Story by Jack Foley
IT PROVED a gday for all things Australian at Richmond Athletic Ground
on Saturday (July 13, 2002), when the Flavours of Australia Festival rolled
into town, attracting hundreds of sun-seekers.
Boasting the type of scorching hot weather that is usually reserved for the likes of Bondi Beach (a particularly fine PR trick on this dampest of summers!), the scene was set for a mouthwatering day of food and wine, complimented by some really good tunes by Aussie music sensations, The Superjesus, who performed two acoustic sets throughout the day.
Australia is perhaps the most well-known of the new world wine regions and has a reputation for producing highly distinctive, excellent quality wines, and the festival ensured that as many of them were represented as possible, including New South Wales, Victoria/Tasmania, South Australia - south and north of Adelaide and West Australia.
Guests could therefore choose from a Clare Valley Riesling, a Hunter Valley Semillon, a Barossa Valley Shiraz or a Yarra Valley Chardonnay in order to warm up the taste-buds for the glorious Australian menu which followed.
But anyone expecting a well-judged, finely researched review about the quality
of the wines on offer, or the food for that matter, had better stop reading
- for while the festival undoubtedly had plenty of both, my recollection of
the day is hazy to say the least (although I will put any memory loss down
to a severe case of sunstroke, rather than foolhardy drunkenness!).
But boy did the vino flow! Some of Australia's finest red and white wines offered the perfect example of why the country has become so world-renowned for the quality of its wine production. In terms of quality, much of what was sampled (and remembered!) rated as highly as the best of the Italian brands I have tested, as well as those from California's Napa Valley (praise indeed).
And the food was simply delicious. Dishes included king prawns with chilli and wattle seed dipping sauce (our favourites on the day); some classic Aussie lamb cutlets and sausages; some fresh Sydney rock oysters with a variety of dipping sauces (and I take it back, oysters no longer resemble the taste of snot to me!), and (another favourite!) grilled kangaroo fillets, which were surprisingly tasty.
In amongst the meat, there was even a fine selection of salad and potatoes, Anzac biscuits and a fruit, including water melon to freshen the mouth and provide some respite from the booze.
The Flavours festival, which was promoted by 1st Contact website, with some of the proceeds going to support the Starlight Children's Foundation of Australia, promised to offer a diverse mix of some of the distinctive flavours from Down Under, as well as some Australian music guaranteed to bring down the house - and it measured up on both levels.
Following hot on the heels of both the New Zealand and South African days, the Aussie event provided a perfect finale to a well-conceived idea; one which brought the tastes of some distant continents to a new crowd, as well as delighting the patriots who occupied large pockets of the Athletic Grounds.
Certainly, the possibility of a trip Down Under to take in more of the Flavours first-hand now looks like a very real possibility, while more than one of my entourage will no doubt be seeking one of the fine Aussie restaurants which are located around the capital. As for the bottle currently on chill in my fridge, well that's Australian - although in light of Saturday's consumption, I may well leave it a few days to mature!
All pictures on this page were kindly supplied by Damian Comans.