It’s official folks. FDC is now international. Now I’ll admit, I am using the airport definition of international here, where it only takes one foreign destination to gain that designation (like an airport that conducts the quick flight from Sarah Palin’s house to Russia). I recently won a trip to Australia in part to attend the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival (yes, I am a lucky SOB), and my family accompanied me on the trip. Following suit with my definition above, the festival itself was only deemed international because it included wineries from New Zealand (though I am definitely not complaining). There was a lot going on, so I thought I would sketch out the general schedule:
11:00am: The Sunshine Coast is not in fact sunshiny today. Most of the festival goers are huddled under the overhangs of the wine tents. Those with larger derrieres cannot escape the rain.
11:00am-11:30am: My dad and I both develop a good shtick going to butter up the wineries to get extra wine samples without giving up our food/wine tickets. I pretend I know nothing about wine (which is mostly true), while my dad uses knowledge from his two years of Napa livin’ to relate to the growers. My sister, Claire, has the best strategy of all, swooping in and saying “I’ll try one, too!” after one of us succeeds. We all do well.
11:40am: I ask a winery representative where Yellow Tail’s table is. We both have a good laugh.
11:45am: As the rain subsides, a man trudges around passing balloons to kids while dressed as a helicopter.
Just in case you didn’t believe me.
11:50am: First food tasting. Some guy tucked in the corner takes a big ol’ scallop, drizzles it with sauce, blow-torches it for about five seconds, and places it on top of a big spoon with some rice. “That’s it?” I ask. “That’s it,” says the chef with a knowing smile. Holy hell is it delicious.
11:55am: My mom orders a sausage roll from a different stand. I try it as we wait under a tent for the next rain shower to pass. It reminds me of my Polish grandma’s cooking, which makes me very happy.
12:15pm: There is a key component of American food festivals missing here: morbidly obese people. I make a note to do some extra sit-ups when I get home.
12:30pm: We visit an Australian olive oil stand with a very enthusiastic salesperson. My dad, knowing I will be writing up the festival later, tells me to note that one of the olive oils tasted peppery. [Editor’s Note: One of the olive oils tasted peppery.]
12:45pm: More food. My dad and I eat what ends up being our favorite dish of the day, which is fresh shrimp/tuna marinated in chili, scallions, and a mess of other things all wrapped up in a basil leaf. It is outrageous. So fresh. So clean. I wonder where one finds Jurassic Era-sized basil leaves.
1:00pm: We stand had the longest line of any food booth because it has the best name (Skull Island wild tiger prawns in a storm of herbs). People keep taking selfies with the chef, so we figure this must be a big deal.
1:15pm: We finally get our prawns, which come with the head, tail, and shell still on. The chef, who is sporting one of the wackier hair do’s that I’ve seen, says the whole thing is edible, but I’m not havin’ it.
Nice try, Chicken Man.
1:20pm: I am covered in a storm of herbs from peeling the prawns. My hands taste awesome.
1:25pm: We share some chicken ribs. They are adorable and fried up like chicken wings with some sort of cajun lime seasoning. The whole family approves.
2:00pm: We discover a whole new area where local butchers are just cooking up a whole mess of proteins. There is much rejoicing.
2:15pm: We decide to sit in on a cooking demo. Sounds fun!
3:00pm: It was not fun.
3:15pm: A champion is to be crowned among the eight competing chefs, using the most objective and scientific method to determine a winner: crowd applause. I am saddened to see the crazy basil seafood wrap isn’t actually part of the competition.
3:17pm: I become happy again when the judge makes a “You don’t win friends with salad” crack when one of the chefs doesn’t get much applause. This is made even funnier because a woman who made a different salad actually ends up winning.
3:25pm: Panic ensues as we realize the food tables are shutting down. I manage to snag the very last duck dumplings from one table. The dumplings are doughy and super savory. The accompanying kimchi is kinda gross.
3:30pm: The festival is left with two things: pizza, and a shitload of wine. We order a pizza. Things take a turn.
And this guy is ready.
3:50pm: The cover band alternates between Sweet Home Alabama and Poker Face.
4:00pm: We learn you can exchange multiple tickets for a full bottle of wine. The first security guard we ask tells us we can’t leave with any wine. My dad pulls the classic “if mom says ‘no’, ask dad” maneuver on various security guards until one tells us just to hide our bottles in our coats as we leave.
4:30pm: The cover band alternates between Hotel California and Blurred Lines.
4:45pm: My sister trades the last of our tickets for a full bottle of wine, sans cap, but we meet some nice Australians who donate their cap to us. We praise the inventor of screw tops.
5:00pm: I smuggle the bottle of wine into my backpack, we say goodbye to our new friends, and the security guard from earlier exchanges shit-eating grins with me as we exit the festival.
Two weeks later: I have done zero sit-ups since making that note to do extra sit-ups.