Good Food & Wine Show 2011

The Good Food & Wine Show is over. This year, learning from my previous experience, I decided to attend only one chef master class and focus on courses and food/drinks sampling.

The entrance to the show isn’t free but it’s not bad value. If you’re wise enough you can consume much more than you would be able to buy with $29.50. And with that I mean not only food, but also knowledge, by watching free cooking demonstrations. Even if you’re a seasoned chef or cook yourself, there’s always something new to learn if you pay attention.

The show

My day began at noon with the Cheese Matters Discovery Class ($35.00). We were greeted in a medium room set up with tables for 8 people. Each person got a place mat printed with the Cheese Matters Wheel, which explained each cheese/drink/accompaniments that we would taste through the class. We also got a plastic plate, a cheese knife, three tasting (small) wine glasses and a bottle of St. Pellegrino sparkling water.

Cheese sampling plate

The cheeses and accompaniments were placed on wooden chopping boards in the centre of the table.

Cheeses, etc

Cheeses, etc

While Naomi Crisante, from Cheese Matters explained us a bit about the cheese making process, the correct tasting technique, and the flavour matching, bottles of the selected beverages were handed to each table for us to pour a moderate amount in our glasses.

Cheeses and wines

45 minutes were almost not enough to savour all the cheeses. Not only because there were plenty to taste, but also because there’s so much information to share. Some of my previous knowledge was reinforced by the class and I learned stuff I hadn’t experimented with before, like cheese and beer pairings. Granted, the cheeses were not exactly “boutique” because they had to rely on mainstream brands for obvious reasons, but they were all good.

These were the cheeses we tasted:

Cheese: South Cape Persian fetta
Type: Fresh-style cheese
Accompaniment: Gourmet Morsels dukkah and South Cape crispbreads
Drink: Croser NV sparkling

Cheese: Tasmanian Heritage Signature Camembert
Type: Soft White Cheese
Accompaniment 1: Dried apple
Accompaniment 2: Fruit bread
Drink: Croser NV sparkling

Cheese: King Island Dairy Seal Bay Triple Cream Brie
Type: Soft white cheese
Accompaniment: Always Fresh beetroot relish
Drink: Croser NV sparkling

Cheese: Tasmanian Heritage St Claire Swiss-style Cheese
Type: Eye cheese (with holes)
Accompaniment 1: Pecan nuts
Accompaniment 2: Rye bread
Drink: James Squire Amber Ale

Cheese: Cracker Barrel Special Reserve Vintage Cheddar
Type: Cheddar cheese
Accompaniment 1: South Cape quince paste
Accompaniment 2: West Bengal Rifles mango chutney
Drink: James Squire Amber Ale

Cheese: Tasmanian Heritage Red Square
Type: Washed rind cheese
Accompaniment: Always Fresh cornichons
Drink: James Squire Amber Ale

Cheese: Tasmanian Heritage Red Square
Type: Washed rind cheese
Accompaniment: Fresh dates
Drink: Michelton Botrytis Riesling

Cheese: King Island Dairy Roaring Forties Blue
Type: Blue cheese
Accompaniment: Smoked almonds
Drink: James Squire Porter

Cheese: King Island Dairy Roaring Forties Blue
Type: Blue cheese
Accompaniment: Truffle Honey from The Wine & Truffle Company
Drink: Michelton Botrytis Riesling

The class was excellent but there was plenty more to taste. The first stall that completely got my attention was
Springbok Delights, with their no preservative cured meats. After tasting a few delicious bits I bought three packages for $17.

The Biltong Man dried meats

This year I decided not to purchase a tasting glass to avoid getting extremely drunk, given that I had already sampled two wines and two beers in the cheese tasting. But I still tried a few ciders, vodka mixes, Irish liquors and beers from stallholders that provided plastic cups :).

I munched on muesli, no sugar added fruit bars, apples, almonds, sausages, etc, but also on crackers, vegetable chips, chocolates and cookies. It was a big cheat day, luckily it’s only once a year. I also tried some Malaysian food (a good curry, and not so good sweet/savoury stir fry and laksa).

While walking by Lifestyle Chef’s Table I saw Miguel Maestre with his thick Spanish accent explaining how to rub meat in order to bring it to room temperature and later on Adrian Richardson standing on the bench butchering a huge slab of meat.

Miguel Maestre

Adrian Richardson

Then I went to see Tobie Puttock. It’s kinda weird to go see a Melbourne chef when you haven’t been to their restaurant but I was interested in his approach of simple cooking with natural ingredients.

I got a good spot and sat patiently while his team ran through the checklist and did a final cleanup before the show. Then it was game time, luckily they chose a different host this year who wasn’t as annoying as the guy with shiny jacket. After bit of entertainment (a guy and four ladies in a dancing competition) Mr Puttock was on stage. He talked about his cooking history while he prepared a simple three dish meal: a quinoa salad with fennel and herbs, a Macro (Woolworths brand) chicken cooked in milk and sage, and an apple strudel.

Tobie Puttock

The quinoa salad was very simple, he just mixed cooked quinoa with shaved fennel, herbs (mint, flat-leaf parsley), lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

For the main, he seasoned and seared the chicken, then sautéed sage, lemon rind in butter in a Dutch oven, chucked the chicken and milk in and off it went to the oven. He served the pre-prepared chicken with roasted vegetables.

Tobie Puttock's Macro chicken cooked in milk with sage & lemon - searing chicken

Tobie Puttock's Macro chicken cooked in milk with sage & lemon - in pot

Tobie Puttock's Macro chicken cooked in milk with sage & lemon - plated with roast veggies

The apple strudel came with a revelation for most people, instead of using phyllo pastry, which is a pain in the ass to work with, he rolled out a dough and stretched it with his hands until it was almost paper-thin, then put the apple mixture on top and rolled the dough (think sushi style).

Tobie Puttock's apple strudel - stretching dough

Tobie Puttock's apple strudel - apple filling

Tobie Puttock's apple strudel - brushing egg wash

Tobie Puttock's apple strudel - plated with ice cream

Right after the show I popped by the Woolworth’s Macro Pantry to get the recipe cards and found amazing prices in stuff I do use, like quinoa, raw nibble mix (sunflower and pumpkin seeds, plus raisins), and nut butters (almond and almond/Brazil nut/cashew) at 2 x $5, a steal! They gave an organic apple to all customers.

Macro quinoa & raw nibble mix sale

Macro products

Macro organic produce

I was supposed to not buy anything because we’ll be moving this Saturday but I couldn’t help myself and got 5 boxes of Dilmah teas for $10 and two bottles of avocado oil for $12.

My next stop was the Hands On Chocolate Class offered by Adora Handmade Chocolates. It was pricier than the cheese class ($45), so I had high expectations that unfortunately weren’t met. We received a disposable apron and gloves. For each person there was a tray with two sheets of baking paper, a plastic dough scraper, a disposable piping bag with truffle mix in it, and a box with a bag of cocoa in it.

Hands On Chocolate class

Our hostess, one of the company’s owners, explained a bit about flavour matching and the chocolate truffle we would be “making” that afternoon. In the meantime, one of her staff let us sample finished truffles.

Hands On Chocolate class

The two things that let me down with this course is that we didn’t get to prepare the truffle mixture and that there was only one type of truffle made (butter, dark chocolate and condensed milk). We only got to watch how it was done, pipe the pre-made mixture and roll the truffles in cocoa. We took those home along with the recipe, an extra piping bag and dark chocolate buttons for preparing them at home. Not great value IMO.

Hands On Chocolate class

Hands On Chocolate class

A few more nibbles and sips and I heard the dreaded voice in the loudspeakers telling us to piss off. Until next year.