Korean fusion menu
Sunny Chae has introduced a new menu at Blooming Garden Hamilton, inspired by Korean ingredients and flavours handed down by his mother. A snapshot of the menu: Arancini, Korean style, called Bibimbop which is served on Korean chili sauce; Korean BBQ beef and kimchi taco; Slow-cooked beef cheeks in Korean BBQ sauce; Chicken roulade on miso bolognaise; and Cupbop, which is Korean street fried rice. Each dish is "inspired by Korean flavours with Western cuisine technique and plating", he says. "Hopefully people can feel my Mum's love and story from my menu."
A cultural experience
Celebrate Chinese New Year on January 25 at Newcastle Art Gallery, 10am to 3pm. Highlights include traditional Chinese music and dance, Tai Chi, origami and water calligraphy plus dumplings from Nan's dumpling time and iced tea from The Tea Collective in the pop-up outdoor eatery.
CHOMP comp at STOMP
Fancy yourself a burger lover? Then register for Burgerfiend's Eating Competition: CHOMP at STOMP. It's all happening at Cessnock's STOMP 2020 on April 5 and spaces are limited. The competition is described as "A test of speed and appetite. Eligible competitors will compete to consume a high calorie meal." Cash prizes are up for grabs.
Lend a helping hand
Just a reminder, Wollombi is open for business after its recent bushfire crisis and its restaurants, producers, wineries and other outlets would love some support. The same goes for the historic Settlers Arms Inn. To help businesses further afield, check out @spendwiththem.
Newcastle chef Stephen Scott is keen to put his stamp on the menu at Queens Wharf Hotel, where he has been appointed head chef.
The recently married Scott grew up in Mayfield East and attended Newcastle High. He started his career at Mangrove Jacks and when head chef Bart Connors left to open his own restaurant, Atlas, on Hunter Street, Scott followed.
Scott worked at Kelly's Bar and Grill in Bondi before travelling overseas, working for Gordon Ramsay as sous chef at The Warrington in Maida Vale, then at Claridge's and also Maze Grill in Mayfair. He returned to Sydney as head chef at the Charing Cross Hotel under the guidance of Matt Kemp, worked as head chef at Matt Moran's Paddo Inn Bar and Grill, and spent time at The Prince of Merewether.
He feels Queens Wharf Hotel is "a natural fit".
"For me to be able to be working this close to the water, combining my love of 'simple done well' with some stunning seafood and other local produce, is such an exciting opportunity," he said.
Scott is currently enjoying annual leave - Food & Wine will ask him about his plans for Queens Wharf Hotel's culinary direction when he returns.
The Australian Good Food Guide high-scorers for 2020 have been announced. Restaurants are given a score out of 20 by approved "inspectors" who judge the food only, not the decor or service. Since the guide's inception in 1977, a score of 20 has never been awarded and seldom have restaurants been awarded a 19.
So, who scored highly in our region? Muse Restaurant (17); Subo (14); Restaurant Botanica, Margan Restaurant, Muse Kitchen, Bistro Molines, EXP. restaurant (13); and The Mill Restaurant, The Cellar Restaurant, Circa 1876, Redsalt, Restaurant Mason, Wild Herring, Rick Stein at Bannisters Port Stephens (12).
The team at The Cellar were thrilled. Vanessa Blake, Gary Schofield and Masood and Nicole Saberian took over the Pokolbin restaurant last September and said on social media they were "humbly surprised" to receive a phone call on Monday morning informing them of their AGFG success.
"This is just the beginning and we cant wait to see what the next year has in store for us," they continued.
The Cellar Restaurant hosts a fortnightly A Night in the Village dinner: two courses $60; three courses $75; BYO permitted. To book a table phone 4998 7584 or visit their website.
Islas Canaries Spanish Cafe at Belmont is hosting a special event this Saturday, January 18: an evening of traditional and authentic Spanish paella, sangria and a flamenco show starring Paco Lara and Deya Miranda. Tickets cost $80 per person plus booking fee and are available at eventbrite.com.au or at the restaurant (4/35 Macquarie Street). Owner and principal chef Ramona Barboza has 20 years' experience in kitchens spanning the Canary Islands, Paris, Morocco and South Africa.
New faces at Marks Point
The Captain & Crew is opening soon at Marks Point. It is described as a casual eatery close to Lake Macquarie, with an indoor and outdoor area suitable for long lunches, cocktails or coffee catch-ups. Sounds interesting.
The Station Newcastle is hosting a French Twilight Market on February 22, 4pm to 9pm. Market stalls will sell French and French-inspired items and food, and there will also be workshops, vintage cars and a French menu featuring patisseries, charcuterie, fromages and more. Entry is free.
Beers & Beats
This Saturday, January 18, Warners at the Bay is holding Beers & Beats for the Bushfires from noon. Among the highlights are $6 schooners from Matso's Beer, Gage Roads Brewing Co, Atomic Beer Project and Maltnhops Brewhaus; $5 hot dogs; auctions and live music from 3pm. All of the proceeds will be donated to WIRES and the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Bushfires are no laughing matter but The Happy Wombat and Big Dog Comedy used laughs to raise money for those affected by them on Monday night. A total of $5950 was raised for WIRES and the NSW RFS. It's been heartening to see so many local venues doing their bit to help those affected by the recent fires. As yet another example of good will, Bistro 63 staff at Kahibah Sports Club are donating all tips received this summer to the NSW FRS and the Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal.
Quite a few Hunter Valley vineyards are celebrating the annual harvest. On January 25, 11am to 1.30pm, Briar Ridge Vineyard is hosting "Explore The Vines & Harvest The Honey", a collaboration with bee enthusiasts Ben and Julia from The Humble Hive Collective. The experience includes a guided tour through the vines; information about bees and how they add value to the vineyard eco-system; and a hands-on demonstration of how to harvest honey using Flow Hives. Tickets cost $55 per person, which includes a glass of wine from the varietal range on arrival, a jar of honey and wine tasting. On January 26 there's the 2020 Glandore Picking Day and on February 1, Harvest Experience at Saddler's Creek Wines where you can stomp grapes, conduct a Baumé analysis and taste the wine at various stages of its making, followed by a banquet brunch. Bookings essential.
By the sea
Tickets are now on sale for Seafood by the Sea at The Wickham Boatshed on January 31, 6pm to 9pm. For $65 you will received a glass of champagne on arrival and a seafood platter to share.
Freebie of the week
Making a nutritious meal that the family actually wants to eat is one of life's greatest obstacles. Throw in a full-time job, plus after-school commitments, and finding the time to do so is near impossible. That is where The Plan, Buy, Cook Book comes in. Created by two working mums, Jen Petrovic and Gaby Chapman, this is a book about how to simplify your life and cut down the time spent on weekday cooking by using a proven formula for success.
The Plan, Buy, Cook Book is out now through Hardie Grant Publishing, RRP $29.99. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "The Plan, Buy, Cook Book " with your name, address and number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close on Monday (27/1) at 9am.
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