A festival on the shores of Lake Macquarie dedicated to all things Italian? Count me in.
Lago di Mac, also known as Lap of the Lake, is the brainchild of Geoff Boog, a self-confessed foodie and member of local Italian car club, Combined Italian Automobile Organisation (CIAO). He lives in Whitebridge with his wife and two children and, funnily enough, is not of Italian heritage. Nor is his background in events planning. This is, for him, a labour of love.
"I've been asked [if I'm Italian] a lot," he said, laughing.
"I was born in Wagga Wagga but I just love all things Italian. The culture, the food, the amazing cars and motorcycles, the history. Having spent some time in Italy, it would have to be one of my favourite destinations."
There are two components to Lago di Mac, which is taking place on Saturday, December 10. Thomas H Halton Park at Croudace Bay will be the epicentre for the cultural festival, with coffee, artisan Italian food stalls, gelato and even an antipasto and Aperol Spritzer zone.
Guitarist Vincenzo Martinelli and Di Moss will perform live and there will be games for children and families to enjoy, a football zone hosted by Charlestown Azzurri FC, a Christmas-themed Buon Natale photo zone, and an Italian automobile and motorcycle display.
"I wanted to get people together to celebrate Italian culture, amazing Italian design, and bring attention to some of the local Italian businesses and food offerings around our region," Boog said.
The second component to the day is the Lap of the Lake. Motorists and riders can download a "Key Map" of participating Lake Macquarie restaurants and cafes (who will be offering various specials to celebrate the day). The map will also suggest stop-off points, many of which are off the well-trodden tourist track.
Venues featuring on the Key Map include Matey's At the Esplanade (Warners Bay), Fredeli's (Warners Bay), 3 Bears Café @ Museum of Art & Culture (Booragul), Casa Nova (Toronto), Mawsons (Caves Beach), Papataya (Marks Point) and Common Circus (Belmont).
Boog organised a similar event in December, 2020, with Italian car enthusiasts and foodies travelling from as far afield as Canberra, Bathurst and Sydney.
"It was called All Italian - Solo lap of the Lake and it was originally designed in a COVID-compliant 'solo' format to encourage people to the shores of Lake Macquarie amid ever-changing social restrictions," Boog explained.
"My aim was to draw people here to enjoy and discover the lake, in a COVID-friendly manner, and to highlight some of the amazing cafes and restaurant venues. I created a map showcasing foodie destinations and sights, where people were encouraged to create their own solo adventure."
Lago di Mac 2022 promises to be bigger and better.
"I wanted to step away from the garden-variety food market stalls we see every weekend and instead bring some of Newcastle's favourite Italian venues to the lake and showcase their amazing food to the wider community," he said. "For example the lovely owners of The Umbrian make these amazing piadinas, which unless you were in the city during the week, you wouldn't know about them."
Vendors already confirmed include Fredeli, Streets of Napoli, Arno Deli, Bottega 1800, Lulu's Gelato, Gnocked Up, Brew Cart, Vera Wine, Bakers Chemistry artisan breads, Central Coast Cannoli, Bella Italia, Popolo Gelato, Black Bean Coffee and The Umbrian. If you are are a business owner keen to take part in Lago di Mac, email email@example.com.
Tickets are still available to the Yuletide Celebration Luncheon 2022 at the two-hatted Muse Restaurant on Saturday, November 26. Troy Rhoades-Brown and his team are curating a five-course, seasonal menu which will be matched with a selection of premium aged and new release Hungerford Hill wines. Tickets are $249 at stickytickets.com.au.
Ribs and wings deal
Lone Star Rib House and Brews has an "All You Can Eat Ribs and Wings" promotion on offer throughout November. Head to Lone Star at Glendale or Kotara before November 30 and you can work your way through an unlimited number of wings and ribs for just $45.
La Tia Veneno will be taking their Peruvian street food menu to The Cabin Collective (511 High Street, Maitland) tomorrow at 4.30pm. Piper Butcher and Kingsley James will be there too, performing live.
Short and sweet
Pukara Estate has opened a retail store at 6/67 Hunter Street, Newcastle.
The Tasting Room has opened at Kahibah Sports. It's open Thursday to Saturday from 6pm, and on Sunday from noon to 8pm.
Hunter Valley Chicken & Game has opened at Shop 3/9 Wilson Road, Mount Hutton. The chicken kievs are to die for.
Flatfish Cafe has opened at Wickham, underneath the Commercial Fishermen's Co-operative. It's open seven days, 7.30am to 3.30pm.
Doppelganger Kitchen by Bernhard has relocated from Darby Street to Singleton's Charbonnier Motor Inn.
Banana Blossom Salads is now open at Shop 169-185, Hunter Street, Newcastle. It's open daily, 10am to 4pm.
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