The long lunch. This joie de vivre way of celebrating the produce, seasons, settings and culinary talent of our Southern Highlands community is firming its position as a highlight of the spring itinerary.
THE joy of sharing a meal with family and friends goes to the heart of our Australian lifestyle. Think relaxed backyard barbecues, Sunday roasts, shared plates on a picnic blanket on the ground. The newish kid on the block is the long lunch, starting at midday and lasting until sunset, often with seating around one long connected table adorned with the fruits of the season. And most importantly, al fresco.
Southern Highlanders and their guests have been quietly enjoying long lunches for years, even closing down busy Bong Bong Street for the Bowral Long Lunch fundraiser. More recently, a growing community of chefs, caterers, winemakers and creative event organisers have collaborated to spark a renaissance, transforming the long lunch into an unforgettable Highlands dining experience.
Wine Harvest Feast
At the Wine Harvest Feast at Canyonleigh’s Far Ago Hill vineyard, diners stepped through an Alice in Wonderland style door to an irresistible scene; a long row of rustic timber tables shaded by calico umbrellas and surrounded by vines ready for harvest. Platters appeared piled with food as guests sipped Far Ago Hill wines, grown in the earth beneath their feet. The quiet mingling on arrival was soon replaced with laughter and music as guests made new friends and fell further under the magic spell of the Highlands. Event organiser Amanda Fry from Wild Food Adventures is already planning next year’s Wine Harvest Feast, with tickets on sale from mid October.
The Loch Berrima
The Loch Berrima has regular paddock to plate long lunches as well as special occasion events. Their King for A Day father’s day feast offers a choice of shared ‘royal’ platters with local craft beer or a three course set meal. The Sparkling Spring lunch on Sunday September 23 is accompanied by a selection of local beverages (everything has a bubble), including wine, water, craft beer and cider. Chef and owner Brigid Kennedy believes it’s the sense of community and genuine interest in sampling Highlands’ produce that make their long lunches such a hit. ‘A lot of locals come and make new friends, it’s the joie de vivre, the enjoyment of loving where they live,’ says Kennedy.
The Bowral Long Lunch
Hosted by the BDCU Children’s Foundation, the Bowral Long Lunch is in its fifth year, with this year’s event held at Centennial Vineyards Restaurant. Whilst still very much about a long leisurely meal, fundraising is front and centre. For the past four years, the proceeds have funded an adolescent mental health nurse at Bowral and District Hospital. With funding of that role now taken over by the state government, this year’s proceeds will go towards an additional role. Centennial chef and owner Robin Murray is in charge of the menu and as guests dine, a group of artists from the Berrima District Art Society (BDAS) will paint in the restaurant’s courtyard then donate their artworks to be auctioned to guests. Past Archibald Prize winner artist Cherry Hood is the 2018 Ambassador and will judge the artworks. If you love our fabulous kids, and art and great food, this is one not to be missed.
How to Long Lunch?
Some of the Highlands’ lunch events are catered by local companies such as Rustic Table Catering, offering everything from the organisation and set up of furniture, linen and glasses to cooking and serving delicious shared plates of local produce.
Jo Pfahl (owner with Vanessa Legge of Rustic Table Catering) has seen trends come and go in hospitality. She believes the current mindset of embracing local food and keeping menus simple lends itself well to long lunches. Beyond the food, music and ambience, are key. Also doing as much preparation as possible ahead of time, and selecting dishes that work well warm or cold, such as rare roast beef, baked salmon and large sharing platters. Other great local caterers who can help cater for your own long lunch include Violets & Vinegar, Parties and Platters, and Chef in Your Kitchen. And if you’re looking for one of those terrific table sized platters to serve your feast on check out Wildes Meadow makers, Mr and Mrs Monro’s who created baton sized platters. One of Escape’s most favourite local things ever. See their platters and more of their beautiful handmade and basketry woven wares for sale at Shop 1, The Old Potato Shed, 74 Hoddle Street, Robertson or check out mrandmrsmonro.com.au
Long Lunch anyone?
Great for: Enjoying local food and wine, making new friends, enjoying al fresco dining.
Recommend: The Bowral Long Lunch to support a wonderful cause that keeps on giving
Go it alone: Of course you don’t need an event, a caterer or even an excuse to host your own long lunch but you will need a long table. We love Rabbit Trap Timber of Moss Vale’s recycled wood affairs or check out the sunny spring numbers from Mittagong company, Plank & Trestle.
No head for cooking? Then book a long lunch table outside at The Briars, Moss Vale, Burrawang Village Hotel, Burrawang, Biota Dining, Bowral, Bendooley Estate, or Josh’s Berrima and let someone else do the cooking for you.
Wedding party? Go for the shared table long lunch wedding vibe at beautiful East Kangaloon venue, Wombat Hollow which has just teamed up with Bowral’s Grand Bistro to feed your special day guests just right. grandbistro-wombathollow.com.au
Watering your guests? Of course, one of the most important parts of hosting a long lunch is the wine list. Check out our map page 66 and buy up big from our local fabulous cellar doors, and breweries for your lunch.
BDCU Bowral Long Lunch October 14, Centennial Vineyards Restaurant, book on 4861 8701
The Loch’s Sparkling Spring, book at the loch.net.au
Wine Harvest Feast 2019, info at wildfoodadventures.com.au