I was tempted to title this post Mimi Must Try Pig’s Trotter, Camel and Fermented Tea. Because that’s exactly what I did last Saturday afternoon.
The 21st of July saw Brisbane’s Southbank promenade transform in colour, flavour and aroma. An enclave of local and regional food and wine stallholders and zoned “foodie experience centres”, brought to life by some serious event styling (think bright purple pinwheels and cascading tiered garden installations), it was of course the 2013 South Bank Regional Flavours Festival. And there was no way we were going to let the overcast weather dampen the mood.
At the Epicurious Tent celebrity chefs and icons of the industry were in abundance. Hosted by the seriously knowledgeable Adam Liaw, a constant commentary of interesting facts and expert tips delighted the audience as they watched the professionals at work. Mama and I arrived in time to see Spencer Patrick (Australia’s only Michelin star holding chef and owner of Harrisons and Buccini Ristorante in Port Douglas and Bucci in Brisbane) and his Bucci Head Chef Shaun Malone present “Food that changed the world”. He zeroed in on the eighties era and artfully prepared two signature dishes by original “bad boy” chef of the time Marco Pierre White, whom he worked for over 20 years ago. The first? An intensely intricate dish of Oyster Tagliatelle with caviar, topped with mushroom and cream sauce. So intricate in fact that the audience was informed there used to be a cap of one plate per table in Marco’s restaurant in order to adequately prepare and deliver the dish to his standard.
The second dish was braised pigs trotter ‘Pierre Koffmann’ stuffed with sweetbreads and morels and served with potato veloute (I swear it was 50% potato and 50% butter). As we watched Malone artfully “de-glove” the pig’s trotter, the wafting aroma of caramelising sweetbreads filled the tent. Mixed together with minced chicken, cream and finished with fresh truffle the stuffing is then poached inside the “glove” for 4 hours. Luckily for us Patrick had prepared one earlier and after plating up the delicacy invited the audience forward to try. I didn’t hesitate, thinking Mimi MUST try pig’s trotter! Sitting in the front row meant I could leap up from my seat and madly snap away at Patrick’s masterpiece creations before swooping in on a slice. Savouring every bite, my eyes bulged as I hit the decadent notes of the truffle and sweetbreads. The creamy, buttery potato added a lovely base flavour and the skin of the trotter was a perfect gelatinous texture, which just melted away in the mouth. Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.
We left the aptly named Epicurious Tent to trawl the market stalls and food trucks that were scattered along the promenade. Admiring the clear pride in provenance of all the produce being offered by their owners, we took pleasure engaging in conversations about how it all began, from radical sea changes to those who had been in the industry for years. We gobbled plump fresh raspberries from My berries (locally grown in Caboolture) and chose from 3 varieties of sweet and juicy strawberries from Queensland Strawberries, which was then lavishly dipped in dark chocolate. Moving on to rich Rum and Raisin chocolate tastings from Mayfield Chocolates and moist peanut butter and chocolate brownies from Dello Mano we darted from sweet to savoury and back again. We appreciated the delicate, subtle flavour and soft texture of Buffalo haloumi made by Trevor from Cedar Street Cheeserie (we were sure to purchase a generous slab for our dinner that evening) and tried the new and increasingly popular Buchi Kombucha (delicious bottled fermented tea which luckily for me is stocked at new Teneriffe establishment Primal Pantry) simultaneously enjoying the flavours and an exchange on its health benefits. There were more purchases made at Barambah Organics (I was over the moon when I discovered their skim quark production had resumed after a prolonged milk shortage), Broken Nose Vanilla (curiously named after the mountain the vanilla is harvested from) and The Peanut Van (their highly addictive all-natural salt and vinegar peanuts were only $3 a bag…it was a no-brainer). And to think after all that we still had space for lunch at the The Hunting Club tent!
Entering The Hunting Club was like happening upon a luxurious and fantastical party in the woods. Decorated with walls of sprouting greenery and plumage, deep hued leather lounge suites and mini herb gardens on the tabletops it was no wonder the atmosphere was so vibrant.
Glancing around at the people enjoying their tastings of beer and cider and munching away on cheese platters and potato skins Mama and I immediately joined the queue to order. A review of the equally wild menu and we settled on a tasting paddle of cider, which came with Hot Spiced Apple (perfectly suited to the weather), Hills Pear and Mountain Goat Two Step. To nosh on we chose kangaroo and mushroom spring rolls with bush tomato relish and the camel (…yes, camel) slider. The latter was an absolute hit – if that’s what camel tastes like I’d happily eat it everyday. Moist, juicy and full of flavour the spicy pattie was the hero in the middle of crisp lettuce leaves, creamy mayo, tasty cheddar, onion chutney and a flour-dusted bun. I was in carnivore heaven!
Departing the cosy and buzzing atmosphere of the The Hunting Club almost foreshadowed the dreary turn in the weather. As the rain started to settle in we made the decision to end our epic foodie journey along the banks and departed the festival, seriously content and satiated with the best Queensland had to offer that weekend.
Did you make it to Regional Flavours? Would love to hear your highlights!