We interrupt this broadcast of painstakingly slowly eked out overseas posts to bring you a Good Food & Wine Show bulletin.
The Good Food & Wine Show hit Perth last weekend and saw thousands having a quiet word with their livers, polishing their elbows and battling the crowds to check out what is new and exciting in the world of food and wine.
I was lucky to receive free tickets to the event, and joined the masses with my friend S on Sunday, walking down to the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from my house in a futile attempt to get ourselves into a negative calorie state before taking full advantage of all of the samples. After arriving and cursing winter as our outside coats filled up the bags we were planning to fill with products, we went down to the box office to secure seats in the Celebrity Theatre (included in your ticket price). Bitterly disappointed that Manu Feildel wasn’t on the menu that day, we consoled ourselves with tickets to see Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris.
After a backtrack to the entrance to buy glasses once we realised that they were necessary to partake in any wine tastings (and being scoffed at when we questioned whether we would need the proof of age wristbands offered at the information stall) we then proceeded to work our way methodically through the stalls. What followed was a few hours of tasting some fantastic wines and foods, interspersed with periods of feeling tipsy and focusing more on the cheese and carbs, then getting stuck back into the wines (so, erm, please forgive some of the less-than-sharp photos in this post).
S and I both really loved this Australian Harvest horseradish mustard. It wasn’t shy on the bite, and I think it would be great with salmon, mixed through mashed potatoes or just to spice up a toasted sanger.
Yarra Valley dairy had two goat cheeses that interested us for different reasons. The first one we tried was called Gentle Goat, and was a fresh cheese that was very mild in flavour and S suggested it would be perfect to serve to people who weren’t very big on goats’ cheese. The second cheese, Black Savourine, was a semi-matured cheese coated in ash, and had a gorgeous tart flavour just perfect for goats’ cheese fiends such as us.
The Pukara Estate Premium olive oil was the first one of the day that I enjoyed. It seems I am a little special in my olive oil preferences, as I don’t enjoy the grassy, green tasting oils that most other people seem to fall over themselves about. I think this means I prefer later harvest oils. What this says about my personality I am unsure.
We arrived at the Nicholson Fine Foods stall just after a Bio Burger had come hot off the pan, so we got stabbing with the toothpicks and had a few pieces each. I am easily excited by burger ideas for the non beefeater, and this one looks and tastes like a winner. Made from a blend of dried peas, beans, lentils, vegetables, spices and herbs, it was similar in taste to falafel and would be great in a burger, stuffed into things like capsicum, or even to bulk up meat burger patties. Not sure how much it costs, and although I like to make things from scratch I think this would be perfect for a quick tasty midweek dinner.
I’ve often wondered what Cambinata yabbies are like as I eyed them off in food stores, but I’ve always baulked at the price. To demonstrate why they cost so much, the friendly Cambinata yabby lady showed us a fetching lifesize golden yabby, which completely dwarfed the tiny tails in the jars. The meat yield per yabby is very small, especially as the claw meat is apparently not really used, and this combined with the processing required results in the high cost per gram.
S and I bought a little jar of the yabby tails with lemon to sup on while watching Gary and George later in the celebrity theatre. We also got a little celebrity action at the yabby stall, as I recognised one of the men there as being from an ABC show that aired a few years ago. It involved bringing a group of women out from the UK, and introducing them and some local girls to a number of West Australian farmers in an effort to help them find love. From memory I think this particular farmer was lucky in love, but I didn’t spy the girl from the show in the stall so perhaps the yabby life wasn’t for her after all.
The woman at the Jack Link’s stall almost made me wish I ate beef. Imagine how happy she would look if you bought some of the ambiguously named “snacks”!
I found it a little difficult to get overly excited about Coles brand biscuits (though in fairness I haven’t tried them), but I was happy to see Bannister Downs milk products at the Coles stall as well as I wasn’t aware that Coles stocked them. I rarely use milk at home except when cooking, but they produce some lovely milk – apparently due to their lower, slower pasteurisation technique when compared to the big boys. Their packaging is also made of Ecolean, which is a much more ecologically sound material than standard milk packaging and can even be safely burnt as it produces no toxic fumes (yes, I tested this when I first learnt about it).
We didn’t think we were part of the Playboy Energy Drink stall demographic and so left them to their good work.
My recent trip back to Montreal reminded me about Yerba Maté tea, which I first discovered a couple of years ago at my favourite restaurant there (soon to be written about!) and enjoyed numerous times before moving back to Australia and promptly forgetting all about it. I bought myself a pack of the orange infused Yerba Maté from the El Asador stall and have placed it next to my kettle so I can’t forget about it for another few years. Soon I will need some sort of tea organisation system as the area around my kettle is getting a little out of hand.
As soon as I spied the Fremantle Sardine Company stall I cried out “Ooh! Sardines!” and instantly a girl appeared in front of me with a plate of freshly cooked crumbed sardines with the ubiquitous pile of toothpicks. I wish my cries for sardines were always so readily met. After giving my toothpick a good workout I also bought a container of their marinated sardine fillets for later consumption.
Before we knew it it was time to get ourselves down to the Celebrity Theatre to watch Gary and George. After sitting through an audience participation game with an excruciating MC, the two MasterChef men came out on stage and shared Rob Sitch’s recent sendup of George with us before making a few dishes and being generally quite entertaining, though also somewhat irritating with the use of such words as “raviolis”. They also did their best to spruik the pizza oven and Thermomix they were using, though it was a little hard to get on the respective bandwagons when they used the former to burn multiple loaves of bread, and the latter to just blend some things.
These type of shows always have a number of WTF stalls that don’t really seem to fit in with the others. The Good Food & Wine Show is no exception, and we found ourselves bemused at the people wasting valuable eating and drinking time trying on Crocs and shawls, though I guess they may be useful to wear in the kitchen if you often find yourself spilling food on your feet and unable to enjoy your dinner due to chills in the shoulder region. There were no less than three Shin’s Bio-Health stalls – handy for those going through punishing puff pastry rolling sessions or post self-flagellation due to multiple failed macaron attempts. It was quite entertaining to watch people trying out the fat shaky machine things, though perhaps not as entertaining as watching the lycra-clad men on the demonstration video they were screening.
Although we only managed to taste a handful of the dozens and dozens of wines on offer at the show, we came across a number that took our fancy. Why I didn’t write them down I don’t know, but some of the ones I can remember are the Magella Wines Shiraz and “The Musician”, the 2007 Dead Arm Shiraz by d’Arenburg (which I was particularly keen to try as I bought the 2005 Dead Arm when my Goddaughter was born for her mum to hide away until she’s old enough to enjoy it) and we were also really pleasantly surprised by the cheap and cheerful Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio.
We were keen to try one of the whites at one of the stalls in the Barossa region area, but weren’t sure if we wanted to try the Riesling or the Pinot Gris. We asked the heavily mutton-chopped man behind the stall for some information about each of them, and he took one look at us and said “What do you girls normally drink? A bit of Chardonnay?”. We did not buy his wine, and my appreciation for a good set of mutton chops is now somewhat diminished.
Mutton chop appreciation aside, and forgetting the fact that I managed to leave my glass somewhere towards the end of the day, S and I had a great time at the Good Food & Wine Show. I had heard from last year that the amount of free samples was disappointing but things must have picked up because we were eating and drinking for hours. I can recommend it for a fun day out with friends, as long as you can handle crowds without getting too homicidal, and I highly suggest that you leave the car at home to take full advantage of the wine, beer and spirits tastings on offer.
Also, congratulations again to Meggy, the winner of my Good Food & Wine Show ticket giveaway. I hope your belly was as full as ours!