While all good things come to an end, the memory lingers on long after. Tasting Australia is one such example. For a solid eight days more than 200 events are held across South Australia to showcase and focus on what we are most proud of – our food, drink and produce industry. It celebrates the real food heroes and origins of our food. This year opening day at Town Square was buzzing with Fork on The Road, Adelaide’s food truck event, participating as well. Food trucks lined the walk between the northern and southern side of Victoria Square while inside Town Square cooking demonstrations and forums were underway. Every region in SA was represented and were proud to share with you not only their fabulous produce but also the mouth-watering dishes they have made with it. It was a true foodie’s heaven. So grab a cuppa, sit back and join me as I recap my experience.
I was there on opening day of course, to do some recon and plan my week out but also to enjoy the great variety of food and wine available. No longer is wine just the only drink as the long bar in the middle of Town Square stocks your favourite craft beers and cider. Yes, including Lobo Cider, the one where Jock Zonfrillo was quoted saying it was “The world’s best cider”. It is pretty amazing. If you haven’t tried it you absolutely must. Our eyes started to wander, reading menu after menu which only made it tougher to decide what we wanted. Considering Town Square was open all week, we decided to start with the food trucks. Cargo offered some pretty awesome dude food of Buffalo Chicken & Waffles while I just felt like rice that day so Taste of Spain delivered with a piping hot big pan of Paella. The Barossa corner stole our hearts with a very warming traditional dessert that was out of this world.
This year I was also fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Words To Go bloggers forum as part of Tasting Australia. It was lovely to meet other influential food and travel bloggers from across the country who have been specially selected to come together to experience, learn and share with the world this lovely gem called South Australia.
On the second day we went straight into learning with reputable speakers sharing their knowledge, wisdom and stories. Mark Kurlansky, a renowned food author, started the day with his tips on getting to the heart of the story. Incredibly coherent, you wouldn’t know how jet-lagged he was, thank you for coming to South Australia and doing this. Max Anderson took to the lectern next (or rather the middle of the room) for an upbeat presentation on perfecting a pitch for an article. He was someone that gave me the impression that if you ever worked with him you would learn so much, we certainly did in that short 45 minutes. As an award winning journalist and editor, he was generous with his pointers on the top 5 mistakes a writer makes. My biggest simplest takeaway message was “don’t be a shit writer”. It was a brilliant talk with humour thrown in.
They say a picture tells a thousand words and Steve Huddy of Canon Australia was there to teach us how best to tell those thousand words. The key ingredient? Practice, practice, practice. Of course good equipment helps but it isn’t everything. Work on finding your go to styles so you can perfect those shots every time then expand on that. Alison Hassel from the South Australian Tourism Commission found her calling in Public Relations and now has a wealth of experience of communications, media relations, reputation management and brand building under her belt. She discussed what hosts and famil providers often expect in return for those who have had the privilege of being hosted.
We also had Jennifer Lam from I Ate My Way Through blog and The Bamboo Garden marketing agency from Sydney. The face behind one of Australia’s longest running food and travel blogs has turned her hobby into a business and she was here to share her story with us. What an incredible journey! Also from NSW we had Thang Ngo of Noodlies, a blog on diverse eateries and food in Cabramatta. As the Managing Director of IDENTITY Communications and one of the most influential food writers and editors, he shed some light on matters of analytics. Also sharing the stage with Adelaide’s own Jacqui Lim of Jacqui’s Food Fetish (also known as the girl who travels to dine at Gourmet Traveller Top 100 restaurants) they talked about niche blogging. Our last speaker of the day was Dr. Roger Haden, a lecturer at Le Cordon Bleu teaching the Aesthetics of Food and Wine. His expertise is on the subject of sensory taste. He was there to talk about Language Aesthetics, about how best to convey our experiences in words. What a thought provoking way to finish.
Throughout the day we were well looked after, thoroughly fed and watered with a coffee van on standby all day courtesy of Le Cordon Bleu. Morning tea was unorthodox but welcomed all the same thanks to Golden North and their Barista Bar Coffee Ice Cream. With so much fantastic variety at Town Square, it was only natural we would spend our lunch time there. I swear half my lunch hour was spent trying to pick out what I want. Look at that gorgeous fresh Seafood Plate of tuna tartare, grilled prawns, mussels, oyster and kingfish from the Eyre Peninsula. As for me, I had been eyeing the Fleurieu Cheese Box since opening day so I finally caved in and went for it. I thought it was great value at $15 with a selection of cheese, crackers, quince paste and pickles. What a treat! Also from the Fleurieu stand I spotted someone ordering the Lamb Tagine with Couscous.
Afternoon tea was a special treat brought to us by Le Cordon Bleu. A delectable selection of pastries made by budding patissiers gave us the sugar rush to power through the rest of the day.
After a full day of learning, we couldn’t wait to digest and use our newly acquired knowledge but the organisers already had a fancy dinner planned for us at Hilton Adelaide. It was none other than the recently renovated Coal Cellar and Grill. Time to let our hair down and really get to know each other over a magnificent feast.
The chef had done a grand job with the biggest highlight for me being the Tomahawk Steak and Créme Brulee but from the looks of it we all enjoyed every dish. Sharing our meals was the best way to get acquainted. Plenty of chatter and laughter filled the room, some of us even went to the lounge for drinks after!
Our final day of Words To Go started bright and early at the famous Adelaide Central Markets. Getting there early before the buzz was never something I did but the early morning calmness was so serene. We were treated to breakfast at Jam Face with Poh Ling Yeow! She was right there in the kitchen with her husband, smiley as always, cooking and serving up the most important meal of the day.
After breakfast we were taken on a tour around the Adelaide Central Market making stops at Kangaroo Island food company, Smelly Cheese and Mushroom Man. We met Justin at the Kangaroo Island food company who is so passionate. Justin and his team aim to bring food locally grown and produced in Kangaroo Island to the rest of the country. This has allowed the producers to expand their market. Moving on to the Smelly Cheese Shop, Valerie Henbest was such a delightful cheese expert to listen to! We were able to sample a range of cheeses and learn more about cheese! Our final stop was at Mushroom Man, a stall I know and love. They make the most amazing range of seasonings you just have to try. They go a long way and make everything taste better. I purchased another three new bottles to try.
We had barely digested breakfast and lunch was around the corner at Lucia’s Fine Foods, part of the heart and soul of the Adelaide Central Markets. In true Italian hospitality, the long table was filled with great produce. We had baguettes, margarita focaccia, a big cheese platter and charcuterie platter. We couldn’t help ourselves but to at least taste everything. It was beautiful, the cured meats had me going back for more. A special board of Cured Black Pig was brought around for us to try and it was just divine. It has a stronger taste so if you’re not a fan of that, it may not be for you. Otherwise, the lovely salumi, mettwurst, prosciutto, ham and paté will send you to Italy.
After lunch we were chauffeured to Le Cordon Bleu, Regency Institute of TAFE for a little tour and a chocolate tasting experience. Just because we didn’t quite have dessert. To give us time to make room in our stomachs we were taken on a tour of the facilities and kitchens used by students, including students of the Food Entrepreneur program. I think Mr Foodie would have hung out in the Campus Brewery all the time. We were then ushered into a lecture room taking me back to my uni days. Pastry Chef Jenni Key was there to greet us. We also found out she has quite the history of competing on an international level with a few gold medals under her belt.
She taught us a lot about chocolate, how it starts, how it is processed and what makes a good quality chocolate versus a bad one. If I could tell you two things it would be that white chocolate is really bad for you. It might as well not be chocolate, just dairy, sugar and fat. We also learnt that crappy cheap chocolates don’t contain real chocolate. Not that I buy them but I don’t think I’ll be eating them anymore. At the end of it we had a bit of fun tasting different chocolate buttons and trying to identify the tasting notes we get from it. To finish off our lesson, a treat of beautifully made truffles matched with some wine were prepared for us.
As I said at the start, all good things must come to an end. But the experience will live on in our minds and on the web because that’s what bloggers do. We share our experience with you. I always knew how lucky I was to be in South Australia and it was an enthusiastic time for me to be able to share this with fellow delegates. I also want to say thank you to Amanda McInerney, Michele D’Aloia and their team for putting together such a fantastic forum. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it. It was truly a great experience.
Disclaimer: Foodie Ling was selected to attend Words to Go 2016 – Tasting Australia and was fully hosted at these events.