Monday, March 24, 2014

Flavour Exchange, Fed Square

A quarterly event I hadn't heard of until I got an email at work looking for more people to go so we could enjoy a 10 person discount.

Read more about it here:

Sometimes you go to something like this and you quickly run out of tokens, but I ended up giving 1 away at the end so obviously picked good ways to spend them. It seemed like you were supposed to get a certain number of food and certain number of drink tokens but I was just handing out tokens that all seemed to be the same.  Probably just as well as I spent more than 4 tokens on food.

So it's set up under cover but outside next to the Atrium in Fed Square, with a bunch of stalls offering a variety of food and drink.  I was a bit slack in taking photos so don't have everything that I tried photographed.

First off was a wine tasting at Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth.  Their Pinot Grigio was quite refreshing on a hot afternoon.  They also had a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon Sangiovese.  Of the two reds I probably preferred the Sangiovese.  1 token for a tasting, and they were generous sized tastings. Also enjoyed a bit of the history of the vineyard from someone at the stall.

Next up was cheese. I'm guessing it was Goldfields Cheese based on the stall listing (forgot to grab a photo).   First up was an ash (I think) coated cheese served on bread which was enjoyable. They had a white mould cheese (I think the pyrenees view) which was nice.  They also had a cheese they described as being a blue cheese without the blue (and that had a decent kick to it). Plus two blue cheeses.  The one that was more darker (more orange) in colour has a really nice kick to it.  I'm not usually a blue cheese fan but would eat that. Maybe the St Barbara? But would have to go taste them again.

Next up Coopers Handmade Pies for a wagyu beef and beer pie. It was just a small pie but very tasty.  Looking at their website you can order online and get pies delivered.   You can even join their VIP club for free.

From there someone wanted to head to the stage area where they were about to do some kind of presentation, so we moved along the stalls to where a small area was set up for presentations.  Whilst queueing for pasta I heard a bit about Pinot Grigio/Gris and saw what the grapes looked like.  There was also a cooking demonstration but I didn't notice too much about that.  Smelt good though.

The pasta was from The Natural Pasta House.  Was a decent wait as they would cook a dish at a time (ie. they finished the spaghetti and meatballs before I got to the front but then had lasagna ready).  1 token for the spaghetti and meatballs (and gnocchi with bolognese sauce which I went back for later) and 2 tokens for the lasagna.  Best lasagna I've had in ages, pasta was so tender, and the sauce a nice balance of meat and cheese. The meatball was also really tasty, and the gnocchi nice consistency with the yummy bolognese sauce.   Looking at their website you can register and purchase online as well.  Or alternatively head to their store in Westmeadows.

It was good heading to this event with a group of 11 people as we split up to go try different things but you'd easily spot someone to queue up with so you didn't get bored (plus it's more fun to do tastings with people you know :)).

After that did a tasting at Medhurst Wines, a winery based in the Yarra Valley. It was a token for tasting of all the wines or you could enjoy a larger glass of just one.  So I opted for all the wines. I liked their Chardonnay (which is a bit surprising as I usually prefer a Riesling to a Chardonnay).  They also had a nice spicey shiraz, and the cabernet was enjoyable too.

After that we got told to go try an amazing chocolate salted caramel tart. So so good. Louise Morris Cakes had tarts, macaroons and I think something else caramel based.  The lady also had a bunch of sauces and preserves.

Off to do another wine tasting at M Chapoutier Australia.  With grapes coming from the Pyrnees and one bottle from Heathcote.  The people in front of us were chatterboxes and we almost decided to move along but thankfully stayed.  We got to enjoy a couple of whites, and a bunch of shiraz.  I ended up liking their easy drinking $15 Shiraz and their most expensive one!  The guy was great at keeping track of what we were up to, with two of us sampling all the wines, another person sampling the reds, and another group arriving after we had started.  He was even nice enough to write down what I liked - so when I went back at the end of the evening had a 2 pack box ready to go for me.

A bunch of people headed off for a smoke so I caught up with part of the group that had wandered off.  One of them told me to go try the Coldstream Brewery cider. It was enjoyable - not too sweet from memory (and I think things were starting to get a little hazy from this point on).

 I then convinced the people I was with to go try the wines at the M Chapoutier place.  Whilst they got served I decided to go grab another pasta (this time the gnocchi), and then when I was done with that (and the tasting was still going) headed off to find another cider.  Caught up with another friend at the Endless Cider stall (It's the STRIPY ONE!).  They had a pear and apple cider on offer so for a tasting you got either a double tasting of one, or a generous serve of each one.  They had put a lot of effort into their Pear Cider, made using champagne technique.  I really enjoyed both but the pear was a favourite for me.  It is a sweet cider - but I enjoyed it.  With 3 tokens left I grabbed a double tasting of the pear one, to enjoy more of that.

With 2 tokens left I joined up with the remaining people in the group and convinced them to join me at the Pana Chocolate stall where I spent a token on a tasting for me and a tasting for someone else (as I was pretty satisfied with what I'd had). I'd first tried Pana Chocolate at the Wanderlust yoga festival.  I was pretty skeptical about vegan chocolate but despite being dairy free it tastes creamy.  It's very filling and flavoursome so I find a square of chocolate will go a long way to hitting the spot.  I ended up getting a few bars of those.  Raw, organic, homemade chocolate!

From there we were done and I made the slight mistake of heading next door to Beer Deluxe (who have these very cute, very tasty mini burgers) .  A few ciders and lychee sour cocktail later and it was time to head home after a very fun night out.  Would definately do it again, but maybe not on a school night next time!  And maybe a few more food items :)

Here's what I sampled:

Indigo Vineyard, Beechworth

Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese

Coopers Handmade Pies

Natural Pasta House

Medhurst Wines, Yarra Valley

Louisa Morris Cakes

M.Chapoutier Australia

Endless Cider

Pana Chocolate

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