Review: Join a Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney with a personal chef

The beautiful Hunter Valley north of Sydney offers so much to tempt wine and gourmet food lovers, but having your own personal chef along for the ride takes matters to a whole new level. Enjoy this delicious day tour with Sydney chef Jimmy Henry. Review: Joanne Karcz

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

5 stars

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney with Gourmet Getaway Tours

This Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney offers a fabulous day out. Join a professional Sydney chef on the road for freshly prepared cuisine, paired with boutique Hunter Valley wines. This all-inclusive tour is a must for food and wine lovers! Duration: 11 hours (approx.)


Gourmet food cooked and served from the back of a bus in the Hunter Valley – when I read about it, I was intrigued!

However, that’s exactly what you get on the Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney with Gourmet Getaway Tours, which pairs boutique Hunter Valley wines with a gourmet menu prepared en route by talented Sydney chef Jimmy Henry.

It’s early as our small group of five climbs on board Jimmy’s air-conditioned bus in the Sydney CBD. Our first stop is quite close by – the Sydney Fish Market, where the weekday reverse auction is in full swing for professional buyers. Unlike normal auctions, the price starts high and drops until a purchaser makes a bid.

Jimmy shares his top tips for buying and cooking seafood. I can now choose a decent mud crab and cook it humanely, and tenderise octopus with kiwi fruit. Next time I buy oysters, I’ll serve them with a splash of semillon!

While Jimmy buys the seafood for our upcoming progressive-style lunch, I get a coffee for the road.

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney. Image: Joanne Karcz

As we head north, Jimmy shares information about points of interest along the way. The blocks of golden sandstone used in the construction of many of Sydney’s fine period buildings came from the Hawkesbury region that we are passing through. Later we see sections of the Great North Road, where the walls of solid sandstone were hand-cut by convicts.

The sleepy hollow of Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River provides a pleasant spot to stop for breakfast. Jimmy gets to work on the meal while the rest of us take a short walk along the riverbank. I live on Dangar Island opposite Brooklyn, and I can’t resist pointing out my green boatshed and jetty to my companions. I even bump into a neighbour. Jimmy has met someone he knows too – a Brooklyn local who greets him warmly, saying: ‘Hey, you’re Jimmy. You’re famous in China!’

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Image: Joanne Karcz

Our beautifully presented breakfast consists of fresh fruit and toasted flat bread wraps filled with spinach, rocket, mushrooms and cheese. Jimmy has pulled off this first mobile meal with ease.

We will visit three or four boutique wineries on this Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney. The drive to the Hunter takes us past farms and roadside stalls offering local produce. You take what you want and pay using an honesty system.

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Join a Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney. Image: Bigstock

The conversation soon turns to wine. While the Hunter Valley was the birthplace of winemaking in Australia, it now accounts for just 3% of the country’s wine production.

Our first stop is Wollombi Wines, which only sells its product direct to the public. The cellar door sits on a hill overlooking the vineyards, and there are interesting sculptures dotted about the property. Before the wine tasting begins, we learn a new skill from Jimmy – how to make the perfect sushi roll!

Jimmy’s sushi rolls are paired with a chilled Semillon and one of my fellow traveller eagerly exclaims: ‘This is the best sushi I have ever tasted!’ I doubt anyone disagrees, or that any of us has ever experienced sushi made with Balmain Bug.

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney. Image: Joanne Karcz

It’s a short drive to Mount View Estate. The wines here are paired with a delicious antipasto platter: cheese and marinated olives, grilled chorizo, stuffed field mushrooms and chargrilled asparagus with truffle oil. Jimmy prepares everything in his little purpose-built kitchen in the back of the bus. He makes it look so easy!

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Image: Adam Ford

The next stop on this Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney is The Hunter Olive Centre at Pokolbin Estate Vineyard. Here we sample olives, olive oils, vinegars, chutneys, dukkah and other delicacies. The Hunter Olive Centre offers a range of over 500 gourmet products (many of them locally made) – of which up to 50 are available to taste at any one time.

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Image courtesy of The Hunter Olive Centre

We drive on to our final winery – Saddler’s Creek Wines, which is the setting for our main course and dessert. The wines here are produced from estate-grown fruit, supplemented with fruit from the Barossa Valley in South Australia. We choose four whites and four reds to try with our food. I’ll remember the tender Barramundi fillets and tasty marinated Kangaroo kebabs for a long time to come. I’m not usually a fan of sticky dessert wines, but I so enjoy the one served with my wattle seed crème brulée that I decide to buy a bottle!

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney

Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney. Image: Joanne Karcz

The wineries may change on this Hunter Valley gourmet food and wine tour from Sydney, but the fabulous Australian cuisine prepared by Jimmy throughout the day will no doubt pair perfectly with any Hunter Valley drop.

Joanne travelled as a guest of Gourmet Getaway Tours.

Additional images: Bigstock

 

About the writer

Joanne Karcz published a blog when she walked the Camino de Santiago some years ago and has been writing about her travels ever since. She is also an aspiring travel photographer and takes her camera wherever she goes. Joanne loves discovering new things to see and do in her own Sydney backyard, and blogs regularly about the city’s suburbs. She has travelled through Europe and South America and taken a group of friends on the trip of a lifetime to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. Her visits to Cuba and India were bucket list items, but she still has a few destinations to tick off!

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