Redsalt's new menu launches and Cessnock gets ready to stomp | FOOD BITES

NO FEAR: Shoes are optional at the annual Cessnock Stomp Festival on Sunday. Go to cessnockstompfestival.com.au for details.

NO FEAR: Shoes are optional at the annual Cessnock Stomp Festival on Sunday. Go to cessnockstompfestival.com.au for details.

If you love wine, food, fashion and fun, Cessnock Stomp Festival is the place to be on Sunday, April 23. From 10am to 4pm Vincent Street will be transformed by rides, a fashion parade, street performances, market stalls, Kids Zone, Bubble Lane, Beerhaven, a Mad Hatters Tea Party and much, much more. If grape stomping is your thing, there are plenty of opportunities. You can compete in a timed event, trying to fill a jug in two minutes; grab a selfie while taking part in a more casual stomp; or represent your local in the Cessnock Pub Challenge.

Menu change

Food & Wine had the opportunity to sample the new dinner menu at Redsalt Restaurant, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, last week. It was worth the drive. There are a few new dishes and others have been tweaked. A special mention goes to the pork belly and scallop entree, the garlic sherry mushrooms and the cleverly constructed – and balanced – lemon curd dessert. It bodes well for the Heroes of the Hunter five-course degustation menu Redsalt will offer during the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival.

Redsalt Restaurant's chocolate pave, dulce de leche, chocolate and raspberry crumb and raspberry sorbet.

Redsalt Restaurant's chocolate pave, dulce de leche, chocolate and raspberry crumb and raspberry sorbet.

Crowne Plaza also hosted two Kids High Tea sittings over the Easter break, the first of which was a sell-out, as well as child-friendly cooking activities as part of their Kids Club. Foodies really are spoilt for choice in the Hunter.

A good egg

Ben Byrne at Meet n Eats, a little cafe tucked away in Mt Hutton, doesn’t mind offering his customers a special or two. His latest offering is worth checking out – for just $12 you can order eggs benedict, a big breakfast or a vegetarian breakfast each Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Meet n Eats will also host a three-course Mother’s Day lunch on May 14, phone 4948 4282 for details. 

Daily specials

It has been about a month since Cowper Street Diner opened at Carrington Bowling Club and the daily specials alone are a good reason to check it out.  

Road trip

If you’re up Gloucester way, pop in to The Fox Den on Church Street. It’s a restaurant, tapas bar and live music venue that also serves some tasty-looking takeaway lunches and picnic hampers for you to enjoy as you explore the beautiful Barringtons. The prices are surprisingly reasonable for a small-town gem, too.

Sweet soup

Hot chocolate soup is back on the menu at Carrington Place, and the timing couldn’t be better. It is served with a sponge biscuit and caramel chocolate ice-cream. 

Families first

Clare and Campbell Rogers had families in mind when they overhauled The Argenton Hotel and its menu. There is an impressive playground on site, kids eat for just $5 on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the hotel is happy to host children’s parties and other child-friendly events. The Rogers know what they’re doing when it comes to making a hotel family-friendly. They also own the Sydney Junction Hotel at Hamilton. 

Cafe with soul

It is nice to see people helping people. Fused Cafe in Maitland has some caring regulars who are committed to “paying forward” when they buy their daily cuppa so that a complete stranger can also enjoy one. Are there any other kind businesses out there?

Fresh is best

Slow Food Hunter Valley will run a fresh produce market at The Levee between Bourke and Bulwer streets on the first and third Thursday of the month. The market will run from 3pm to 7pm in summer, autumn and spring, and from 1pm to 5pm in winter. The next market is on this Thursday, April 20. 

Quick and easy

Hippo Express is now open for business at Hippo Espresso in Warners Bay. The takeaway window on The Esplanade is open from 8am to 2pm daily. 

Tiaras & Tea

The Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation is holding its annual high tea by the sea at Merewether Surfhouse on May 28. Book your ticket to Tiaras & Tea by the Sea and help raise awareness and funds to support local people living with breast cancer in the community.

Mexican night

On Thursday, May 4, Newcastle’s Reserve Wine Bar invites you to sample some of Mexico’s finest spirits, tequila and dMezcal, with Mextrade ambassador Chris Woodger. Tickets cost $95 per person and include a four-course dinner, four mixed drinks and Mexican beer. Go to reservewinebar.com.au to book. 

Dinner is served

Wollombi Road Providore at Cessnock has been promoting their made-to-order BBQ and picnic hampers and, just quietly, they look amazing. They also sell pre-prepared dinner options for busy people, made from fresh local ingredients, that you simply heat and eat. 

Beer or wine?

FogHorn Brewhouse is hosting a Beer vs Wine dinner on May 4. Brewer Shawn Sherlock and winemaker Peter Drayton will pair beer and wine to a six-course degustation dinner. Tickets cost $59 per person and bookings are essential. Phone 4929 4721. 

FogHorn is also hosting Eco Chic Fashion Pop-Up on Sunday, April 30, 5pm to 8pm. The brainchild of Raid My Wardrobe’s Rachel Prest, it will feature upcycled and fair trade fashion. 

Keep on truckin’

Head to RH Taylor Reserve at Lorn on Saturday evening (5.30pm to 8.30pm) and you will be greeted by a smorgasbord of food trucks. The Food Truck Get Together will include: Hi-top Coffee; Bonjani Woodfired Pizza; Uncle Ignatios and Choux Patisserie.