Toronto's grand old dame given some lovin’ | FOOD NEWS

It’s great to see the Toronto Hotel being given some love. The upstairs Mulberry Tapas Bar & Lounge is stunning and the view from the verandah across Lake Macquarie is without peer.

The perfect place for a cocktail and a few share plates on a sunny afternoon, really. 

A BEAUTY: The Mulberry Tapas Bar & Lounge at Toronto Hotel prides itself on its share-plate menu, cocktail list and the views of Lake Macquarie. Picture: Supplied

A BEAUTY: The Mulberry Tapas Bar & Lounge at Toronto Hotel prides itself on its share-plate menu, cocktail list and the views of Lake Macquarie. Picture: Supplied

A spokesperson for the hotel told Food & Wine feedback about the bar from patrons had been positive since it opened a couple of weeks ago, and “people are so happy they can now take advantage of the magnificent view of Lake Macquarie”. Christmas party bookings are already being taken so don’t drag your feet if you’re looking for a venue.

The tapas menu includes garlic-infused asparagus with pancetta and dukkah; Cuban spiced pork belly with pineapple and black bean salsa in a soft taco with mojo sauce; and seared scallops on a cauliflower puree with truffle-infused olive oil and fresh parmesan. 

Toronto Hotel was built in the 1880s on a former dairy farm which had an orchard peppered with mulberry trees and was known as, funnily enough, Mulberry Hill. It is believed to be the oldest building in Toronto and certainly its most impressive.

The Mulberry Tapas Bar & Lounge, Toronto.

The Mulberry Tapas Bar & Lounge, Toronto.

Beach beauty

Speaking of views, the rooftop at Merewether’s Beach Hotel is worth checking out, too. 

Cob loaf heaven

The organisers of this year’s WomDomNom, a riverside event coinciding with a four-day paddle from the NSW town of Wellington to Narromine, are on to a winner.

The COB Loaf Festival, as it has been called, has gone viral. It started off as a play on words – Cameron Park on the Bell River – and is now a fully-fledged competition. The inaugural event on November 22 will showcase a variety of local produce, food and entertainment as well as the cob loaf competition. 

I, for one, am known for lingering too long by a cob loaf at any social gathering, relishing scooping the savoury goodness out of the “bowl” with a spoon of crusty bread. If you fancy yourself a cob loaf aficionado, or know someone who is, why not enter?

Festival organiser Andrew Mackay reckons this is the first festival of its kind in the world: “Everyone loves a good cob loaf, but I am sure there are some hidden recipes out there that could take cob loaves to a whole new level.”

The International Cob Loaf Judging Laws, he says, are in the process of being drafted.

Supercars sorted

Restaurant Mason has its Supercars weekend plans sorted. The talented Chris Thornton’s one-hatted restaurant is teaming up with Rascal and Silverskin Coffee Roasters from November 24 to 26 to serve coffee from 7am; burgers from 10am to 3.30pm; and dinner from 6pm.

Coffee spot

Hot Shot Lounge has opened at Charlestown Square on level one. As the name suggests, the cafe prides itself on its coffee but also has a food menu with sandwiches and wraps, burgers and salads. 

Beer festival

Time is running out to grab your ticket to Warners at the Bay Festival 2017. Craft beer lovers from all over make their way to the Hillsborough Road hotel’s annual gathering, which this year takes place on Sunday, November 19, noon to 5pm. You will be able to sample beer, cider and wine while enjoying live music and food from Doughheads and Nagisa.

Tickets at events.ticketbooth.com.au. Doughheads will be debuting their new caravan at the festival. 

Also, Warners at the Bay’s restaurant has just launched a new menu.

Mayfield venture

Talulah Bar & Restaurant at The Junction received rave reviews for its recent Expressions of Spring dinner, a collaboration with Apothecary Kitchen and Estabar. And Talulah’s head chef Cooper Thomas is fast making a name for himself in the catering world as “The Wilderness Chef”. Anyway, Talulah is opening a sister cafe in Mayfield called Equium Social at the corner of Selwyn Street and Maitland Road. At this stage it should be open in early December and will serve “coffee, food, beer and good vibes”. Sounds interesting. 

Welcome back

Victoria, Mark Fren and Cathy Fren of Oma's Kitchen. Picture: Simone De Peak

Victoria, Mark Fren and Cathy Fren of Oma's Kitchen. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Fren family, who own Oma’s Kitchen on Watt Street, have spent the past three months travelling the world filming the second series of Travel Guides. The show will be aired on the Nine Network in 2018.

“Oma’s Kitchen will be up and running again on Wednesday, November 29, however we will be at the Supercars with a pop-up restaurant over the three days of the event,” Mark Fren told Food & Wine.

“We will also be at the next three Olive Tree Christmas markets and the Newcastle Farmers Market. We will have a selection of our house-made German shortbreads, biscuits and treats, gift wrapped and available for sale, with orders taken for cakes for Christmas Day. And as for Travel Guides, it was amazing. We made sure we made lots of references to Newcastle.”

Mark, his wife Cathy and children Victoria and Jonathan starred in season one of Travel Guides and proved so popular that they were invited back for season two.

Good cause

The inaugural Hunter River Prawn auction at Newcastle Commercial Fisherman’s Co-op on November 6 raised $7000 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. 

Beach dining

Feast Fest returns to Ungala Road, Blacksmiths, this Saturday, November 18, 4pm to 8pm. This time around there will be more than 20 food trucks, market stalls, face painting, a jumping castle and live music.