2014 Cellar Door Festival – Bigger and Better


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.

Cooking for a Cause with OzHarvest

chef Tze Khaw of the Adelaide Convention Centre

On Monday night the Cellar Door Wine Festival (CDWF) social media ambassadors (yes, that includes me) headed to the OzHarvest kitchen in Goodwood for a bit of hands-on food prep for charities across Adelaide.

OzHarvest is a ‘food rescue’ charity. This means that it collects perishables and distributes them immediately to charities who can these use these foods in either food preparation or as already prepared meals. The Adelaide Convention Centre (home of the CDWF) has had a close relationship with OzHarvest since its 2011 beginnings here in SA (OzHarvest is a national charity which was started in Sydney) and, in addition to donations from its day to day business, the leftovers from the CDWF’s Farmers’ Market are donated to OzHarvest when the festival closes.

We took part in one of OzHarvest’s new initiatives: Cooking for a Cause. The Cooking for a Cause sessions are, essentially, team building exercises that allow participants to give something back. A group of up to 10 people gathers in the OzHarvest kitchen and does some food prep. Typically, there is a lot of chopping and stirring and, at the end of the session the food goes out to charities in Adelaide (of course, some can be held back for lunch for the participants too!).

On Monday Tze Khaw, Executive Chef at the Adelaide Convention Centre, took us through our paces. The efficiency of the procuring staff at the ACC was on show – with most ingredients arriving pre-chopped – so we didn’t have to do too much work! Although I did roughly chop some coriander …

We prepped a vegetable and lentil curry, to be served with couscous. The meal we prepared was going out, in portions, to about 100 people across Adelaide on Tuesday. I was surprised that such a large number of portions could be made out of what seemed like relatively small quantities of ingredients. For example, the curry used just a 500g tin of lentils (and quite a lot of veggies, admittedly) and Chef Tze prepped just one 1kg of couscous.

Chef Tze passed on some useful cooking hints – pointing out that in a professional kitchen a stock pot would be kept on the go the whole time to make use of vegetable offcuts, and showing us a way of washing coriander (and spinach, and other leaf vegetables) to ensure that it’s grit free (basically, rinse the prepared leaves in a bowl of clear water and pull them out from the top of the bowl into another bowl of clear water).

Listening to Hayley from OzHarvest discuss the stats on food wastage was rather depressing and certainly serves as a wake up call, both in terms of how much we might waste ourselves (yes, sad half bunch of coriander loitering in the bottom of the fridge, I’m looking at you) but also how privileged most of us are.

Little sermon over!

If you’re a corporate or social group and are interested in Cooking for a Cause, get in touch with OzHarvest (in Adelaide, ring (08) 8162 9553 or email adelaide.info@ozharvest.org). If you’re looking for a Christmas present for a food mad friend, you can buy the OzHarvest Cookbook. And, of course, the team at OzHarvest will always welcome additional volunteers!

Cellar Door Wine Festival 2014 – Social Media Ambassador


Tasting plate of SA goodies – that rare beef was amazing!

Even before I had a child, a week that involved every night out would have left me feeling a little knackered. Last week was such a week: epic on many, many counts and my sanity (and the long suffering Andy’s sanity) saved quite possibly only by the fact that the toddler spent Friday night at his grandparents’ house.

Every night out was a good night out, don’t get me wrong, but I could have done with them rather more spaced out. Let’s fast forward through the week to Thursday night.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the Adelaide Convention Centre, which is the organisation behind the annual Cellar Door Wine Festival. Would I like to be a social media ambassador for the 2014 festival?

On the one hand, this suggests that I either drink too much or spend too much time on twitter … but on the other, did they really have to ask?!

With Thursday night by that stage the only night free in an already hectic week, I shouldn’t have been surprised when that was the night of the program’s launch. I headed off to the Convention Centre, post Dora the Explorer, feeling a little less than glamorous and wondering what awaited me.

What awaited me was a tiny taste of what awaits everyone come Valentine’s Day 2014 – the opening day of the Festival. Next year you can expect to see the same overwhelming array of wineries but there’s going to be an increasing emphasis on food and local producers. Marion Grasby (ex Masterchef) will be hosting master classes, as will Valérie Henbest of the Smelly Cheese Shop. If you don’t already have a date for Valentine’s Day, consider yourself on notice to find one.

This partnership with the Smelly Cheese extends to a very special cheese themed competition. Details are coming but, in the meantime, if you love cheese, perhaps consider taking a selfie of your next close encounter and keeping it stashed away ready for the competition to open!

The ambassadors were treated to a lovely meal: amazing antipasto (seriously amazing – everyone was so impressed with the pastrami in particular), a seared tuna entrée, served on a melon salad dressed with soy sauce which was genius (and tasted a lot better than it sounds written down!), a tasting plate (shown above) for main course and a Haigh’s flourless chocolate cake for dessert. That also received some rave reviews (unsurprising, really).

We were also spoiled with a souvenir (see the photo below) as well as an amazing goodie box filled with South Australian eats, drinks and treats – and a tomato plant*. I might be pitting the tomato plant against my own seedlings and seeing how it fares.


* Not so random, when you consider that tomatoes were often referred to as love apples. Remember, the Festival opens on Valentine’s Day.