Before I induce a severe state of hunger by continuing my account of an unforgettable trip to the Kangaroo Island Seafood Feast-ival, I have to apologise for the delay in writing this second part of the post (if you missed the first part you can find it here). I had planned to get it up much sooner but things kept getting in the way, like these cherry pies.
I left you in the kitchen of The Kangaroo Island Source where we were mid way through a spectacular cooking class hosted by Kate Sumner and Rosa Matto, all set to get cooking following an informative oyster shucking demonstration.
I was lucky enough to be partnered up with John, who was extremely forgiving of my disappearing every few minutes to take photos and diligently supervised our Marron Bisque as I flitted around trying to capture the buzz of activity in all corners of the kitchen.
One of the things I loved about the class that I think differentiated it from other classes I’ve attended is that as well as covering a great variety of dishes, it was extremely hands on and included lots of different techniques such as shucking and injecting oysters, filleting and rolling fish, making fresh pasta and preparing marron.
While these methods would often be reserved for more experienced cooks, having Kate and Rosa on hand to demonstrate and offer assistance meant that participants of all skill levels were catered for, giving everyone the opportunity to develop new skills. Even my Mum, who would be the first to admit that cooking is not one of her passions (although she does cook a mean roast leg of lamb), was rolling out the homemade ravioli faster than you could say “bellissima!”
It was also a real treat to be surrounded by such a variety of quality food and so close to it’s source. In Bahrain we often find ourselves several steps (and days) down the supply chain and here I was with a bounty of fresh seafood caught just down the road, picking chillies and spring onions straight out of the garden. Small pleasures like these make my heart sing.
Lunch time quickly approached and an array of tantalising and colourful dishes started to adorn the table out on the balcony, not to mention the wonderful aromas filling the kitchen. I was blown away by what we had all achieved when, not far at all behind schedule, we all sat down to a truly impressive and decadent feast – small army not required after all (well not for the cooking but we definitely had enough food for one)!
As the dishes were passed around the table, along with some excellent wines provided by The Islander Estate Vineyards and Woolybud Wines, we spent the afternoon sampling the fruits of our labour, soaking up the magnificent view and laughing and chatting like we were at a big family dinner. The other participants, mostly KI residents, were a warm and incredibly welcoming bunch and as the afternoon drew to a close I was sad that it had to come to an end – but not before we all indulged in a delicious sticky date pudding made by Kate’s husband!
As I packed up all my goodies and said my goodbyes - we were each given a beautiful KI Source apron and an etched wine glass from Bay of Shoals Wines – I knew this was a day I wouldn’t be forgetting for a while. Or ever. I also came home with a bottle of The Investigator a Cabernet Franc/Sangiovese blend, from The Islander Estate Vineyards (thanks Rhys!) which I am saving on my wine rack for a suitably special occasion. Made by French winemaker Jacques Lurton, it was given an impressive score of 95/100 by the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion so I can’t wait to try it.
We rounded off the trip the next day with a casual lunch at the oyster farm at American River wharf where I got to try abalone (and the babies, abalini, with their bright blue shells) for the very first time. Delicious. It was great to see some familiar faces from the day before and Kate from the KI Source was assisting with the preparation of some beautiful bite-sized dishes such as Grilled Halloumi & Asparagus wrapped in KI’s Lamb Chorizo. And of course, there were oysters, trays and trays and trays of oysters being shucked right before our eyes.
The rustic surroundings of the shed, baskets, ropes, nets all around and groups of pelicans wandering around outside were, again, a fitting reminder of just how close we were to the source of this high quality food. The live band perched on the back of a tractor provided the soundtrack for a perfect finale to a fabulous weekend. And, just for the record, we didn’t spend all of our time gorging ourselves, we did stop for a few minutes to see the oyster grading and sorting machine in action!
As we set off to catch our ferry back to Adelaide, it was time to say goodbye to everyone one last time. Still processing all the wonderful new tastes and experiences I’d had, I crazily scribbled down notes not wanting to forget any of it and absolutely sure that I would return one day. What I definitely won’t forget is the great people I met and their warm hospitality.
Sadly all the food-related festivities left us no time to explore the many other attractions KI has to offer – a thriving animal population including seal and penguin colonies, bees, birds and an abundance of wildlife, caves, bays, beaches, national parks and lots of other outdoor activities. But that’s ok, it’s a great excuse to go back and one thing is for sure, I will definitely be planning my next trip to coincide with another amazing cooking class at The Kangaroo Island Source.
I was excited to hear this week that an even longer KI Seafood Feast-ival is planned for 2013 with Maggie Beer having already confirmed her participation. I have no doubt it will be a fantastic event. The good news is if you can’t make it you don’t have to miss out on enjoying all the great produce KI has to offer. KI2U’s website Kangaroo Island Online stocks a wide range of products that they will pack up and deliver right to your door. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Let them know and they’ll be happy to help you find it.
To keep up to date about future feast-ivals be sure to follow the Kangaroo Island Feastival page on Facebook.
With thanks again to Rosa, I’ll leave you with the recipes for a couple of the mouth watering dishes we made in the class. You can find a whole list of what we made, and two oyster recipes here.
[Disclaimer: I attended the cooking class and all other events at the festival at my own expense and was not asked to write a review. I was gifted a bottle of The Investigator by The Islander Estate Vineyards at the end of the class but no request was made for me to write about it. All views expressed are my own.]
Paella (Serves 6)
INGREDIENTS3 tbsp olive oil 3 chorizo sausages, sliced 300g chicken thigh fillet, diced 1 onion 1 large tomato 2 garlic cloves 300g Spanish Calasparra rice (allow about 80g per person) 750ml fish stock 10 strings of saffron* 2 tsp smoked paprika 4 large green prawns 8 fresh mussels 200g calamari, sliced or scored and cut into a large dice 200g peas 100g roast capsicum (peppers) cut into strips 1/3 cup chopped parsley Lemon wedges, to serve * Grind the saffron threads with some salt in a mortar and pestle until it is like a fine powder. This will help to evenly distribute it through the paella giving a better colour and flavour to the finished dish. Do not stir the paella during main cooking.
Heat the oil in a paella pan over medium heat. Cook the chorizo and chicken pieces separately until brown. Remove from the pan and add extra oil if necessary.
Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft. Add tomato, garlic and rice and stir for one minute. Stir in stock, saffron and paprika. When the stock is boiling and the rice grains begin to swell, add the chorizo and chicken and cook for 5 minutes.
Now add the prawns, mussels and calamari. Push the mussels into the rice and cook for about 10 minutes or until the shells open. Finally, add the peas, strips of capsicum (peppers) and parsley and cook for 5 more minutes on a low heat.
Turn off when the rice is cooked and leave to rest for at east 5 minutes before serving. Serve in the pan with wedges of lemon.
Warm Potato Salad with Pesto Trapanese
INGREDIENTS6 cloves of garlic 1 tsp salt Large handful of basil leaves 150g blanched almonds, roughly chopped 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see an easy way to peel them here) 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Black pepper Boiled new potatoes
In a mortar pound the garlic, salt and basil into a paste. Add the almonds little by little and then the tomatoes. When all the ingredients are reduced to a pulp, add the oil and pepper. This can be done in a food processor but try to achieve a chunky consistency. Toss the pesto through the warm, boiled potatoes (or through pasta, or spread on to toasted bread).