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Life

How the Show Has Gone On

The culinary landscape has evolved and devolved over the past 20 years. Back then, chefs worshipped the French canon with fury, finesse, and formality in kitchens like Banc, Est Est Est, and Tables of Toowong.

Today, fire, fermentation and foraged flourishes are the moods of the moment. Think Firedoor, Gerards Bar, Igni. Temples of gastronomy used to be in big cities, whereas today’s ground-breaking restaurants are flung far. Tropical north Queensland is expressed in every bite at Nunu, the terroir of the Southern Highlands tasted at Biota in Bowral, and Brae in Birregura offers a soulful connection with agrarian Victoria.

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Showcasing Australia’s best

The Good Food and Wine Show has been key in reflecting the trends for almost 20 years, telling the story of our farmers, fishers, growers, producers, winemakers, brewers, bakers and chefs in a fresh and innovative way.

Such is the scale of the show, it serves as a culinary state of the union, a snapshot celebration of the best that Australia and the world have to offer. Having been involved with the show, I have seen an increased commitment to shining a light on each state’s best food and wine.

Event Director, Claire Back, explains, “We have placed an emphasis on regionality. When we’re in Perth, for example, we bring the Margaret River and Swan Valley to you.

“I also see my job as ensuring people take away something new. It could be learning that Cabernet tastes different in a Cabernet glass than in a Merlot glass. I want people to be excited about new products and learning a new skill.”

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Star spotting

The show offers inspiration, aspiration and, with upwards of 10,000 guests flooding through the doors each day, perspiration! For many, the aspiration is the opportunity to see their food heroes. This year, star chef Matt Moran will be cooking in the celebrity theatre.

As he reflects, “Over the past 15 years, there’s been an explosion in food. People want to know where it comes from, who’s grown it and who’s cooking it. The accessibility of the chefs is a real positive with chances to meet, taste their food and see them demonstrate their craft.”

Another star of this year’s show is the ebullient Miguel Maestre. For all his mirth and merriment, he takes his cooking sessions very seriously. He believes his class should be 20 per cent laughter, 40 per cent cooking and 40 per cent things people haven’t seen before.

“I have a massive fear of under delivering,” he explains. “I am as nervous as I am cooking for the most fearsome food critic.” 

Wine immersion

These days, the name could be ‘The Good Wine and Food Show,’ such is the ever increasing celebration of our winemakers and wine regions.

In fact, when I get a break, you’ll find me in the Barossa Valley sharing a Shiraz with Rolf Binder or a joust about Jura with renowned wine scribe, Nick Ryan at the Riedel Drinks Lab. While the Wine Selectors Cellar Door offers a dazzling range of classes that reflect our insatiable desire for more knowledge. ‘Fireside Wines’, ‘Meat your Match’ or perhaps ‘Brunch Time, Wine Time’.

The juggernaut that is the Good Food and Wine Show hits the road in June for its national tour. It’s a wonderful weekend to immerse yourself in your passion. The opportunity to learn, taste, sip and be inspired is what keeps me coming back year after year.

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Food
What Curtis did Next
Words by Shonagh Walker on 30 Aug 2018
Despite two enormously successful restaurants creating a buzz throughout LA, Curtis Stone isn’t sitting still. Shonagh Walker toured California’s Central Coast with the celebrity chef, to uncover exactly what’s in store for his diners for the remainder of 2018. Curtis Stone is standing waist deep in the freezing seawater of Morro Bay, CA, shucking a Pacific Gold Oyster that he’s just plucked from the farm’s submerged harvest. He hands it to me, beaming his signature smile. Exhaustion is tugging at the corners of his sparkling blue eyes, but enthusiasm for the deep-cupped mollusc quickly turns them upwards again. We are at the tail end of a hectic 18 hours a day, five-day immersive tour of California’s Central Coast, a region famed for its local produce, stellar seafood and mind-blowing wines (divine Burgundian varietals: Pinot Noir to die for and an incredible array of Chardonnay). The aim is to seek inspiration for the upcoming menu of his Beverly Hills fine dining restaurant, Maude. While the seafood and seasonal offerings of this region are truly unsurpassed, if I’m being honest, we are really here for the wines.
You see, Curtis has yet again disrupted the concept of conventional fine dining and, as with everything he does, he’s done so with gusto. Where traditional menus decree full control to the chef, demanding wine pairings are made to meld with cuisine creativity, Curtis abdicated to Head Sommelier, Andrey Tolmachyov. The 26 year old now has the enviable task of travelling to the world’s best wine regions to curate a list based around the finest on offer. First, it was Rioja, Spain. Then came Burgundy, France and this quarter (July to September) it’s the sun-spoiled Central Coast of California. After each meticulous research trip, Tolmachyov curates the wines he is to feature for the three months. From there, Curtis and executive chef, Justin Hilbert devise a menu using ingredients from the same region to enhance the drops. It’s a change of tack for Maude, which for the past four years has focused on one ingredient per month and created a degustation experience around it, with wines stepping up only to match the food. Curtis explains: “After doing 48 menus with no dish repeated, we wanted something completely new. The wine program had really blossomed, with such amazing and talented sommeliers, but the pairings were always done last. We decided work backwards; go to a wine region, be inspired by the wine and the local regionality and dishes, then talk to the wine team about what they wanted and what would pair well with that wine and create a menu from that.”
And here we are, soaking up the afternoon sun, eating freshly shucked oysters and sipping some incredible local drops from nearby family run estate, Demetria in the picturesque town of Los Olivos. The frutti del mar is a massive hit, as is the wine. While Andrey remains tight lipped on the 2017 Rose, I get a good vibe from Curtis that the oysters will make an appearance on the menu. Thus far, the trip has taken us through what is undoubtedly some of America’s finest coastline and we have indulged in all manner of delicacy and drinks. In Santa Barbara, we’ve sampled sea urchin caught by Stephanie Mutz, a rare fishing scientist and the only female sea urchin diver in the state. In Cambria, we’ve indulged in the finest goat milk cheeses from Stepladder Creamery and we’ve sampled more exquisite wines than is fair in one lifetime, from an array of award-winning estates peppered throughout this jewel of a coastline. We’ve also scoured local farmers markets in San Luis Obispo and eaten at some of the state’s most celebrated restaurants (think: Santa Barbara’s Lark, Paso Robles’ Fish Gaucho and San Simeon’s Ragged Point Restaurant).
It sounds glamorous but it’s actually arduous, demanding and wearying. Pre-dawn starts fused into day-long driving, foraging and physical work. But such is Curtis’ way. He quite simply never stops. There’s no rest for the innovator, as it would be. The resulting debut Cali Coast dinner at Maude’s a few days later is a true feast of flavours – oyster bread (made using the aforementioned Morro Bay oysters), abalone, rock crab with summer truffles, served with grilled crab mayonnaise and spot prawn with peach fermented in beeswax and, of course, all matched with those delicious wines. So, if you’re in LA make sure you stop by Maude’s to taste Curtis’ innovative wine-focused menu. Get there now for the Tastes of California, or book in for the next quarter’s food & wine adventure – Italy’s delectable Piedmont province. Maude is located at: 212S Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 5.30PM- 9.30PM Tel: + 1 310 859 3418 mauderestaurant.com
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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