Matt Golinski made his Tastings on Hastings debut last year as a guest chef and fell in love with the region’s diverse and vibrant food culture.
This year he is returning to champion the biggest event on Port Macquarie’s food and wine calendar. The Hastings Valley food bowl is overflowing with produce and the quality restaurants, bars and cafes popping up might surprise you.
The festival’s main event takes over the Town Green from noon to 8pm on Saturday, October 28. You can meet producers and small-business owners, browse food and market stalls, learn how to shuck oysters and enjoy live entertainment as well as a fire display.
Other events include gourmet dinners, personalised tasting tours and the Long Lazy Lunch at Drury Lane.
At the request of festival organisers, Golinski happily jumped on a motorbike for a three-day gastronomic tour of the region. His first stop was Bago Winery where the cellar door overlooks the vineyard and the popular Bago Maze.
“A little kiosk on-site sells Baba Lila’s Hand Made Chocolates. Tash Topschij mixes, rolls, dips and wraps thousands of chocolates each week using a generations-old family recipe passed down to her from her Russian mother,” he said.
At North Haven he stopped by Native Catering Co followed by a visit to Rockin Oysters at the Camden Haven estuary. Says Golinski: “I’d swap every fancy dinner in the world to stand ankle deep in that pure water, slurping back James Woods’ freshly shucked oysters with nothing but the briny water in their shells as a sauce.”
The next stop was Lorne Valley Macadamia Farm followed by Bruce and Barbara Barlin’s Australian native bush foods farm, Barbushco. A fun family day out can be had at Comboyne’s Ticoba Avocadoes and Blueberries as well as Ewetopia’s farm stay cabin, where Ian and Jill McKittrick produce yoghurt, labneh, fetta and haloumi.
And no trip to Port Macquarie would be complete without stopping off at Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberries. Brothers Anthony and Richard Sarks have turned a productive farming venture into a tourist attraction where visitors can pick their own strawberries and dine at the on-site cafe.