Archive for January, 2009

Chill Island, Hot Food - Tasting Australia 2010

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Sydney Rock Oysters

Photo by Tabbouleh Breath — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

This week we’re showcasing Australia’s Chill Island Festival, a yearly event held on Churchill Island, the traditional land of the Bunurong people. In addition to an extraordinary lineup of annual festivals, Australia boasts amazing wine, a cutting-edge food scene, magnaminous people, and festivals with the word “chill” in the title. (They also refer to men’s bathing suits as “Budgie smugglers”). What a country!

In the last decade, Australia has crept out of outback and onto the forefront of the foodie scene. The Tasting Australia festival brings together hundreds of the world’s most influential chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and food writers to show off the best in Dinkum Australian cusine. (That’s “genuine” for those of you who don’t speak Oz!)

Tasting Australia was originally conceived as a media event to bring attention to the bounty of Southern Australia. Word got out, and now the festival regularly attracts more than 50,000 people. In addition to colorful chefs cooking colorful food, the festival hosts the popular Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards, (the foodie equivalent of the Oscars) and the Australian Regional Culinary Competition hosted by LifeStyle FOOD Channel.

Greater Melbourne team manager, Greg O’Shea, claims that his region boasts “an unlimited variety of exquisite food and wine influenced by its diverse multicultural society” and Greg isn’t lying. Several regional specialties include King Island cream, Sydney rock oysters, Bowen mangoes, Coffin Bay scallops, Tasmanian salmon, and Illabo milk-fed lamb. Tasting Australia also showcases a culinary tradition known as “bush tucker”, or the simple preparation of local meats and vegetables in the bush style. “Damper” is a classic bush dish that I won’t be eating anytime soon as it involves flour and water cooked in campfire coals. However, I’m open to trying “Anaboroo, Mango and Burrawong Soup” because I really like the letter ‘o’.

The Chill Island Festival is happening this week. Tasting Australia is happening next year. If you can’t make it to either, open up a can of vegemite and check out some other chill festivals in Australia.

- Courtney Maum

VISIT Vancouver! EAT Vancouver! - The EAT! Vancouver Food Festival is Well Worth the Trip

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Granville Public Market

Photo by Evan Leeson — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

This week we move to Vancouver, the host city of our featured PuSH Performing Arts Fest. Vancouver has become a much-talked about destination for arts, culture and food as of late, and it’s no wonder why. A city that can attract both Taylor Mac and Mac & Cheese is a city I want to discover.

The seventh annual EAT! Vancouver food festival is a three-day extravaganza attracting hundreds of exhibitors from all across the world. In addition to the latest and greatest in food, beverage and cooking equipment, the festival brings in a generous helping of celebrity chefs. A new addition to the Food Network team, pasty whiz Anna Olson will be in attendance, along with grilling guru Naz Cavallaro and Vancouver’s own Iron Chef winner, Rob Feenie. Don’t watch the Food Network? Don’t fancy the TV? Head over to the wellness pavilion where you can scope out the latest additions to the burgeoning market of organic, fair trade and socially-responsible products.

Not feeling very responsible? Have a high time at the wine, beer and spirits tasting pavilion before gleaning some grilling tips (and wings!) at the BBQ competition. Feeling chatty? Talk with brewers, vintners, chefs, cheese mongers and cookbook authors until your appetite comes back.

One of the most anticipated events at the festival is the The Master Chef cooking competition sponsored by Citytv. In this “black box” style contest, chefs are presented with a box of unknown ingredients. Once it’s open, the competitor needs to create a main course in 35 minutes using only the ingredients found in his box. I don’t know about you, but it takes me that long to figure out what the heck I feel like eating, let alone cook it.

Not yet convinced that your next trip should be to Vancouver? Check out these other festivals in the city where all prosper “by land, sea, and air”… and food.

- Courtney Maum

Get Your Gyro On - The Ninth Avenue Food Festival, NYC

Monday, January 12th, 2009


Photo by roboppy — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

In honor of this week’s featured festival, the globalFEST, we will be focusing on a food festival that celebrates similar themes: ethnicity, joyfullness and community pride.

The Ninth Avenue Food Festival is one of the most popular and largest street fairs in the Northeast. For two days in May, the area known as Hell’s Kitchen is closed to cars and opened to over a million vendors and visitors. Because a large part of the money raised goes to benefit community organizations in Hell’s Kitchen, area vendors attract an impressive following of locals and fans, but the fair is open to outside merchants and restaurants from the rest of Manhattan as well.

Senegal, Sicily, Argentina, Thailand… from Poland to Puerto Rico, the sights, sounds and tastes of one of the most colorful cities in the world are à la carte all weekend. Visitors can savor bourbon ham sandwiches, barbequed octopus, oysters on the half shell, paella, and of course, the best sausage and pepper gyro in the world. (Or at least in Hell’s Kitchen!)

What sets the 9th Avenue Food Festival apart from other street fairs is the assortment of eclectic food and entertainment that goes a bit further than the good old gyro. Passerbys will encounter alligator, catfish nuggets, sweetbreads and roasted shark on the very same block as Egyptian belly dancing, Arabian scarf dancing and salsa routines. Irish musicians play alongside German Folk singers and smiling couples performing the Lindy Hop. If globalFEST is the leading showcase for international sounds, the Ninth Avenue Food Festival is the showcase for international tastes; a celebration of the magnificent cacophony of cultures and colors that is New York City.

For more eclectic going-ons in the Big Apple, click here.

A Smart Start for 2009 - The Lafayette Quaker Oatmeal Festival

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Quaker Oats

Photo by rakka — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Unless you, dear reader, know something that we don’t, the Lafayette Oatmeal Festival is the only festival in the world dedicated entirely to soluble fibers. After the construction of a highway bypass in 1996, a group of local businesses got together to come up with a way to divert traffic through the historical center of Lafayette, Colorado. The solution they found was an unusual one, but with 3,500 participants in 2008, The Lafayette Quaker Oatmeal Festival has turned into a healthy tradition.

The festival begins with a gigantic oatmeal breakfast overseen by Colorado State Legislator Paul Weissmann. In addition to 200 gallons of oatmeal, 4,600 oatmeal pancakes and 1,400 fresh oatmeal muffins, the festival boasts the world’s largest oatmeal toppings bar with 140 choices.

The fun continues long after the cholesterol-lowering benefits of oatmeal kick in. After breakfast, there is a health fair with free screenings, interactive stations and the ever-tempting “fat vest”: a weighted apparatus that allows you to experience what an extra twenty pounds would do to your body.

Feeling energetic? The Quicker Quaker 5k Walk/Run is a smart way to show friends and family that you actually intend to keep your New Year’s resolution this time around, and afterwards you can reward yourself at the scrumptious baking contest while they’re not looking. Other attractions include an art fair showcasing the work of Lafayette students, a blood drive and the Quaker Smart Heart Start Challenge. Qualifying participants can challenge the FDA’s claim that 3 daily grams of soluble fiber can be beneficial to heart health and make off with a month worth of oatmeal and two free heart screenings if they pledge to eat a bowl of oatmeal every day for 30 days.

As if all this heart-healthy activity wasn’t enough, the Lafayette Oatmeal Festival is a “Zero-Waste” event and the recipient of a Bronze Environmental Achievement Award from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

For other feel-good festivals in Colorado, click here.