Four years of marriage – seems like such a short portion of our lives and yet so much has happened! Rich and I celebrated our anniversary with a weekend in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. And what we found did not disappoint! Hentley Farm is a very special place – a small winery in Seppeltsfield with the most incredible on site restaurant. You can choose from a 4 course or 7 course meal, with or without matching wines (or the half pour option for people like us on antibiotics, cold and flu meds and having to drive home afterwards!).
I can’t exactly call it a set menu – I gave them our detailed dietary requirements and they adjusted the menu to suit, not leaving either of us feeling let down because of our restrictions.
When we were initially seated, Rich commented that he felt like something was lacking in the decor/set up – we were seated in a small square shaped room with glass walls, seemingly perched on top of a hill, and surrounded by the greenery of the property. With very few tables in the room, nothing on them except our glasses, knives and forks (resting on a thick wooden branch), there was a lot of empty space – both visual and actual.
My response was that this was not only intentional, but very special.
SIGHT: This part of the experience was simple – glass walls enabling us to see outside, and feel like we were sitting amongst the natural beauty of our surroundings. The one solid stone wall and the wood tables, further gave us the feeling of being out in nature. The uncluttered table worked to highlight the artistic skills of the chef – each dish was a magnificent work of art. The simple, organic looking plates provided an uncomplicated backdrop to each dish, allowing the colours and textures of the different elements of each dish to pop. Another component of the visual experience was the vivid colours – both in the produce as well as the wine. The rosé was the most gorgeous raspberry colour and the sparkling Blanc de Noir, like watermelon.
SMELL: The wine not only looked like the colour of gemstones, but the perfume of each one was more beautiful and complex than the next. The 2016 Rose in particular took me back to my childhood smelling just like raspberry cordial! The ingredients of each dish are sourced locally, and are completely seasonal so the freshness of the herbs allowed for the pungent aromas to really come through and enhance each bite. The most amazing smell of all was the rosemary smoke billowing out of the oyster entree. I learnt a very cool technique for creating smoke as the dish was brought to life at the table when the waitress poured hot water over the bed of fresh rosemary and dry ice.
SOUND: The atmosphere was very sophisticated yet relaxed. There wasn’t any music playing but what we could hear were people chatting and laughing, as well as gasps of wonderment as each dish came out. Even though I can see where they were coming from with this minimalist approach to sound, I couldn’t help but feel that some quiet modern instrumental or classical music could have warmed the atmosphere.
TOUCH: For me, what really made the experience stand out was the use of texture in the food. How the food feels in your mouth is equally, if not more important than how everything feels in your hands. The combinations of hot and cold, creamy and crunchy, rough and smooth were perfectly curated. From the bed of crunchy fresh asparagus under the delicate kingfish, to the earthy poppy seeds juxtaposing the silky passionfruit sour cream, and the warm gooey marshmallow on a stick to finish, it was a full on texture adventure.
TASTE: Not only were the texture combinations sublime, but so was the taste of every single dish. The matched wines were beautiful and really enhanced the flavour of each dish – well worth the additional cost. We got a good taste of what Barossa food is all about with the local produce and wild native flora.
I have to mention one dish in particular that blew me away with its unique flavour combination – the dessert of frozen yoghurt, sesame crisp and liquorice cream, drizzled with dill oil. Yes, dill oil. Seriously, who knew that liquorice and dill were such a match made in heaven.
Our experience was completed by a visit to the cellar door, in an old stone house, glowing with crystal light fittings, where we sat in luxurious traditional leather chairs in front of a warm open fire. We left with full tummies, a few bottles of Hentley Farm wine and some magnificent memories.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Hentley Farm, I just had a really good 5 senses dining experience and wanted to tell you about it!