CHEERS: Diners at one-hatted restaurant The Stunned Mullet in Port Macquarie.
PORT Macquarie’s annual Tastings on Hastings (October 28 to 30)keeps getting bigger –and better.
Now in its 14th year, the festival has a hugely expanded program. Highlights are a Sustainable Table morning at The Lost Plot community gardens, a Beer Masterclass at Latin Loafer, and the Tastings Ignites night-time festival. The main event on the Sunday features more than 120 local foods and beverages, live bands and cooking demonstrations.
This year some freshfoodie events have been announced, including Matt Wilkinson’s dinners at The Stunned Mullet,a pop-up Oyster Barn and a harvest lunch on the Hastings River hosted by Matt Golinski.
Wilkinson is a hatted chef and restaurant owner obsessed with growing, sourcing and presenting the best tasting produce he can find. He will be joined by Nicolas Poelaert, no doubt familiar to Novocastrian diners, and an internationally renowned professional chef who uses ingredients that he has grown or foraged himself.
Golinski is this year’s “producer’s ambassador”.He has a passion for using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, and is well-known for his food columns, blogs, speaking roles and appearances on television showReady Steady Cook.
The Port Macquarie region’sfood and beverage industry is booming. To date there are more than80 producers, six wineries, three boutique breweries and numerous award-winning restaurants and cafes. You can pick your own strawberries, and sample native bush foods, old Russian recipe chocolates and farm-house cheeses.
The region’swineries are proving popular with families, asowners offer morechoices for families.Cassegrain offers new horse-riding trails through the vines.Rose’s Vineyard has apetting farmwith baby animals,and Bago Vineyards has Bago Maze and fun events like acupcake treasure hunt and jazz concerts.
The wineries are scattered around the lush green hinterland and are close to town.
Also on the foodie calendar isThe Port Macquarie Beer and Cider Festival on September 24, withtastingsfrom50 beer and cider makers, live music, a beer garden and games including the Beer Keg Toss competition, inspired by the long tradition of the Highland Games.