Chef Yuichi Basaki looks pleased with himself, and so he should be.
This month's flavour combination at Susuru Ramen and Gyoza is Italian meets Japanese, and it is Yuichi's own creation. He has been with the Newcastle restaurant for a year now, having moved to Australia just three years ago from Japan. The Tomato Garlic Ramen is available throughout March and features a vegan tomato and garlic based broth topped with ramen noodles, fresh medley tomatoes seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper, basil oil and fresh basil. The dish is finished off with either crispy crumbed tofu or prosciutto.
Dinner a sell-out
The inaugural Newcastle Food Month kicks off in a matter of weeks and tickets to many events are selling fast. The latest "sell out" is the A Trip To France degustation dinner at Restaurant Mason featuring the talents of owner and chef Chris Thornton and sommelier Stephane Pommier on April 15. A new date has been added to meet demand: April 14. Same venue, same price. Be quick.
Official wine partner
The Hunter Valley's Thomas Wines will be keeping busy in April as Newcastle Food Month's official "preferred wine partner". Guests at the internationally renowned Le Diner en Blanc on April 10 have the option of pre-purchasing a selection of Thomas Wines. Registrations are open for the elegant all-white event which originated in Paris in 1988 and now takes place in a secret location in public places in 80 cities around the world each year. You can join the wait list at newcastle.ledinerenblanc.au.
The Newcastle Food Month program also features two Thomas Wine and Nagisa collaborative events, one a Semillon Seafood lunch on April 15 and the other a Shiraz Wagyu dinner on April 29, both at the three-time winner of Best Asian Restaurant Regional NSW. For bookings go to nagisa.com.au.
Farm to table menu
Redsalt Restaurant at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley (which has just opened a huge water park on-site) launches its autumn menu on March 11. It has a "farm to table" philosophy driven by executive chef Jason Hawker and sous chef Jake Hayes, and includes kangaroo tartare, buttermilk chicken and pork belly.
If you can leave room for dessert, please do. Commis chef Teagan Dunn has created an elderflower crème fraiche tart with blueberry textures and watermelon sorbet, and it's only available at Redsalt from March 11 to 14. Dunn completed her apprenticeship at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley in 2019 and is hoping to specialise in pastry.
"My inspiration for this dish comes from the hero ingredient, elderflower," Dunn said. "It is one of my favourite flowers and I enjoy using it in my cooking. I love that this dessert is so fresh and the flavours all work so well together."
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Food photographer David Griffen has been busy working on The Newcastle Cookbook and says it should be out "in time to put under the Christmas tree this year". The hardcover book will showcase some of the city's favourite places to eat and drink, and will feature recipes from participating restaurants and bars.
Griffen recently relocated to Newcastle from the UK where he spent the past 15 years shooting for top London restaurants and global food brands. In 2015 he was named Food Photographer of the Year and the following year his photography blog won a UK Blog Award. He has worked on 15 cookbooks to date, including two self-published books.
"There has been a lot of interest in The Newcastle Cookbook already. For the venues involved, there is only a small fee which covers print costs," he said. "I am doing this because I can see what is going on in Newcastle, and the time is right."
Go to thenewcastlecookbook.com.au to see what it's all about.
Craft cider day
Australian Cider Day is this Saturday, March 13, and Wollombi's Incy Wincy Cyder is involved. The Great Northern Trading Post Laguna will host an Incy Wincy Cyder-inspired lunch on the day, and Panino Caffe and Restaurant in Wollombi are celebrating with an Incy Wincy Cyder dinner. Tickets to both events are on sale now.
Cider Australia president Warwick Billings said the events of the past year had "focused the minds of consumers on authenticity and products made by locals with ingredients they understand and trust".
"Cider Australia launched its 100 per cent Australian Grown trust mark to help consumers identify and buy local products. With the apple harvest upon us and cider makers beginning to press and ferment thousands of bins of fruit across Australia, Australian Cider Day is the perfect opportunity to salute 100 per cent Australian craft cider," he said. More on craft cider in Weekender soon.
Easter egg surprise
The Marshmallow Co at Wyong's Marshmallow Egg caught my eye. Choose your marshmallow flavour (caramel, strawberry, chocolate or vanilla bean); your chocolate coating (milk or white); and finally your crumble (biscoff with gooey biscoff centre, M&Ms with Nutella centre, Milkybar cookie with cookies and cream fluff centre, peanuts, 100s & 1000s, or toasted coconut). Yum. They can be delivered to your door or picked up in-store.
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