A few days before heading off to Sydney to take part in Eat Drink Blog, I had an appointment with my GP. Nothing serious. A general check-up and whinge about my lack of energy, most likely due to the bane of most modern women; iron and sleep deficit. My doctor asked if I ate enough red meat and to be honest, I love the stuff but I’m lucky to have two serves a week. I promised that I would work on that.
My Jetstar flight landed on time but I hadn’t considered Sydney traffic at 5:30pm. Fellow Perth blogger Ai-Ling (Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse) and I excitedly got into our ride but the usual 20 minute journey into the city took three times as long. This meant that by the time I checked into my hotel and dumped my gear, I only had 15 minutes to raid my beloved Kinokuniya book store before it closed. I did manage to dent my credit card sufficiently in spite of that. I also liberated Miracle Supermarket of three bags full of Japanese snacks.
Other than attending Eat Drink Blog, I was also immeasurably excited about being in Sydney again to finally enjoy a meal at Felix Bistro, fronted by the fabulous Lauren Murdoch. I enjoyed eating at Ash St. Cellar when she was weaving her small plate magic there so I knew her bistro fare was going to be equally magical. Besides, hubby had dined there a few times and he assured me that the food was top notch. Indeed, my dinner companion (an affable American) and I found it hard to choose from the menu. Everything was all truly drool-worthy. In the end, pork neck (with roasted parsnip, fresh pear and rosemary) was far too intriguing not to order, and my companion went with duck confit (honourable mention here).
Any concern that the pork neck would come as one huge cross-section of a pig’s neck was alleviated with the arrival of my meal; succulent pieces of this underrated cut of meat just fell apart on contact with my fork. Marvelous! You know I truly enjoyed a meal when I hardly have any photos of it. I have none of the pork neck but take my word for it, it rocked and upped my iron count. Just to make sure I got enough calcium, I finished the night’s eating with a serve of decadent chocolate mousse with hazelnut milk granita and caramel.
The next morning, I met up with Ai-Ling and another Perth blogger Heather (The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader) and we made our way to the Electrolux Demonstration Centre where the conference was being held. I was happy to get there early given the promise of breakfast at the venue. No disappointment there with a huge table of delicious pastries and croissants courtesy of Brasserie Bread whose almonds croissant closely rivaled those of Patisserie La Vespa in South Freo. The secret is in the second syrup bake :)
Coffee was on tap thanks to Toby’s Estate and boy did I need my 9am and 3pm doses! The baristas on duty were kept well occupied as there were some hardcore bean junkies in attendance. As for me, I actually try not to drink too much coffee but not wanting to seem lame, I did ask for a decaf. The Toby’s Estate boys obliged although I’m sure they disguised their sniggers while frothing the milk.
Undoubtedly, the conference has been better summed up by the other 69 odd bloggers who attended (and who seemingly managed to post their blog within nanoseconds the emcee declaring the conference over) and the photos at the Eat Drink Blog site alone put my iPhone snaps to shame but I will say that the highlight of the day was the Lamb Masterclass sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia and presented by the mesmerising Nonie Dwyer. Chef Dwyer reduced a lamb carcass into a number of ingenious cuts of meat (including the neck!) which I’m looking forward to trying the next time I come across a lamb carcass and a hacksaw. Lamb bacon got me really excited and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
Lunch was prepared and served by Chef Dwyer’s team prior to the masterclass and what a feast it was. Slow roasted lamb is hard to beat on any given day but the flavoursome marinade just took things over and beyond delicious. I’m sure I could have eaten the whole leg but I had to save space for the Lindt Macaron Pyramid. Iron count was sufficiently upped again.
I hit the proverbial brick wall at around 4:30pm (don’t forget, we Perthites had to get up at 4am WST to get ready for the day) and no amount of Toby’s Estate goodness was going to help me. I just wanted to make like a toddler and be put down for a rest in a dark room. Fortunately, the proverbial second wind then picked me up and got me through to dinner at Kingsleys Steak & Crabhouse at Woolloomooloo wharf. I’m so glad I made it there.
Just when I thought I couldn’t ingest anymore animal protein, Chef Lars Svensson laid on the beefy love. After some delicate offerings from the ocean (Tasmanian salmon tartar, smoked yellow fin tuna carpaccio), Chef Svensson bowled us over with slow roasted beef tenderloins and wagyu flat iron steak. There was a venerable selection of condiments and vegetable sides but quite frankly, this meat didn’t need backup singers.
Iron count completely on the up. I’m feeling much better thanks Doctor.
(A massive, massive amount of thanks to everyone involved in bringing Eat Drink Blog together this year. The generosity of sponsors also deserves a mention as attendees did not have to pay to attend the conference or post-conference dinner. Hope we can all pay it forward somehow in years to come.)