting character…a bloke wearing a black afro wig. Geoff tells me an old lady on the bus asked if she could feel his wig. I missed that bit and all I saw was this bloke putting his wig on ton this old woman’s head. Then shoved it under her armpit and that wasn’t all. Then he was doing back flips in the aisle. I should be thankful. At least he kept his gear on although I’m surprised the bus driver didn’t throw him off. Kids have been busted on the school bus for much less. This was all on a crowded bus. He kept saying that he came from Newport Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Geoff asked me how I’d feel if he was saying he was from our area. Hmm. Glad he wasn’t. We have dubbed him “the Ambassador for Newport”. He did a very impressive job…unforgettable at least!
I should also add that this bloke ended up sitting next to Geoff…what a contrast! I don’t think Geoff knew which way to look.
We had dinner back at the hotel. Again, it was fabulous and I do remember consuming a rather decadent chocolate pudding!
Sunday morning, I felt like a stuffed chook after yet another buffet breakfast. It was goodbye to all the Muscular Dystrophy crew and we were off to tour the vineyards after stopping off for a few photos along the way. I just had to photograph the roses and the vines together and I just might have photographed my teacup out there. Who would do something crazy like that??
We aren’t big wine drinkers and to be honest, I was more interested in the cheese. We went to the Hunter Valley Cheese Company for a tasting and a tour. This place is definitely worth a visit even if cheese is just a little naughty. http://www.huntervalleycheese.com.au/index.html
We bought some of the Hunter Gold Washed Rind Cheese and they had some kind of Irish cheddar which came in green wax. We didn’t buy some but I wish we had. It tasted great but also looked rather quirky with its green skin and I love quirky!! Might have to go back!
Our next stop was McGuigan’s next door where we entered the weird and wonderful world of wine.
As far as I’m concerned, wine comes in a bottle and most of it is undrinkable. I prefer very sweet, fruity wines and I’m usually offered Chardonnay which is very dry. I drink a wine and I either like it or I don’t and I almost burst out laughing when I hear people rave on about their wines:
“A kaleidoscope of flavours; ginger, apricots, honeycomb and toffee brittle. The palate is intensely rich however the acidity is a supreme counterfoil”
It sounds like something from a candy store!
You won’t get any of that fancy wine talk from me.
I didn’t even try to pretend that I knew what they were talking about. I didn’t need to show off although I was wishing I’d listened just a little more to all Dad’s wine talk. He is a wine connoisseur with a serious cellar. When we were kids, my brother used to do a very good send up of Dad sniffing his wine and pronouncing it a “jolly good year”. If it wasn’t, it was poured down the sink…no matter where it came from!
As for me, I don’t know a good year from a bad year. We bought a bottle of Merlot and a dessert wine…a Traminer. I have trouble writing about food and describing it. I have no chance of describing the wine other than to say that I could drink it. I am not much of a wine drinker and prefer sweet, fruity ones. I might as well stick to lemonade!
Next we drove round to Constables Vineyard http://www.constablevineyards.com.au/gardens/sculptures, mainly to see the sculpture garden, however, we did buy another dessert wine. This one sounds like it could transmit a deadly disease..a Botrytus Semillon. I wasn’t far wrong. With this Botrytus stuff, the vine is exposed to the “noble rot” of Botrytis cinerea which is a necrotrophic fungus. In other words, it’s a parasite. It consumes the water content of the fruit, concentrating the sugar present in its pulp. When attacked by Botrytis cinerea, the grapes shrivel and the acid and sugar levels are intensified.
All day Sunday, I had this sense of living on borrowed time. You know how it is when you are having a great holiday and you know you’re about to come crashing back to reality.
All too soon, we were at the station meeting up with my mother and the kids and I also had violin practice. Not good having to rush of to rehearsal after not touching the thing for a few days and right before the concert. Should have been practicing all day and being prepared.
Thank you Muscular Dystrophy for a fabulous weekend away.