Fear and Delight

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Soup

Disclaimer: I was a guest at Fear and Delight: The Complete Experience

SPOILER ALERT: If you have tickets booked to The Complete Experience or are even vaguely thinking about going DO NOT READ THIS POST.

If you are going to The Show or the Devil’s Lighthouse … then read on.

A little while back I was invited to the media launch for Fear and Delight, one of the many, many shows on in Adelaide at the moment. I was unable to attend the launch (even I can’t fit in everything) so when I was invited to attend the actual whole complete experience I was excited as well as a tiny bit scared, because I didn’t feel as though I’d had the heads up that I might have had.

Fear and Delight comes in three parts, as it were – The Complete Experience, which is dinner, show and nightclub, The Show, which is … um, the show (plus nightclub) and The Devil’s Lighthouse, which is the nightclub part. This means that there is something to suit all energy levels and budgets. While The Complete Experience will set you back $150, the show is $58 and admission to just the club is $17. I suspect this makes The Complete Experience one of the pricier events at the Fringe but you do need to keep in mind that you get dinner, drinks, the show and the club admission. If you crunch the numbers, the dinner part is setting you back $92.

But really, the dinner part is more about theatre, show and experience than it is about food. You most certainly are NOT paying your money for a nice, polite, sit down, silver service, Chateaubriand kind of meal. OH NO.

I arrived at the Garden of Unearthly Delights, collected my ticket and wandered off to find the starting point for Fear and Delight. The show has a dress code (black and white) which makes it very easy to spot the people milling around waiting for it to start. I had actually ummed and ahhed about wearing very dark blue jeans but figured I should be obedient and wear black. Not everyone was as well behaved as me (!) so don’t feel you have to rush out and add to your wardrobe but by the same token, don’t wear your best neon dress.

While standing around waiting for things to happen we were served beef jerky canapés. The jerky was served on a cow skull with a side of ant mayonnaise. While eating this, chatting and wondering what would happen next, performers wandered through the group handing out masks. When the two people I was talking to received theirs, the female performer ignored me so I politely asked if I could have one too. She took one look at me, huffed, turned her back and walked off.

The Complete Experience is not for the insecure, that’s for sure!

While we speculated about how I should have asked (“oi, give us a mask” peppered with expletives was posited …) another performer turned up, grabbed the hand of one of our little threesome and lead her off. We didn’t see her again until we hit The Devil’s Lighthouse itself.

The Complete Experience is not for those of you wanting a cosy, romantic date night!

I was in the last group lead through the curtains. We were gathered in a small room where we were handed bright green shots and gold glittery pills and told to wear our masks as they were our keys to the Devil’s Lighthouse. Wait – where’s my mask? I don’t have a mask!

At this point, Steve (whose other half had been lead off) decided he’d stick with me because without a mask I was a prime target to be picked on and so he’d be safe …

Glitter pills duly taken we were told to follow our guide at all times and we were then lead out of the small room and across the parklands where we were greeted by a naked lady in a bath, pouring sparkling wine (D’Arenberg’s Dadd). We were also served oysters with sand. This was actually some seafood in a very thick almost mayonnaise like, yet grey, sauce covered in a thick layer of edible sand. It smelt unbelievably horrible but actually tasted pretty good.

After bubbles, we were lead to the main area and into the Devil’s Lighthouse. Here we lined up two by two to receive a very weird kind of communion. The red jelly that we had spooned into our mouths by the priest was just awful (I have no idea what it was but it was universally decried as more towards the disgusting end of the flavour spectrum). Having survived that, we were given a ‘holy bun’. These were excellent! They were steamed buns but instead of an Asian filling it was actually more like a pasty. I really enjoyed this and the buns seemed to resurrect everyone’s faith in the food to come …

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Here come the drinks …

Munching on our buns we were then lead across to the stage and told to find any friends we wanted to sit with. Diners were seated on all four sides of the stage (The Complete Experience is limited to 100 people per evening) and while performers and staff checked for anyone with special dietary requirements (you obviously need to let them know in advance!), drinks were poured and we were all able to have a good look at our entrée (the soup pictured above) while performers tumbled about the stage, did a bit of sabrage and brought bells around for you to ring if you needed a drink.

Various formalities over, the food proper began. Boiling water was poured onto our soup and the skulls gave way to a consommé. I thought the broth itself was a bit on the bland side but the rose petals, which I’ve never considered in a savoury dish before, gave it some excellent flavour.

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birthday cake … not so chocolatey …

Soup over, the birthday cakes were brought out – one cake to be divided between 5 or 6 people. After some discussion we decided the cake was polenta made with squid ink and it was topped with some grilled octopus tentacles which were tender. The cake definitely looked a lot more macabre and threatening than it actually was – although funnily enough the picture of this on the Eating Adelaide Facebook page did receive one ‘hide this post’ …

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caged chicken … no free range here

Next up, came our caged chicken, served with a side of baby gem lettuce and ‘cream and sugar’ (mustard sauce and a sesame seed mix). Again, there was a lot more shock value going on with the appearance of the food than with its flavour (it was roast chicken – nothing scary there!). We were also served a cold cauliflower soup which was presented as a cappucino.

All the time we were eating things were going on on stage – it was a very busy meal in that you were never sitting around relaxing, chatting and thinking about the food.

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koala brains … by this point the light had failed me totally!

As we were finishing off mains and having dessert (koala brains – a kind of vanilla semifreddo, served with some jelly in a petri dish), the punters for The Show were admitted and the stage was busily cleared up ready for the performance to start.

I finally got my mask at this point!

The performance itself has a very loose story line which is conveyed through speech, song and music but the highlight of this part of the evening is without a doubt the acrobats. If you need to be reminded of or want to be blown away by what the human body can do, a performance like this is what you need to see. The feats of balance and strength that the male and female stars brought to the stage were just breathtaking and I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Once the show wrapped up, most people headed to the Devil’s Lighthouse for some nightclub action. However, as a 6:30am start beckoned, I was sensible and boring and went home.

Overall, I think that the many performers who have come together to put create Fear and Delight have achieved what they set out to do. There is much of The Complete Experience which is confronting and will take you out of your comfort zone. You are not going to enjoy every moment of it and you’re not supposed to. Your ideas about food will be challenged – not everything tastes good, not everything smells good and by and large the appearance of dishes is there to make you feel uncomfortable. In some ways, because this is so much about perception, actually what you are eating is less important than what your brain is telling you. And the entire experience is not about having a ‘nice meal and seeing a show’ – there were parts of the food I really enjoyed, and a lot of the food divided people (the cold cauliflower soup I could not deal with but the person next to me loved it).

This is food as performance art and even if you don’t love every moment of it (and you won’t) you’re unlikely to forget it in a hurry.

Redsalt Summer Menu at Crowne Plaza Adelaide

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Disclaimer: I was a guest of Crowne Plaza at the menu launch. See the full menu on the Redsalt page.

Summer has hit Adelaide with a short sharp blast to remind us what is around the corner. Last Thursday he maximum came perilously close to 39°C. A cool change came through at 2am Friday morning and it’s been gorgeous Spring weather ever since … but that doesn’t mean that summer is far from our minds.

It was also appropriate for the Redsalt summer menu launch – how would it stand up to some seriously summery weather? You might remember that earlier in the year I attended the winter menu launch and found it an impressive affair so I was pleased to be invited back for seconds.

After pre-dinner drinks in the bar we sat down to suss out head chef Fran Ghidini’s latest creations.

Our amuse-bouche was a dish which is featured on the menu as an entrée. A warm pea soup topped with a pepper (pastry) crisp, goats cheese cream, mint and peas. This was served in some very funky little cups that were modelled on squashed plastic cups which caused a lot of comment. While my attitude towards peas is best described as ambivalent (ahem) I really enjoyed the soup and the goats cheese and both the pepper in, and the texture of, the crisp worked as a lovely counterpoint to the peas’ sweetness and softness.

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Next up we were served a tasting platter of other entrées. A prosciutto wrapped piece of mozzarella served with house-made kimchi and an olive puree worked surprisingly well. The olives provided a strong umami backbone and the excellent kimchi, while not for the faint hearted, contributed both punch and acidity to the richness of the cheese and prosciutto. The other stand out entrée (and the one I would order) was the smoked Coorong mullet with broad bean and daikon puree and a pink peppercorn dressing. This was a dish where every component worked together seamlessly and the two pink peppercorns sitting atop the mullet not only looked perfect but added a sour and hot finish.

The other entrées we tried were the pork and duck rillette (which I thought a little under-seasoned), an heirloom tomato salad and a beetroot and cashew cheese raviolo which appears in the main courses as a vegan offering. This was the only taster I didn’t like – the cashew cheese (something I have never tried before) didn’t work for me – it tasted in no small part like not particularly nice goats cheese. I’d be really interested in hearing a vegan’s thoughts on this dish (or, indeed, on cashew cheese in general).

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We chose our own main courses so I opted for the ocean trout with a beetroot puree, fennel and pernod compote, fennel salad and lime gel. I love fennel so I was never going to choose anything else! The fish was cooked beautifully (with crispy skin – the most important part) and while I question the attractiveness of the smear of beetroot puree (I have no alternative idea though, I’m afraid) everything again worked well taste wise. The finely shaved fennel retained its texture and its no surprise it paired well with the fish.

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The coffee trilogy wrapped up our meal. The Crowne Plaza’s desserts are very generous and this dish would be perfect if you are planning on sharing. The absolute winner on this trilogy was the coffee and chocolate mousse, served on a crisp almond toffee sheet. The mousse had a beautiful mouth feel and did not shy away from a coffee hit at all – bitter and powerful. I loved this and was really quite disappointed that we only received a quenelle of this because I would have been happy to sink myself into a full bowl. The almond crocante did the job of delivering the last of that coffee mousse goodness along with some jaw-sticking sweetness. The tiramisu ran a distant second and the coffee and grappa ice cream really didn’t quite work for me. I have some very strong feelings about grappa and in this ice cream the grappa really dominated. However, given the reaction of the people sitting around me, I’m very very much in the minority on that one!

During the evening we were also spoilt with wines from Bleasdale (the Pinot Gris which picked up Best Other White at the recent Royal Adelaide Wine Show) and Pike & Joyce (the Pinot Noir).

Redsalt still supports Eat Local SA and the new menu again offers innovative dishes alongside staples (and dishes that will cater to a variety of dietary requirements) – at very reasonable prices. It’s also a delight to see a seasonal revamp of the menu.

Crowne Plaza Adelaide
16 Hindmarsh Square
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 08 8206 8888

Redsalt on Urbanspoon

Bread & Bone Wood Grill

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date of visit: Tuesday 23 September 2014

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that Peel Street is the new ‘it’ place to be in Adelaide. New small food and bar businesses are popping up all over the place (I’m not even pretending to keep up) and Peel Street in particular has zoomed past its neighbour, Leigh Street, in terms of density of offerings.

Bread & Bone already has a reputation for the best burgers in Adelaide and the people who I know who have already been there have all rated it very highly. While the exterior is quite imposing, and you can’t miss it, it’s not entirely obvious that Bread & Bone is the restaurant that’s tucked away upstairs from a small courtyard (downstairs is Maybe Mae, through its hidden door). I suggested it for lunch with a friend as I didn’t feel like spending a lot of money and the burger and hot dog side of the menu keeps everything under $20. For the evening or seriously hungry, there is also a selection of wood grill dishes that sit in the $20-30 zone.

It being lunch time, I took one look at the menu and chose the Bratwurst dog. A bratwurst with … kimchi and kewpie mayonnaise. There are three things that improve pretty much any savoury dish and these are sambal oelek, hot lime pickle and kimchi. Kimchi and rice is the highest form of breakfast, in my opinion. If kimchi is on the menu, the chances are I’ll order it.

My friend had the cheeseburger and ordered a green salad. The burger was a good size (we’d already spied on another table’s order) but neither burgers nor dogs come with fries (yes, that’s chips) as standard. My position on salad dressing is that it is mostly wrong and while this salad was dressed, at least the dressing didn’t have an overpowering vinegar flavour to it – it was much more subtle.

The hot dog (which you can see above) was excellent. The sausage was meaty, the kimchi was hot and packed a good vinegar punch and the kewpie counterpointed that perfectly. The bun did a good job of holding it all together and the napkins, while not cloth, are large, solid and more than up to the task of dealing with the inevitable mucky fingers.

Service was efficient and the food came out promptly – which at lunch time is a definite plus. I didn’t suss out the drinks menu but we did wrap up our meal with a caffè latte which also gets the seal of approval.

The bill came out at just under $20 a head which is certainly not the cheapest hot dog lunch you’ll find in Adelaide. However, you do get table service and an interesting and varied menu for your money. And considering that a sandwich can easily push the $10 mark, I personally would rather invest the additional money in a slightly slicker lunch.

I’d love to pretend I’ll go back and try the remainder of the menu … but … did I mention the kimchi?

Bread & Bone Wood Grill
15 Peel Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 08 8231 8535
open from 11:30am

Bread & Bone Wood Grill on Urbanspoon