Andrew "Dunny" Dunne used to stop by the Royal Oak Hotel in Tighes Hill for a schooner with his skateboard tucked under his arm.
He says he's always "had a soft spot" for the old pub and a lot of time for its owner, Barry Barnett. So when Dunny heard there was a possibility the Oak could be taken over by developers, he felt compelled to act. And, with the help of business partner and chef Josh Nicholson, Dunny has restored the Oak to its former glory while remaining true to its roots.
Four years ago he felt a similar sense of responsibility and took over management of the Lass O'Gowrie Hotel in Wickham. He has worked hard to keep it a community hub and a platform for local musical talent ever since.
I visited the Oak last week for lunch and a chat and will tell you all about it in Saturday's Weekender.
LOVEDALE LONG LUNCH
Lovedale Long Lunch is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2024 and early bird tickets have just been released. It's all happening on May 18 and 19 at Allandale Winery, Emma's Cottage Vineyard, Gartlemann Wines, Saltire Estate, Sandalyn Estate and Tatler Wines. Tickets are available for either the Saturday or Sunday, or both, and you can visit up to two wineries per day. A shuttle bus will run continuously between wineries, or you can organise your own transport. For more information on Lovedale Long Lunch and to book tickets visit lovedalelonglunch.com.au.
Hunter Belle Cheese is a finalist in the 2024 Australian Grand Dairy Awards' "White Mould Cheese" category for their Hunter Belle Ash Briebelle. Hunter Belle Cheese is owned and operated by the Chesworth family, who previously owned a dairy farm on the Hunter River and in 2010 opened Hunter Belle Cheese Cafe in Muswellbrook.
'SEACUTERIE' AT TULLOCH WINES
Tulloch Wines has introduced a Mediterranean-inspired summer wine tasting experience featuring six of the finest European varietals from their Cellar Door Release Range and a 'seacuterie' board.
Not familiar with the term? It's basically a classic charcuterie board with a seafood twist, similar to the Spanish bar snacks known as "conservas". Tulloch's seacuterie boards offer two premium tinned seafood selections - Pollastrini Sardines from Italy and Mussels in Escabeche from Spain - plus chips, tzatziki, olives, pickled red onions, cornichons, cucumber and artichoke hearts.
There's also a Kids Junior Tasting Experience ($15) with four different soft drinks and four matching snacks, as well as the Teens Kombucha Tasting ($20) which offers a selection of Mailer McGuire specialty Kombucha paired with a local cheese box.
The Mediterranean Summer experience is available daily, on the hour, from 10am to 4pm. Book online at tullochwines.com.
MILKY LANE COCKTAILS
Restaurant chain Milky Lane is about to release a limited edition range of ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails in a can: Lychee and Passionfruit Mojito, Bondi Sour and Creaming Soda Spider.
"With the world going nuts for high-quality, convenient cocktails at home, we are coming through with our first-ever RTD cocktail range. There are just 8000 cases up for grabs, so to get yours, you better hustle," Milky Lane founder Christian Avant said.
The cans are available online only, for delivery Australia wide. Presale starts at 7.30pm tonight, and they're officially on sale at 7.30pm on Thursday night (November 23). For details go to milkylane-rtd.com.
SHORT AND SWEET
Good Folk Brewing Co at Hamilton has released a 12 Beers of Christmas gift box ($59).
It's going to be spritzy summer at Rooftop at QT with bespoke cocktails crafted by Dave Watkins and featuring Aperol Spritz, Campari Spritz, SKYY Spritz and non-alcoholic Crodino Spritz.
Don't forget the First Creek Wines mega sale is on November 24 to 26, with locals being offered a sneaky Black Friday preview between 3pm and 6pm at their Pokolbin cellar door. Details at firstcreekwines.com.au.
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