Abergavenny Food Festival – the way a food festival should be

As you may remember, I recently had a less than enjoyable experience at a food festival, but I’m now happy to report that my faith in food events has been restored by the Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales.

The Abergavenny Food Festival

The Festival has been going and growing for 19 years (longer than any other!) and offers a brilliant way for people of all ages, cultures and professions to come together and learn about food.

Last weekend Alex (Gingey Bites) and I took at early(ish) morning (hey, it was before 9am!) drive through the lovely Welsh countryside to get in early for a day of food celebration.

At the press launch, we heard from Aine Morris the CEO of the Abergavenny Food Festival, and Tom Kerridge, who you’ll know from various cooking shows. They shared why the Festival was so important to them and it got me excited about what the event was aiming to achieve around educating people about food.

Abergavenny Food Festival

We may also have tested some delicious baked goods from Alex Gooch and this surprisingly good chocolate almond milk from Boringly Good.

Abergavenny Food Festival

After the press launch, I raced off to the Priory for the workshops I’d prebooked. While my day was set in stone, Alex was very lucky to wander the event site checking out traders, the Castle, and the Linda Vista Gardens while I learned a few tricks (she’ll probably tell you about her day on her blog!). I was a bit jealous, but I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t pack out my days next year!

Never fear, there was food nearby! I was excited to find that there were plenty of food options and some great traders in the Priory courtyard, so I wasn’t missing out on the festival entirely.

Ticketed events

To access the non-ticketed events, you needed a wristband. This gave you access to the market, the Castle and the Linda Vista Gardens, where a range of fun things were organised, including cooking demonstrations (over the fire and in a proper kitchen).

The ticketed event options were brilliant though, ranging from chef talks to hands-on workshops like photography, and gin masterclasses. I went for the hands-on workshops and spent the day learning tips and tricks about smartphone photography, and food styling. As someone who never takes notes, I learn by doing and both sessions were great for giving us an opportunity to get involved.

It’s defintely worth getting a couple of ticketed events in, but don’t make the mistake I made and book out your whole day with ticketed events unless you’re going to the Festival for both days. You’ll soon (like me) regret missing out on the amazing traders and other activities.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Traders

I had an hour to walk round the market area in the late afternoon and it was brilliant to see a mix of traders selling a wide range of goods from smoked meats and fish to grains, tomatoes, bread and cured meats. While there were some traders who had come a fair way to be involved in the event, many were local to Wales (one was just eight miles down the road!) and quite a few were from just over the bridge in Somerset and Wiltshire.

That’s the way a food festival should be! We loved seeing local produce and talking to traders about why they came to the Abergavenny Food Festival.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Eat Your Words

After our long day, we needed sustenance and we were glad we’d booked tickets for the Abergavenny edition of Bristol’s Eat Your Words.

We were lucky to have our meal cooked by the author of the chosen cookbook! Olia Hercules cooked up a Georgian feast based on recipes from her new book Kaukasis and shared her passion for food from the Caucasus region.

Abergavenny Food Festival, Kaukasis and Eat Your Words

Abergavenny Food Festival, Kaukasis and Eat Your Words

Abergavenny Food Festival, Kaukasis and Eat Your Words

At the end…

It was a long day, but it also wasn’t. In fact, I think it went way too quickly. There were so many things to see and do in Abergavenny, and so much of it was about local and good quality producre that it’s the perfect example of a food festival.

I *cannot* wait for the 20th anniversary of the Abergavenny Food Festival next year! In fact, Alex and I are already making plans to be there for the full weekend!

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The food festival fail

Here a food festival, there a food festival

These days it’s not hard to find a food festival on pretty much every weekend. If you google food festivals, there are more results than you can poke a stick at, and if you look on Twitter, you’ll find just as many.

As a lover of food, I think it’s great! Many of these small food festivals are about showcasing local producers and chefs, and often there are a few celebrities thrown into the mix – usually, they’re the ones passionate about eating local and pushing the seasonal food philosophy, and they very well should be!

However, I have a problem.

Some of these events just seem like excuses for making a bit of cash for the organiser/s.

There are about 10 stalls selling fudge, 5 selling beer, another 10 selling liqueurs or gins, and another 5 selling jam. The rest of the stalls are people selling handcrafted furniture or jewellery.

And that’s fine. For a market.

Not an event claiming to be a food festival.

The Great British Food Festival

Today, I went to the Great British Food Festival at Bowood House in Wiltshire. The premise seemed fine – some demonstrations from local chefs, plenty of food to eat, loads of independent food producers, a few things for the kids.

When we arrived at 11:30am, we wondered why so many people were already leaving, considering the event had only opened at 10am. To be honest, the only reason we stuck around was to see a chef I like do a demonstration at 2pm.

We walked into the shopping tent to find the handmade jewellery, soaps and pyramid schemes. That was two minutes of my time I’ll never get back.

Then we checked out the two artisan tents. As I mentioned, it was essentially mostly liqueurs, gins, beers and fudge, and many of the traders are ones I’ve seen at events far from Wiltshire. There was even a stall selling Turkish delight that I’d seen in London a few weeks ago (not locally made is what I’m getting at). Pretty uninspiring to be honest.

Mostly people are walking around trying things they have no intention of buying (and look, we’re all guilty of it), but this is people’s livelihoods.

What I was expecting: local makers of breads, cheeses, and oils. A range of cakes and pastries. Locally farmed produce. Meat sourced from British farmers.

After that, we wandered the food stalls for some lunch and, again, it wasn’t very exciting. If I was going to an event called the ‘Great British Food Festival’, I’d be expecting some amazing options from the local area. While I can’t claim each stall wasn’t offering that, there were definitely some stalls who weren’t – in fact, one was offering “100% greek meat”. Let me remind you that we were at the Great BRITISH Food Festival.

What I wanted: people to be proud of their British or local produce. Doesn’t ‘our chicken comes from 2 miles up the road and we want to share it with you’, sound more exciting?

We sat under a tree for the next hour because the event organisers were woefully unprepared for the sun, which was intense, to say the least. More importantly, I wondered what would have happened if it was raining (because let’s be honest, that would have been more likely!).

The entertainment was OK, I guess. Small producers talked about their wares at one tent; at another two there were kids activities; at another, there was the ‘man versus food’ eating events and the bake off – don’t get me started on that! There was also some music, but that’s not why I’m here.

In short, I felt like I’d wasted my day. If I wasn’t hanging out with a friend and waiting for a demonstration (which was the only good bit by the way!), I’d have been there for just 30 minutes.

I get that I’m probably not the target market. But who actually is? Because you could find the stalls at a market and not have to pay an entry fee, and the cooking demonstrations were very short and there weren’t many of them.

Even when you go to the Great British Food Festival website, you can’t find any information about the people who run the event. Where’s the ‘I’m passionate about local food’, ‘I wanted to support local producers’? It’s a lifeless event that could be so much better.

I’d honestly love to chat to some of the traders who go to these events. I hope for their sake they do get something out of attending them.

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Bristol’s Backwell House

One of the reasons I love living in Bristol is the number of stunning food options and importantly, so many restaurants and chefs using fresh, local produce. I love that people are so passionate about what is produced in the region – from cider to pork.

This is most definitely the case at Backwell House, a gorgeous, recently established boutique hotel in the North Somerset countryside near Bristol.  They have just launched a 40-cover restaurant where Chef Ross Hunter has developed a menu that focuses on local produce. So local, in fact, you’ll find that quite a few of his ingredients come from the Backwell Estate itself!

Backwell House

When I asked Chef Ross (who has worked closely with everyone’s favourite chef, Josh Eggleton) what he was aiming to achieve with his menu, he shared that it was about showcasing the produce. For him, choosing three to four stunning local ingredients and really making them shine is the most important thing to him. That’s my kind of philosophy. It’s all well and good spending hours creating foams and gels, but if you lose the fresh ingredients then you’re really just missing out.

The menu is very well priced at two courses for £29 and three courses for £35. It also changes regularly depending on what ingredients are available and in season.  Not only will you get to eat gorgeous food, you’re doing so in the beautiful countryside in a Georgian house (that’s the history lover in me talking!).

Pressed Backwell pork, new season peas, pancetta & tarragon emulsion was first off the ranks. Well-seasoned pork, gorgeous free peas and perfect crackling made for a brilliant starter. My esteemed dining neighbor, Alex (aka Gingey Bites) chose the Brixham crab, beetroot, apple, Nori seaweed, which not only looked stunning but was very tasty too.

Backwell House
Pressed Backwell pork, new season peas, pancetta & tarragon emulsion + potato gnocchi, wild garlic, calcot onion, hazelnuts

For mains, I didn’t want double portions of meat, so I chose the potato gnocchi, wild garlic, calcot onion, hazelnuts for something a bit lighter. Sadly it was underseasoned and the texture was not as light as I’d hoped. The onion was also too crunchy and undercooked for my taste. However, everyone else at the table sang the praises of the Cornish cod, Brixham crab bonbon, crab bisque, kohlrabi, pak choi and the 60 day Hereford sirloin, ox cheek, alliums, king oyster mushroom, beef jus. Alex said the sirloin was as soft as butter and very moreish.

Next, I had the strawberry cannelloni, meringue, Cheddar Valley strawberries – a little play on eton mess. I loved the mix of textures and the use of strawberries. Definitely something I’d eat again.

To finish off, we were offered some housemade petite fours, including raspberry and beetroot marshmallows, apple jellies and orange shortbread. I adored the marshmallows and was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavours worked.

Dessert
Strawberry cannelloni, meringue, Cheddar Valley strawberries + raspberry and beetroot marshmallows, apple jellies and orange shortbread

I enjoyed my meal and the setting in which I got to eat it. Chef Ross has put together an excellent menu and knows how to make the most of the ingredients he has sourced. I can highly recommend a lovely drive into the Somerset countryside to Backwell House for lunch or dinner.

About the hotel

I couldn’t not put something in about the hotel itself because I really enjoyed spending time there. On the outside, Backwell House is everything you’d expect of a Georgian House – well-manicured grounds and stunning views. But inside is a different story. The General Manager and his family have given the house a revamp with their own quirky (often handmade) touches. Like a suitcase sink and handmade bedhead – it’s kind of fun to look for the little things that make Backwell House so beautiful.

The common areas are comfortable and there’s plenty of space to relax with a drink from the handmade bar. The rooms are luxurious and I’m jealous of anyone lucky enough to stay there.

The details:
Menus start at £29 for 2 courses and rooms from £95 to £245 per night B&B
Email: enquiries@backwellhouse.co.uk
Phone: 0117 325 110
Web: backwellhouse.co.uk
Backwell House, Farleigh Road, Bristol BS48 3QA

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Bristol Gin Festival from a Finnish perspective

Like Karis, I don’t enjoy ginger but gin has never been a problem. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I was excited to hear the Gin Festival was coming to Bristol while I’d be visiting.

The festival, which has been touring the UK since 2013, was set up at The Station in the Bristol city centre. It’s an easily accessible venue with a great courtyard. We arrived about an hour after gates had opened and the place was packed, music was playing and people were mingling happily.

While the atmosphere was great, the queue to the ticket counter was a bit daunting. I guess that’s the price to pay for an atmosphere like that, but at least the crew were up to the task and the line moved quickly and efficiently, and before you knew it we had our stack of vouchers.

Gin Festival

Vouchers and brilliant glass now in hand, we browsed the comprehensive event guide about all the gins available at the festival. The booklet was complete with drink recipes, gin quizzes, tasting notes and other interesting info. We picked various drinks from the booklet (admittedly, the garnishes played an important role in the decision making) and headed over to the bars. They were divided into four different areas and the booklet guided you to the right corner of the counter. Very efficient! Cocktails were also available, but we stuck to the main feature of the night – gin and tonic.

Speaking of tonic, there was a selection of Fever-Tree tonics available as mixers and the guide book came with recommended tonics for each gin. And the recommendations seemed spot on.

After cruising around the crowded expo hall we headed out to the courtyard to enjoy our drinks. It was surprising and pleasing to notice how different all the different variations were and I developed a new-found appreciation for the different styles of gin and the versatility of such a simple combination.

Gin Festival

What we drank (garnish and mixer):

  • Blackwoods Vintage Dry 60 (mint & lime with Fever-Tree aromatic tonic)
  • Poetic License Old Tom (apple with Fever-Tree ginger ale)
  • Trevethan Cornish Gin (orange and clove with Fever-Tree elderflower tonic)
  • Eccentric Citrus Overland (lemon and thyme with Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic)
  • Kalevala (lime with Fever-Tree Indian tonic)
  • Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger (apple with Fever-Tree soda water)
  • Ely Dark Chocolate (with orange juice)

We really enjoyed our night and the drinks we tried (sadly all agreed that the Ely Dark Chocolate wasn’t to our tastes, but it’s good to give things a go, though!), so thanks to the Gin Festival team!

Perhaps the Gin Festival should come to Finland?

Juho.

Details: The Gin Festival has regular events around the UK, take a look at their website to see where they will be next!

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Frome Independent Market

Last Sunday, I joined the throng of people and dogs wandering the Frome Independent market on a stunning Spring day. Taking up practically the whole centre of town, the market covers a really great range of products from independents, including second-hand goods, art, fashion, food and drink.

It felt like a little adventure as we wandered Frome town centre looking at stalls – they seemed to be everywhere! We started in the ‘flea market’ area and browsed vintage fashion, books and homewares. Thankfully, the prices ranged from 1 pound per piece jumble sale style to carefully curated vintage all priced separately. I think it’s nice to have something for everyone. I picked up a couple of cute plates that I want to use as photography props and did some wishful thinking about a few other items.

Frome Market

Because we’d skipped breakfast, we were getting quite hungry by this point and didn’t want to keep wandering until we had found food. Thankfully the next section of the market was the ready to eat food. There was a brilliant selection to choose from, including American BBQ, Italian, salt beef, Thai, Indian, Japanese, pies, Persian, hog roast and more. It made for some serious internal arguments because I hate making a decision when there is so much choice. After passing the Thai stand however, I knew what I wanted – it smelled just as I thought it should and I could see the Pad Thai being made right there in front of me. Despite the noodles being a little chewy, the flavour was awesome and the rest of the ingredients were well-cooked.

Food at Frome Market Food at Frome Market Food at Frome Market

I should also mention that while we waited in line, we may have bought some ambrosial cannoli from the stall next door. They were perfect. Crispy where they should have been and the fillings were creamy and light (despite being so so naughty).
Food at Frome Market Food at Frome Market

After re-fueling, we continued on to the high street. Here’s where you’ll find green and white striped farmers’ market tents lining the street, separated by that throng of people and dogs I mentioned earlier. We perused hand made homewares and fashion and stared longingly at locally made bread, cakes, pies, dips, beers, ciders and wines, as well as local produce like meat, vegetables, dairy and oils, knowing we couldn’t very well buy one of everything. My husband is a huge fan of Portuguese tarts, so the local purveyor was one of our stops. Probably one of the best I’ve had – a perfectly crispy, light shell with a just-wobbly custard, I can definitely recommend them.

Goodies at Frome Market Goodies at Frome Market Produce at Frome Market Produce at Frome Market Produce at Frome Market

From there, it was up a narrow cobbled street with small independent makers displaying their wares on small tables. Beautiful art, cupcakes and beauty products were just a few of things you could pick up. At the top it wasn’t obvious where to go and going back down the street we just came up seemed a little crazy considering the number of people, but we took a small street and it turns out there were even more stalls there! See, adventure!

At the bottom we went back to the cobbled street to revisit The Bakemonger to buy some of their stunning and colourful edible art. As I said to them, I hate buying such beautiful things knowing I’m going to destroy them (by eating them). Later in the day with a cup of tea, I demolished the citrus tart I bought, which had the most divine thin and buttery tart shell.

The Bakemonger at Frome Market

I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed a market as much as I enjoyed this one in a really long time. I really did feel like I was on an adventure, even though at the beginning I was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer size and choice. I’m really looking forward to going back to find more exciting things that I probably missed this time around.

 

The details
Where: Frome
When: First Sunday of every month, 10am to 3pm
Website: thefromeindependent.org.uk

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The first Bristol pizza festival

Yesterday, we went to the first event Bristol pizza festival, organised by Foozie. Five of the region’s pizza vendors plus craft beers, and Prosecco. Honestly, with that combination it’s hard to go wrong!

It’s exciting to be part of something that is happening for the first time. Especially if it involves food!

Tickets were only £14 and included four pizza tokens (which could get you a whole pizza or four quarters). Thankfully, there were only 500 tickets available. Gosh, in Australia you’d pay $20 and you’d get nothing, plus you’d spend the day lining up and go home cranky because you only managed to get once slice.

On top of a good range of pizza options, each pizza vendor developed a Bristol themed pizza for the event and attendees could get a quarter as part of their ticket. I thought this was a stroke of brilliance because I’m a big fan of having a bit of everything so you don’t have to decide on just one thing!

I really liked the venue too – The Station on Silver Street! The beauty of being new in town means so many of these places are new to me and we often have nothing like them in Brisbane.

As a fussy pizza eater, I decided before I went in that I would judge each of the themed pizzas, so here goes:

Pizzarova
Bristol Temple Meats – Fior Di Latte mozzarella, pancetta, ‘nduja sausage and salami Milano topped with chilli or garlic oil
I really enjoyed the flavour and texture of the dough and as far as ‘meatlovers’ pizzas go, it was pretty good! I’m a big fan of ‘nduja, so I enjoyed its firey punch.

Bristol Pizza Festival - Pizzarova

Mission Pizza
Massive Cheese Attack – cream, fire-roasted pear, Cornish Blue cheese, Fior di Latte mozzarella, Fontina, cracked black pepper, a drizzle of honey
This pizza was my number 2. The base was well-cooked and I loved the combination of flavours – the stand outs, of course, being the sweet pear and sharp blue cheese – strong but surprisingly smooth (and I’m not usually a lover of blue cheese!).

Bristol Pizza Festival - Mission Pizzas

Woodchop Pizza
PeSSto Great Britain – pesto, salami from Somerset Charcuterie and sun-dried tomatoes
Unfortunately, I think they were too busy at the time we got our PeSSto Great Britain because the base just wasn’t cooked enough. Toppings-wise, I felt the sundried tomatoes didn’t add to the overall flavour and we couldn’t taste any pesto. The Somerset Charcuterie salami was really nice though.

Bristol Pizza Festival - Woodchop Pizza

Pizza Bike
Drizzle in Brizzle – sourdough base, tomato sauce, Cheddar cheese, fresh herbs, pesto, oils
Pizza Bike had my favourite tomato base – tangy and flavourful. Unfortunately, the pizza was really difficult to eat because the base was quite soggy or undercooked, I couldn’t tell which. I really like flavour of the base though. As a sourdough lover, I’m keen to buy some of their bases to make pizza at home without the mess!

Bristol Pizza Festival - Pizza Bike

Winner – Baz & Fred
The Young Mucker – tomato, mozzarella, fennel sausage and tenderstem broccoli
For me this pizza was the winner. The based was cooked perfectly, making it easy to eat (I could eat it one-handed without the topping going everywhere). I also loved the combination and taste of the toppings – aromatic fennel always goes well with pork, and the broccoli was perfectly cooked.

Bristol Pizza Festival - Baz and Fred

Thanks for putting together Bristol’s first pizza festival, Foozie; I’m looking forward to the next one!

Karis Sign Off-01-01

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Nanna Pat’s Christmas Pudding

Every year Christmas creeps up on us like that unwanted spider in the bathroom while you’re…uh…indisposed. You don’t hate spiders, but you kind of wish they would stay hidden because they can be quite stressful. Also, will someone please explain why we are seeing Christmas decorations come out in September these days! It’s a harsh reminder that soon going to the shops will be even more painful that normal! Plus, I have to start planning the presents I want to buy.

pudding ingredientsAt least there is one good thing about this time of year – Christmas pudding! If you’re like me, and can barely find the time to have a cuppa uninterrupted, you’ll find it difficult to find the time to prepare and steam the pudding too. That’s why it’s a planned affair for me. Traditionally, Christmas pudding needs to be made a few months before the big day, two months is good but you will get away with a pretty decent pudding even one month before. Apparently pudding is made on ‘Stir Up Sunday’, which is about five weeks before Christmas, so I guess I wasn’t too far off when I made this one a couple of weeks back!

My Nanna Pat has been making our family Christmas pudding for as long as I can remember. As far as Christmas traditions go, this is it. In my family, people come and go, we are all getting on with our lives and are so busy doing different things that we actually have very few ‘traditions’, except Nanna’s Christmas pudding.

Five years ago, my Nanna taught me how to make the family recipe. While I would love to share this incredible recipe with you I’m afraid if I told you I’d have to kill you… I think I’m the only one in the whole family that has a copy of the recipe, thank you Nanna!

So the pudding takes two days. The first day involves prepping the fruit and the second is boiling.

Now, the first time I learnt how to ‘prep the fruit’, I tried to argue my way out of it (no I didn’t argue with my Nanna, I just offered other diplomatic suggestions), she absolutely insisted that I did not skip this step and it was imperative to the outcome of the pudding. You know when your Nanna makes you a cup of tea? And it just tastes so much better than any other tea you have had before? Then she says because it was ‘made with love’. Well this is the same thing, and believe me my damn pudding is made with so much love that each and every single raisin, currant and grape has seen my fingers in search for a single stalk! Don’t worry, I wash my hands!

So the first step is washing the 1.5kg of fruit. Have you ever washed sultanas before? I was surprised how brown the water turns, and how many leaves and twigs get caught up in the stickiness of the fruit! Once you have washed the fruit you must (see above) search through the fruit to find any stalks. This is painstaking, your fingers will be brown and sticky and you’ll be surprised how many sultanas, raisins and currants still have their stalks attached…

Made with love…made with love…

MelmakingpuddingThe second day it’s time to get hot. Clear your calendar. You must be prepared to be at home for at least 8 hours. The fruit needs to be mixed in with all of the rest of the ingredients (secret ingredients …remember!) and then you have to do the most important thing..make a wish. Since I don’t yet have a family of my own I try and make sure I have a few friends around so they get to have a stir and make a wish as well, because these form some of the greatest memories of my childhood; cooking with Nanna.

Before you put the mixture into the pudding tin for boiling you can add some coins! I did have a sixpence which I threw in the mixture, but last year my mum decided since it had her birth year on it she would claim it as hers. Good one mum! I remember Nanna always putting coins in her pudding when we were kids to encourage us to eat it (not me though). One year my Uncle Graham was eating his pudding and pulled out a $50 note out of his mouth, it was safe to say all the kids demolished that pudding within seconds.

Lastly, you boil the pudding for 6 hours and then pop it in the fridge until Christmas Day! On the day it needs to be boiled for another 2 hours before serving and you MUST serve it with lashings of brandy butter and brandy custard! Yum!

Some say the traditional Christmas pudding is not as popular with many preferring a lighter, healthier, dessert. Others say its too hot to have this type of dessert during our Australian hot Summers. I say Christmas is not Christmas without a large bowl of pudding followed by a swim in the pool with your loved ones.

What is a traditional Christmas recipe in your family? What gets you excited about Christmas Day?

 

Mel Sign Off-01-01

 

 

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It’s my party and I’ll eat street food if I want to

Mels street foodIf you’ve been following us on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll have noticed that I recently celebrated my birthday, and this year I celebrated in style! I’m not usually one for birthday parties per se, but after a long conversation with an old friend I said, “I just want to be in the company of my good friends, with good food”, and there you go, the ‘Street Food Party’ was born.

For those of you who may be confused, ‘street food’ is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a hawker or vendor, often from a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck. Most street foods are also classed as both finger food and fast food.

Here’s the concept, I asked everyone coming to bring a plate of street food to share, so I wouldn’t have the burden of cooking for 20+ people myself, and it worked. All I made was some fried rice, sausage rolls, Vietnamese rice paper rolls and a huge batch of sangria (I’ll share my sangria recipe in a future post, I promise).

Aside from the fact that my kitchen was a logistical nightmare – thank you Karis for taking over as Head Chef while I was entertaining my guests – it was a great night.

I am really happy that we had so many food options, from so many parts of the world. What made me happiest though, was that so many of my friends came up to me surprised by how much they liked a particular dish that they have never heard of or even tried before.

So, what did we eat?

  • Tomato bruschetta
  • Mexican corn
  • San choi bow
  • Indian inspired flatbreads
  • Beef tacos
  • Mini cheese kranskies with sauerkraut
  • Mini beef mignons
  • Proffertjes
  • Vietnamese rice paper rolls
  • Thai chicken satay skewers
  • Fried rice
  • Buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce
  • Sausage rolls
  • Meat balls
  • Argentinian caramel cookies

After all this food you cannot imagine that we would even need a birthday cake. Karis made me the most delicious cake I think I’ve ever had. It was a chocolate and orange layer cake with salted chocolate ganache, and it was to die for! She decorated it wonderfully with my favourite chocolates – malteasers – and silver cachous. Ohh and I guess you all now know how old I am!

As you can see, there was, what felt like, a tonne of food! There was also a lot of sangria…Ole! Won’t say anything more on that subject.

For those of you who made it, thank you for coming I really had a wonderful night, and thank you for bringing excellent fare to share (see what I did there? Opps!). I honestly couldnt pick a favourite, they were all so delicious and nobody went home hungry.

Here’s to another great year! Vamos de fiesta!

Mel Sign Off-01-01

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Oktoberfest ist wunderbar!

It’s that time of year again! This post is a tad late because Oktoberfest traditionally begins in September, but late is better than not at all!

Australia is certainly a multicultural society and we LOVE to celebrate Oktoberfest! This isn’t surprising of course, because we really do love our beer.

I was thinking about Oktoberfest because I’m planning to head to the Brisbane Oktoberfest at the RNA Showgrounds and thought, ‘hey, why don’t I put together a post about why I enjoy Oktoberfest’, so here goes:

food at Oktoberfest
Courtesy of Oktoberfest Brisbane

Chicken dance: If you’ve never done the chicken dance at an Oktoberfest celebration, you haven’t lived! I could be wrong, but I feel like Oktoberfest celebrations are the only places where it’s appropriate to do the Chicken dance as an adult. Last year, I went to the Brisbane German Club and laughed so hard doing the chicken dance with strangers (I’d only had one beer at that point!) that I thought I was going to faint.

The food: Ok, sure you can get good German food any time of the year, but I’m not sure if you’ve noticed – food always tastes better if it’s a celebration! From pork knuckle to good ol’ wurst and pretzels (warm and delicious), you won’t be hungry. In saying that, apparently at Oktoberfest in Munich, roast chicken is the real food star – they go through almost half a million! It’s a wonder there are any left in the country afterwards.

Laughter: It can be quite funny watching swarms of costumed people wandering around Brisbane during Oktoberfest. I don’t really do the the ‘dressing up’ thing during Oktoberfest, but other people tend to get really into it. Even if the clothes aren’t amusing, you’ll laugh yourself silly dancing.

The bier: Well, this one’s a given really. I think I’d be worried about myself if this wasn’t on the list. Thankfully we have some great beer in Brisbane and plenty of craft breweries to choose from and I’m fairly sure most (if not all) will be doing something celebrate the the king of all beer celebrations.

Collectibles: It’s always nice to have a keepsake from an event like Oktoberfest (especially as some people won’t remember it per se). I love collecting things I don’t really need, but they are proof I was there!

 

So where do we celebrate in Brisbane?

food at Oktoberfest
Courtesy of Oktoberfest Brisbane

Brisbane Oktoberfest at the RNA – Oktoberfest Brisbane is Australia’s largest German Festival and ranked by National Geographic in the Top 10 Oktoberfests outside Germany – a true testament to the passion of the two German-Australian families who decided to share their cultural traditions with Brisbane in 2008. Now in its eighth year, the festival puts its own special spin on Munich’s world famous festival for its 37,000+ visitors, over the second and third weekends of Oktober. You can buy tickets online.

Brisbane German Club – The official Oktoberfest at the Brisbane German Club is over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate there on the weekend. I recommend booking if you plan on eating (and drinking) there on a Friday or Saturday night – the beer hall where most of the action happens tends to fill up quickly. And, heaven forbid you miss out on Andrew’s musical stylings.

Barvarian Bier Cafe, Eagle St Pier – Every weekend, they tap kegs and spin prize wheels (based on my search of their website). It’s always pretty busy, so I recommend booking in advance if you plan to go.

How do you get involved with Oktoberfest celebrations? And, can I come?

Karis Sign Off-01-01

 

 

Images courtesy of Oktoberfest Brisbane.

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