This year’s Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival has kicked off and the two-month program is seriously impressive.
From incredible gourmet dinners at award-winning restaurants to vineyard tours, wine-making masterclasses, hands-on cooking classes and cosy evenings beside an open fire, the festival has something for everyone.
There’s also a host of vertical tastings, vineyard tours and set-price lunches and dinners on offer during May and June.
There are too many events to mention here, but some stand-outs include: the Whispering Brook Olive Long Table Luncheon on June 3; De Iuliis Shiraz Masterclasses; By the Fireside lunches at Hunter Valley Resort on June 4, 11, 18 and 25; and the Burning of the Barrel at Glandore Estate on June 3.
For more information go to winecountry.com.au.
SwanFest returns to the Swansea Channel foreshore on May 27, 10am to 4pm. The annual free event features market and food stalls, displays, Hunter Valley wines and live entertainment.
Pukara Estate has just launched their limited release Novello: Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is the first press of the year’s olive harvest at the Pukara Estate Olive Grove near Denman, and is limited to just 1500 bottles.
Having enjoyed Pukara Estate’s caramelised balsamic vinegar at Bistro on Hermitage recently (and Binnorie Dairy’s glorious labna with chili, rosemary and garlic), Novello is next on the must-try list.
Jewells Fresh is a hidden gem at Jewells Plaza. They stock all sorts of health foods, organic fruit and vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, nuts, flowers and random items like cashew butter and coconut kefir. If you’re on your way to a barbecue, or hosting one, stop by and get all you need to make the perfect platter.
Murray’s Craft Brewing Co will be warming things up this June long weekend with some weird and wonderful limited edition dark beers, beer-marinated rib specials and free live blues concerts headlined by Grant Walmsley.
The weekend is part of Murray’s month-long celebration of dark food and even darker beers.
The brewer’s first cinnamon chocolate donut beer and vanilla imperial stout will feature alongside cult favourites Wild Thing Imperial Stout and Heart of Darkness Belgio Imperial Stout.
Brewery owner Murray Howe described them as “audacious, sometimes-crazy dark beers”.
A shuttle bus from Nelson Bay costs $5 each way. Booking essential by phoning 4982 6411.
The cake queen
Food & Wine is still in the process of tracking Hunter-based Jo-Anne Wright down (can you help?) but did find a list of her achievements at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show cookery competition. Not only did she win the Heather Gibson Perpetual Trophy for the most successful exhibitor in non-perishable cooking classes 380 to 386, she won first prize for three of her fruit cakes, her sienna cake and her simnel cake.
Sophie Stokes has changed the dates of some of her cooking classes and added some new ones: Winter Warmers, June 3, 10am to 1pm; A Tasty Childhood, July 14, 10am to 11.30am; Tasting Italy, July 22, 10am to 1pm; Baking French, August 12, 10am to 1pm; Tasting Greece, October 19, 6pm to 9pm; and Christmas Baking Around the World, November 4, 10am to 1pm.
Booking information at insofiaskitchen.com.au.
Screamin' Veemis is now open on Darby Street serving sandwiches, coffee and sodas with “but a kiss of Vietnam”. The Screamin’ Katsu, for example, includes chicken katsu, wasabi mayo, spring onion, rocket, cucumber, cabbage and pickled carrot. Something different and definitely worth a look.
New dinner menu
Three Monkeys on Darby Street is launching a new dinner menu tonight (May 10). Owner Anthony Strachen told Food & Wine: “The aim of this menu is to deliver restaurant quality meals while maintaining cafe prices. We have also expanded our wine and cocktail lists.”
Each dish comes with a recommended matched wine, which is always handy.
The roast duck entree with pumpkin puree, duck parfait, chicken crackle and Pedro Ximenez jus caught Food & Wine’s eye.
Bistro Lowlands on Tuesday nights is all about Curries of the World. Two curries will be on offer, one meat and one vegetarian, for $15.
And speaking of curry, Throsby St Providore will be serving Asian curry every Friday in May from 5.30pm. The cost is $40 per person with BYO alcohol ($5 corkage). Families are welcome. Phone 4965 4398 to book.
Chef a tease
Josh Gregory of EXP. restaurant has been teasing his social media followers with what we can only assume is a new restaurant concept, perhaps named Hunter? Josh, it’s time to spill the beans.
Swine and dine
Foghorn Brewhouse is hosting the Hunter Valley Coquon Farmer’s Feast on June 1.
It is described as “a three-course feast upon all things pig” expertly matched with FogHorn beers by chief brewing officer Shawn Sherlock.
Bookings are essential.
Tickets are $59 through Ticketbooth, at the venue or by phoning 4929 4721.