Another year, another EKKA – the Brisbane version of the Royal Show. Oddly I was super excited for EKKA this year – it’s truly foodie heaven! Queensland grown, local producers and endless free samples – what more could a food blogger ask for?
Funnily enough the day of my EKKA visit actually started with a trip to Jan Powers Farmers Markets, where my friends and I relished in the winter sun and began to fuel our bodies in preparation for all the tasting, trying and buying ahead of us.
After looping the powerhouse lawns and delighting in the ever growing number of stalls, we contended with the masses and settled on a fresh bacon and egg roll from the German Sausage Hut with a Genovese coffee (massive fan of this bean) for friend Olli and a “Croque Madman” from stall “Alastair Mcleod Catering” – dished up by Alastair McLeod himself – for myself and friend Harv. A tad star struck I immediately pounced at the opportunity for conversation and queried him on his scheduled EKKA appearance (thinking he was presenting in the gourmet food pavilion that afternoon). Aghast, he paused midway through stirring the pot of vanilla bean porridge before him – about to be served to one very excited customer – and cried “It’s tomorrow? Isn’t it?” then launched into his quintessential cheeky banter. The “Croque Madman” was made fresh to order with gooey egg, a delicious tangy, sweet mustard, thick Serrano ham and oozing gruyere sandwiched between perfectly toasted Levain bread. The best way to start the day.
After our run in with a foodie celeb we wandered on and came across my favourite juice and smoothies stall and immediately placed an order for a fresh “shu flu” juice (ginger, apple, orange, pineapple) while Harv got the “thirst quencher” (apple, watermelon, ginger). The best part? The mountain of fresh fruit that adorned each cup when served! Yes that is a whole banana speared onto the straw you can see…
Bellies full (for the time being at least) we decided to start making our way to the RNA show grounds where my day at the EKKA kicked off in the spirit of true tradition – with an irresistible strawberry sundae. It was a feel good treat with all money raised going to The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.
We then moved swiftly into the gourmet food pavilion – where we devoured chocolate dipped banana and strawberries, sampled countless wines, munched on free tastings of Bagel Boys blueberry bagels with homemade choc-hazelnut smear and sang and danced along with the very happy, lively crew at Funnel Cakes. Oh and did I mention the wine?
Then it was time for the Cotton and Wool Parade – a true favourite of mine, I love seeing the emerging designers from UQ and MSIT show their ability. Only this year was different – we were front row VIPS thanks to Commonwealth Bank! Set before us was a laden cheese platter adorned with delicious Southcape hard and soft cheeses, crackers, dried fruits, nuts and muscatels. With drink in hand we watched the array of colour and texture being strutted on the calk walk, close enough to admire the details and craftsmanship behind the handling of all natural materials. Gail Sorronda was a stand out with her genius bold crochet flat-form shoes and pops of colour (my favourite was the Noisy Ocean Dress above…)
After the parade it was into the Woolworths food pavilion for some more testing. Freshly barbecued lamb from the fresh food people themselves, fresh cashew milk made in seconds by the team at Vitamix (Mimi MUST have one), spicy biltong, pork meatballs and king island ash chèvre followed by an incredible glass of Chardonnay Semillon and we were stuffed in true EKKA style. Then came a visit to the Learning and Development pavilion (hello Lego world!) followed by some lapping up of the perfect Brisbane sunshine with refreshingly cold cider in hand. We sat back, relaxed and digested in the last of the afternoon rays, allowing our stomachs to digest before we decided to wrap up with our final wine purchase. That meant a trip back to the Woolworths pavilion…always a danger.
After a considerable amount of time spent on more sampling and deliberation, we settled on our wines – a bottle of Rose and a surprisingly fruity Pinot Grigio-Riesling blend…yet our eyes managed to drift one last time and catch sight of the giant wood fire oven that was churning out hot, fresh pizzas adorned with mouthwateringly good looking toppings. Fortunately, as it was nearing early evening we justified it as early dinner and promptly ordered a slice of vegetarian, supreme and margarita. My margarita was total pizza perfection. A crispy crust that neither too thin or too thick, a sprinkling of oozing melted cheese and a light and fresh tomato flavour that didn’t overpower the fresh basil made it possibly the best slice of pizza I have had since my trip to Italy.
And on that note we left the EKKA for 2013 with bellies full, wine in hand and slightly sun burnt faces. Another year come and gone.