SAMPLE FESTIVAL 2013, Bangalow
The day started well. Donna – one of my partners in crime – had flown in from Cairns the night before to take part in the festivities, even though she didn’t know it yet. “Yeah, I’m so stoked to be seeing you!” she said. “ I just feel like having a girly day, you know – massage, hands, nails, feet, hair….” . “Cool” I said, “I have just the thing!” ‘Just the thing’ turned out to be a 6 hour round trip to Bangalow to partake of the many delectable offerings of the Sample Festival. I was under strict instruction from foodisthebestshitever to take lots of photos and to make sure I voted his restaurant the best. Whateva. As if my vote can be bought or dictated…. but then, I am a sucker for a blowtorched seafood bruschetta.
After Graz and Jennee’s offspring had been satiated by two girls walking around in giant chip packets handing out tasters (keep it above the belt here folks), and Dr Chris had annihilated three rounds of aforementioned blowtorched seafood bruschetta, Donna and I decided to leave everyone to it and make our own, splendid way around the maze of culinary offerings (Truth be told, Jennee was taking too damn long getting Graz his coffee because I think they were actually waiting for the beans to ripen on the coffee plant before grinding and brewing them into a palatable product).
Donna and I cut a swathe through the crowd like medieval queens and stopped in front of a lamb impaled on a spit, turning slowly over smouldering coals. And we drooled. A lot. But the line was a mile long and I don’t queue well, so we took a photo (as per our remit) and promised the lamb that we’d definitely catch it later and moved on. Donna and I are ex-Defence so we like to conduct a full reconnaissance before we choose what we are going to have. Unfortunately, the very expensive training that made us into the finely tuned killers we are today, completely missed the mark and we stopped to gorge outside a food tent touting corn fritters and tomato relish. All very nice, but in their haste to feed the hordes beating on their gates, the cooks had forgotten to actually cook the fritters and my appetising treat, was ruined by raw batter running down my fork. Rookie mistake.
Swallowing our disappointment and the fritter bits that were cooked, we moved on and found ourselves in front of an organic ginger beer stall. The ginger beer had a turmeric additive, which is supposed to be very good for the liver and other internal organs. Donna grabbed a cup while I had the rosewater iced tea. It was delicious and refreshing, and felt like someone had melted a whole packet of Turkish delight and was pouring it lovingly over my tastebuds.
Just next door to this stall was a food tent that was trading in the divine. Seared scallops on slow braised pork belly. These guys had it going on. Out of all the stalls (that weren’t the one run by Graz) these guys looked like they were running service. They had the stations, they had the dude at the front calling out the orders and ended his request with “..thanks Chef”. Chef was up the back running around like a blue arsed fly, from station to station and there was a chicky plating up. Like a well oiled wanky machine. And the food was awesome too. The scallops were seared perfectly, not a rubbery taste anywhere and they perched royally on top of a nicely braised piece of pork belly. Donna reckons there was too much fat and not enough meat, but that would be the only gripe – apart from the fact that there wasn’t enough cos we wanted more!!! Top little dish.
We continued the day wandering our way through the fair and tasting this and that and trying to avoid the guy with the pet snake. Idiot.
Chorizo on a stick was a nice touch, Donna made me take a photo of her sucking it and sending it to her hubby. I tried some deep fried olives stuffed with feta and fell instantly in love. Donna had eaten too much at this stage and was moaning something about lying down and dying. Soft.
We ended up back at Graz’s stall and because it was so damn good, partook of another couple of blowtorched seafood bruschetta with macadamia romesco on home made sour doughs and his other sublime treat, a pasty offering of an uber buttery croissant that would make any Frenchman swoon, a berry custard éclair and a citrus tart. Each piece was a party in my mouth and I decided that if I could find the judge, this would be my number 1. Noone else had drama at their stall, Graz’s stall had a blowtorch. Nothing beats a blowtorch.
Needless to say, I did not feel like driving home. But drive home we did, where we delivered a fine packet of chilli beef jerky to the Ghost of Barney on which he munched happily.
*the author was in no way compensated for his/her views by foodisthebestshitever, although she may or may not be my sister in law…