Chef Emerson Rodriguez is back in the kitchen at the Lovedale restaurant he has owned and run for the past nine years.
Emerson's Cafe & Restaurant has been renovated in readiness for its grand re-opening on November 1 and the menu has been overhauled, too. The eight-course degustation experience is no more.
Rodriguez says the menu is based on his "25 years of experience in the industry" and will be "a mix of traditional and modern dishes from around the world".
For the past 18 months Rodriguez has been dividing his time between Emerson's at Adina Vineyard & Olive Grove and Pokolbin's Yellow Billy Restaurant, which he helped establish with Samuel Alexander and Pat Hester.
Now he is back at Emerson's full-time, ready to start afresh.
"The menu has moved away from fine dining and is more relaxed," he told Food & Wine.
"The customer now has the option of having a snack, or shared, or individual meals. We want our customers to feel comfortable ordering as little or as much food as they want.
"The deck is now renovated and has a great view of the vineyard and olive grove, which is great if you feel like a long lunch. The deck now has new electric shutters so can now be fully enclosed all-year round if needed.
"A new paved area on the grass allows more customers to enjoy breakfast and lunch alfresco style. It's also good for families as the kids can run around on the grass."
Emerson's Cafe & Restaurant is at 492 Lovedale Road, Lovedale.
Birthday bash at Maltnhops
Maltnhops Brewhaus at Beresfield is celebrating its first birthday this Saturday, October 26, noon to 9pm. The anniversary coincides with the inaugural Indie Brewers Day.
"We are a family-owned craft beer brewery," the brewery's Michelle King said. "We brew on site as well as having a tap room for beer tastings, retail and wholesale sales. The brewery is a great place for friends, families, beer aficionados or newbies to craft beer.
"On Saturday we will have live music, a pig on a spit, special release beers, brewery tours and lucky door prizes. We also offer free courtesy bus pick-ups within 15 minutes of the brewery.
"For this event we have a special package: tickets are $25 which includes a beer stein (to keep), your first stein fill, a delicious spit roast meal with sides and more.
"We are still open for our regular trading on the day for tap room sales, meals and takeaway sales."
Thoughtfully, designated drivers will be offered free soft drinks all day.
For more information go to the brewery's Facebook page or eventbrite.com.au. Maltnhops Brewhaus can be found at unit 10/26 Balook Drive, Beresfield.
Maltnhops Brewhaus won three medals at the Independent Beer Awards Australia last month: a silver for its Pilsner and bronze for its Pale Ale and IPA.
Indie Beer Day
Speaking of beer, The Grain Store's Corey Crooks is all over Australia's first Indie Beer Day (October 26).
"We will be toasting with our punters, mates and staff at 2pm," he said.
"We will be assembling all the trophy winners, champion brewers and some gold medal winners from the recent Independent Beer Awards and filling all 21 of our taps with Indies Award-winning beers.
"But it doesn't stop there: hundreds of pubs, breweries, hotels and even food truck festivals around the country will be joining us in the nationwide synchronised toast to indie beer. It's time to round up your mates and say 'cheers' to indie beer at 2pm, this Saturday."
Organised by the Independent Brewers Association, Indie Beer Day is a celebration of Australian independent breweries. Now representing a community of more than 240 breweries, the association collectively represents about 69 per cent of the volume of independent beer brewed in Australia.
"We are extremely excited to announce the launch of Indie Beer Day which will mark our first national public event. October 26 will be a day to come together to pause and celebrate our growing role in the community and share it with all Australian drinkers," association chairman and Stone & Wood co-founder Jamie Cook said. Go to askforindiebeer.com.au to find venues celebrating Indie Beer Day in your area.
Fish 'n' chips at Georgetown
The former Henny Penny site in Georgetown is being renovated into a "modern fish and chip shop", Food & Wine has been told. More details to come.
Punk it up with Anna
Pastry chef and television personality Anna Polyviou will be at Doughheads, The Junction, this Sunday (October 27) to launch her latest cookbook, Kids' Corner. From 11am to 2pm you can meet Polyviou and get a copy of her book signed, plus enjoy mini doughnuts she has designed. A DJ will be on site as well as a photo booth and there are prizes to be won. VIP tickets at doughheads.com.au. Doughheads have created a special doughnut for the occasion - the Punk Princess. It is filled with raspberry cheesecake and topped with raspberry meringue, raspberry pieces and crushed Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs.
Coffee swap and go
HuskeeSwap is launching in Newcastle, November 6 to 8, when cafes and customers can exchange a reusable takeaway coffee cup known as the HuskeeCup. Keep an eye out for "free coffees per swap" opportunities. So far, the following cafes are on board: Estabar; Core Espresso; Frothers Espresso; Praise Joe; The Kiosk at Newcastle Beach; The Press Coffee & Bookstore; Side Pocket Espresso; Three Monkeys Espresso; Sherwood Coffee Bar; Cafe INU; Cocoa Nib; and Moor Newcastle East.
Freebie of the week
In The Whole Fish Cookbook, groundbreaking seafood chef and restaurateur Josh Niland rethinks all aspects of fish cookery. From sourcing and butchering to dry ageing and curing, he challenges everything we thought we knew about the subject and invites readers to treat fish with the same nose-to-tail reverence as meat.
With more than 60 recipes for dozens of fish species ranging from Cod Liver Pate on Toast, Fish Cassoulet and Roast Fish Bone Marrow, The Whole Fish Cookbook teaches us that there is more to a fish than just the fillet.
The Whole Fish Cookbook is out now, RRP $55. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "The Whole Fish" with your name, address and number to email@example.com. Entries close on Monday (28/10/2019) at 9am.
On the move
Happi Kitchen Wickham is no more. It has evolved into Rosa's - a rooftop cafe on Parnell Place, Newcastle East, with a laneway and terrace. Owner and namesake Rosa Grine told Food & Wine the aim was to open by November 14 - however she had only just been handed the keys. Rosas is already offering a Supercars weekend "Trackside Lunch" on Friday, November 22. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Slice and dice
Little Caesars has closed its Hunter Street, Newcastle, restaurant. Little Caesars marketing director Monica Partyka had this to say: "We are relocating the Newcastle site to a better suited location. Mount Hutton will remain open. We'll be announcing the new store address and opening date closer to the opening. We are planning on opening another five stores in NSW including at least one in the Newcastle area in the short future."
New face at The Rooftop
Mr Bui's has opened at The Rooftop, Westfield Kotara. The Vietnamese restaurant is open ever day for lunch or dinner, 11am to 10pm.
Festival first at Dudley
The first annual Dudley Brewfest Beer & Cider Festival is happening today at Royal Crown Hotel, Dudley, noon to 5pm. There will be craft beer and cider tents starring the likes of Tilse's Apple Truck Cider, Murray's Craft Brewing Co, Stone & Wood Brewing and Gage Roads Brewing Co, as well as live music, smoked meats; artisan food and spirits and a Coal and Cedar Cocktail Bar. Entry is free.
Newcastle Food & Flower Markets features on Sydney Weekender this Sunday, 5.30pm, on the Seven Network.