If you've ever talked about visiting Margan Estate out at Broke, the time to book is now.
Margan Restaurant's Truffle Menu launches on July 16. It is a month-long celebration of A-grade truffles from the truffiere at Tarago, in the Southern Highlands, where highly trained kelpie "truffle dogs" Dusty and Joker are busy sniffing out these rare black gold beauties. Margan head chef Joey Ingram has created a five-course menu designed to showcase the black Périgord truffle. Book now by phoning 6579 1317 or visiting margan.com.au.
You can also join Ingram at Margan's Truffle Cooking School on August 8 where you can learn all about the tuber melanosporum black winter truffle, including how it is cultivated, how to care for it and how to cook with it. He will demonstrate how to prepare truffle-infused honey, truffle veal jus and truffle butter. Afterwards, enjoy a five-course truffle degustation lunch. This is a one-off event and the class size is strictly limited so book now ($225 per person).
The Margan Cellar Door is open daily from 10am and, for the rest of this month, if you book a tasting flight you'll receive a complimentary trio of cheese. Bookings are recommended.
Margan Restaurant is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Diners can choose the classic five-course Tasting Menu ($110) or a Limited Edition three-course menu ($90). Locals who dine at the restaurant before August 25 will receive a complimentary glass of Margan blanc de blancs or a vermouth cocktail on arrival. Just present identification to show that you are a resident of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Pokolbin, Broke and Singleton and surrounds.
Loving locals at EXP
It was great to see photos of the Restaurant Mason team dining at EXP. restaurant on Monday night - the "hospo" industry in Newcastle and the Hunter likes to support their own and is stronger for it.
EXP owner and chef Frank Fawkner says it's been quiet of late at his Pokolbin restaurant but, true to form, he has been busy working with some interesting ingredients and techniques.
This chef likes to push boundaries when it comes to food and its presentation.
"My favourites right now are honey curd tart with sour cream and frozen fresh honeycomb. It's very similar to a classic lemon curd tart except we replace lemon juice with house-made honey vinegar. That way the tart still has a very nice tang," he said.
"Also, the Binnie Beef Karubi plate is worth noting. The cut we are using is from the Valley and it's pretty much the equivalent to pork belly. It's cured and slow roasted and then finished with a powder of salt bush, and served with pan-roasted brussels sprouts glazed with dark onion jus. On the side is black garlic emulsion (caramelised aged garlic with an intense sweet umami flavour).
"We are running a special at EXP this week, too: 25 per cent off the popular tasting menu (food only). All diners need to do is to mention the 'local support deal' when booking via our website."
Go online to exprestaurant.com.au.
More Hunter Valley "locals' specials" in Saturday's Weekender.
Online auction a hit
Hunter Culinary Association's annual Food Fight was cancelled at the 11th hour earlier this month (and for the second year in a row) thanks to COVID restrictions, leaving behind a surplus of food, raffle and auction items.
"Naturally it was very disappointing that we needed to cancel the Hunter Culinary Food Fight only 36 hours out," association chair Gus Maher said.
"With some great auction items locked and loaded and a range of very attractive raffle prizes, we went into overdrive moving both online.
"We were amazed at the response from our very loyal industry and public supporters, with the result exceeding our online expectations."
Reserve prices for every one of the 10 auction items was met, he said, which "covered some of the operational expenses incurred planning for the Food Fight" and ensured that Hunter Culinary Association's "full suite of apprentice scholarships will still be undertaken throughout 2021".
"We are already planning what an October Seasonal Lunch might look like. As the Food Fight was a 350-ticket sell out, we know that our industry has an appetite for a big welcome back function. For now our thoughts are with our culinary brethren, particularly in the Valley, as they struggle with the latest COVID-induced downturn."
On your bike with Newy Rides
Newy Rides is bringing back the Ride Along Series which launched in May. This time around the tour will visit Islington's Smokin' Hot 'n' Saucy and Carrington's Styx Brewery, with added insight from historian and author Ed Tonks (OAM). The unique bike ride is on August 28 and is about four to five hours in duration. Tickets are $175 at newyrides.com.au.
Mizumi at Toronto is now open for lunch (Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm) as well as dinner, and is offering a 10 per cent discount on all takeaway orders made during dinner hours (5pm to 9pm). The lunch menu includes udon, donburi, ramen and curry options, as well as bento boxes and sushi rolls.
Meet the farmers
Head to the Earth Markets at Maitland's Levee tomorrow (8.30am to noon) to take advantage of an over-supply of romanesco.
Freebie of the week
In Good Company, by Sophie Hansen, is about country hospitality, simple recipes and ideas for bringing people together.
Whether it's a last-minute dinner with neighbours, a family feast or a casual picnic, Hansen has done the thinking for you and designed menus featuring 120 recipes that are simple, tasty and perfect for sharing. She also includes ideas for creating a memorable atmosphere, plus advice on shortcuts so you can focus on enjoying the good times rather than stressing in the kitchen.
In Good Company is out now through Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "In Good Company" with your name, address and number to email@example.com. Entries close on Monday at 9am.
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