Well Hello Hollydene


Hollydene, you had me at hello! A lovely drive through the country past the contrasting mines of Singleton and Mt Thorley then the lush studs of Coolmore, led us straight to the impressive vineyard estate just off the Golden Highway, Jerry’s Plains.  With eye catching well-maintained vines, paddocks of stock and the very distinct Hollydene building housing the cellar door and Vines restaurant – what a welcome.

 It is really easy to say nice things about Hollydene.  Not just a stunning country venue with generous outdoor dining and ‘one cracker of a view’, but a beautiful indoor space servicing the cellar door and restaurant, with oversized windows, exposed beams, floor to ceiling mirror and pressed metal artworks, smiling, friendly staff and one very interesting history. 

But what instantly grabbed my full attention, like a good online sale (lockdown has changed me), was the mention of the term paddock to plate.  I am incredibly happy to bang on about how important it is to support local farmers and producers.  And I will with reckless abandon.  But while I don’t feel I need to remind us all of the last few seasons (and then some) of crippling drought, followed closely by Australia literally burning over summer, I would like to take my hat off to the graziers, vignerons and farmers for showing nothing short of world class resilience, innovation and determination after lately being thrown a really crappy hand. I am in awe.

As a chef I am privileged to regularly use local produce and have seen first-hand how the Australian climate can impact yield and price, but thankfully not often quality. In return I respectfully adjust menus and dishes to accommodate these changes, rather than complain or compromise with imported or cheaper substitutes.

But back on track….  Hollydene produces and processes its own beef, lamb, poultry and produce in the paddocks literally behind the restaurant.  The true definition of the term paddock to plate!  So much respect.  And I immensely enjoyed the flavour of the amazing scotch fillet steak, cooked perfectly medium rare, even more from the knowledge that the beef was pasture fed and raised on the stunning Hollydene property.

So, I got to thinking how I could help you add some magic to your beef.  There are just so many ways.  A spicy relish, some boozy caramelised onions, a melty, herby butter, a silky sweet jus made from scratch.  Jus is a culinary term for a rich sauce made from the bones of beef, veal, chicken or lamb to enhance the natural flavours of your dish.  It takes 48 hours to make and is without question, completely worth it.  But that little nugget of joy I’ll keep for another time.

What I am going to share with you is a classic pairing that I use often with a simply seared beef steak on the barbecue or chargrill.  Bearnaise sauce.  Decadently rich and flavoursome to bring out the best of the beef, and one to pull out of the bag to impress when the in-laws are over for dinner. Or if it’s a Wednesday. Whatever. I’m not judging.

Bearnaise sauce sounds a bit tricky and I have on occasion split it – but don’t be put off.  I am far from perfect and tend to rush it. So, learn from me. Take your time to enjoy the process as well as the product.  It is also excellent to double dip a roast potato or chip in when no one is watching.

Bearnaise Sauce


¾ cup white wine

¼ cup tarragon vinegar

2 finely chopped French shallots. Or just a finely chopped red onion

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks

250g melted butter

Fresh chopped tarragon  


Pop the first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl.  Throw the onion stuff away.

Place that heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water and add the whole egg and yolks.  Use a big balloon whisk and whisk that mix until it is pale and frothy. About 2 minutes.

Take off the heat and sit the bowl on a tea towel to keep it steady.  This next step is important so take your time.  Very slowly drizzle the hot melted butter into the egg mix, whisking constantly to make the emulsion.  Once all the butter is incorporated, season to taste, add the chopped fresh tarragon and a splash of lemon juice if you fancy.  I do.  Transfer to a jug to keep warm.  To make sure this sauce doesn’t split I get my hand blender out and give it a gentle blitz.  Works a treat.

But before you go to town on the barbecue with your favourite cut of beef, or visit a local cellar door or restaurant, take a moment to feel good about supporting local producers.  Hollydene is a fantastic example.  I’ll drink to that!

Vines Restaurant at Hollydene Estate    3483 Golden Highway Jerrys Plains    www.vines@hollydene.com