I attended this year’s Good Food and Wine Show last Friday, the opening day. If you can get the time off, it’s a great day to go. The crowd was particularly slow to build this year, no doubt due to some dirty weather in the morning, but for those of us who showed up earlyish, it was great! No queuing for tastings, the stall folk were relaxed and available to chat at length about their produce, and the celeb cook shows all had plenty of tickets available.
Speaking of which, I didn’t bother with the Celeb Theatre last year, but this time thought I should pop in for a look. Caught Anna Gare. Last time I saw Ms Gare on stage was at a Jam Tarts gig at some tavern south of the river (the Coolibah, or Windsor?) waaay back in the early 70s. She had more lighting and a bigger and better PA on stage at the Celeb Theatre than as a Jam Tart, but as suspected, the show was lame. Not Anna’s fault. I just don’t find live cooking demos very thrilling, and no amount of pop concert production is gonna make rocknroll outta a cook small-talking through a mike while nudging onions (leeks, actually) around a frypan. If you’re really into celeb cooks/chefs/whatever, fine. If not, there’s so much to see and taste at the Good Food and Wine Show that my recommendation would be to give the Celeb Theatre a miss.
My favourite exhibitor from last year, Jim Mendolia from Fremantle Sardines, wasn’t there this time. Pity. I was looking forward to more of his raconteuring, and especially to going through his range of sardine products and other seafood. He was particularly generous with his samples last year.
I didn’t see the Pemberton truffle folk this year, either, but I have since learnt that they were there – somewhere. Oh well…
Whatever, there was plenty to choose from – too much to get through on a single day, and mostly free – including a huge array of food stalls offering free samples, cooking and kitchen gadget demos, hosted free wine tastings at the Reidel Wine Theatre, dozens of wine producers (local and national), some local boutique beer brewers, and three cider stalls.
- Sampling and comparing the ciders of the three labels exhibiting, including a local startup (Core Cider). All very different. Yarra Valley’s Napoleone cider got my vote by some way.
- The Kolsch ale from Eagle Bay Brewing Company. I’ve had plenty of the real deal, having lived in Cologne, Germany, for 4 months. The Eagle Bay boys’ Kolsch measures up pretty damned well, if my recollections of the original drop are accurate. Worth chasing down.
- Outback Spirit’s innovative and delicious condiments and sauces featuring Australian bush flavours. These guys have moved way past novelty value. Most of us have no idea of the gorgeous flavours out there amongst our natives. Lemon myrtle, for example, is a standout. Outback Spirit knows what they’re doing. Their range is seriously good.
- Cheesebuddy! Yeah, I’d never heard of them either. These guys make yummy cheesy puffball thingos that are a popular snack in Brazil, apparently. I went back for multiple samples of these lil luverlies.
- By contrast with the many delightful free sample tastings, some of the food that incurred a charge was not good value. For example, the Linley Valley Pork ‘gourmet burgers’ comprised a thick doughy white bun suffocating a thin slice of pork with a suggestion of apple sauce and some red wine ‘jus’ out of a plastic squeeze bottle. At $8, that’s stingy guys. Next year, give us a decent slab of pork so we can at least taste it. And lose the boring white over-pillowy bun. You’re dealing with punters who care about food! What about some fresh sliced artisan bread, preferably sourdough? Isn’t the point to show off your product to best effect?
- Speaking of stinginess, some sort of award should go to the guy handing out samples of chilli salted French fries at the Chilli Salt stand. Super-delish, but this bloke was rationing the samples to a single chip at a time! Give us a break, buddy – that’s torture!
- The Reidel Wine Theatre should feature only good quality wines (which doesn’t necessarily mean expensive). It’s an excellent setup, with winemakers and an MC hosting the tastings, Reidel glasses of course, and well organised. Unfortunately, we copped Oxford Landing when we dropped into the Theatre (lesson for next year: check the program). Very mediocre range – and that’s being kind. The MC did his best to enthuse as the winemakers gave some background to each drop, but made a slip when he described one of the wines as “good value” at $10, adding “it tastes like at least $12.” Damned with faint praise, indeed. I wouldn’t have paid $5.
I’ve sought to give a balanced and honest appraisal of this year’s show, but of course, tastes vary so my truth may not be yours. Be assured that as with last year’s Show there was plenty on offer to cater for diverse tastes and in the main it’s very good value. Mark it down for next year if you’re a Perthite. Adelaide and Brisbane are next, so don’t hesitate to go if you’re in either city and the timing is opportune.
Enough words from me. Here are some pics from last Friday (apologies for the pretty poor quality – need to learn more about my new camera):
Now which stall was this? There were far too many for my sieve of a memory. Shoulda taken notes…
Brazilian cheesy snacks eaten warm, either unaccompanied or with garlic butter or other spreads. Lethal!
…and here’s a closeup
Core Cider – local cider startup with a promising debut range
Definitely worth popping into Eagle Bay Brewing next time you’re down south. Terrific Kolsch.
Matso’s Brewery, from Broome, had some novelty brews on tap (eg: mango beer). Interesting, but not to my taste.
Best cider of the 2011 Show in my opinion – although I ain’t no cider connoisseur.
Well, you can’t see much, but these condiments and sauces from Outback Spirit featuring flavours of the Australian bush were a real surprise. Terrific.
Some big authentic Indian flavours here…
…and from the South Australian-based Smallgoods of the Riverland, some unusual variations on traditional smallgoods, including a fiery kangaroo pepperoni
I remember the samples (nyum nyum nyum), but not the stall!
What’s a food show, any show, life, without chocolate?