I feel very guilty not to have posted anything for 3 days when I was on a trend of one post a day for the last few weeks. This blog is becoming like a demanding lover. It’s pretty exciting.
The guilt gets less pinching when I look back to the fabulous 3 days I spent in Canberra for EDB or “Eat Drink Blog”: the Australian Food Blogging Conference. This event takes place every year and is hosted by volunteer bloggers in a different city.
This time it was in a blooming Canberra, a city I must admit I had a pretty bad image of. The first time I visited Canberra it was 11 years ago, the day before Christmas. It was a ghost city. The was maybe 2 or 3 cars driving around, not a single restaurant open and a rare soul walking quickly through the deserted streets. I thought a nuclear war had started and I was not aware of it yet.
I came back several times since, went in very bad restaurants every time and swore never to eat in Canberra again.
Well… let me tell you what… my opinion has been thrown upside down and inside out. Let me show you how.
The program was packed with food and drink tastings, “delicious” meals, ice-creams and speakers who repeated chronically that a blogger should never say “delicious”… These guys must have read my blog and found inspiration for listing everything you shouldn’t do while blogging… It was a bit of a slap in the face for me and a happy moment too as I’m sure that from now on I can only get better. And that’s exciting (wait, am I allowed exciting?).
The first event was a visit to The Hamlet in Braddon. It is a bit of a fancy parking for high market food trucks or a modern “place du marché” (market square). We were served a colossal amount of food. We sampled some Greek, Italian, Croatian, American, German, French food and I’m probably forgetting a few.
Look above, these buns hiding pork belly and fresh cabbage were served with mini glass bottles containing chilli sauce and salsa verde. They were very juicy and tasty.
Then, the owner of the rotisserie came to present us with his special skinless Croatian sausages with a (usually) homemade bread, toasted, and its aioli and orange sauce. I loved it. The bread was very fresh and perfectly warm. The sausages were moist and flavoursome (I wonder what spices and herbs he puts in them). I avoided the aioli as I am not a mayonnaise fan but tried the orange sauce which a very good match with the meat.
An Italian pizza, freshly out of the oven arrived on the table (in the feeding frenzy I forgot to note which type of oven that was). I loved the home-made tomato sauce. It beats any bottled one.
Then a series of Greek inspired dishes by Fillos Souvlaki landed on our table including souvlaki of course, lamb skewers and sausages. They were served with a tzatziki, pita and Greek salad. It makes me go back to Greece where I lived for two years.
I was very excited to try the loukoumades, a tad bit disappointed that they didn’t have honey on them, but actually tasted good, not too oily as these Greek dumplings can often be, no fishy taste in the frying oil which was great.
We also found on a gigantic buffet some very authentic French “caramel au beurre salé” macarons (salted butter caramel) from Little Dreams.
There was many more food on offer but there was only so much I could sample. I remember seeing some Peruvian potatoes, German sauerkraut, American looking donuts, Aussie pies, and much much more.
If I lived in Canberra this would become a family favourite for sure. I love the idea of multiple offers in the same spot. OK, you have the food courts in malls, but they are often
a bit sordid and have more or less the same chains. Here you’ll find unique cuisine (think Croatian, Peruvian, Greek…) which are all the project of one or a bunch of individuals passionate about what they do. It’s priceless.
After this we did some Food and Whisky pairing at Marble & Grain, cocktail drinking at Hopscotch and ice-cream tasting at Frugii (links at the bottom). I cannot put all the photos of these yet. But I will prepare individual post of each of them to prove you, if necessary, that Canberra has become a foodie hotspot.
Above you can see Glenfiddich whisky being married with black pudding and apple mini skewers. We tasted 3 different whiskies of the same brand and I must confess that I seem to have luxury tastes as the oldest it got, the better I found it.
Just as I thought that the night was over, the happy team of #EDB15 took us to Lucky’s Speakeasy at QT Hotel.
We were given “fill your own” doughnuts with syringes by shortly dressed hostesses wearing prohibition era inspired outfits. Despite the fact the a speakeasy is usually a secret and underground affair, this ground floor space with dimmed light and a extensive collection of crystal decanters has a very special atmosphere.
The offer in Whisky is very impressive including Yamazaki 18 years of age which I love.
Thank god, after all this we went off to bed.
As an Instagram addict I could not not go to Hotel Hotel which I had seen everywhere and looked stunning.
What I love is the concept of marrying design, comfort and craftsmanship. As you know, as Mrs Textile at Tricotin.com I am very keen on anything hand made. At Hotel Hotel I was like a fish in water, old French saying. The decor is spectacular, each room has hand-crafted furniture, framed textile pieces and the lobby is a real art gallery.
After shooting millions of photos of it in the morning we all went to the market.
The Capital Region Famers Market of Canberra is a gem. It has products I haven’t seen yet in all the markets I have visited in Sydney such as giant walnuts, lemon myrtle yoghurt, a muesli bar, black garlic, a gigantic choice of mushrooms, even a pet food stall which looked very fancy. The fruits were beautiful and sometimes, which I love and am looking for, more authentically home grown: looking a bit bumpy on the sides if you see what I mean. When you find those, you know that you are buying the real stuff.
There was a Belgian crepe (pancake) maker and trained as a French Chef who was selling this Cointreau liver mousse which was absolutely authentic and I’m pretty fussy as it is one of my specialities.
At this market, you could buy flowers and potted plants especially for the veggie patch. I regretted not broadcasting my first Periscope (live video app). I will post a complete review of the market soon.
The rest of the day was dedicated to watching and listening to the pros. We got to meet and laugh with TV star, food critique and real food advocate Matthew Evans. Geez… what a speaker. I started to cry of laughter and couldn’t stop… Then we heard all about what it means to be the number one restaurant critique in Canberra from the woman herself: Wendy Johnson. After that we were taught SEO and Social Media by Todd Wright of Three sides marketing it was fast, furious and efficient. I have already applied a few of his magic rules.
We then attended a Food Styling and photography class by Tess Godkin. She made it look so simple but there is of course a lot of work and experience in her gestures and techniques. And to finish in fireworks we got gobsmacked by Alice Lau’s presentation on Smart Phone Photography and Videography. With simple ideas and very affordable tools she manages to produce professional recipe videos which mean more than a thousand words and pretty photos…
After all that talking and learning we hoped into our Saturday best and all met at the Nishi Gallery to dine in a fine dining restaurant called A. Baker. Not being based in Canberra I didn’t know what to expect. It was a feast I will remember for a long while.
First we were served with cauliflower fried with soy and sesame oil.
I was sitting with great people: Nicole, wine connoisseur, from Champagne & Chips and Louise, sustainability specialist married to a wine maker, from Willungawino. They were both swirling their glass and making technical comments. It was hilarious and very interesting at the same time.
It will take a whole post to describe this meal at A. Baker. For me the highlights was the mozzarella di buffala, smoked walnut, quinoa chips, black garlic and Alto Olive Oil entrée. It had different textures, a fun garlic touch and the magic mix of mozzarella and nutty olive oil. The lamb was probably the best slow cooked lamb I have ever had.
At A. Baker, presentation was very nice, not too intimidating and not too simple: the right balance of plate styling.
As unfortunately I have to sleep at night, I will not publish more images of this conference in this post but in future posts. The next day, Sunday was filled with great features such as a panel Discussion: “Is Fulltime Blogging the Holy Grail?” featuring Amanda Whitley from HerCanberra, The Merrymaker Sisters and Liz Posmyk. Then we had a hilarious and incredibly didactic presentation called “Fitting It All In- How to build your blog when you are too damn busy” by Carly Jacobs of Smaggle and Little Blog Big. And finally a presentation called “How to Self-publish Your Cookbook” by The Merrymaker Sisters.
The last activity of EDB15 was for me to taste coffee at The Cupping Room. I do not drink coffee or tea any more. I used to, a lot, when I was a heavy smoker but I stopped with the cigarette and all of a sudden about 4 years ago I started to faint if I drank a strong coffee. Yes… nice. At best I start to shake like a French plum tree during harvest.
When we were asked to choose your activities for Sunday, we were offered coffee brewing, fine dining, beer brewing and cupping. I thought, OK, easy, I choose fine dining first and if I’m not in the draw for that, I’ll do beer brewing, as you know I love it. But wait, what is cupping, maybe it’s a cool new trend of cooking things in cups, such as mug cakes and those things… OK, let’s choose that one. Mental note: Flore, never trust your poor English again…
Canberra has the winner of the Best Coffee in the World Contest which takes place in the US. This was pure waste on me but I noticed that my fellow EDBians really appreciated this meal paired with high quality brews.
The best thing about it all is that it made my new foodie friends laugh a lot.
I am going to answer before you ask: YES I am now on a serious diet… And YES I feel a sort of EDB15 blues. Is it already over? Why??
The food shown here was offered to me by the following restaurants in Canberra.
Fine dining restaurant A. Baker at Nishi Gallery
The Cupping Room offering the best espresso in the world and best latte in Australia
Lucky’s Speakeasy at QT Canberra
Marble & Grain restaurant and bar in Braddon
Hopscotch best bistro pub 2015 in Canberra
Frugii ice-cream and its remarkable made from scratch flavours
The accommodation at Hotel Hotel was at a special price.
LINK LOVE ;)
If you want to know more about this great annual event or to get inspired by fantastic bloggers, read about THEIR experience of EDB15 here:
> Undoubtedly the prettiest food blogger there is: Chrissy from Melbourne blogging at Little Food Blog. Also, don’t miss her her Bacon & Egg breakfast dumplings. Great concept, fantastic recipe.
> Check out the very nice article and photos of Erin from Dreaming of almonds. I love her collages. Don’t go without bookmarking her great Dinosaur Gelatinous Chews recipe.
> Read more about this year’s EDB on Ms Frugal Ears’s blog. What a great write up! I’m very tempted to try her Armenian Nutmeg Cake recipe :)
> More photos and a really detailed report on this great event on Travel and beyond.
> I love Anisa’s wrap up of this year’s EDB, her photography is fabulous check out her blog The Macadames and extend your visit by scrolling down her recipe index! It’s simply fantastic!