Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taking the bad with the good

There’s inevitably good and bad in everything and furthermore, it’s all subjective too. I keep this in mind as I think about the Good Food & Wine Show, recently on at the Sydney Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour.

The festive [yellow tail] stand at the Good Food & Wine Show at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour

There definitely seems to be a food craze sweeping around town and probably sticking around for good; lest who would have thought so many people would be interested in paying to peruse a few exhibition halls of pantry items and wines, let alone shopper trolleys stuffed full with products?

Flexible silicon lids for anything

The afternoon starts walking by a huge snaking line at the door sales and straight into the fray of exhibition stands and hordes fighting for samples. It’s reminds me of the showbag hall of the Royal Easter Show back in the days at Moore Park, when you’re just as likely to have a pram or stroller roll over your foot as to be pushed from side to side at the front of any queue at any stall.

Cookie Couture does Christmas (in July)...

... and jumps on the macaron tower bandwagon

Fridge full of 1664 beer

I’ll keep this short as I don’t like to dwell on negativity. There were quite a few samples and associated vulture behavior, and also a few things worth purchasing; namely:
  • blu Gourmet Pearl Couscous, spruiked and cooked on site by Gabriel Gate in a scrummy Morrocan spice with vegetables, and a confused Szechuan pepper and bacon combo. I love the texture of the pearl couscous; like barley but with the flavour versatility of pasta. I actually chucked it into a leftover Thai red curry to bulk it up and it was fabulous.
  • Choya plum wine (umeshu) is a fave to have with Japanese and other subtle cuisines over lots of ice. There were also some interesting sake offerings including a cloudy white one that was said to be “creamy”.
  • Miracle Shammy, in the same vein as Sham Wow to the point of imitation demonstrators, which did a pretty impressive absorbing job with Pepsi on a square of carpet.
  • Jack Link’s beef jerky showbag, filled with packets of dried beef products, for that real Easter Show feeling. I liked the chunkier beef nuggets more than the drier and chewier jerky; but there’s something in me that can’t stop thinking about dog snacks when I eat these.
Image of the Otto

My highlight of the show would have to have been the sexy Otto stovetop espresso maker and a chat with founder Craig Hiron at the Toby’s Estate stand. Craig walked through his creation with us, which he has clearly put his passion and a lot of effort into – especially the production and distribution side. The result is essentially an espresso shot (with crema) and frothed milk from a stovetop coffee maker; plus a gorgeous gadget homage to the older Italian-designed Atomic.

Piccolo latte from Toby's Estate (not the Otto one though...)

The lowlight was probably the “restaurant”, which I think is a great concept executed extremely poorly. In the most likely scenario, I think the celebrity chefs have their mugs plastered onto the stands with their recipes cooked by staff in foreign and probably ill-equipped makeshift kitchens – it’s no Taste. Snaking queues, some very indifferent Convention Centre staff, and trying to cook to order. For a queue of about 50, waiting 30 minutes before even placing an order – that process is a major fail.

Pete Evans' chilli mussels on rice with Asian herbs

The chilli mussels were wok-tossed in the sauce that became more a soup, which tasted a little too much like sweet chilli sauce for my liking. With softened cherry tomatoes and a load of sliced red chilli, a few slivers of shallots and a few coriander leaves; the dish's only saviour were the mussels - silky smooth, just cooked and not a grain of sand or grit - kudos to the suppliers.

Riedel Wine Theatre

Having missed out on tickets the Celebrity Chef Theatre, we were consoled with seats at the Riedel Wine Theatre – and just, as it was essentially a free-for-all for the 70-odd seats with Jamie Oliver associate Matt Skinner leading the tastings.

Tasting red wines with Riedel

This final session of the day was "The red revolution"; six Riedel glasses with tastes of some more unusual Aussie reds. Some cheese and crackers would have been perfect - I think there were certainly more than a few people who were over the limit according to the breathalyser. The fave was the Wirra Wirra RSW Shiraz 2007, while the Banrock Station Montepulciano 2009 was a new taste.

With renewed vigour post tasting, we ventured back into the mess that had become the wine section of the show. I can't count how many tasting glasses I saw and heard dropping and shattering on the ground (hint: plastic next year) and a vibe starting to resemble Kings Cross a few hours past midnight. There were certainly a lot of wine exhibitors and I hope they did well in sales for all the tastings they were providing.

A few more wines and samples later, the call was put out essentially to get out of there. I was physically tired and mentally exhausted, sick of the crowds. In the end, it felt like a strenuous day at a poorly designed supermarket – and this coming from someone who loves grocery shopping. Getting out into the night was cold but quite refreshing - taking the bad with the good.

SkyView Wheel in Darling Harbour


Simon Food Favourites said...

great post update. i noticed the Flexible silicon lids but didn't check them out more. are they worth getting? i didn't approach the restaurant and after your review i'm glad i didn't. sounds like overpriced food which failed. from a distance i noticed a $24 price tag? which sounded really expensive, especially if the chef isn't cooking it themselves and in a convention centre. so glad i didn't bother if that was the case. Taste of Sydney seems a lot more reasonably priced and service was far quicker than a 30 mins wait. Maybe this show should be renamed the 'Overpriced Food and Too Much Wine Show' ;-) i just noticed the website says it was $16 entrees and $24 mains $8 desserts. wow that's $48 for a 3 course. that's way too much i think to charge for a make-shift convention kitchen restaurant — did that include plastic cutlery? i'll never think Taste of Sydney is that expensive now with most meals being $10-$12.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Interesting post! I'm not sure why the vegetables are inside the lids. Am I missing something? We never seem to make it to "the restaurant". Perhaps it was eating too many samples! :P

Tina said...

Hi Simon - Not sure about the lids, just saw them being demo-ed briefly... The main included a full glass of wine - which makes it not too bad in that sense. And it was SCEC cutlery ;)

Hi Lorraine - They're keep-fresh kinda things, I think. Glad-wrap sub?


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