Scully’s birthday lunch

Today is Scully’s 6th birthday! My wife took the day off work, and we had booked a lunch in a fancy restaurant in the Hunter Valley wine region, north of Sydney. We left home at 9am to drive up there and arrived just after 11 o’clock. This gave us some time to stop off in the Hunter Valley Gardens to look around some of the shops there. I tried some liqueurs and bought a few bottles: butterscotch liqueur, chocolate/hazelnut vodka, and passionfruit vodka.

Then we drove over to our lunch venue in one of the vineyards. Here’s Scully in the vineyard:

Scully's 6th birthday

We went to Leogate Estate winery and their restaurant, The Gates. Being a Tuesday, it wasn’t very busy and we had the only occupied table outside on the very shady veranda area. There were a few other diners inside, but we were enjoying the warm day and the solitude being outside, with a view of the vineyard and the nearby hills:

Leogate Winery

The lunch was excellent. My appetiser was seared scallops with textures of spring peas:

Seared scallops, textures of spring peas

Followed by confit duck with pancetta, bok choy, and sticky soy glaze:

Confit duck leg, sticky soy glaze

And the dessert was something special. Caramel bombe Alaska:

Caramel bombe Alaska

Both of the waitresses recommended this, and they were not wrong. It was amazing and absolutely delicious. Crispy meringue crust, soft meringue inside, encasing chocolate and vanilla ice cream, sitting on top of what was like a slice of sticky date pudding, and surrounded by delicious caramel sauce, all sprinkled with bits of raspberries. It was so good. After we’d finished, one of the waitresses asked how I’d liked it, and said that some people come to this restaurant just for that dessert. It was a really good lunch. And Scully enjoyed a tiny piece of the duck that I gave her for her birthday.

After eating, we went into the wine tasting and sales room to buy some bottles of the wines that we’d had during the lunch. Then we stopped at another winery nearby to get some of the sparkling wines that my wife likes (and I like them too, but they’re her favourites).

We left the Valley via a slower back road to head home, rather than take the freeway all the way back. It’s slower, but more scenic and enjoyable. We arrived home about 5:30pm. The total distance driven just to have lunch today was about 340 kilometres.

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