The mornings are getting a little chilly, which can only mean one thing. Yes, Andrew "Thommo" Thomas is poised to showcase his new release single vineyard shiraz.
Each year Thommo tours the East Coast with a new release shiraz then, on the official release day, hosts a special lunch. This year, The Pokolbin Shiraz Lunch 2022 is happening at Esca Bimbadgen on Saturday, May 14.
"We've mixed things up a bit this release - as everyone knows the 2020 vintage was a tricky one in the Hunter," Thommo said.
"We had drought and smoke and you name it. Fortunately, we had a few terrific vineyards that sat outside the smoke zone and so while we're down about 60 per cent in production, we made three awesome wines from 2020.
"I also had a couple of other tricks up my sleeve so on May 14 I'm also releasing two brand new wines to the Thomas Wines stable. They'll be on show for the first time. And we can't look past the outstanding 2018 vintage that our top wines hail from, we're even re-releasing a couple of wines from the vault. It's a pretty smart line-up actually."
The wine-matched menu from Esca's new executive chef Mark Marshall is equally impressive. Canapes: cornet cone of scallops tartare with strawberry, lime and avocado mousse. First course: charred octopus with kipfler potatoes, remoulade, capers and chimichurri. Second course: lamb backstrap with smoked eggplant, hazelnuts, burnt onions, wild garlic, and goats cheese mousse. Third course: Wagyu sirloin with potato and olive terrine, gremolata, tongue and fennel salad. Fourth course: sticky poached pears with Bimbadgen honey and cardamon glaze, Bleu d'Affinios cheese and candied pecans.
Lunch starts at noon and tickets cost $170 ($150 for members) at thomaswines.com.au.
Watch this space
QT Newcastle's official opening date - and that of its restaurant - is getting closer.
I mentioned in a recent column that La Tia Veneno's new mobile kitchen had found a permanent location in Islington and would be celebrating with a Peruvian feast for all on May 12. Unfortunately that has had to be postponed due to a death in the family of chef and co-owner Jason Osorio. He has travelled back to Peru for the funeral.
South Street Take Away is tucked away in Windale and could very well be its best-kept secret. Apologies to those who would rather the secret remain just that ... but I have to give them a shout-out. You have to search the menu for a healthy option (the chicken schnitzel or steak wraps are your best bet) but why bother? The snack packs, burgers and sides are just too tasty. My personal favourite is the Julius Snack Pack ($16): chicken schnitzel, bacon, shredded cheese and a runny egg on a bed of potato gems topped with Caesar salad dressing. Any number of add-ons are available, for example, another egg or two. Decadent.
Junkyard Cafe and Collectables has opened in Toronto on the corner of The Boulevarde and Cooks Street.
Last minute ideas
Suddenly remembered that Sunday is Mother's Day? Here are a few worthy (last minute) options for you to consider.
Brunch at 48 Watt Street (Newcastle) A bagel tower, prosecco, mimosas and a selection of beer and wine, fresh fruit and pastries, live music and a gift for mum. $85 per person (bottomless); $55 (juice plus soft drink).
Lunch at Babbingtons Bar & Grill (Charlestown) Five-course meal for adults and options for kids and teens. Phone 4943 6733 to book.
Maddz on York (Teralba) Mother's Day Boxes You can order treats, a Breaky Box or a Sweets Box for pick up May 7 or 8 from 8am.
Lunch at The Greenroof (Hamilton) For $48 mum can enjoy a glass of sparkling on arrival, a shared entree and main meal each, plus a shared dessert.
Gin High Tea at Babylon (Newcastle) Babylon's executive chef Jeremy Fahy has collaborated with Earp Distilling Co and resident mixologist Ryan Duck to pair sweet and savoury treats with premium gin and premium gin cocktails.
Happi Chicken Mothers Day Boxes (Cessnock) Choose from a $60 Breakfast Bakery Box, Happi Grazing Box or a Sweet Treat Box. Email orders to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lunch or dinner at MEET (Newcastle) Live music during the lunch time service and cocktails and dessert specials in the evening.
4 Pines at The Farm (Pokolbin) Open all day for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Lucky door prizes and a complimentary beverage, and lots of room for the kids to run around.
High Tea by Sprout Catering at Tocal Homestead (Paterson) Sweet and savoury treats and fresh scones; The Tea Collective Newcastle pot of tea. Tickets $65 per adult, $40 children.
Devonshire Tea at Myrtle & Stone (Wollombi) Homemade scones, jam and cream. Bookings essential 4998 3220.
Lunch or dinner at The Humble Thai (Newcastle) or The Grateful Thai (Charlestown) Plus, they have bottled their favourite housemade sauces. A great gift idea.
Cafe HaHas Vietnamese Lunch Box (Adamstown) $60 for two people, order via social media, pick up from 11am on Sunday.
Live music and lunch specials at Great Northern Trading Post (Laguna) Bookings essential 4998 8244.