Enjoy a long Italian lunch at di Lusso Estate in Mudgee
If you fancy a long, al fresco Italian lunch accompanied by some fabulous Italian wines, don't worry you don't have to jump on a plane to Italy. Just hop in you car and head up to Mudgee for the weekend - it won't take you as long and it certainly will save you an awful lot of dough!
Mudgee has many wineries and di Lusso distinguish themselves from the rest of the mob by specialising in beautifully made Italian varietals. Think Sangiovese, Barbera and Pinot Grigio to name but a few. Add to this the olive groves and fig orchards on the estate, you could almost imagine that you are in the middle of Tuscany when you are visiting di Lusso Estate.
When you drive into di Lusso Estate on the northern outskirts of Mudgee, you are immediately struck by the imposing shed that is home to the cellar door. Cucina di Lusso surrounds part of the shed and it is here that you can enjoy your long al fresco lunch either under the pergola covered in grape vines or under a large white umbrella on the edge of the lake. Cucina di Lusso looks over both the vineyards and Lago di Lusso (the lake) - it is the most perfect spot to linger over lunch.
The menu at the cucina is of course Italian, but the speciality of the house is wood fired pizzas. The outdoor wood fire pizza oven produces some of the most amazing pizza I think I have ever tasted and I dare say rival those made in Italy! From your table you can watch the pizzas being made from scratch. It was fascinating to watch our pizza coming to life in the oven and the aroma was out of this world.
All pizzas are $25.00 and have delicious toppings such as Figs, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola or Pizza di Polla (a tasty fusion of free range chicken breast, pesto, pancetta, parmesan and fresh seasonal herbs) which is pictured below. If you are dining with children they are also more than happy to make a basic Marguerita or ham, tomato and cheese pizza.
There are other Italian favourites on the menu besides pizza. The menu is seasonal and you will find most of the ingredients used are sourced from local producers. Salads such as Orange, Fennel and Walnut compliment the pizzas perfectly or you may prefer to order some Arancini, Carpaccio or the Pasta of the Day. Don't forget the Dolci - Cassata and Fig Tarts both sound divine.
All of this delicious food of course needs to be washed down with some wine to compliment your long lunch. We opted for the di Lusso 2013 Pinot Grigio - the perfect drop for a warm summer's day. It was light and crisp and very easy to drink. You can drop by the cellar door before lunch to do a taste testing so that you know what wine will compliment your lunch. Or you can be guided by the wine recommendations on the menu as we were. By the way, if you order at least 6 bottles of wine from the cellar door one of your courses at lunch is free!
To continue in the Italian tradition make sure you have a game of boules at the completion of your meal. The boules pitch is surrounded by olive trees and faces onto the lake. If this is too strenuous you can always have a siesta under one of the many beautiful old gum trees on the estate, just be careful of the resident pooch who may want to come up for a shake after his swim in the lake.
If you are partial to a few too many wines (after all you have just had a long lunch), make sure you organise transport to and from di Lusso Estate. Goldfields Carriage wine tours is an ideal way to do it - jump on board a beautiful old carriage drawn by the impressive Clydesdales and let them ferry you around Mudgee and her wineries.
di Lusso Estate's cellar door is open everyday for wine tastings but the Cucina di Lusso is only open for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so make sure you plan your next Italian vacation for the weekend!