The second day of Eat Drink Blog 4, the Australian Food Blogger’s Conference for this year consisted of three different activities; Mastering French Pastries with Emmanuel Mollois, Unearth the Mystery of Mushrooms and finally the Cocktail and Cuisine Matching Masterclass at The Classroom, North Perth. I was excited to get my first choice of the Cocktail Class along with number of my close blogging friends.
Everyone knows about the concept of wine and food pairing. A seamless match of these two elements can take your culinary journey to great heights and many fine dining degustation menus are designed to offer this. More recently beer lovers have jumped on the pairing band wagon and some establishments now offer dishes with matched beers too.
But have you ever consider matching cocktails with food? Cocktails can bring an additional element of texture that makes wine feel comparatively one-dimensional. They allow a more tactile experience to expand on the palate and create a totally different type of adventure.
I am always inspired by people who love their craft. Classroom’s bar manager Andrew Bennet and Chef Daniel Sterpini talked passionately to us about the development of their Cocktail and Cuisine Masterclasses from its humble beginnings in their own homes to the sell-out events they hold today. Their cocktail choice for us was their signature drink; a liquid nitrogen Espresso Martini served with an Asteroid Rocher dessert which was sadly not gluten free.
Their Espresso martini consists of three layers. The first layer contains their own house made blend based around a fresh shot of Dark Star coffee which is pulled to order to maintain its crema and aroma. Added to this is some vanilla vodka, dark chocolate liqueur, Italian coffee liqueur and some Pedro Ximenez sherry to give you a “kick on the back palate”.
The second layer is created by adding liquid nitrogen to the top of the drink which subsequently freezes the crema of the coffee like a crème brûlée giving it a frozen edge.
The final layer is created to remind you of a tiramisu; the martini is topped with a swirl of house made sherry and mascarpone foam and then dusted with coverture chocolate.
The Asteroid Rocher dessert contained numerous elements all of which looked delicious. Popping candy, gold dust, malted honeycomb, Persian fairy floss, fresh blueberries and banana foam surrounded the “asteroid” making it an eye catching dish. I looked on in envy as everyone chowed down until my gluten free adapted version was given to me, sans asteroid and popping candy. I had been spoilt rotten with so many gluten free options over the weekend that I was hardly going to complain but I cannot deny my replacement didn’t look nearly as amazing. Hopefully when Classroom next offers a Cocktail matching Masterclass they will have one that is totally gluten free friendly? I await with bated breath!The Classroom 356 Charles Street, North Perth WA 6006 | (08) 9444 7729 | www.theclassroom.com.au
Last year was the first time that I was selected to attend the Eat Drink Blog Australian Food Blogger’s conference and I spent three days in Adelaide eating more food than I ever thought was imaginable. And for those of you who know me you will appreciate that is a LOT of food! My blog was barely a year old at the time and I felt humbled to be in the presence of so many talented writers and photographers. Friendships that had previously only existed in cyberspace were materialised and new friendships were created. It opened my eyes to the strong sense of community and togetherness that food bloggers share and inspired me to improve my blog with the aspiration it would become something much more individualistic and personalised.
This year Eat Drink Blog was held on home ground at Perth City Farm where many of you may remember I visited to go behind the scenes for Mushroom Mania just a few months ago. Eat Drink Blog is a free conference for selected delegates and all costs are funded by sponsors and donors. Coordinating such a venture with zero start-up funding sounds like a horrendously difficult task yet despite this significant hurdle the Committee managed to create an experience that exceeded most people’s including my expectations.
Although a large part of the weekend involved a serious amount of eating; contrary to popular belief that isn’t ALL us food bloggers do. Behind each blog is a person with their own aspirations, core values and ambitions. Some bloggers are in search of a big break such as a cook book deal, some blogger’s ultimate goal is to score free meals or products and on the opposite end of the spectrum there are some bloggers who are so determined to do it on their own that they refuse to write anything sponsored be it a free product, meal or holiday.
At the end of the day’s motivating lectures and discussion panels, I reflected back to try to define where my blog falls on this spectrum. Whenever considering a sponsored post or free meal, I always stop to think very carefully about whether it is applicable to my blog content.
I bring myself back to my vision of why I created this blog in the first place: to connect with others with food intolerances and show them that you can still be a foodie despite the barriers and restrictions.
I ask myself “Would I pay to go and eat a meal here?” or “Would I use this product at home?” If I find myself answering Yes to this question, this prompts me to give the offer further consideration.
Ultimately one of the most important things I try to achieve when writing these types of reviews is to remain truthful, accurate and give you dear readers full disclosure. I am naturally quite a blunt and truthful character, so I feel that this honesty comes relatively easy to me but because of the potential bias for sponsored posts I never give these meals a score because this cannot be done accurately unless I’m incognito.
In total contrast to Eat Drink Blog’s more formal sit down dinner last year at the Hilton Adelaide, this year the team organised a pop-up dinner containing a number of Perth’s well-loved food trucks. Butty’s, Marcelita’s Empanadas, Jumplings, Delish Ice and Bangkok Jump Street all donated their time to provide an evening of highly addictive scrumptious street food. We even managed to twist a few rubber arms and get a West Winds Gin bar spontaneously created at the thirteenth hour after a series of thirsty gin-craving tweets from delegates earlier the day.
I MAY have played a central part in the last-minute gin-spiration! 😉
As the celebrations drew to a close for the evening, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and I headed into Must Wine Bar along with our newly found friend Coconut Joe for a couple of night caps before heading home. Michelle’s blog remains one of the most popular Perth based blogs and is usually one of my first go-to references to suss out new places to eat. I find her a wealth of knowledge for advice and guidance with blogging but even better she is a wonderful friend who can always make me laugh.
Although she does think I’m a little crazy. Just you wait until you read her Coconut Joe post and then we can discuss crazy!
Our final stop was at Enrique’s School for to Bull fighting where we continued in the spirit of the ongoing gin-theme for the evening. We were served Glorious Gin from Brooklyn based Breuckelen Distilling mixed with Kaffir lime leaves, fresh white grapefruit and the uplifting botanical flavours of Fentimans Tonic. Without any doubt it was the best G&T I have ever had and THAT is a big call! It provided the perfect ending to a fabulous day.
Organising an event of this magnitude wouldn’t have been possible without the vision, energy and efforts put in by the most awesome five Committee Members. My thanks and appreciation cannot be expressed enough in words and without these dedicated people none of EDB4 would have been possible.
Thank you 100 billion times over! You guys rock!
● Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse (Chair)
● Matt from Abstract Gourmet
● Bri from Eatmeetswest
● David from Food Blarg
● Chris from Bon Viveur
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
It was an early start the following morning after the Eat Drink Blog conference dinner at the Hilton Adelaide with many of us nursing hangovers from all the excesses of food and drink. The organising committee had planned things well with baristers on the ready handing out freshly brewed coffee to bleary eyed delegates. A massive breakfast spread was provided by Red Door Bakery and The Yoghurt Shop and included a moist gluten free frittata for me to enjoy.
The lecture content over the day provided me with many useful take home tips ranging from food photography, food styling, ethics, working with PRs, SEO and some legal advice. As many of my fellow bloggers have already posted extensive wrap ups of the lecture content, in order to prevent saturating the web with repeat content I suggest you head over to the Eat Drink Blog website for the links.
No food blogging conference is complete without copious amounts of food. Although we may have been fed and watered very well the previous night at the conference dinner and then again that morning; nothing prepared us for the vibrant pop up lunch downstairs in the Adelaide Central Markets.
All produce on offer was proudly South Australian and included the most enormous pan of aromatic paella, gluten free cured meats, freshly cooked ham, local cheeses and artisan breads.
There was even a freshly baked loaf of gluten free Laucke bread accompanied by its own, non-contaminated cutting board and knife. It was a spongy fluffy loaf with the consistency of real bread!
The onslaught of delectable food continued well into the afternoon. Natasha from Playing House had kindly stayed up all hours the night before busily baking our afternoon tea spread. Cake pops, chocolate mousse and some adorable little mini cakes which surprisingly vanished quickly even though I’m sure most of us were at maximal stomach capacity!
The flourless orange cake was moist and zesty and although my expanded belly was starting to give the impression I was with child, I actually had to stop myself from going back for seconds.
Sadly all good things must always come to an end and coming down off my sugar rush my emotions ran high. In an out of character moment I swear I felt a tear prick in my eye as it dawned on me that this fantasy weekend was truly over. Many of the delegates had planes to catch, families to return to and lots of fresh new motivation to blog. After a flurry of farewells, hugs and promises to eat together once again we all departed to return back to our real lives.
Thanks once again to the Eat Drink Blog 2012 committee:
Thanks also to all the generous sponsors. Without your help this free conference would never have happened.
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
After spending the afternoon with Dianne Jacob at her food writing workshop, I whizzed back to my Mum’s house, whipped on a frock and headed back out to the Eat Drink Blog Conference dinner at the Hilton Adelaide. I was joined by the rest of the WA “Team”; Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and Moni from Gastromony along with some interstate blogging friends.
The Hilton’s Executive Chef Dennis Leslie themed the evening based on a South American fiesta with the idea of making the meal “fun”. It was set out on the terraced pool deck in the open air up high amongst the sky scrapers (well, they are more like just tall buildings in Adelaide!). It was a warm and humid night and the deck was lit up like a Christmas tree with fairy lights.
Feeling like superstars, we were ushered out onto the terrace where we watched views of the sun setting sun over the Adelaide Hills. A whole lamb slowly rotated around on a spit and the mouth-watering smell of barbequed meats filled with air. As lamb sliders were passed around and devoured rapidly by all, our waiter informed me that a gluten free option was on its way for me. After what felt like hours, he returned with a massive gluten free bun filled like slippery wedges of freshly carved meat.
In my hunger and eagerness to devour my gluten free adaptation, I shoved a large door stop of lamb into my mouth imagining that it would be easy enough to chew. I seemingly underestimated the size of this chunk of flesh and was unable to open my mouth wide enough to chew it. Not wanting to make a spectacle of myself, I proceeded to try to swallow the piece whole. It plugged my gullet like sock in a drain and I couldn’t breathe. Gasping as discretely as possible, I quickly grappled for my wine and chugged down a couple of mouthfuls but to no avail.
By this point I’m sure I must have been turning a shade of blue and shamefully turned away from the table to dramatically hoik up the elongated piece in a most inelegant manner. Oh my god, how embarrassing. Thank goodness I was surrounded by friends. From then on forth, I was very particular to cut my food into tiny, mouse sized pieces for the remainder of the evening.
Although by this point we did feel a little ripped at the seams, the sight of yet another chocolate fountain had lost some of its original appeal earlier that day and we started to yearn for something a bit more interesting. After receiving a tip off from a local regarding the whereabouts of a late night dessert bar; the four of us were dead set on fitting just one more course in. Everyone can always find room for dessert. We all jumped into a cab and headed across town to Devour Dessert Bar.
The burnt milk pannacotta had an exquisite blackberry gel centre that exploded out like goo when I plunged my spoon into its wobbliness. It was served on a bed of peanut butter crunch which gave a wonderful texture contrast to the jiggling pannacotta. I am not normally a fan of peanuts but the crunch reminded me of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes which in my pre-gluten free days I use to adore. I could have eaten of whole bowl of that peanut butter crunch.
The peanut butter and jelly macaron was too chewy and lacked the familiar “poof” sensation when I bit into the outer shell. I presumed they may not have been very fresh or alternatively refrigerated for too long. Although I felt the macaron wasn’t up to scratch, the rest of my dessert was so good that despite being the least keen person to visit Devour, I was one of the only ones who finished everything on my plate! Overloaded, overindulged and very satisfied we all headed home to get some sleep in preparation for a big day of conference the next morning.
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
As much as I would love to be spending more of my time eating and blogging like most food bloggers I have a day job. I am a veterinarian who is as passionate about my career as I am about food. In order to stay abreast of this ever evolving field I regularly attend veterinary conferences and congresses. Forever thirsty for new information and ways to better practice medicine, these conferences are often quite intense for me and I have been known to go through a whole biro pen from furiously scribbling down extra notes in the margins of our proceedings.
While I have been a vet for over ten years I have only been blogging for just over a year and my abilities to write and take photos still have a long way to go before I would consider myself “good”. Keen to improve my skills as an amateur I was over the moon to be invited to join 80 fellow bloggers to attend the third annual Eat Drink Blog Conference (EDB) this year. Better still the conference was to be held in Adelaide, the city I grew up in and where my darling mother still lives.
Vets are not unsociable folk by any means; however the extroverts are few and far between meaning at a conference I would be lucky if I managed to network with a small handful of colleagues each time. In stark contrast, the energy and excitement amongst the Eat Drink Blog delegates was infectious. Being more isolated in Perth, there were many bloggers that I had never met. Yet over the past twelve months together we have shared life’s ups and downs via our blogs and social media. Such a warm and welcoming bunch of people filled the room and I sensed a strong sense of community amongst us from the outset.
This year was to be the first year that the conference spanned over two days and I cannot sing enough praise to the dedicated team of people responsible for making Eat Drink Blog such a successful weekend.
I spent much of my adolescent years in Adelaide and the Adelaide Central Markets holds a very dear place in my heart. In the early stages of coping with a broken home, my Mum and I always found solace visiting the markets together. Not only did our scant food budget thrive on the cheaper produce, the atmosphere and buzz was always enough for us to temporarily forget our pains and absorb the vitality. Returning to the markets some twenty years later conjured up a mix of emotions as this was one of the highlights of one of the darker times of my younger years.
Our tour included visits to a number of South Australian owned businesses and many of these were family run having been in the Central Markets for generations.
After the market tour, delegates had the option of joining a winery tour in the Barossa or McLaren Vale, or to participate in a food writing workshop by acclaimed writer Dianne Jacob. As much as the imagery of a road trip with a bunch of food obsessed bloggers sounded like a dream come true, I genuinely want to improve my writing abilities and thus opted for the workshop.
Coming over from wet weather and storms in Perth I wasn’t prepared for the stifling hot day in Adelaide and prickled with sweat as I peeled off my layers walking in the sunshine. Killing time before the workshop we fortunately stumbled upon Dessert Story; a Taiwanese dessert restaurant. Desperate for something refreshing I ordered the Kiwifruit crushed ice. To my surprise out came a towering pyramid of syrupy bright green ice with chunks of kiwifruit tumbling down the sides like cartoon lava. I was unable to finish it partly due to its gargantuan size and partly due to its sickening sweetness.
For anyone interested in becoming a food writer, be it a professional journalist or an unschooled blogger, I can highly recommend attending one of Dianne Jacob’s food writing workshops or at least reading her book “Will Write for Food”. She made us all reflect critically on our writing styles and gave us lots of techniques to improve our style and find our “voice”. Throughout her three hour workshop, she made us all participate in exercises which although hard to do on the spot were effective at illustrating her points.
This is my description of eating a sweet potato chip using adjectives, simile and some emotional significance. Bear in mind this had to be written on the spot!
“The crown of my tooth nearly shatters like glass under the impact of the snap. I start to salivate as I anticipate a piquant brininess only to be left underwhelmed by the subtlety, wimpy aftermath. I breathe a deep sigh of relief as memories of my recurrent nightmares of rotting teeth fade back to the distant cobwebs of my mind. “
The other big take home point for me was the fact that gushing is boring. It’s easy to write a review about a fantastic meal and a terrible one. But most meals are neither of these and fit into somewhat of a grey area. What distinguishes the more talented writers is their ability to write about these grey areas and still manage to capture their readers.
I have my new challenge. Mark my words; there will be no more “delicious”, “yummy” or “cooked to perfection” on Chompchomp from here forth!