The thing I just don’t get about special food events is why you have to wait hours for food. They’re experienced chefs, they know how many people are coming, they usually know exactly what food has to be prepared, and by when, and still people wait for hours and hours and hours.
Is the plan to get us drunk?
That part doesn’t make sense to me, because the more you drink the less you have any idea how good or bad the food is. And I thought the whole idea was to celebrate the food.
Today, for example. Everything about it was great. I knew as soon as I read about it in the Food and Wine Festival guide that I wanted to be there, and what friends would want to come along:
What do you get when you combine Tasmania’s hottest chef of now, Melbourne’s most handsome brewers, natural wines and mussels on fire? You get the red hot smoked seafood party you need to be at. Join chef David Moyle of Franklin Restaurant and French chef Florent Gerardin as they create a traditional French eclade de moules – mussels dramatically smoked under a stack of burning pine needles. It’s a hands-on party. A rustic Sunday session fuelled by great beer, wine and likely some rock. Ticket price includes a serving of mussels with sides, and two fine quality drinks
So far, so fantastic.
We arrived on time about 2pm at the comfortably rustic Moon Dog Brewing Co down a side street in Abbottsford, which was hosting the event. And so did everyone else. It was lively and bustling, the music was great, the beer excellent, the smoke was building deliciously.
We had a beer, or two. I had the wonderful draught lager, the friends I was with tried everything else on the creative beer menu. There was some decidedly tasty French wines too.
About a quarter to four, the queue for food was finally allowed to form. It was a bit of a wait, but the mussels were undoubtedly worth it. They were supposed to be Tasmanian, but an algal bloom killed that idea and local Portarlington mussels were substituted, matched with boiled potatoes, greens and aioli.
Great. BUT. This was two hours after we arrived, and that was the first scrap of food that was available to us, and right when we were supposed to be leaving (the event was listed as 2-4pm).
You might well assume that this was an aberration. That something went wrong. Except that it happens every year, at almost every special food event I seem to attend.
The event says it starts at 5 or 6 or 7pm. You arrive roughly on time, you get plied with alcohol, and, if you’re lucky, little scraps of food sneak out over the first hour or two. But the time something substantial arrives you’ve had 3 glasses of wine, are ravenous or, sometimes, beyond the point of caring.
I’ve had it at the best of of restaurants, degustations that send out one minuscule course and one solid drink every half hour or so. Half a bite of something to soak up half a glass or a glass of wine. Doesn’t work. You spend half your time just sitting and waiting. Or sitting and getting a bit pissed.
But I know it’s not the way it has to be. It didn’t happen in the very best place I’ve ever eaten – Martin Berasategui‘s 3 Michelin star restaurant in San Sebastian in Spain (very luckily attended when the Aussie dollar was soaring at $US1.10, making it cheaper at the time than the top end of town in Melbourne). The food came promptly, there was no long wait between courses. And every morsel was perfect.
I don’t want to sit at a restaurant for five hours while they pace the degustation to please themselves. I don’t even want to wait at a casual mussels feed for hours with not even a scrap of bread. Would anyone actually choose that, given the chance?
All of that said, though, it was a fun event with delicious food and drink.