Late last year I was asked to be a social media ambassador for the 2014 Cellar Door Festival. There have been a few events for the ambassadors, including a session at OzHarvest and a cheese and wine matching class (I missed that one as I was ham and wine matching in Spain at the time).
As the festival itself is almost upon us (it kicks off next Friday, 14 February) the final ambassador event was held last week at the Adelaide Convention Centre. We were treated to an ‘amazing race’ style evening – charging around the centre, learning more about both the festival and local produce. After we’d built up a head of steam, several of the ‘new producers’ who are being showcased by PIRSA were on hand to chat to us about their foods and participation in the festival.
My partner, Rubina, and I didn’t quite manage to win the race part of the evening (though if there had been a prize for making the most noise, taking it seriously and getting into the spirit of things in an over the top manner, we would DEFINITELY have won that!) we did come in a creditable third (out of five).
For me, probably the most interesting part of the race was trying the alpaca carpaccio. Alpaca is probably not a meat you’ll have come across before. While it’s been eaten in South America for centuries its appearance on Australian menus is still very novel. I had a lovely chat to Perry from Fleurieu Prime Alpaca, and I recommend checking out the meat at the festival. It’s extremely lean, tender and very gently flavoured. You might also find some alpaca on the menu at Pranzo in the CBD.
While the festival is, of course, about wine (and a bit of beer, too!), this year it has a much greater focus on food. Of the producers I met last week, many have a strong emphasis on native ingredients so festival goers will have the opportunity to try plenty of new foods – both at the Farmers’ Market and from individual producers.
This year, the festival’s masterclasses also have a strong food theme. On the opening evening (Friday 14 February) Marion Grasby will be hosting a Valentine’s Day Extravaganza (you can win tickets to this over at McFuzzlebutt’s Manchen – NOTE, you will need to purchase your own Cellar Door Festival tickets separately). Over the course of the weekend she is also hosting two further classes (Summer Entertaining and Asian Favourites) and there are seafood, cheese and, of course, wine focussed classes.
Classes do need to be booked in advance: full details are on the Cellar Door Festival website.