High Country World’s Longest Lunch: Gourmet Chick in the High Country

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Take five chefs, 150 diners, 500 plates and a whopping 1,300 wine glasses and you’ve got the High Country’s World’s Longest Lunch.  I’m a big fan of the region after exploring Beechworth and the King Valley last year so jumped at an invitation to to head to the North East of Victoria again for the regional weekend of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  The lunch was held at the spectacular setting of Boynton’s Feathertop Winery just outside of Bright.  The winery has a long terrace that runs along one side, shaded with vine leaves and with sweeping views over the vines and to Mount Buffalo.  Meat-and-Three-Veg and I turned up and grabbed a glass of Dal Zotto prosecco to start before sitting down at the long table that ran under the vines.

Sitting down to lunch

The first course was from chef Anthony Simone of Simone’s in Bright, a meaty assortment of salumi made especially for the lunch, figs, prosciutto on a slick of wild apple purée and topped with a triangle of crisp, fried pigs cheek.  The salumi was paired with four different beers from local breweries.  The region’s not all about wine and boutique beers have flourished here thanks to an easy access to fresh hops.  My pick of the beers was the Bright Brewery’s Galaxy Hop which was light and clean but with a strong hops aroma.  

Salumi plate at the High Country World’s Longest Lunch

Chef Michael Ryan of Provenance in Beechworth described the next course as “a simple dish of carrot”.  He was seriously underselling what we ate as it was without doubt, the most amazing carrot I have ever tasted.  Michael took organic carrots from Stanley and cooked them in meat stock and carrot juice to enhance the natural flavour of the carrot.  Then the carrot was topped with slivers of pickled carrot and a crumble made from beef jerky.  I’m never going to look at a carrot in the same way again.  He managed to transform a simple vegetable, that I’ve eaten hundreds of times before.  The matched wines were a Ringer Reef Chardonnay and a fabulous light, floral Rousanne from Wood Park.

Organic carrot from Provenance at the High Country World’s Longest Lunch

Next up was chef Simon Arkless from All Saints Estate in Rutherglen who had prepared thin slices of Murray Cod which he had smoked himself and then served with tiny, sweet apples, capers and créme fraiche.  The cod was very delicate and the smoky flavour was sadly lost a bit in this dish.  The matched wines were a vibrant Campbells riesling and an Italian variety known as arenis from Chrismont.

Prosecco, smoked cod and the Indigo Shiraz at the High Country World’s Longest Lunch

The final savoury course was created by Adam Pizzini from Rinaldo’s Casa Cucina in Wangaratta.  He slow cooked a shin of beef over 24 hours and then served it as a medallion wrapped in prosciutto and teamed with a tomato bruschetta.  The beef had a really rich flavour and was very tender and this was a really lovely use of the classic flavour combination of beef, tomato and basil.  The beef was paired with not one but three different red wines.  The highlight of these was the 2010 Indigo Secret Valley Shiraz which was really refined with a hint of spice.

Roast beef at the High Country World’s Longest Lunch

The sweet end of the meal was looked after by Ikuei Arakane, the chef at Boynton’s, he made a mixed berry mousse with cream cheese and a chocolate ganache.  The individual elements of this dish were all delicious but there was a bit too much going on for one plate.  On the dessert wine and sticky side of things of the three we tried my pick was the Scion Valley Rose Muscat which was sweet without being sickly.

 
Berry mousse at the High Country World’s Longest Lunch

What a lunch. It really showcased the brilliant produce from the High Country region and the talent of the chefs in the area.  The High Country World’s Longest Lunch is not a cheap event to attend but we were served more wine than we could ever possibly drink (although some people had a good shot) and we got to sample the cooking from different restaurants and chefs.  It was a truly memorable afternoon.

Essentials
Details: Boynton’s Feathertop Winery, 6619 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah, Victoria 3740 (Ph 03 5756 2356)
Damage: Budget Breaking $145 for five courses with wine.
10/10

Elm on Bright 

Accommodation
We stayed in the centre of Bright at Bright on Elm which is one of Alpine Accomodation’s properties.  Bright on Elm is very modern and clean and comes with a fully equipped kitchen if you want to do your own cooking.  It has a separate living area, two bedrooms and bathrooms so it would be great for a family or group and being right in the centre of town you can walk everywhere.  The downside is that the accommodation feels a little impersonal and doesn’t have any views of the beautiful Bright surrounds.

Essentials
Details: Bright on Elm, Bright, Victoria.
Damage: Reasonable. $175 a night.
7/10

Gourmet Chick was a guest of Boynton’s Feather Top Winery for the Regional Longest Lunch and ofTourism North East for the accommodation.  I paid for MTV’s ticket to the lunch.  

9 comments

  1. This sounds brilliant Cara. I love Bright but haven’t been for years. You’ve done a great job covering the MFWF. The Bulb will have to get on board next year! X

  2. What a great experience! The table is incredible 🙂

  3. Julia – Yes worth a return trip I think – particularly soon when the Autumn leaves will be beautiful.

    Kari – I know, so fun sitting down to such a long table.

  4. Hi Cara

    We are glad you had a wonderful day! Some great pics and article, however a correction for your followers: The cost of the lunch was $145 per head, not $160. So for 5 courses, 10 wines (generously poured as you mention!), Prosecco Road tastings on arrival and four beers, it was excellent value for money, especially for an event of this scale!

    Eliza
    Boynton’s Feathertop Winery

  5. Hi Eliza

    Thanks very much for having me and for your comment. I’ve updated the story to reflect the price of $145. Yes as I said it is expensive but you get a lot of food and drinks, plus to paraphrase Mastercard – the experience of those top chefs together is priceless!

    Cara

  6. Hi Cara
    Thank you for making that update, much appreciated.

    Regards
    Eliza

  7. […] for years.  After visiting some of the region’s wineries last year, attending the High Country World’s Longest Lunch just outside Bright was a great excuse for Meat-and-Three-Veg and me to spend a bit more time in […]

  8. […] and Breakfast in Beechworth.  Bright on Elm in Bright.   What to do: Go to the High Country World’s Longest Lunch or do a cooking class with Patrizia Simone. […]

  9. […] while I didn’t make it along to one this year I can highly recommend attending a Regional World’s Longest Lunch.  Such a great way to experience a part of Victoria. […]

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