Savour the unique flavours of Baw Baw at Hogget Kitchen
Hogget Kitchen is a new restaurant, vineyard, winery and cellar door destination in the scenic and flavoursome Baw Baw Shire, east of Melbourne. The area may be unknown to you by name, but you will most likely be familiar with the vast region that surrounds it, Gippsland.
Three talented individuals – Chef, Trevor Perkins and winemakers, William Downie and Patrick Sullivan – all revered in their respective fields, have combined their talents to herald the fruits of the land for which they all share a deep respect. Their passion and pride for the region is told via the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus to be enjoyed as you savour the raw beauty of the Strzelecki ranges.
The food and wine the partners diligently grow, care for and produce, speak of their knowledge and respect for the site, claiming it is responsible for creating the unique and plentiful flavours, not them. This refreshingly honest and respectful belief underpins the personable and delicious experience you will enjoy at Hogget Kitchen.
Approximately a one hour and 20 minute drive from Melbourne’s CBD, it’s worth the trip. Make a weekend of it; the region has plenty to offer.
Why the region provides outstanding flavours
“The quality of produce in Gippsland is unrivalled,“ says Downie.
The region has exceptional grazing land producing wonderful flavours in the meat, which Hogget showcases to its best with the traditional methods it adheres to in the kitchen at every stage. Its lamb, beef and pork are all pasture fed.
Thanks to the region, the fruit and vegetables are also incomparable. Downie says, “You can grow anything in Gippsland, from local macadamias to brussel sprouts.”
Its climate and soil also produce remarkable wines. The region guarantees you a tasty trip with endless vistas. It is no coincidence Hogget Kitchen is central to one of the most productive food regions in Australia.
Hogget is the name given to a lamb between weaning and first shearing. It is the time when the meat is at its most tender and flavoursome. Over time it has dropped off the choice cuts list at the butchers, but Trevor is rediscovering its qualities together with other artisan cuts. The kitchen features in-house curing and smoking, house made charcuterie produce and in house butchering of beef, lamb, goat and pork.
The menu has been designed to work with ingredients that are sourced locally at the peak of their season, which means Hogget’s can harvest and use it straight away.
“It makes a huge difference to all the senses. The kitchen prepares each element from scratch, using traditional techniques that ensure you’ll see and taste each ingredient and remember your meal, long after you leave the table,” said Perkins.
Perkins is an intuitive chef and creates delectable dishes with noted flavour combinations and the best produce. Dishes include roasted lamb saddle with zucchini, tomato, 8 hour smoked short rib, rainbow trout with brown butter, lemon and tomato, blood plum, pickled sweet peppers, farm fresh apple pie with cream and ice cream. Another great classic, bread and butter pudding drew a veil of silence across our discerning table of diners; heaven.
The menu is designed to share with family and friends as Perkins explains, “we believe in the importance of connections over food.”
The inner working of Hogget Kitchen is a family affair, Trevor’s dad Graham oversees the meat processing and his butchery skill and techniques are at play in the kitchen. Jennie, Trevor’s mum, courtesy of her abundant kitchen garden, provides fresh herbs and veggies for which she is applauded in the region.
Sullivan and Downie both have a devoted following for their remarkable wines. The Hogget wine list features each of their full wines together with wine made from the property’s established vines.
Baw Baw Shire is Pinot Noir terrain due to its red soil and its rainfall, so Sullivan and Downie don’t have to irrigate their vineyards, in fact they make their wine in the most natural way possible. With harvesting generally taking place in late March, it allows the grapes to remain on the vines longer, imparting aromatic qualities. All these elements make for a much more complex wine.
Additional highlights include the Chardonnay, Sparkling and Rose.
Downie does not credit himself for the wine for which he is heralded; he praises the elements the site provides. “The soil, the plant and the climate create great wine.” Downie sees his role as simply releasing the best representation, regardless of the variety.
An approach shared by Sullivan. Their wine conveys a moment in time and sense of place.
Hogget Kitchen seats 80 and is open for breakfast and lunch everyday and dinner from Thursday to Sunday at: 6 Farrington Close, Warragul, 03 5623 2211, hogget.com.au
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Photography credits – Tim Grey
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