Brancott Estate Flight

Some days in Sydney are better than others and Friday was one of those better days where I got a leave-pass from my usual chores and had a day that was only all the more perfect because of the glorious weather.

I drove to Rose Bay which isn’t that far from home but experienced terrible traffic so ended up running late and just as I was almost at my destination I was singled out and pulled over for a random breath test.  At 11am.  I did try to explain to the officer that I had a very important appointment that involved wine tasting and perhaps it would be in his best interests if he breatholised me after the event rather than before, but no, he made me do the test not once but twice – just to be sure.

The double-dipper cop – breatholises not once but twice.

After passing my two tests I drove on to Rose Bay then had to find somewhere to park.  Mission completed I ran in my heels to Sydney Seaplanes where I was given my boarding pass for a flight across Sydney Harbour, along the Northern Beaches and up the Hawkesbury River.   Flying altitude is 1600ft which is low enough to see all the famous landmarks and sites you normally only have the opportunity to view from the ground.

My boarding pass for the seaplane

The ‘airport’ for Sydney Seaplanes at Rose Bay – it’s not large!

Three seaplanes operate out of Sydney Seaplanes and the company specialises in scenic flights, charter flights and packages with restaurants.  A return flight to one of the waterfront restaurants including lunch will cost around $500.00.  The seaplanes don’t operate at night.

Heading down to the seaplanes and there’s my pilot, Andy, who’s from Oregon, USA

Now that I have my fashion accessory, a life jacket, I’m ready to board.

See those narrow little steps up to the plane?  Now I’m wishing I wore sensible flat shoes and a longer dress, preferably jeans or pants to avoid an unflattering display as I fall into the plane with bystanders viewing from below!

The very capable co-pilot

The pilot asked if anyone wanted to sit next to him.  The other four passengers were silent.  I yelled, ‘I would’, and scrambled into the front seat.

Up in the air a faster seaplane heading to the same destination overtakes us.

In case of emergency, make sure you have a good-looking pilot

Flying over Scotland Island. People live on this Island that’s about an hour from Sydney’s CBD and commute by boat to and from the mainland.

The flight was around 15 minutes and took us to a well-known restaurant on the Hawkesbury River called Peats Bite.  Today, times aren’t easy for restaurants yet here is a restaurant that’s in an isolated spot, is only open three days a week, is only accessible by boat or seaplane, and yet it survives and does well.  As we were landing the American pilot said to me that the setting of Peats Bite reminds him very much of the Caribbean.

The peaceful and serene setting of Peats Bite

It was a very hot day and we were all looking for a bit of shade.

Other diners who had arrived by boat sitting amongst the tropical setting

As soon as we arrived at Peats Bite we were handed chilled glasses of white wine from Brancott EstateBrancott Estate Wines are from the Marlborough region in New Zealand.  They are one of New Zealand’s largest producers of organic wines.  400 Acres have been certified organic with another 600 acres growing grapes organically but not yet certified.

Brancott Estate, Flight

I had a chat to Tony Robb, one of the winemakers from Brancott Estate who told me growing grapes organically involves the use of sheep.  The sheep wander along the rows of vines and eat the grass keeping it at a manageable level and they also ‘leaf pluck’ which is where they assist by eating the lower leaves off the vines.  Sheep are used instead of tractors which stops the soil from becoming impacted and the labour costs of sheep are much lower!

Sauvignon Blanc or Pino Gris

In time for the festive season, Brancott Estate has just launched a new range called ‘Flight’ that’s a lower alcohol white wine available in Sauvignon Blanc or Pino Gris.  Traditionally, lower alcohol wines have the alcohol removed after the wine is made which can cause the wine to lose flavour.  In order to avoid this Flight has retained its full flavour by the grapes being harvested earlier in the season before the sugar percentages increase.

A traditional white wine has an alcohol level of around 11-12% and the Flight range wines are 9% alcohol.  Both wines are very light in colour yet full flavour and that typical Marborough taste and smell has been retained.

After a welcome drink we were invited to sit down at a long table that had been set up on an undercover terrace to enjoy a six course degustation menu.

A very relaxing way to spend the day

Sitting on benches in the cool of the shade

For the first of six courses we had…

House made flat bread with olives, pistachio dukkah and olive oil

I didn’t actually get to have any of the flat bread.  There were a lot of foodie people about and they all like to try everything and sometimes you have to be very quick if you don’t want to miss out.  Messing about with a camera can cause disappointment!

Smoked Eggplant Dip

Yes, this was very smoky.

Prosciutto and grilled chorizo

The prosciutto and chorizo were lovely.  I missed out on the rocket and parmesan!

Asparagus and grilled haloumi with avocado

I loved this dish and the presentation was beautiful.  Tony told me asparagus is a very difficult vegetable to pair with a wine and he believes the Pinot Gris matches it perfectly.

Roast pumpkin, labna and salted walnut

Isn’t this pretty.  I especially liked the touch of edible flowers.

And that was the first course!  For the second course we had…

Hawkesbury River oysters with watermelon and chilli granita

Very local produce!  As you fly over the Hawkesbury you can see all the oyster farms.

Salmon tartar with pomegranate and dill

Tony loved how well the sauvignon blanc went with the salmon.  As for me, I had both wines in front of me and was hoping I wasn’t getting them mixed up and creating my own blend as they were being re-filled.

For the third course we had…

Salmon with black olive and creamed leek

The apple and fennel salad with a lime juice dressing was very fresh and crisp and went well with the wine.

For the Fourth Course we had…

Lamb cutlet with cauliflower puree and pickled cucumber

My lamb could have been a little more pink but the pickled cucumber was a lovely accompaniment to the lamb.

For the fifth course we had…

Pernod steeped pineapple, coconut pannacotta

I couldn’t taste the pernod in the pineapple but never mind!  This dessert was sweet but also refreshing and I could have eaten a whole plate of it.  The coconut pannacotta was smooth and creamy and delightful paired with the blueberries.

For the sixth course we had…

Tarago Brie served with salted walnuts, apple jelly and toasted coriander

I wanted to try the apple jelly but it didn’t fare well in the heat and quickly melted.  The walnuts with the brie were a wonderful combination.

The degustation menu costs $130 per person.  I found the staff to be relaxed and friendly without being overly familiar.  This is a family owned restaurant and that warmth, love and care that comes from a family-run business is reflected in how they welcome and respond to their guests.

It was then time to board the seaplanes for our return flight only a thunderstorm came in and because the planes fly below the storm level we had to wait for it to pass before we could fly.

A pilot waiting to hear when it will be safe to fly

The tables aren’t cramped together at Peats Bite

As I had some time I went for a wander around the grounds and discovered a swimming pool as well as six cabins for overnight accommodation.  Handy if you don’t need to rush off anywhere.

And the storm passed and soon it was time to head back to Rose Bay

Brancott Estate Flight wines are available now and are being distributed through Woolworths Liquor, BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores.  The RRP for both wines is $18.00/bottle.

Sydney Seaplanes are at Lyne Park, Rose Bay.  Ph:  1300 732 752

Peats Bite is at Sunny Corner, Brooklyn.  Ph:  9985 9040

Hotly Spiced was a guest of Brancott Estate Wines and she wasn’t breatholised on the way home.

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Comments

  1. Hehe good to hear that you weren’t breathalysed on the way home although I’m sure that you kept yourself neat anyway! :D

  2. A lovely note about the cute pilot! Looks like you’ve had a fantastic day… :)

  3. What an exotic place to visit and dine. And the food is just so different than anything I’ve ever eaten, or even seen. I always enjoy your peeks into a world that is so very different from mine.

  4. What a fun Friday! This would make a great mini-vacation. The oysters with granita look fantastic. I’d love to try to recreate that.

  5. What an amazing adventure from start to finish. I had fears of your missing your connection but it all ended well. And the menu was such a variety of flavours.

  6. All this and you are concerned about not having Thanksgiving????
    Trade ya!(Just one year;I’ll take T-day the rest of the time!)

  7. What an awesome way to spend a day :)

  8. What a wonderful experience! The food looks amazing and what an adventure being up in the plane!

  9. The roast pumpkin, labna and salted walnut looks delicious! Sounds like you had a fantastic day :)

  10. What a fun way to spend the day! Although I would have been terrified to fly in a sea plane. I don’t do so well with small planes. The food and the wine may have made it worth it for me though. Looks fabulous!

  11. My father in law had a small sea plane that he used to fly to the cottage; not nearly as romantic as it sounds. It was hot and very noisy. But the odd time he took us up for a jaunt was quite fun. I might have wanted to go for a jaunt more often had he looked like your pilot!
    That lunch looks and sounds fantastic. I’ll have to put it on my list of things to do when I get to Sydney (notice I said when?)
    They breathalise in the mornings here too, they say you could still be drunk in the morning depending on how much you drank the night before! In Hungary they the zero tolerance, you can have no alcohol what so ever to drive!

  12. Great memories reading this blog. We used to have our boat up on the Hawkesbury and we’d fly to Sydney, hire a car, drive to Brooklyn, get groceries, get on the boat and potter around for a week or so and one of the places we went was past this restaurant. We’d watch the seaplane arrive every day with its store of hungry humans and then come back to pick them up once they were full. I always wanted to do it but never did.

  13. That smoked eggplant dip looks delicious!

  14. What a terrific day out!! I’m jealous! What is a haloumi?

  15. What a fun day. The food looks nice and I like the tip about the asparagus and Pinot Grigio. Oh how I miss haloumi, which I can’t get here in Mexico. We do have a non-melting cheese that is similar, but without the zingy taste. This reminds me of the Caribbean as well–we call those planes “puddle-jumpers.”

  16. take me next time!

  17. What a feast! You are such a lucky girl :) Very jealous… please take me next time? I like wine too!

  18. Oooh, I just flew in a tiny float plane myself! We didn’t have any steps, though. You just had to climb up and in!

  19. What an amazing day!! It looks like one of those experiences to be cherished forever – definitely lots of memories I imagine. I’m so glad you got to experience it :)

  20. You are a very lucky lady. Looks, and sounds, amazing!

  21. Anyone from Sydney and surrounds who is not privy to the magic of Scotland Island, beg, borrow or steal a ‘friend’ with one of the few houses there! One of the world’s great magical places at dawn and sunset! And that trip over to the Hawkesbury from Rose Bay is to die for :D !

  22. Now that the way to spend a chore-less day! From the extra-ordinary mode of transport to the fantastic meal, that was one great afternoon! Good for you, Charlie. You deserved it!

  23. What a lucky girl you are! Thanks for letting us share in your lunch – loved seeing the photos even if I couldn’t taste it very well.

  24. Also, I have nominated you for a Liebster blog award <3
    http://www.foodmyfriend.com/2012/11/liebster-blog-award/

  25. You have had a great many special occasions lately. You are also quite adventurous to get in an “co-pilot” that seaplane. I don’t like small planes, but I do see that you have a good time with everything you do! The multi-course meal looks beautiful, too!

  26. What a fabulous day Charlie. Did they pilot realise he could have been taking his life in his own hands flying you in that tiny plane.? Not sure weather the low alcohol wine is good or not cause I’d probably just drink more. I would love to go to Petes Bite though…..did you say cabins?

  27. What an awesome way to spend a day – fabulous!
    :-) Mandy

  28. Magnolia Verandah says:

    So glad you weren’t breathalised on the way home. What a perfect day out. Love the look of those oysters.

  29. WOW! Everything seems so beautiful and so delicious… And yes, you are too dear Charlie. Thank you, love, nia

  30. What a lovely, luxurious day Charlie! It must have felt like you were flying into Fantasy Island on the sea plane :)
    Marlborough Savvies are lovely, nice and crisp, and I’m sure Mr Policeman would appreciate the lower alcohol content!

  31. Wow it seems like so much fun Charlie :) and you sure had one very very HANDSOME pilot hahaha really hope Mr Bao doesn’t read this comment ~

    I’ve never gone on a seaplane before! Would love to try and the degustation! All the wonderful food! Glad that you enjoyed it and that you weren’t breathelised when coming home :D

  32. What a beautiful looking day and that meal looks delicious! Great way to spend your day off! Hahaha @ Daisy’s comment about Mr Bao hehehe

  33. What a fantastic adventure! I felt proud of NZ as I read about the organic wine, how they used the sheep (ingenious!) and harvested the grapes early in the season to maintain flavour but reduce alcohol. And the enterprising family who run the Peats Bite restaurant.

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