I looked out the window as soon as I woke up yesterday to see if it was going to be sunny and warm or sunny and cold or rainy. I was hoping for warm and it wasn’t but it wasn’t raining.
John and I said goodbye to Charlie our cavoodle and headed for Eumundi for the 10th Food Fest. Eumundi is a small town in the hinterland of the Sunshine coast that’s claim to fame is the market they have on weekends and Wednesdays. Their statement that stall holders, “make it, bake it, grow it or sew it,” is certainly true. I love this market and it’s a huge tourist attraction.
The Food Fest was IN the market area and we got there just in time to see Elisabeth Fekonia. She migrated to Brisbane in 1964 from Amsterdam with her family and was a complete city girl. When she left school she moved to the country and has learned the art of self sufficiency on her 6 hectare property.
In her demonstration today she shared with us how we can all make essential ingredients like brie, cheddar, cottage cheese, cultured butter, ghee, sour cream, yoghurt, sourdough, sauerkraut, rennet, miso and kefir — and probably much more.
We had a taste of her sourdough rye with cultured butter, homemade brie and rosella jam. My bite was delicious and the bread was light and flavourful unlike some sourdough rye.
Elisabeth teaches classes in all these methods as well as how important it is for us to love fermented food. You can find her at Permaculture Produce.info.
After Elisabeth’s talk we were HUNGRY and decided it was time to try some of the tasting plates that had been talked about on the website. Frankly, I expected to see quite a few stalls offering $6 tastings and what we found were two huge queues for the arancini balls and the Spanish tapas. Since it was a market day, everything was open and we couldn’t tell what was Food Fest and what was general market. It wasn’t until it we were on our way out that we noticed another row of producers hidden in what looked like a dark alley.
We decided on the tapas and these were magic on a plate. I just loved every taste. I got a $5 tasting plate because I was hoping for more plates and John got the $10 plate and I had as much food as he did. We both enjoyed the tapas.
Did I take a photo? no.. I was starving. What’s worse was I got this little wooden spoon/stick thing and I started to point to something and the spoon flipped and I got two really big mushrooms covered in sauce all over my white shirt. Know what mushroom juice looks like on a white shirt? I looked like a woman covered in baby poo. My husband laughed every time he looked at me.
I really wanted to see the school students from North Arm State School cooking food they’d grown in their school gardens. I don’t know if schools around the world teach cooking and gardening to elementary students but the idea has taken off like a rocket in Australia. In 2001, renowned cook and food writer, Stephanie Alexander joined forces with an inner-Melbourne school to establish the first Kitchen Garden Program.
The kids learn how to prepare and care for the soil, how to plant and care for the growing food, how to harvest, how to compost, and most importantly for me, they learn how to cook and eat the food they grown. There are currently 267 schools in the program and because of the benefits the schools are seeing, the government has allocated funds for another 190 schools to join the Kitchen Garden Program.
Because I didn’t want to miss the kids, I did miss out on Max Porter’s “The Duckman Cometh – Waddle We Eat”? Max was in in charge of all of the Farm-Acy presentations in the CWA Hall. When we got to the market I asked a lovely volunteer where the CWA Hall was and she smiled broadly and said, “Just around the corner in the pink building.” How could we miss it? The CWA Hall was there all right but it couldn’t have been more blue. John said it was that “other” pink.
I wanted to see what Max had to say about ducks but I couldn’t be in two places at once. He’s a chef who’s worked in Michelin starred restaurants, had his own very popular restaurant in Noosa, the kind of place you tell your friends about. I did see him speak several times during the day and he’s completely charming.
Max is also known as the Prince of Duckness and Friar Duck. He’s a great cook but has a greater sense of humour. Next time, Max!
On my to-see list was Jamie Milverton and his Kitchen Bootcamp presentation but Jamie had the flu and couldn’t be there.
Our final presentation was by my new friend Cath Manual and her two boys, Edison and Archie. Cath has a business that teaches people how to grow their own food, harvest and cook it. It’s like a Kitchen Garden Program for adults and it’s very popular. The classes are reasonably priced and most of them are sold out before they start so book early. Her business and website are called Soil to Supper and Cath thinks everyone can find something they can grow and eat at home.
The boys, with a little assistance from Mum, chopped vegetables and then made some delicious tacos served on lettuce leaves. Almost everything but the meat came from Cath’s garden. If I had more than a 4 x 8 plot of grass at my house, I’d join all her classes. She’s really lovely and knows so much about growing food.
There was a small petting zoo for kids and a snake presentation along with several musicians on the main stage but we didn’t get to see those. The queue for the arancini and tapas stalls meant nobody could see the stage area so we moved on. I apologise for the crappy photos. I brought the little camera and I didn’t realise until I got home that someone had mucked up the settings. I loaned it to a friend last week and didn’t bother to check. I arghed.
What we did see at Food Fest was really informative. I see Cath socially, but I’d never see someone like Elisabeth Fekonia or Max Porter or the kitchen garden kids without an event like this. Both of us were a bit disappointed that everything seemed like such a hodgepodge with no direction as to what was market and what was food fest. We went to see to see food producers at Food Fest and I didn’t want to miss anyone. Sadly, I couldn’t tell who was Food Fest once I passed the tucker tent.
Did you go to Food Fest?