About a six weeks ago (when Summer was still here) a bunch of my friends and I joined upwards of 2000 other people on the beach for a feeding of the masses. On an incredibly gorgeous late summers evening on the picturesque beach ringed by golden red cliffs that is Port Willunga we were greeted by a long line of old-fashioned striped canvas beach shelters. Each was serving up a different take on seafood stew or soup from an amazing array of chefs. The food was served to each person in their own handmade ceramic bowl designed by Prue Venables (Artistic Director of the Jam Factory) and made by local artists.
This was part of the Adelaide Film Festival and while the connection to the film festival seemed to be drawing a long bow (do you consider light projections on a cliff to be film?) it was actually a unique event in a broader food related program called ‘Appetite’ – films about people’s relationship to food.
The event was organised by Gay Bilson (renowned for her writing on food and her public feeding events). According to the promo the following chefs were involved: Nigel Rich (D’Arry’s Verandah), David Swain (Fino) , Billy Dohnt (Salopian Inn), Ben Sommariva (Penny’s Hill Winery Kitchen Door), Emma Baxter and Russell Jeavons (Russell’s Pizza), Rebecca Stubbs (The Retreat at Chapel Hill Winery), Kerryn Oates (Hoffman’s Winery’s The Currant Shed), Stephen Schmitz (Jetty Food Store) with Salvatore Pepe (Cibo Espresso), Glenn Worrell (The Victory Hotel), as well as Genevieve Harris (Sumptuous Magazine), and Cheong Liew (formerly of The Grange Restaurant).
It was definitely going to be hard to choose which dish to have (we could only choose one) so I decided to have the first dish that I really liked the look of (less choice is best for me). I only got to tent number two before settling on the Asian inspired Fish in Tamarind Broth. It was slightly tangy, slightly sweet and incredibly delicious. The fish was placed in the bowl raw on top of steamed rice, the tamarind broth poured over to cook the flesh and loads of fresh herbs swirled in.
Several of our group had the fish chowder which was a rich and sophisticated version of this classic dish.
A couple of us chose the Goan fish curry (very popular generally from what we could tell), and were not disappointed.
Many cultural food-ways were represented with dishes such as Flathead and Pippi with ramen noodles, Sicilian Fish Soup with couscous, Bourride with aioli, Lobster Bisque (sold out before we even got near it) and even a Congee by Cheong Liew.
The restaurants/chefs had all ‘styled’ their stalls to show off the fresh, beautiful ingredients being used and they presented a very pretty picture as we walked along deciding what to have.
We did haul chairs down to the beach with us but ended up just sitting on the pure white sand, each cradling a big bowl full of fragrant, fresh, saucy seafood and a glass of wine while we watched the sun set over a perfectly calm ocean. Light projections flickered onto the cliffs as the sun faded and a live guitar trio (Caliente) played as the darkness drew in while we watched, with only a little envy, the yacht sitting perfectly still just offshore.
My only criticism of this incredibly well organised and frankly generous event (food and handmade bowl to take home for only $30) would be that the wine choice was waaaaay too narrow (Yalumba only) and one wine tent (and one beer tent) took waaaaaaaaaay too long to line up and get a drink from. Yalumba was a major sponsor but given the range of chefs and restaurants represented it would have been much more in keeping with the event to have been able to sample wines from some of the other fabulous wineries in the Mclaren Vale region.
Fortunately none of us was in a hurry and we considered ourselves lucky to be there as the tickets had sold out very fast (including a second release – it was only supposed to be 1000 people). Thanks, Lucy for the heads up on buying tickets!
Two of my lovely friends, contentedly full on seafood, enjoying the gorgeous weather.
Ooh and we saw Poh filming there and couldn’t resist taking a photo (she is very down to earth to speak to in real life – just as she seems on TV).