I'm always up for good food whether it be a great meal at a restaurant with a capable and challenging chef, a simple but tasty value for money meal, or even home cooking something delicious and exciting. Either way, there is a lot on offer to cater for one's love of food.
This weekend we had the opportunity of attending the 2010 Good Food and Wine Show, which offered something for anyone with an interest in food or wine. But let's face it - I don't think I would be drawing too long a bow by saying that food is something dear to many of our hearts.
So there I was on a dry, cold winter's day heading into the warmth of the heated pavilions of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Coupled with the other great thing to enjoy on a winter's day (i.e. food) things weren't looking so bad after all.
Upon approaching the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, you could see a large amount of people coming in all directions and congregating at the entrance. The show was going to be big. Entering the show only proved that even more with people heading off in all different directions, lines amassing around the celebrity theatre, and large amounts of people grouped all around the show.
One of the big drawing points of the show was stalls from many of Australia's retailers that were sprawled across the pavilion floors offering everything from tasting samples of food and wine, to purchasable snacks, bring-home food and kitchen utensils and appliances. The good thing about the stalls was that many suppliers (many of whom were local but I had no idea existed) were able to showcase their products and the public were able to view and/or sample them in a forum that they would not otherwise have access to. Some of these stalls were also offering bargains - with prices cheaper than what's on offer normally - for example one of the things I went away with was two bottles of coffee Baileys for $45.
My small issue with the way the floor layout was set up was that the stalls were in some areas packed in quite tight resulting in bottlenecks and some confusion at times by people walking through. I'm also not sure whether a clear map with a list of everything on offers was available, but if not that would also have helped to have been available or at least put in some key locations.
The Good Food and Wine Show also had a range of other activities including celebrity theatre, cooking classes, coffee appreciation experiences, cheese masterclass, and of course wine tasting and appreciation. Plenty to keep you busy for the day.
The Celebrity Theatre
To me the highlight was the celebrity theatre - not so much for the learning aspect as the recipes were not explored in any great depth, but rather for the entertainment value. I managed to get into two of the celebrity theatre shows - Manu Feildel of Ready Steady Cook, My Kitchen Rules, and Manu at L'Etoile (or prior to that Bilson's) fame, and Matt Moran of Aria in Sydney.
Manu Feildel spinning a plate
Frenchman Manu Feildel's aptly named show Spinning Plates was filled with everything from circus style acts, French based cooking, jokes, and sexual innuendo. Manu's approach was a fun and joke filled presentation drawing on the strengths of his fun personality, throwing in a few circus style acts that he picked up as a kid when he was part of a circus.
More of Manu Feildel's circus style acts
During his show, Manu asked for people to volunteer to come and sit at a table set up on stage to sample his creations. After a lot of shouting, screaming and jumping up and down, Manu selected four lucky people who got to see some of the cooking up close and then share the prepared dishes.
Manu Feildel serving his guests
Manu's creations for the day were a seafood sausage, and a tarte tatin. Despite the sausage related jokes, Manu created a sausage with a fish and scallop base attractively placed on a bed of bisque and lightly blanched and decoratively moulded spinach. The sausage was praised by the four chosen taste testers before Manu moved onto his dessert.
Manu Feildel preparing sausage
Manu Feildel preparing a tarte tatin
The tarte tatin was made using caramelised apples and Manu's mother's recipe for a type of shortcrust base which Manu explained was superior to a puff pastry. After caramelising the apples, Manu fitted the pastry over the top of the apples in the pan and baked the tarte tatin. After removing one 'prepared earlier', Manu cut the tarte tatin and added cream to each serve. The tarte tatin was met with scores of 10 out of 10 by all taste testers.
Matt Moran started his show with his assistant coming in with a lamb carcass that was labelled "beef" - go figure. Matt Moran then proceeded to cut the carcass up to get to the lamb rack he needed for his main course. Whilst telling us stories and slipping in his more laid back humour which included references to MILFs, cougars, the other celebrity chefs at the show, and his not so subtle dislike of vegetarians, Matt gave away the other cuts of the lamb carcass.
Later when Matt chose his four audience members to sit on his tasting table, he explained his earlier references to MILFs and cougars and his own interest in setting up single people from the audience. It turns out that on a previous show Matt brought audience members up on stage which included a couple in a long term relationship. The guy had proposed to his girlfriend many years ago, but a "no" had hurt his confidence and kept him from asking again. After some (no doubt) subtle pushing from Matt, the guy proposed to his girlfriend who was this time met with a "yes". The nice story was met with "ohh"s from the audience, but back to the show...
Manu Feildel helps Matt Moran
Matt prepared two other dishes to complete a three course meal - a scallop entree and a mousse dessert. The scallop entree consisted of scallops lightly coated on one side with spices, cooked and placed over a bed of brussel sprout leaves and a puree of what I think was parsnip. The mousse was on a bed of meringue and topped with strawberries.
The lucky table of four that Matt chose got to sample the dishes, and all were impressed.
Matt Moran explaining his scallop entree
After a good day of perusing, sampling, and watching the entertainment, I managed to get away and work it off before heading out for a nine course dinner that night complete with one glass of wine too many. Upon reflection though, the Good Food and Wine Festival had a lot to offer lovers of food, wine, and all things thereabout. We'll have to wait next year to see if the organisers can top it.