It was a great setup, with 20 chefs and more than 40 suppliers set up around the perimeter of the grounds – with an array of dishes and bites to get your tastebuds energised and engaged. I immediately realised that this event was wonderful value for money compared to others I’ve been to where you pay entry and get canapés or have to pay extra for food. This was an all out eating affair!
We started things off with crumbed sardines on salad. Fresh, salty and crisp on the outside these definitely hit the spot and were a nice welcome to the event. And while other events I’ve been to in the Urban Orchard have people as far as the eye can see, this one actually had breathing room allowing you to find a pew to munch away on easily (around 200-250 people attended).
Next up was a dish by WA’s Food Ambassador, Don Hancey – a Gourmania lobster bisque with Limeburners single malt whiskey cream on top. I loved this soup – it was decadent, extremely layered with deep flavours and not sickeningly rich. I relished every sip as it made it’s way down my throat warming me from inside out. I happily could have polished off a big bowl of this with some crusty freshly baked bread!
We swanned over towards the Poach Pear stand next which was next to Jerry Fraser shucking oysters and the beautiful Noelene from Australian Mushroom Growers. I haven’t seen her since the Breast Cancer fundraiser she organised last year so it was wonderful to have a quick chat and touch base. After all, I do love my mushies!
The spread at the Poach Pear was pretty epic – so much so that we actually had to come back towards the end just to try some extra things so we could say we gave it our best effort. I love their products, particularly their chicken liver pate (yum) and the beautiful oozy soft cheeses on the side were right up my alley.
From Sophie Budd’s company Taste Budds we sampled two different sweet dishes – a “Carnarvon mess” with cream, banana bread, caramel sauce and bananas and a wattleseed chocolate mousse in Ora chocolate waffle cones. I thought the chocolate dish was really clever using a native ingredient, and the flavour was well balanced between bitter and sweet.
And next door to them… well there were some pretty outstanding caramelised french onion and gruyere cheese croquettes calling my name. Coming from Mayland’s venue Swallow Bar, these were another highlight of the night – crunchy, creamy and oh so dreamily decadent. I polished off the two in the serving quickly (and dreamt about going back for more all night if only I had had room in my tummy!).
Served with a green onion sauce and potato salad, this meat was fatty and moorish – perfectly pink in the middle too! I really enjoyed the slightly smokey flavour and the simplistic taste. The meat definitely had been respected and showcased in a positive light. Something I’m sure the chefs preparing it had had in mind.
And this was really something consistent I noticed throughout the event. All the dishes were lovingly created, with WA produce used where possible. The mood was friendly, the chefs all front and centre prepared to have a chat. It seemed to foster a really positive experience by all attendees, and encourage us all to mingle while eating more and more.
There really was just so much food around, and you could go back for as many servings as you like – once again reaffirming just how well organised this event was and value for money for patrons, all the while raising funds for the Gascoyne Food Council to support farmers and assist with the promotion of Carnarvon products.
Over $25,000 was raised by the event, as well as a $100,000 donation by Farmer Jack’s. With more than $10 million worth of damage to growing infrastructure and crop losses, this money will go some ways to rectifying what has happened. And for everyone who attended, I’m sure if they’re anything like me they walked away feeling full, happy and positive about what’s next to come for this produce rich area.
If you’d like to find out more about the Gascoyne Food Council or make a donation, visit their website.