It’s rather special to visit the Yarra Valley in autumn, when the region’s rolling hills are filled with a patchwork of changing colours and you can feel the crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet. It’s harvest time at the moment, and the leaves are changing colour just before your eyes. At only an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra Valley makes a perfect day trip away from the bustle of the city. Or to fully experience the charms of the Valley, why not just book a weekend away?
On a chilly Sunday, I ventured to the Yarra Valley with one of my besties to visit Rochford Wines and sample their new Autumn Menu in the newly re-launched Rochford Restaurant.
The restaurant is a large space, which takes advantage of its gorgeous views by floor to ceiling windows. We were lucky enough to get a window seat so had a bird’s eye view of the valley.
Crafted by Head Chef Raki Andriana, the new Autumn Menu showcases local seasonal produce and is inspired by the spices of the Middle East, with a hint of French cuisine thrown into the mix. Designed to share with family and friends, the menu is neatly divided into small, medium and large dishes, with pizza having a special feature.
On the small and charcuterie menu we started with the organic Toolunka Creek olives in-house marinade served with crispy ciabatta. Delicately seasoned, the olives were bursting with flavour and freshness.
This was followed by a charcuterie board laden with olives, capers, prosciutto, salami and ox tongue (if you feel so game!).
A trio of zucchini flowers were elegantly presented with a crispy golden shell, prettily perched on pea puree. Stuffed with ricotta, mint and orange, the flowers had a beautiful creamy texture and a lovely citrus flavour which had your taste buds screaming eagerly for more.
A glass of 2015 Reserve ‘Dans les Bois’ Pinot Noir was the perfect companion, light and delicate in taste, with subtle fruity notes.
Moving on the small plates, a fresh fig salad was paired with creamy goats cheese, candied walnuts and toasted brioche. Unfortunately I had to miss out on this dish due to a walnut allergy, but my friend couldn’t get enough of it. Also on the small plates is a salad of heirloom tomatoes, burrata and organic olive – a simple yet classic flavour combination. The dish was finished with a gorgeous white truffle vinaigrette which lifted the dish and gave it a nice zest.
The star of the show was definitely the 24 hour slow roasted lamb shoulder. Andriana uses the sous vide technique to slow cook the meat. The result? Melt in your mouth tender lamb which literally falls apart from the bone. Served with gravy and two sides, this is a great dish to share between a small group.
Although I am not usually a fan of cheesecake of the deconstructed kind – the Rochford “broken cheesecake” was a definite winner if you are looking for a fairly light dessert optionRoch. Shards of smoked meringue with strawberry dust rested on a bed of cream cheese, juicy compressed strawberries and a biscuit and oat crumb.
Don’t miss a wander around the winery and the cellar door and shop before going home.
Rochford Wines is the perfect spot for a casual lunch with family and friends in the Yarra Valley. Head Raki Andriana is taking the menu from strength to strength. Will definitely be back.
A 878-880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream
T (03) 5957 3333
I was invited as a guest of Rochford Wines to try to the new Autumn menu. All views are honest and are my own.