Junee, New South Wales

  21 October 2015

So after our visit to Leeton, we headed to Junee which is about a 30mins drive north of Wagga Wagga and stopped for lunch at the beautiful Cottontail Wines (562 Pattersons Road, Wagga Wagga)

I ordered the Baked Camembert ($16) to share with Noods since my lactose hating gut would have rebelled and caused me much pain the whole day if I had eaten the whole thing by myself. And it was amazing because hey, baking cheese so that its innards are gloriously melty and gooey? Winner. Oh and there was also candied macadamias which were buttery and sweet and house made pita bread which I gleefully dunked into the cheese.

For mains I couldn’t resist the Rack of Junee Lamb ($39) which had a perfect baby pink centre and a thin ribbon of caramelised fat along the edges. There was a minted pea puree and blanched beans in a berry and red wine reduction underneath but honestly I just wanted a pile o mash. So I ordered fries because it’s almost the same…

Noods’ Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Seared Scallops ($39) was just perfect. Like honestly that pork belly was the bomb, super juicy and tender and not overly fatty and with a tile of golden crackling that shattered into a zillion pieces because yes, I’m that kind of messy eater.

Scenery. Side note: Noods totally thought that water fountain was a chocolate fountain and was questioning why it was outside…

We didn’t get dessert because we were in Junee, home to the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory!

The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory is operated by Green Grove Organics, a family run company that has been practicing organic farming since 1962 and is located in the restored Junee Flour Mill.

Hellooo giant slab of licorice! We made it in time for their tours which are $5 per person ($4 for kids, $3 for seniors) which was entertaining and pretty informative but best of all, there’s free samples!

Organic Belgian styled coverture chocolate is used to coat all their products and the smell of the chocolate melting was so freaking intoxicating!

We were lucky enough to meet the lovely Neil Druce, owner of Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory and scored a lil tasting of some of his favourite products. I’ve never been a fan of licorice, I’d even go so far as to say I loathe licorice. But THIS licorice changed me! Forget about those neon hued cubes of licorice you get at the shops, the licorice here is amazing! The flavour is more subtle, smooth and more aniseed-y and I was quite taken with the dark chocolate coated raspberry licorice and absolutely loved the milk chocolate coated cherries.

But then Neil brought out his own personal bottle of Bruichladdich’s Octomore Futures and urged us to try a dark chocolate coated almond and a sip of the whisky and my world exploded into fireworks. How do I even begin to explain how freaking amazing that combination was??? That smokiness, the smooth, warm caramel sweetness. All other whiskies are now dead to me. Anyone know where I can get my hands on a bottle???

I tried making every drop of that whiskey last but then it was time for us to try our hand at making a chocolate freckle! Hand a fiver over at the front counter and don a hair net before entering the promised land (the kitchen). Melted chocolate is ladled into a plate and then you’re set loose with a shaker filled with 100’s & 1000’s. (Tangent, how do you make fairy bread? Noods is arguing that you should fill a bowl/plate with 100s & 1000s and then dip your buttered bread into it and I’m saying yes that’s clever but generally people will shake the sprinkles onto buttered bread otherwise wastage of sprinkles which will get coated in butter…)

To make your own Rocky Road it’s $8 and there’s a whole bunch of toppings you can choose from like chocolate coated pretzels, hazelnuts, licorice, almonds, coconut and of course, marshmallows. A ladle of melted chocolate goes on top and then mix away until everything’s combined and leave to set!

We amble out of the factory through Graze restaurant- which apparently does a smashing high tea and see Neil on a tractor taking kids (and the young at heart) on a barrel train ride hehe

Dinner was at The Crossing Motel (39 Seignior Street, Junee) for Riverina on a Plate, a 9 course degustation menu featuring produce from the Riverina area. The dinner is $95pp and will run again on Sat 24 Oct and 31 Oct.

We start with warm olives from Wollundry Grove Olives with Pimms fetta served with toasted artesian sourdough.

The Tumut trout timbales were so creamy and rich and deceptively filling!

Next was a pork terrine from Bush Goddess Paddock Pork served on soft polenta and beetroot relish. Apparently Pennie names each and every pig she raises and the pork we were dining on was called Morris. I’m not too sure how I feel about eating an animal that’s been named but he was deeelicious especially with that crackling 😛

I loved the Junee lamb with parsley and a Harefield pistachio crust, the meat was juicy and tender and perfect with the sweet potato puree.

I would’ve liked the tea smoked Dutton Park duck to be heavier on the smoky flavour but that’s just me because I love that flavour profile but the duck was beautifully cooked and the roasted fennel and apple salad refreshed the palate.

And then there was this beautiful eye fillet poached in Poker Face Shiraz spiced mulled wine on a bacon and mushroom ragout. Man, meat out here just tastes incredible!

A sorbet made from Batlow apples was amazing, it was sour but just sweet enough to have us digging for more.

The pannacotta was made with lavender sourced from Kaybunda Lavender Farm, I’m not the biggest fan of lavender but I liked the creaminess of the pannacotta.

Last but not least, a white chocolate cheesecake with a layer of Junee licorice that was pretty intriguing, the licorice in the cheesecake balanced out the sweetness and I loved the vanilla ice cream dusted with a licorice root powder.

Clutching our stomaches we roll home to Gryphon Lodge (130 Waterworks Rd, Junee), a b&b run by the lovely Fran & Keith and yes I know you can’t seem them but there’s super fluffy alpacas out there!

We woke to piping hot pots of tea, freshly baked sourdough, brioche and rye bread with home made jams and a plate of butter curls! Argh so cute I die. Butter just won’t taste the same if they’re not in curls now. It’s been great Junee! I can’t wait to come back!

ChocolateSuze travelled to Wagga Wagga, Leeton and Junee as a guest of Destination NSW.

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Leeton, New South Wales Visiting Leeton and exploring the Hillview Citrus farm, wine tasting at Lillypilly Estate and seeing the Big Tennis Racquet.
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales Visiting Wagga Wagga aka the Garden City of the South for the Taste Riverina Festival.

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