Stomp your way to McLeish Estate for some vintage fun | Food Bites

FUN FOR ALL: Experience the thrill of the 2018 vintage at McLeish Estate's Vine to the Glass event on March 17. Picture: Chris Elfes
FUN FOR ALL: Experience the thrill of the 2018 vintage at McLeish Estate's Vine to the Glass event on March 17. Picture: Chris Elfes

Ever wondered what it would be like to make wine, rather than just drinking it? Award-winning boutique Hunter Valley winery McLeish Estate can give you a sneak peek at Vine to the Glass on March 17.

The day begins at 10am with a grape stomp followed by some friendly competition in the barrel-rolling competition. Guests will be able to purchase McLeish Regional Lunch Platters to enjoy on a picnic rug, a BBQ lunch or fresh oysters, which are the perfect pairing for McLeish’s award-winning semillon. Then, sit back and enjoy the spectacular views of the estate and Brokenback mountain ranges. Email, phone 4998 7754 or visit

Irish red ale

If there is an annual event on the calendar worth celebrating, you can count on Murray’s Brewery being in on the action. St Patrick’s Day is no exception. On March 17, in honour of the Patron Saint of Ireland, the Port Stephens brewery will be pouring a special Irish ale and the kitchen will be serving popular Irish dishes. There will also be a free concert by Micro Circus Duo from noon onwards.

“We’ve been working on how to get that Gaelic feeling for St Patrick’s Day,” brewer Sean Costigan said. “Previously we have done really good, simple stouts. But this year we thought we should mix it up a bit. So we’re brewing that other great beer from the Emerald Isle – an Irish red ale – just for the occasion.”

Entry is free but bookings are essential by phoning 4982 6411. The “Beer Bus” from Nelson Bay costs $5 each way. Go online to for more information. 

Autumn menu

Emerson’s Cafe & Restaurant at Lovedale has a new autumn dinner menu and it looks amazing. Believe it or not, this is an entree: ox tail ravioli, cavolo nero, parsnip and braising liquid. As for a main, think quail karaage, black rice, kimchi, togarashi mayonnaise and Japanese parsley. Emerson Rodriguez told Food & Wine he was “mixing it up a little bit with classical dishes and modern contemporary”. 

Lunch on the run

The Persian Place’s new express lunch menu is now being offered to time-poor diners on the run. There are four burgers to choose from: smoked ham, cheese and saffron mayonnaise; oven-baked goat and lamb patty with herb salad and yoghurt; saffron-marinated chicken and cheese; and falafel with haloumi. You can also order from a selection of rice bowls and flatbread wraps. 

Hoagies at bistro

Hotline Hoagies has popped up at the newly-named Newcastle Hotel the past two weekends and liked it so much they have decided to stay. Check them out at 139 Maitland Road, Islington, Wednesdays to Saturday, 5pm until late. 

Lagoon life

Maccoa restaurant, at Terrigal’s The Clan, has been busy making its presence felt on the Central Coast’s culinary scene. The menu has been crafted by executive chef Melissa Dixon and weekly dining specials are now being offered. On Wednesdays and Thursdays it’s “locals’ night” with a new menu each week showcasing local produce. On Fridays and Saturdays you can enjoy a two-course lunch with a glass of Fern Hill wine for $45 per person, and on Friday lunch diners can present their Seniors Card and order a main course meal with a glass of beer or wine for $25. Also, Sunday Sessions have been introduced, with unlimited mimosas and a two-course meal for $55. The new outdoor eating area overlooks the lagoon and out to the beach.

Au revoir

The Kid and Cat is up for sale – and a regretful one at that. Owner and chef Felix said: “In May my Visa will expire and despite all the effort in finding a new Visa it seems to be the end of this beautiful journey.”  The mobile French food business has been a crowd favourite at events across Newcastle and the Hunter and will be missed. Those crepes ...

Vintage brunch

Hidden away in Cameron Park is one of the biggest Americana collections outside of the US. There are stunning vintage cars on display as well as memorabilia. On March 18, 9.30am to 2.30pm, you can have “Brunch With The Cars”. The Crafty Pit BBQ & Catering and Kickin Back Coffee will be there and entry to the forecourt and antique mall is free. Tickets to the museum are $20 per person (children under 12 free). 

Stirring the pot 

Mark Latham and Alan Jones are releasing a cookbook in April. Yes, you read that correctly. Called Conversations in the Kitchen: Good Food, Great Friends, it will be published by New Holland and cost $35. Hopefully the recipes won’t be too salty – or bitter. 

French flair

Urban Mess is joining forces with Inner City Winemakers to present a traditional French a la carte menu at Merewether Surf Lifesaving Club on March 18. Meals will be served from 12.30pm until sold out. 

Feast your eyes

Maitland Taste returns to The Levee this weekend and chef Matt Golisnki is the star attraction. There will be cooking demonstrations and tastings, entertainment, stalls and much more. The two-day program of events can be found at

Wine picnic

Tallavera Grove Vineyard is hosting Picnic in the Vines on March 24. The day kicks off with an 11am tour of the vineyard followed by picnic and wine among the vines. Tickets $55 ($45 members). Bookings are essential by phoning 4990 7535 or emailing

Freebie of the week

Whispering Brook was established in 2000 by husband and wife Adam Bell and Susan Frazier, who spent a decade studying winemaking and viticulture at Charles Sturt University. In addition to producing award-winning wines the property also boasts an olive grove and a large on-site guest house. And last year Whispering Brook achieved five-star winery status in the 2018 James Halliday Wine Companion. Whispering Brook is part of the 13th annual A Little Bit of Italy in Broke festival on April 7 and 8. Food & Wine has two double passes to give away to their olive grove tour that weekend as well as six bottles of wine for each winner. To enter, send the words “Whispering Brook” with your name, address and number to Entries close on Monday at 9am. 


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