To start with, some good news: Oma’s Kitchen in Newcastle reopens on Thursday, January 17, with special offers on all German biers. The Watt Street restaurant is the unofficial home of Nine’s reality television series Travel Guides and its owners, the Frens, are the stars of the show. Mark, Cathy, Victoria and Jonathan were asked to return after season one and have been regulars ever since.
“We finished four months of filming Travel Guides in mid-November and will reopen with new trading times and a new menu,” Mark told Food & Wine. “The new series will be fantastic – some of the places we visited were India, Hawaii, Israel and South America. We will continue our event nights each night the show is aired. They were huge last year. On the last night we had over 120 people.”
Tickets can be purchased online at thefrenfamily.com.
Inner City Winemakers and Urban Mess are kicking off 2019 with a Baja seafood feast at Merewether Surf Lifesaving Club on January 13 – think ceviche, fish tacos, oysters and octopus and a mix of Mexican, Mediterranean and Asian flavours. You can rock up and grab a table from noon but bookings are recommended. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Ean at Pokolbin has introduced “Sunday Sessions” to its already impressive vineyard offerings. On January 13, 20 and 27 visitors can enjoy live music, cheese platters, gelato and, of course, wine. It’s all happening from 11am to 4pm.
On the market
HZ, formerly Hey Zeus, is for sale. The Newcastle cafe opened in July 2017 and made headlines for being Australia’s first self-serve takeaway shop. Its menu was organic and healthy, with customers placing their orders by touchscreen and waiting for their meal to appear on a conveyor system.
“The largest factor in the closure and decision to sell is that, as an American, I was still unable to secure long-term work rights after 10 years in Newcastle,” owner Jacob Beye told Food & Wine. “Even though I had an amazing staff of six and a great kitchen manager, my daily involvement was still quite high due to the young age of the business and the slower period the CBD was feeling. I had to leave at the end of July. The worst part was breaking it to our weekly regulars, who numbered in the hundreds. As for the future, I’ll be working on opportunities for the brand in the US.” We wish him the best of luck.
Newcastle Food Markets is close to opening at Sandgate and The Fresh House sounds interesting. It’s an enclosed glasshouse where you wander around with your brown paper bag (no plastic allowed) and pick your own herbs and edible flowers.
Newcastle’s Paymasters restaurant will host McLeish Estate’s annual Vintage Wine Dinner on February 21. A seasonal menu will be paired with McLeish’s award-winning single vineyard range. You can reserve your seat by emailing email@example.com.
The Big Easy
48 Bourbon Street returns to Newcastle’s 48 Watt Street on February 15 and 16 after two sold-out events last year. Tickets are on sale now through Oztix. The venue will be transformed into a New Orleans-themed laneway, restaurant and jazz hall and chef Harry Callinan (aka Mulga Bill) will be serving a degustation menu to remember.
Chef and butcher Luci Kington is coming to The Essential Ingredient Newcastle on February 10 for the Eat Less Meat – Beef Butchery Class. Her aim is to educate people to eat less meat by concentrating on quality and exploring the entire animal. This is just one of many classes being run at The Essential Ingredient this year – there’s also Knife Skills 101 (January 17); pastry chef Gareth Williams (February 23); desserts with Reece Hignell (February 17); traditional Southern Indian cooking (March 23) and The Accidental Vegan (January 23), to name a few.
TasteFest returns to Taree’s Queen Elizabeth Park on the Manning River this Saturday, January 12, for its third year. The Lions Club-run event will this year support charities Can Assist Manning Valley and Manning Valley Push 4 Palliative. From 10am to 9pm there will be craft drinks and wine, local food and produce, and entertainment for all ages.
The Landing Bar & Kitchen at Honeysuckle has changed hands. Previous owner Lisa Margan had this to say: “We launched this business with partners in 2012. A few years ago we bought out our partners and have since run it as sole owners. However, our business operations in the Hunter Valley at Margan get busier each year so we are finding that we have less time to devote to our Newcastle business. We have always loved the harbourside location of this venue and the casual vibe of Honeysuckle but after seven years it is time to call ‘last drinks’. We celebrated with our team on Sunday night and handed over the keys the next morning.
“The new owners are the CaterGroup who own several other restaurants and bars in Port Stephens, Port Macquarie and further up the coast. They have been looking to expand into Newcastle and have strong plans for the venue which is exciting. We still have the freehold of the building, so we will now just be landlords. Going forward, Andrew and I look forward to not working when we leave the vineyards to come to stay at our favourite city on the beach.”
Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes – Through Darkness and Light, by Caroline Eden, is a tale of a culinary journey between three great cities. With a nose for a good recipe and an ear for an extraordinary story, Eden travels from Odessa to Bessarabia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey’s Black Sea region, exploring interconnecting culinary cultures. Packed with rich photography and sumptuous food, this biography of a region, its people and its recipes breaks new ground. Black Sea is out now through Hardie Grant Books, RRP $39.99. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words “Black Sea” with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Monday, January 14, at 9am.