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Food and beverage stories

Life's tough, says Winter Feast man

Edition 185_DarkMofo

By Graeme Phillips

This year Dark Mofo was a mind-bending frolic of darkness and light; birth, death and renewal; celebrated in flames, blood, spectacular laser plays, cult movies, off-beat, up-beat and experimental music.

The action included Vladimir Putin’s favourite feminist punk group, Pussy Riot, and the TSO interpreting American composer John Cage’s 4'33" of Silence.

At dawn and dusk the city was caressed – or otherwise treated if you prefer – by the mournful sounds of Siren Song, before the whole thing culminated with 1,020 brave souls experiencing a naked winter solstice dip as the sun rose over the River Derwent on 22 June.

But the central and most popular event was the Winter Feast, where the lawns and waterfront PW1 shed were a blaze of red lights, flames, music and dancing.

Food was prepared on heavy metal flat plates, vertical and open BBQs and smokers as family groups warmed themselves around open fire pots.

Inside, under a ceiling hung with bright red crosses, more than 2,000 large candles and many more tea candles lit three tables running the length of the shed.

The tables were flanked by 77 brightly decorated stalls.

Everywhere there were bustling crowds enjoying food and beverages that showcased Hobart’s and Tasmania’s culinary diversity and excellence. Total attendance topped 95,000.

Much of the food was as good as you’d find in any restaurant.

At the MONA Heavy Metal Kitchen, lambs were spread-eagled in front of vertical BBQs.

Braised and then BBQ’d Cape Grim beef cheeks were being served on thick slices of Thorpe Farm celeriac which had been grilled over salt and topped with Coaldale Walnuts, with a side of winter greens.

At the next BBQ, they were grilling skewers of fresh shitake mushrooms from Cygnet basted in smoked chicken fat, interspersed with crisp chicken skin and served on a black garlic mayonnaise.

Next was Alistair Wise from the highly acclaimed patisserie, Sweet Envy, who provided, with his usual quirky humour, a delicious dessert on a stick which caused plenty of laughter and ribald comments.

Then there was the fun for kids of toasting hand-made marshmallows over open fires and squishing them between two biscuits, often along with a piece of chocolate.

Inside was a roll call of the city’s best smaller, down-the-lane and pop-up establishments offering a melange of global flavours – traditional Chinese and Korean favourites, Mexican tacos, Ethiopian stews, savoury Japanese warmers, Persian exotica and the aromatic spiciness of Indian and Vietnamese street food.

There were comforting soups, a great Irish stew, a colourful display of macarons, custard toffee apples and cooked-to-order berry fruit pancakes.

And, in a reflection of Tasmania’s ever-booming beverage scene, there was a wonderful range of craft beers, ciders, gins, single-malt whiskies, rye whiskies, vodkas and wines to keep everyone in high spirits.

A week after Dark Mofo finished, the statewide Festival of Voices commenced, directly followed by the Huon Valley Midwinter Festival with plenty of food and drinks, Morris dancers, a huge bonfire and an ancient wassail ceremony designed to frighten evil spirits away from the Huon’s apple crops.

It’s a tough life living in Tasmania.

Footnote: More than 427,000 attendances were recorded at Dark Mofo, a 43.7 per cent jump from 297,000 in 2016. The organisers' target of 500,000 attendances by 2021 suddenly looks decidedly modest. The Dark Mofo box office collected $2.44 million this year and 108,000 people visited Dark Park at Macquarie Point.

Image courtesy of Martin Turmine

4 July 2017, Edition 185

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