Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review: SIFF 100 Mile Dinner at Mamre House, Orchard Hills

I was super excited when I saw that there would be a Sydney International Food Festival Event “out west”, featuring the food of a local African community garden. Night before I move house? Not a problem.

Mamre House is a historic homestead built in the 1820s, and was the home of the colonial chaplain, magistrate and pastoralist, the Reverend Samuel Marsden. It is currently owned by the NSW government, and leased to the Sisters of Mercy. What I didn’t realise, when booking, was that the night was also to be a fundraising night.

Unfortunately, the African Performers cancelled at the last minute, so there was no African music. I also note that the “African food” ended up being Western style salad greens, grown by local African refugees.

The menu included:

* Platter of antipasto - including a delicous thick aged balsamic vinegar from Simply Original
* Roast Duck/Wagyu Beef
* Orange Almond Cake, or Chocolate Tart
* Wine from Jubilee Wines, Beer from Blue Tongue

The entrée platters were assembled by students from Western Sydney Tafe, two highlights were the sticky oozy balsamic vinegar and the marinated cheese from Muswellbrook.

There was a bit of artistic licence in obtaining the food from 100mile (160km) radius. Chocolate for the chocolate tart was “bought” locally. In reality, you can’t get chocolate (or flour) within 160km of Sydney if you were strictly applying the 100 mile ethos. Same again for the beer – Blue Tongue brewery is based in Newcastle, and it is 178km from Sydney.

Outside, a bunch of astronomers had set up their telescopes, so you could take a peek at the stars if you could ignore the light pollution of the fairy lights.

Overall, a fun event, and considering the obstacles encountered in getting the event organised, still well worth supporting.

I'm sure I took pictures, but I can't find them at present.
Note: As you can see, I found some pictures.
I had a chat the next day to a guy from Blue Mountains Honey at the markets who had also been at the event, and also to a colleague: turns out that this event was always going to be a charity fundraiser, and then someone on their organising committee suggested adding it the list of events on the SIFF calender to get some more publicity. And then the problems with the alcohol: turns out the more "local" breweries weren't interested in assisting an event like this.

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