(Disclosure: I was a guest of SATC at the two day, Words To Go 2014 Blogger Forum on 28-29 April. I also provide Pro Bono support to the awesome food rescue business OzHarvest, which included the Tasting Australia Cooking for a Cause event with James Henry on 30th April, and the Origins Dinner on Sat 3 May.)
Much has been written about the festival that was Tasting Australia but I was too inspired not to not record my week – in fact it triggered a whole raft of projects since.
So here it is: just my wafer slice of what was overall a pretty bountiful spread.
Sunday: Festival Opening: The Town Square
It was a moment worth marking – a gleaming Sunday morning, autumn at it’s best, and hungry anticipation all around – and my first glimpse of the Tasting Australia installation, the Town Square.
Raw timber frames on regional market stalls, hay bales and bunting lights, chooks in cages, creeping vines, vegie patches, and the odd farmyard kitchen table, all skirting around a central marquee, bursting with promise.
It was town and country united in a hub of deliciousness with gates today thrown open, with a few well-known faces welcoming people in.
But not in a big trumpet way; this was more intimate than that – I kept thinking country homestead opening its doors to the neighbours; it was personal and real.
Slowly the Town Square was beginning to wake.
OzHarvest “Garden of Goodness”
More than a corner of bright yellow was the OzHarvest Town Square installation – the “Garden of Goodness” – a fitting addition to the sense of The Square.
A collaborative effort with the awesome The Productive Garden Co passers by could make a donation and “plant” their contribution into the garden, watching the garden flourish over the course of the week. And through rain and shine, flourish it did.
I’m a bit one-eyed, but I do love this concept.
Monday: WordsToGo 2014 Blogger Forum
Bloggers were embraced as a formal part of the Tasting Australia program, with the Forum Words To Go; by accounts the first time a state government tourism event had formally done so.
I was pretty humbled to be invited to participate.
A welcome drink on the Sunday evening, back in the Town Square; The Adelaide Hilton providing neighbourhood deliciousness from the smoker, with beef, lamb and kangaroo.
And I did love the overhead bunting lights lending a little sparkle.
Monday and it was the main Blogger Forum, and what an impressive line up: Robyn Eckhardt and David Hagerman (Eating Asia) Caz Makepiece (YTravelBlog) Chloe Reshke-Maguire (Yelp Adelaide) and Helen Yee (Grab Your Fork), and there were so many more across the day, curated by SATC & PIRSA with Program Director Amanda McInerney of Lambs Ears and Honey.
And if you’d like to check out the full list of speaker and blogger participants – including the blog roll – you can do that here.
Now this was the first blogger event I’ve been to, so I have no benchmark … although I’ve sat through more than my fair share of conferences and events.
But it was pretty damn good; genuinely fun.
And I put the difference down to this.
- The passion was palpable: all of the people in the room were doing what they love and forging a living from it.
- Content inspired: Stories were from the heart, moving and real, engaging you on a more fundamental level
- Something new: everyone was willing to share tips and experiences, and I took away more than a few
- Fun: Talking food and lifestyle with the like minded; it was hard not to have fun.
The blogger journey is a personal one and people seem to come to it for many different reasons. But each is valid and real.
And for me, Robyn Eckhardt rang true with “Give In To Your Obsessions”.
Best. Advice. Ever.
Blogger Dinner: Seriously South Australian at The Hilton
We were treated to a delicious dinner from the “Seriously South Australian” menu at The Hilton ‘The Brasserie” restaurant, by Executive Chef Lloyd Cremer.
Take home favourite for me was the pan roasted Hahndorf Venison Farm Fillets – absolutely melted in the mouth and alone would get me back.
The kangaroo sliders and heritage pork belly were also pretty hard to resist.
And I do enjoy a share plate of 2-bite-size desserts, especially when I’ve already eaten more than my fill.
Tuesday: Day Tripping: Central Market Tour, Campbell Town Food Trail and Cheese Making with Udder Delights at Bird In Hand Winery
Yes, you read that right.
Day two and we were treated yet again, this time to some local sights and flavours.
It was my birthday, so my day was pretty well made.
The Adelaide Central Markets is an appetising little gem, tucked in the centre of the city, bursting with produce and promise.
Part of the foodie heartbeat of this town, it beats with the long established rhythm of seasonality and abundance.
Even the pigeons know it’s good, as they dart above heads and scurry for crumbs between feet.
In a short hour or so, we visit:
Say Cheese / The Smelly Cheese Shop – (try walking away with just one)
Wild Loaf – (for some Fig and Walnut Sourdough to pair, with said cheese)
Lucias Charcuterie – (a newly developed room within this local institution, foodie eye-candy. I could stand in this space for hours)
The Mushroom Man – (freshest of fresh pine mushrooms but we couldn’t get Marco to give up his source for locally grown Porcini)
The Yoghurt Shop – (freshly made all natural yoghurts)
The House of Health – (we tried Kangaroo Island Honey, which I love – although it’s hard to take the Leatherwood out of the Tasmanian..)
Providore – (for an oggle at the oozy Chocolate Fountain)
Say Cheese / Smelly Cheese Shop
Then splitting into two groups, half of us headed to local food mecca Campbelltown while I was headed for The Adelaide Hills.
On top of it’s wide range of varietals and labels, Bird in Hand also produces luxury fashion items in silk, leather and cashmere as well as jewellery, and the more traditional wine accessories.
Bird in Hand also plays host to some of Australia’s leading musical talent, recent acts including Pete Murray and Gossling, with gourmet catering and premium wines in the open air within the vineyard.
Today they are hosting our group, with Sheree Sullivan of Udder Delights, taking us through a cheese making and tasting experience.
Udder Delights is an artisan cheese factory based in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills, with a Cheese Cellar in the main street of Hahndorf.
They produce an award winning range of cheeses hand made using local goat and cow milk.
We taste across the range. I love the Chevre – soft and subtle, an almost whipped texture – and the Goats Camembert – oozy and more pungeant; dare I dip my finger in.
We are accompanied by the beautiful storytelling of Sheree Sullivan as she takes us on the journey of cheese evolution from Egyptian nomads to today. Clearly a close team, husband Saul peppers conversation with anecdotes and humour. It’s an enjoyable ride.
Interspersed with it all we are making cheese – Feta, using non-animal rennet.
My partner in cheese was the delightful Emma (Em’s Food for Friends blog).
Who knew cheese-making was so easy or so fun.
Wednesday: OzHarvest Cooks for a Cause with James Henry
As MC for the OzHarvest Tasting Australia Cooking For A Cause event, I got to meet and introduce James Henry of Paris Restaurant Bones
James was a delightful and engaging Chef who’s pared-back no-waste but perfectly put together approach at Bones is grabbing global culinary attention – which was just such a perfect fit for the OzHarvest session.
We we were also joined by Rodney Dunn of the amazing Agrarian Kitchen.
If you would like to read more about that, head over here.
Thursday: kids fun in The Town Square
A day off for me, sharing the Town Square with the little ones.
The chooks were a favourite, the garden beds, the displays. Lots to look at, lots to eat.
My 5yo wanting to be just like the third Generation of the Beer clan, Rory, demonstrating on stage with mum Saskia and Grandma Maggie.
Saturday: The Origins Dinner
The Origins Dinner is best described as pure exhilarating fun.
30 acclaimed chefs cooking favourite dishes in a secret inner city location – tickets were sold out within weeks.
Sophisticated. Uncomplicated (and Un-Self-Conscious). Clever.
Our OzHarvest crew was an extra pair of hands for the kitchens, doing whatever was needed on the night.
And any surplus food we were able to rescue went on our deliver vans the next day.
The food was abundant; wow moments at every corner, with a spread of local wines and spirits (KIS GIN anyone?) available for all.
Chefs and crews having a lot of fun. As I reckon most people in the room.
I loved the graffiti wall, the site of many signatures during the night.
What an event.
Throughout what was a pretty incredible week for me personally and professionally, I kept coming back to this.
In all the time that I dedicate to it, the words that I write, the restaurants that I covet, the meals that I plan…
… it is, at the end of the day, just food.
We all eat it.
We all need it.
If we are lucky, we can get enough of it and still have a little more to share around.
And if we are really lucky, some of us can even make a living from it (or work with some of the amazing producers that do).
Thank you Tasting Australia, for reminding us all of that:
For keeping us honest. For keeping it real.
For more …
Tasting Australia is being held again in 2016. Meantime, for a little more on this year’s event, check out some of these…
Noodlies Blog: Tasting Australia 2014