Markets make Christmas shopping fun and Newcastle's rail corridor is ready for public dining |NIBBLES

EASY DOES IT: Forget trying to find a park at a busy shopping centre this weekend and head to one of our region's many markets. Picture: The Olive Tree Market

EASY DOES IT: Forget trying to find a park at a busy shopping centre this weekend and head to one of our region's many markets. Picture: The Olive Tree Market

Olive Tree Market organisers are bracing themselves for their biggest event of the year – the annual Christmas Festival – and food is on the agenda.

On Saturday at Civic Park you can eat as you browse or take gourmet treats home to create a Christmas hamper. The Bao Brothers will be there, as well as The Hungry Camel, Oma’s Kitchen, Goose on the Loose, Eat Me Chutney, Baked Uprising, Vietyum, Superfood Revolution, El Gringo, Sprocket and the Cordial Collective, to name a few.  

If you’re like me and haven’t started the dreaded Christmas shopping, let alone thought about what to prepare for Christmas lunch, the clock is ticking and one of the many markets being held in and around Newcastle and the Hunter could be the answer. 

Hunter medals

Margan Wines & Restaurant and Chateau Elan at The Vintage won gold at the NSW Tourism Awards in Sydney last week. 

Joe Spagnolo, general manager of Chateau Elan at The Vintage.

Joe Spagnolo, general manager of Chateau Elan at The Vintage.

Margan Wines & Restaurant won the Excellence in Food Tourism category in recognition of its commitment to giving guests a unique food experience via its restaurant, range of estate-grown produce, vineyard and wine-tasting operations and food experiences such as cooking schools and garden tours. 

Chateau Elan at The Vintage was named best Business Event Venue, beating the likes of Star City, Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains and Luna Park.

Both venues were inducted into the Hall of Fame for winning their respective categories for the third consecutive year and are now finalists in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards to be held in Darwin on February 24. 

Two very good reasons to head out to the Valley if you haven’t done so lately. 

Festival feast

If you love your food and wine, you might want to book a flight south to the 2017 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. From March 31 to April 9 there will be long lunches, master classes, workshops and gourmet delights to sample. For more information go online to 

Markets galore

As mentioned earlier in this column, markets get you outdoors while you do the dreaded Christmas shopping, and Sunset Gather Markets won’t disappoint.

Hunt & Gather’s summer series kicks off at Gregson Park in Hamilton this Saturday, December 3. From 3pm to 9pm the park will come alive with street eats, art, markets, live music and more. The so-called Food Alley will feature the culinary talents of Apothecary Kitchen, De Wafel and Bocados Newcastle, to name a few.  

Pop-up paella

Don’t forget Carrington Fare is hosting a “pop-up paella” evening on Saturday, December 10. The massive pan will be fired up about 5.30pm, and the paella ready to be served about 6.30pm to 7.30pm.  Eat in or take away. 

Ham up for grabs

Lowlands Bowling Club is holding its annual ham raffle on December 11. Thirty hams will be up for grabs and you can win a bar voucher if your festive outfit gets the nod from staff. 

Young talent

The Premier Hotel has a new head chef and a new menu. Brogan St John Morton is just 23 but wants to take “pub grub” to the next level in Newcastle. You can meet the ambitious chef in an upcoming edition of Food & Wine. 

Communal dining

A new public space is being launched on Friday, December 9, with a strong food and family focus.

Market Street Lawn, on the former rail corridor between Market and Scott streets in Newcastle East, is a summer fiesta-inspired evening event from 4.30pm to 9.30pm with food trucks, street food, long communal tables for festive dining, market stalls and picnic areas. There will also be entertainment for all ages including an inflatable zone for kids, face painting and a visit from Santa.

The Revitalising Newcastle team is working with Newcastle City Council to transform the new Market Street Lawn area into an active public place programmed with community events over the next 12 months.

Long lunch

A date has been set for next year’s Lovedale Long Lunch. May 20. The event grows in popularity each year so save the date and grab some friends for a memorable day out. Tickets are on sale December 7. 

Hawaiian theme

The Prince of Wales Hotel at Merewether is kicking off a weekly summer event on December 4 – Tiki Summer Sunday. Put on your loudest Hawaiian shirt and enjoy Hawaiian-inspired cocktails and share plates every Sunday from 4pm. 

Opens tomorrow

Scoop Wholefoods, based at Mosman, is opening a store at The Junction Fair on December 1. They offer a range of organic wholefoods and superfoods direct to the customer. 

Noche Buena

If the thought of traditional Christmas Eve carol-watching is leaving you cold, you could always join the kind folk at Barcito on December 24 for a five-course feast. Noche Buena costs $89 per person, or $85 pre-purchase, and will include wine and music from Joao Mendes. 

Sunday session

The Boat Shed Bar & Galley at Belmont 16s and Little Creatures have introduced Sundays, a weekly event during December and January. 

There will be food, craft beers, cocktails and live music every Sunday over December and January (excluding Christmas Day). Entry is free.