Maitland Aroma Festival, win tickets to Sydney festival and Yellow Billy gets the green light | Food Bites

FUN AND FOOD: Ilias Katsapouikidis at the Salt & Feta stall at last year's Maitland Aroma Festival. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

FUN AND FOOD: Ilias Katsapouikidis at the Salt & Feta stall at last year's Maitland Aroma Festival. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Coffee-lovers and sweet-tooths, the wait is almost over. Maitland’s Aroma Festival returns this weekend and more than 80 stalls are set to line the city’s riverside.

There will be a full program of coffee and chocolate-inspired demonstrations running on The Flavour Stage all weekend, live music on The Crema Stage, a Kids’ Cafe and lounge areas. 

Rachael King from Myrtle and Pepper in Lorn, who has won three prestigious Callebaut Sydney Royal Chocolate Show Awards, will be there, as will Tenambit’s family-run Donarch Fine Chocolate Emporium and Cacaoette.

Hand-crafted gelato, artisan breads and baked goods, hot coffee and churros are on the menu, as well as butterscotch toffee from Poetry Fine Foods, gluten-free marshmallows from Dragonfly Foods and dainty Fifi La Femme treats.

Artisan coffee roasters will be out in force, from Sprocket Roasters and Hi Top Coffee to Newy Brew and blind cupping sessions on the Flavour Stage with The Little Marionette. The Cunning Culinarian’s Alina Mackee can be found at a hands-on Brownie Bar where a gold coin donation will buy you a brownie with your choice of toppings.

Covered in Crumbs pop-up bakery will make its festival debut and pastry chef Gareth Williams will draw on his fine-dining skills to create a few sweet surprises for the occasion.

Also keep an eye out for the unique collaboration between Hunter Beer Co and Josie Coffee who will combine Hunter Kolsch with a fruity, cold brew, single origin coffee to create an easy-drinking hybrid beer. 

“For coffee geeks, beer nerds and foodies the magic of this combination is that subtle and delicate flavours of both the coffee beans and the yeast strain complement each other and can be tasted in the final beer,” Keith Grice from Hunter Beer Co said.

“For the rest of us, it is a refreshing, easy-drinking drop that will go down easily on a fine winter’s day.”

Head to maitlandaroma.com.au for the full program of events. The festival is on 10am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday (August 11 and 12) at Riverside Car Park, Maitland.

And while it isn’t officially part of the event’s schedule, festival-goers will also have the opportunity to experience the second Hunter Arts Network Art Bazaar Pop Up Market at The Levee Shared Zone on both days.

Win tickets to Italian Wine + Food Festival

Everything that’s good about eating and drinking in Italy comes together under one roof in August with the return of the Italian Wine + Food Festival. It is on Sunday, August 26, at the Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh, Sydney.

Top chefs will be hosting cooking demonstrations on the day and you can feast on pizza, pasta, coffee and Italian snacks in the festival’s pop-up restaurants and shop like an Italian in the festival marketplace. There will be plenty of wines to sample and live music to enjoy, and even pizza acrobatics.

Food & Wine has a double pass to the Italian Wine + Food Festival on August 26 to give away, valued at $170. To enter, send the words “Italian festival” with your name, address and number to freelunch@theherald.com.au. 

Entries close on Monday, August 13, at 9am.

Leisurely lunch

Thomas Wines is celebrating the release of their 2012 Cellar Reserve Braemore semillon and giving wine lovers a sneak peek of their 2018 Single Vineyard semillons at Honeysuckle’s Signora at The Landing on September 21. Guests can enjoy a leisurely, semillon-paired three-course seafood lunch overlooking the picturesque Newcastle harbour. Tickets cost $120 per person and can be booked online at thomaswines.com.au.

Pop-up dinners

This year’s MasterChef Australia top 10 inductee Reece Hignell is hosting two pop-up dinners at Cooks Hill Surf Club on September 14 and 15. Each five-course dinner will showcase some recreations of his favourite MasterChef dishes “mixed with some new ideas”. Tickets at eventbrite.com.au.

Brew and chew

There’s still time to take advantage of Silo Restaurant & Lounge at Honeysuckle’s winter dining special: any two courses for $48; any three courses for $55 (valid Wednesday to Friday). The waterfront restaurant is also hosting a four-course beer degustation dinner on August 17 with Grainfed Brewing Company and Nomad Brewing Co. Tickets $69.99 at silolounge.com.au.

Family Hotel fun

Triple J’s Tom Tilley will be behind the decks at the Family Hotel on September 7 to celebrate its second birthday. The festivities kick off at 5pm. And remember, at this Newcastle West venue anything can, and probably will, happen.

Dinner service

Mawson at Caves Beach is opening for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, starting this week. Bookings are essential by phoning 4972 1813. 

Relax at lounge

The Wine Lounge opened at Pokolbin’s Chateau Elan last week. Hunter Valley drops dominate.

Long wait over

Yellow Billy Restaurant will open its doors tomorrow (Thursday, August 9). Book for lunch or dinner by phoning 6574 7204 or emailing contact@yellowbillyrestaurant.com. This is a new, hands-on venture for chefs Emerson Rodriguez and Samuel Alexander, and sommelier Pat Hester, and to say they are excited is an understatement. You can find them at Piggs Peake Winery, 687 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin. 

Hone your skills

Hunter Culinary Association and Hunter TAFE are hosting the 2018 Commercial Cookery Apprentice Skills Competition for apprentice chefs currently enrolled at TAFE and members of the Hunter Culinary Association. The Encouragement Awards introduce apprentice chefs to an atmosphere of competition and working under pressure in a closed environment where guidance and tutoring can be provided. Stage one apprentices will be given a set box of ingredients to prepare one dish on the day. Mentor assistance will be provided. 

Stages two and three apprentices will create a three-course menu from a set box of ingredients given to them on the day. They will be judged on hygiene, bench and stove work and, for each course, menu balance and portion size, preparation skills, presentation, flavours and timing. 

Email mail@hunterculinary.com.au for full competition details and entry forms. Entries close Friday, August 17.

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