The past two weekends have seen us hitting the road for the 5 hour drive to Dinner Plain. The first few hours are, quite frankly, a slog up the Hume Highway, enlivened only by our coffee stop at Fowles Winery, where we also stock up on wine supplies. But once we leave the highway and turn onto the Snow Road and then the Great Alpine Road, the trip becomes pure pleasure. The valley is beautiful and each of the towns dotted along the route have their own charm, and something to discover. For us, this usually always means somewhere good to eat.
Trip 1 saw us venturing into new territory as we took a small detour to the sleepy little hamlet of Moyhu, on the Wangratta-Whitfield Rd. I had spotted a mention in Epicure that a local winemaker, Glen Merkel, had bought the pub and renovated it with the idea of providing a cellar door outlet for Merkel Wines. The pub is the start of what could well be the awakening of Moyhu, as apparently a brewery is soon to come and the King Valley Dairy (which used to be the Myrtleford Butter Factory) is to open around the corner this Easter.
It was a scorching hot day and we were the only people in town. Turns out, Glen had deserted the kitchen to help bring in the grape harvest but his sister ( who usually restricts her contribution to desserts) had stepped, somewhat nervously, into the breech. Given the heat we sheltered inside rather than sitting in the attractive garden, and armed ourselves with a chilled glass of Merkel Riesling in his case and a Pizzini rosato in mine. Although the Merkel’s are using the pub as a showcase for their wines they also offer a range of King Valley wines on their wine list.
Our meals, a lamb burger for me and the pub classic of steak and chips for him, were simple meals, well cooked and tasty – and served with a smile and a chat. All in all, a detour well worth making and I’m sure we will see Moyhu become a bustling spot as time goes by. We shall keep an eye on it.
For Trip 2 we had Sam Miranda Winery at Oxley in our sights as I had read that a new chef had taken over the kitchen. The winery is a striking and easily recognisable building, situated just past the horrible dogleg junction of the Snow Road and the Wangaratta-Whitfield Road.
Again it was a stifling hot day, so we stayed inside in air conditioned comfort rather than sitting on the outdoor terrace, which overlooks the fields, river gums and free range chooks. We decided on the Prosecco Road platter for two, described as ” a daily selection of tapas, cured meats, cheese & condiments”, and the rosato for me and a glass of verduzzo for him (both good value at $6 a glass) and both very enjoyable.
We certainly enjoyed the sharing platter but have to question its value as at $44 it seemed somewhat parsimonious, especially as we were given only half a fig to be shared between 2 people. I know a single fig retails for $1 but I think they may have seen fit to give us one whole fig for 2 people to share! And why do chefs insist on giving you 3 items for 2 people??? In this case, 3 slices of prosciutto and 3 slices of salami. Is it the hospitality industry’s private joke – “let’s see how they negotiate this”?? The modern, common refrain of “our menu is designed for sharing” is all too often a lie as rarely are the dishes presented for equitable sharing. But I digress.
I left armed with two bottles of their lovely rosato which suits summer drinking beautifully, but wondering if I shall return again soon. If I do, I shall be trying something else on the menu.