Free samples of Campari mixers at the Campari stand (R55)
Break out the Campari because the Good Food & Wine Show is on once more!
Ok, so I didn’t get any photos of champagne. Give me a break. It’s mostly sparkling wines anyhow…
For food enthusiasts such as yours truly, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a day surrounded by food, wine, food, food-related celebrities, food and other like-minded food enthusiasts.
Oh, and not to mention, food.
I’m not just talking about any old food either. I’m talking good food, free food, fine dining and casual foods, healthy food, convenience food, junk food, whole foods, award-winning food, food for the soul and perhaps even a little food for thought.
For those of you who have yet to make plans and/or secure a ticket, I suggest that you act quick as the final day of the show is Sunday 5th July.
For those of you who’d like a bit of a tip or are looking for a heads up as to what to expect, please read on. Especially those of you who are looking to save as little money. I mean you paid the admission fee just to enter the building, you may as well get the most out of it!
As you enter the exhibition centre, you should see an information kiosk. Make sure to visit this place pick up the Show planner and map handout. It not only contains a basic layout of the exhibition centre (and I mean real basic), it has other useful information like show session times and an exhibitor stand reference list, among other things. The stand reference is quite handy to find a stall as everything is ordered in alphanumeric order e.g. stand A1 is location on the other side of the exhibition hall to Z1.
Now, for those of you who had turned up rather light with the baggage (or lack thereof), or you’ve reached the limit of what you can carry in your bag, purse/wallet, pockets, hands, around your neck, under the arm pits and between you teeth, getting access to a bag at the show may be somewhat useful. However, most bags of any real carrying capacity will require the outlay of some dollars.
I suggest that one of the very first things you do is to secure a free bag (pictured above) from the Lifestyle Food Channel stand. All you need to do is spend a minute filling in a survey, and the bag plus a few goodies will be yours for the taking.
Another thing to do that would be useful in the beginning is to check out times for shows. At the BBC Good Food theatre, there is a black board announcing the start time of various shows. Otherwise you can obtain this info in the Show planner and map handout.
The shows here are admission free and are occasionally presented by celebrity chefs or other food personality, including Lyndey Milan herself (pictured above).
While you’re in the area, make sure to drop in and say hi to Susan aka the unofficial poster child for Sydney food bloggers. She’ll be there manning the stand for the Biscuit Tree and if she’s not, ask the nice lady behind the counter and she’ll be found soon enough.
The Biscuit Tree sells a delicious variety of wonderfully moreish biscotti and shortbreads.
Make sure to bring along an energy drink to give to her when you visit. The preference is for Mother but if you have a Pink, even better. Though it’s not mandatory to bring along an energy drink, if you do you’ll make her day*.
*”Make her day” status is subject to conditions and approval. See in store for more details.
Well, for those of you that are well organised, you can bring in your own bottle of water or other beverage of choice in with you. However, if your supplies run dry or you’ve lacked the foresight to bring anything, there are two stalls that you may find yourself frequenting quite a bit during the day.
The Mt Franklin stand is pimping its new line of “lightly sparkling” mineral water. Normally it’s served up to you in a disposable cup. However, if you’re a charming sort of person and ask nicely or happen to be in the area when a person puts on their charm (like I did), you may find yourself in possession of a 450ml bottle of it. I hate mineral water but I drank it down all the same.
You can also get your hands onto cups of Neverfail spring water at their stand.
Other beverages that you can sample are various coffees, teas such as chai, soft drinks & energy drinks. However, these are usually not in quantities that would do much to satisfy thirst.
If the consumption of alcohol isn’t a problem for you, one place I would suggest you sample the plum wine (umeshu in Japanese). The only problem is that I didn’t take down the stall number or the name of the stall.
The plum wine is served on ice and tastes mild, sweet with very little alcoholic kick to it.
Otherwise, there are plenty of stands to sample wine and beer (James Squire), though I believe with most if not all the wine places, you need to purchase a wine glass at designated points throughout the expo before you can get sloshed up with the samples.
Though there are various stands to sample wine from, there are also more formal areas where wine can be savoured. Reidel have a massive area which incorporates this bar as well as a wine theatre. Wine appreciation sessions are held in this area, which is moderated by a panel of experts to lead you through the wine appreciation session.
When it comes to paid drinks, there are various vendors around the expo that will sell drinks, including the exhibition hall’s “house” cafe, for lack of a better term. Drinks aren’t cheap though, with bottles of water at $3.30 and soft drinks at $3.60.
If you’re into seafood, I definitely recommend you try as much as you can from this place. Though the name Market Pride may not be all that cool or catchy, their produce is really good. The products that were at the stand seem to be for the ready made meal market. Pictured are samples of a sublime seafood chowder (top left) and an Atlantic salmon fish cake (top right) which was “meaty” (for lack of a better word) without any fishy taste to it, as good seafood should generally be.
I heard that the sampling selection may change day to day but this one is worth the visit in my opinion.
For the meat lovers out there, there are various places that offer up meats such as the smallgoods pictured above. The vendors are quite happy for people to work through their whole sampling range so there can be quite a bit of meat to be had.
It’s not just cold meats but also sausages fresh off the hotplate, courtesy of Tender Value Meats Hornsby. The sausage pictured in the lower left is a chicken, honey and macadamia sausage. They serve other sausages in their range at various times so make sure to check back in from tie to time.
You can sample some pizza, which is made fresh on site. In this case it’s a four cheese pizza made from smoked cheddar, gorgonzola, mozzarella & finished with a bocconcini, as well as a pepperoni pizza which is finished with mint and parsley, which cuts through the fat and the spiciness of the pepperoni.
However, this isn’t just any old pizza. The pizzas are being made by award winning pizza maker Kris Bailey, head chef of The Pantry (located in Melbourne). He has won various national titles and had come 4th in the world in a competition held in Vegas.
However for me the pizza just tasted like your run o’ the mill pizza that you can find in most places in around Sydney. Maybe it had to do with the ingredients or equipment that he had to work with, as he was there not only to promote the Diary Farmer’s Best of the Best Pizza Challenge but I presume to also sell the various dairy goods sold at the National Foods stand.
On a side note, according to the man himself, Kris Bailey is the one training up Julia of Masterchef fame on behalf of Peter Evans.
For vegetarians, there are a number of sampling options. Not only does it include the four cheese pizza mentioned previously but the grand cheese matters cheese stand. This is where you can get your cheesy fix as there are actually four separate stands in one! Each mini-stand serves up various cheeses on crackers (Tasmanian Heritage blue brie and Mersey Valley original cheddar in the case of the ones pictured).
This is another one to come back for, as they rotate the sampling cheeses around.
Ever try a heart of palm before (pictured lower left)? I hadn’t until this show. It tastes akin to artichokes and, so I’ve been told, can be used for the same applications.
If you do happen to come along to the Latin Deli stand, you’ll find a team that is passionate in promoting various South American goods, from the afore mentioned heart of palm, to black beans and Pan. Pan is a pre-cooked white corn meal which can be used to make such things as empanadas, tamales and arepas, which is a flat bread that you may have seen being made on an episode of SBS’ Food Safari. If you happened to miss that episode, they kindly have it playing on an LCD TV located within their stand.
If you’re interested in other South American goods, they have a store in Balmain, as well as online ordering on their website.
If you do decide to drop by the stand, say hello to Ben Ayala for me. He’s the one pictured above talking passionately about his wares to a potential customer.
Other foods that you can sample are some form of salmon preparation at the Tassal Quick & Healthy Tasmanian stand (S39). Mention their competitor Huon favourably and they will “love” you for it (note sarcasm). Among the other stand outs for me are Casa De Sabor (L39) with their Portuguese-style chocolate mousses, a warm shot of Bondi Chai Latte (N40), the pedestrian but generously plentiful Hiller’s chocolates (F24), Real Turkish Delight (P52) & Health Attack’s healthy portions of nutty treats to keep an attack of the munchies at bay (N34).
Now, that was just some of the free food that was on offer. If you’re looking to shell out a few dollars, other more hearty meal options are available to you. Take for instance the satay pictured above ($1.50 a pop).
If you fancy a warm pie or pastry, Mick’s Bakehouse (P30) is the place to be at. They offer a $5 tasting plate (pictured below), which consists of a plain beef pie, butter chicken curry pie, massaman lamb curry pie and a spinach and cheese roll. Oddly enough, my favourite was the “plain” beef one.
Luv A Duck (Q55) also offer a tasting plate for the same price of $5. It includes a duck shank (fancy name for a duck leg/drum stick), pieces of peking flavoured duck and roasted potatoes cooked in duck’s fat. For meat lovers, this is pretty satisfying, especially considering that all the foods on the tasting plate are available in ready made packs from the stand.
If you’re looking for something more substancial when it comes to a meal, there is no better place that the Lindeman’s Early Harvest Restaurant. This is where you can savour some of the dishes of the celebrity chefs attending the food conference such as Gordon Ramsay and Matt Moran.
Alistair McLeod of Ready, Steady Cook fame, as well as Executive Chef of Brett’s Wharf has on offer a dessert of Chocolate Creme Brulee served with whisky strawberries and biscotti. Though the brulee crust was near non-existent the dessert was real nice and worth the $8 price tag.
Gordon Ramsay’s dessert offering of poached pear in mulled wine served with creame fraiche, if I remember correctly. The mulled wine was quite sweet and flavourful with a spiced note to it. Too sweet on its own but paired very well with the cream. The pair was firm with the flavour of the mulled wine penetrating through to core. The almond flakes added a nice textural contrast.
Though this dessert was quite good, I was expecting a little something more from Gordon Ramsay. Maybe it’s my overinflated expectations. Anyway, having said all that, it was well worth the $8.
There are also entrees on offer for $16 and mains from $24, including a glass of wine. The dessert do not come with a complementary glass of wine.
The Cookie Couture stand contains a eyecatching range of gingerbread cookies on sale from $1 to around $3-$4, depending on the size. The cookies are of the soft cakey variety, which are quite nice with a pleasant ginger spice kick. There is also a cake on display but this seemed more for the promotion of custome cakes that can be ordered through the company via their website.
So there are the drinks (check) as well as the food (check). However, if you’re looking for a little something between meals, there are a few things that you can see and do.
Firstly, there is the LG Celebrity Theatre. If you paid for admission into the Good Food & Wine Show, you should have received a pass into one of the celebrity chef shows. In the case of Gordon Ramsay, you had to pay an extra $20 to see him do his thing, generally poking fun at other peoples expense (or in this case the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd) or joke about past folleys with his incident with a certain Australian female journalist or his “over excited” family dog.
These sessions are rather entertaining, funny as well as informative, at least when it comes to the preparation of the recipes cooked on stage.
There’s a video of Alistair McLeod standing in as the warm up act, getting a number of participants in the audience on stage. I found it rather funny but it’ll have to wait for another time.
Edit: The video of Alistair McLeod with his warm up act has been embedded below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
Contestant No. 3 was so ripped off!
You may also have the opportunity to run into some celebrity chefs such as Gary Mehigan and Justine Schofield of Masterchef fame, have them sign an autograph or take a quick photo.
Note chocolatesuze in the lower left photo. Unfortunately, this was the best photo I had of the pair. Perhaps Helen from GrabYourFork might have a better photo on her blog. The two of us were there snapping away madly like amateur papparazzi.
Aside from the celebrities, there are various vendor stalls to check out. Definitely check out the SunRice stand (S47) as you can get a free 750g bag of rice with wild rice and mushrooms. All you need to do is fill in a brief contact form and the rice is yours.
I tried it out at lunch today. It was reasonably good and quite aromatic. Not bad for something that was given out for free.
The Breville stand shows off a number of their appliances, some of which were actually used to prepare various dishes. Unfortunately I wasn’t around at the times when food was being served but if you’re looking for yet another source for free food, here is yet another one to add to the list.
There are also various competitions that you can enter. In this case, there is a competition to win either a Ford Monaro or the Ford Fiesta. There are loads of other prizes to win such as kichtenwares, cases of wines and so forth. Check out each stall to see what competitions they have on offer.
If you have a chance to read this before you go to the show, I hope you get something useful from it. Have fun at the show and I’d love to hear comments or, for those of you with blogs, read you blog posts about the event!
Edit: Almost forgot! A huge, huge thanks to chocolatesuze for providing me with a ticket to the show as well as a session with Gordon Ramsay in the LG Celebrity theatre. Much Kudos!