Stop off at The Station this week. On Friday night (4pm to 10pm) it's Friday Bar Eats n Beats time: a family-friendly night with children's activities, free giant games, food stalls, a licensed bar, classic cars and live music. Southern Smoke, Schillykickk, Newy Spiral Spuds, Crepes Please, Nan's dumpling, Coffee Been, Pitt Bull Smokehouse and Bonjani Woodfired Pizza will all be there, with $5 tasting plates from 4pm to 6pm and happy hour from 6pm to 7pm.
Bring the kids' scooters so they can race around the custom-designed track. You can jump off the tram at Queens Wharf or park along Wharf Road (free from 5pm).
And on Saturday Handmade Market @ The Station returns, an eco-focused market with local maker stalls, workshops, plenty to eat and drink and live music. It's on from 9am to 2pm.
Fresh faces at Black Sheep
Black Sheep Espresso has changed hands. Professional golfer and golfing coach Gavin Sutherland and his wife Belle have taken ownership of the Warners Bay cafe from Kathryn White. Gavin is originally from the Hunter, lived in Korea for 10 years and was a teaching instructor with Dubai's Al Badia Golf Club. The couple have yet to "put their stamp on the cafe", Gavin said, but plan to renovate the space in the coming weeks.
All-day diner planned
A 24-hour diner is (hopefully) opening on Beaumont Street in Hamilton. It's called Son of A Gun and it's the brainchild of husband and wife team Andrew Snelgrove and Mara Lang, owners of Fifi La Femme. It's early days though, Maya told Food & Wine, as they are still completing the fit-out and then have to apply for an extension to the current trading hours. "Fingers crossed we will be open in October," she said. The menu will be inspired by American diner classics.
Speaking of American food, Winnie's Diner on Darby Street will be serving Beyond Meat Sausages on their hot dogs, "pairing them with a bunch of delicious house-made condiments and ferments", chef Jared Phillips told Food & Wine. "Our burgers will also feature Beyond Meat patties, house-made seitan and lots of other deliciousness. We've really honed in on what people want, which seems to be American-style comfort food." Phillps and fellow chef Colin Greengrass officially launched their vegan menu last night.
Sixth taste sensation
Have you heard of kokumi? It is, apparently, a "sixth taste sensation" and not to be confused with umami. Leonie Young of The Essential Ingredient Newcastle is (unsurprisingly) across it.
"It's actually really interesting and has a huge potential to make foods that are rick in nutrients more palatable for people who are undernourished, and the elderly who have lessened taste receptors," she told Food & Wine.
"Kokumi is an effect that is an extension of taste. We know the four basic tastes, the ones that we have all been taught to balance in all cooking and in particular Asian styles - the balance of sour, salt, sweet and bitter. Then we were introduced to umami which really refers to the savoury notes or flavours. Umami really enhances the four other tastes but it does have its own profile and is now recognised to stand alone.
"The sixth taste or concept, for want of a different word, kokumi, is more of an experience or sensation that is enjoyed when eating certain foods. It has been described by Japanese food scientists as mouthfullness and heartiness but is really the feeling you have in your mouth when you eat butter, cheese or emulsions. Its why sauces finished with butter taste so good. Its that coating in our mouths that feel rich and thick. Kokumi doesnt have a flavour profile as such, but is thought to enhance or magnify the other taste components.
"There's lots of research done on kokumi (in particular its role in food manufacturing) but it is thought that the sensation is a natural and evolutionary sensation picked up by receptors in your tongue to trigger your brain to detect that there is protein on its way. Just like sweet is an indicator of carbohydrate, sour is acid, salt is minerals and bitter is poison, we have evolved to trust our taste to tell us what we should and shouldn't eat, and when we should take advantage (biologically) of an available resource.
"It is thought that there are receptors on your tongue that pick up calcium (found in meat and body tissue). However it is more than just calcium that is required - the calcium needs to bind to fat to create the kokumi effect. That's why soy sauce, fish sauce, cheese, butter, shrimp paste, and fish sperm all have been described as contributing to this taste sensation."
The next Friends of Subo event is on August 20 and features Gilles Lapalus, of Maison Lapalus fame and who created the Australian vermouth Maidenii. It will be a night of conversation and vermouth, paired with a special four-course menu. Tickets are $125 per person at subo.com.au but be quick. Seats are limited.
Franky & Co is opening at Westfield Kotara. One opened at Lake Macquarie Fair in Mt Hutton not long ago and is serving breakfast, coffee, smoothies, sweets and light meals.
Quality Korean BBQ
Word on the street is that Blooming Garden, which opened in Hamilton in June, is a must to visit. The menu has a strong focus on Korean BBQ flavours and techniques but dishes are plated in a modern Australian way. It's all happening at 2/50 Beaumont Street.
Win: Pig and Pinot tickets
De Bortoli Wines is celebrating spring with a lunch in the Hunter Valley on September 8 - and you're invited.
Pig and Pinot is an exclusive pinot noir tasting event hosted by winemaker Sarah Fagan in De Bortoli's Hunter Valley Barrel Room at Pokolbin. The event kicks off at 11.30am with bubbles and canapes, followed by a tasting of premium pinot noirs, a whole roast pig with all the trimmings, a selection of fine cheeses and a glass of De Bortoli's iconic Noble One. Tickets are $99 and can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 4993 8800.
Food & Wine has a double pass to Pig and Pinot on September 8 to give away. To enter, send the words "Pig and Pinot" with your name, address and number to email@example.com. Entries close on Monday (19/8/2019) at 9am.
The 40th annual Mudgee Food and Wine Festival kicks off with the Ruby Launch Dinner on September 7. There will be tastings, lunches, dinners and tours until September 28.