At 10am on a Saturday morning, while the rest of the world were whiling away their time sleeping, shopping and walking the dog, thousands of enthusiastic food lovers piled into the Dome of Sydney Olympic Park to experience food and wine from the best producers in the country.
There were more than 200 food and wine stalls, produce from the beautiful Barossa Valley all the way up to the fruitful Hunter Valley, an alley full of the best cheese, and a grazing garden of street food from the best food trucks around. It was all topped off with a selection of the best celebrity chef’s demonstrating their talents in the Good Food Theatre: the foodie’s paradise. Rolling in on Friday 7th August, the Good Food and Wine Show is always guaranteed to pull a huge crowd, and that it did. However “huge” was an understatement.
Thousands of people turned out on Saturday to soak up the atmosphere of great food, wine and foodie goodness. One of the best pieces of advice to give someone going to the show is to start the day with a plan. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the multitude of choices, people and stalls. A serious foodie knows the chefs they want to see, where they will be at what time, and what the main food and wine stops are. Firstly, in the Good Food Theatre, English born Gary Mehigan wowed the audience with his modern Indian inspired cuisine with the help of the latest in the Masterchef winner alumni, Billie McKay.
Mehigan’s love of food is severely underestimated. He absolutely loves his food. Throughout the demonstration, he spooned down mouthfuls of sago soaked in coconut milk while devising plans to mix vodka with his papaya puree and sit back with a long straw, rather than create the intended Papaya and Coconut Ice Cream with Sago and Sesame Caramel. The cooking demonstrations aren’t merely about the thrill of watching a celebrity cook.
There is always something to learn. Gary’s fresh, Indian inspired chicken salad was filled with anabundance of herbs, perfectly poached chicken, kaffir limeleaves and whimsical banana flwers, drenched in a sweet dressing. After overheating pans to the extreme, the main dish Gary put together was a bright seafood curry with aromatic turmeric, okra and prawns.
Billie, of course, did most of the work with Gary telling her that when she thought she had put in enough oil, to add even more! The food looked amazing and must have tasted spectacular as those at the Lifestyle Food Chef’s Table dug in, with Irish host and acclaimed chef Alistair McLeod nibbling away in the corner ,in between his hosting responsibilities.
For many, the day wouldn’t be complete without running out of the theatre and straight to the book signing table to meet the inspiring chefs. It is a refreshing feeling to realise that the chefs you watch on television and read about are even more approachable and friendly than you expect. Gary Mehigan is equally as bubbly and funny in person and Billie McKay is even lovelier.
One after the other, aspiring home cooks and chefs lined up and walked away with an autographed cookbook and a memorable moment with the writer himself. A large number of the stalls at the show are products from the Hunter Valley.
The wine in particular produced in the Hunter Valley is renowned for its quality and the wine makers their expertise. It made perfect sense that at this year’s show there was a section dedicated to wine produced in the Hunter Valley.
Gundog Estate, Hope and Tower Estate, Drayton’s Family Wines, Vinden Estate Wines, Eagles Rest Wines and Savannah Estate featured in the Hunter Valley section. Gundog Estate's perfectly pink Rosé was sweet and flvourful with aromas of strawberry and raspberry. One of the highlights of the Hunter Valley wine producers was Savannah Estate. The estate’s rich, sweet, dark refined Liueur Muscat was an absolute favourite, proving to be exceedingly popular at this year’s show along with their Port.
Savannah Estate is a unique boutique winery named after Savannah Peterson, the youngest granddaughter of renowned wine makers; the Peterson family. Nestled along Mount View Road in the Hunter Valley’s wine region, Savannah Estate often struggle to keep up with the growing popularity of their products.
Joe Keat, a passionate employee of the estate said that they have quite a small production. "We focus on the quality rather than the quantity" he said.
Savannah Estate is the youngest and smallest of the Peterson family estates which include wineries in the Hunter Valley, Mudgee and Armidale. The winery is 12 years old with the wine making process headed by Michael Hudson. The family comradery among the Peterson wineries is evident as Joe says Michael has all of the support of the Peterson family if he ever needs guidance. However, he said “he’s [Michael] doing a damn good job by himself”.
Bimbadgen Estate, First Creek Hunter Valley, Peterson House and Ascella Pure Wines also featured at the show. Alongside the array of wine makers, there were plenty of Hunter Valley food producers to compliment the sweet, tart and delicious wines.
Pukara Estate’s range of oils, vinegars and condiments are exceedingly popular. Located just outside of Denman in the Hunter, the 200-acre property uses a variety of olive trees from Italian Frantoio to Spanish Picual. Pukara has on-site production facilities ensuring that the freshest products are produced season after season.
The combination of flvours Pukara Estate use are as delicious as they are unpredictable. Vanilla and Cinnamon, Guava and Fig Balsamic Vinegars, and a stand out Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar which was sweet, tart and sour all at the same time. Hunter Belle Cheese were one of many cheese producers in Cheese Alley.
The aptly named Camembelle was delightfully creamy and their popularity was unquestionable as customers lined up saying there was no need to taste as they knew exactly what they were after. The show is all about tasting the best of the best. Smoked Shaw River Buffalo Cheese, Tamar Valley Truffles Sugo, arm cheese and onion ciabatta loaf from Nonna’s Bakehouse, Brookfarm’s tasty toasted muesli, porridge, Walkabout mix ranges and muesli bars which all combine the tastiest macadamias with a variety of exotic dried fruits, seeds and other delicious nuts.
After eating and drinking the day away, it is hard not to leave the Good Food and Wine Show both satisfied and tired.Satisfied that ou successfully tasted as much as you could, and tired from the weight of all the delicious goodies you have to carry back to your car before heading home and eating all of the spoils.