Written by Jason Dutton-Smith – Well Travelled
Food is an important part of every travel experience. From the quality, locally sourced ingredients, new tastes and shared memories, dining provides a connection to a destination like few things can.
And that’s why Spicers Retreats takes great pride in its menu offerings. Seasoned chefs add their special touches to dishes that reflect their Queensland or New South Wales settings. Add a fine regional wine to the table and a Spicers meal becomes an event.
The popular retreats are the brainchild of Jude Turner, a travel aficionado known for her impeccable style and taste, especially when it comes to the design of the properties and the dining experiences that accompany them.
“Each destination is unique and appropriately designed to provide the best experience in its location,” she said.
“We quickly learned that great food and good wine is an important part of this. It’s remained part of the brand experience and has set us apart from other hotels.”
Gourmet cuisine is a cornerstone of the Spicers experience. From modern Australian fare at Restaurant Botanica, the Australian-grown produce at Homage Restaurant, or the seven-course degustation menu at The Peak, the world-class food is just one reason guests keep coming back.
Located in the heart of New South Wales’ premier wine-growing region, the Hunter Valley, Spicers Vineyards Estate adds a touch of luxury among the vineyards.
Here, head chef Matthew Bremerkamp utilises the property’s on-site vegetable and herb garden to create dishes that showcase the quality seasonal ingredients as well as the local wine.
The dining experience is a deliciously playful way in which to enjoy the food and the wine – all perfectly matched for amazing flavour combinations.
Start with the house-cured Kingfish with wood smoked prawn, black garlic, pickled radish and edamame beans, followed by pistachio and cumin crusted local lamb with potato, yoghurt, asparagus and pomegranate.
Tucked away in the picturesque Blue Mountains, not far from Sydney, Spicers Sangoma Retreat features the talents of head chef Matthew Ostrenski. Not only does Ostrenski come to Spicers with extensive experience in fine-dining, but his award winning accomplishments include the famed, three-hatted Vue du Monde.
With a passion for modern Australian cuisine, Ostrenski’s skill and dedication allows him to create beautiful dishes that suit his environment.
One of the perks when staying at this eco-certified retreat is the all-inclusive pricing, which means meals and much more are included in the cost of accommodation.
The menu changes daily and the fresh, organic, seasonal produce is sourced locally from farmers and producers within the community. What isn’t sourced locally is grown right on the Spicers Sangoma Retreat property.
In Queensland, Daniel Jarrett may be a classically trained French chef, but it’s his creative approach to modern Asian cuisine that really displays his skill.
Spicers Tamarind Retreat, in the cool hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, effortlessly combines sweet, sour and spicy flavours, with fresh local produce for original and innovative meal options.
For an incredible fusion of Asian flavours, don’t go by the confit salmon, with ponzu, pickled ginger, miso, quinoa, furikake and wakame, or the southern style sour orange curry with local white fish, prawns, steamed papaya, oyster mushrooms, asian greens and crispy soft shell crab.
Just up the road, Spicers Clovelly Estate brings its own unique flair to the culinary world. Chef Chris Hagan leads his talented team at The Long Apron restaurant. Having worked in a Michelin Starred restaurant in Derbyshire and several awarded restaurants in New Zealand, Chris decided to call Queensland home.
Having been awarded two Chef Hats in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Queensland Good Food Guide, Chris Hagan takes his inspiration from his world travels, and from the hundreds of famous chefs’ books adorning the shelves in his home.
Classically trained, he has a skill for clean, precise dishes with excellent balance of flavour and elegant presentation. Try the potato skin broth, with parmesan custard, confit shiitake and broad beans, and the tuna with watermelon, smoked roe, konbu cured lardo with porcetta-brown butter.
At Spicers Peak Lodge, chef Minh Le finds inspiration in the fresh, seasonal local produce and regional wines of the Scenic Rim and Granite Belt.
Minh Le has been featured in two cookbooks, was a finalist for Australian Chef of the Year in the Gault & Millau Awards, and his own restaurant won Queensland’s Best New Restaurant within the first year of opening.
Peak’s restaurant features clean and simple flavours that perfectly complement each other. Dishes such as pumpkin, smoked yoghurt, saltbush and pinenuts make for the perfect start, followed by sugar-cured kangaroo with beetroot, liquorice and lemon myrtle glaze.
Down the valley in Grandchester, Spicers Hidden Vale’s Homage Restaurant is led by former Peak Lodge head chef, Ash Martin.
Bringing his ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy to Homage Restaurant, Ash Martin places an emphasis on locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients, combined with the structured techniques and sophisticated flavours of modern Australian cuisine.
Martin and his talented team strive to unlock the natural, organic and seasonal treasures of the Darling Downs and the Lockyer Valley.
For a real Australian bush experience, try the pumpkin with dehydrated vegemite and macadamias to start, followed by Kangaroo tail, chilli, riberries and pear, or the Murray cod poached in macadamia milk, baby cos and bush lemon.
Also known for their events, a taste of all the Spicers Chefs can be found at the Chefs in the City festivals throughout the year. This culinary event showcases the cuisine and wines of the group’s restaurants, and offers a rare opportunity for food and wine lovers to enjoy the exceptional food, wine and service that Spicers is renowned for. TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR CHEFS IN THE CITY THE FINAL CHAPTER