DARK MOFO 2015
Dark Mofo is a bold statement and to present this art at the most unusual time is a revelation in free thinking and risk taking. Who wants to go to the coldest city in Australia on the shortest days of the year and see crazy art? The ten day Hobart festival combines food and art with performance art dominating much of the program. Bravo director David Walsh and Creative director Leigh Carmichael, Hobart hums with energy during Dark Mofo and no wonder the local MP and Lord Mayor support you. https://darkmofo.net.au/
MONA has now become my favourite gallery globally and visiting during Dark Mofo is the perfect excuse. The quality of produce in Tasmania is legendary and to have the best local, Australia’s finest and International chefs cooking in an arena together was an opportunity I could not resist. And a great excuse to share my foodie travels on Instagram.
Winter Feast ran from June 17 -21 at Pier Wharf 1 on the southern side of Hobart Harbour. It’s a massive hall, said to be dressed as a giant birds nest housing 40+ stalls for food and drink. It was busy, so scoping what to eat is a testing feat. We first settled on a warm spiced and dark natural ferment organic ciders from Willie Smith. A couple of boutique brews not available elsewhere. Warm and spice helped battle the cold and wet. The dark natural ferment characterised by full body, big mouth feel and dried fruit aromas without being sweet at all, had the heady aroma and flavour of natural ferments I pursue. I was excited to share my experience on Instagram but a photo of a cider was not going to cut it.
We we’re intrigued but the salted cod hot dog but it left us disappointed. Mainly due not having enough contrast in texture, a bit of sizzle on the sausage and some crunchy sprinkles would have added much to the monochrome texture of soft sausage, dough bread and wet mayonnaise . Double flop for Instagram, can’t post a dish that’s not delish and it did not look good either. We moved on efficiently finding a sensational seafood stall with champion chowder and magnificent mussels. Chowder chunky with oysters was charming for the chilly night. Seafood chowder is a dish I’ve rarely had and had my mind searching for clues on how they could get such depth of flavour. Now here was my dilemma, I was getting a bit anxious to post on my Instagram and hashtag #darkmofo #seafood and #chowder as I’m a slut for likes on my Insta but soup is certain non scorer, but then, it tasted so damn good.
Sealed in foil the mussels sat in a wood oven beckoning me. It was wet and cold and the fire they bathed in was calling. Soft, plump, tender, juicy mussels cooked in their own juice with a little white wine were delicate and fulfilling as scoops of juice ran down my chin as I sat by the fire. Touch screens are wonderful and my iphone has a great camera but trying to get a decent photo of mussels with wet fingers is a difficult task, my Insta was not going well. Now, the ciders must have kicked in as I forgot the name of this amazing seafood stall and did not get a photo of the stall, except they also did wine and I remember having a lovely Pinot Noir so my best guess it was Barringwood Estate.
The next dilemma is how much food you can sample at these festivals. Some of the Bao, buns and pies looked so big and hearty I was reluctant to commit that much stomach space. I was tempted by the Mona BBQ but settled on a wall of lamb with the bookcase of coals. It was Jake Kellie’s, of Fat Duck fame, turn to pop up. I am glad the team talked me into taking the barley risotto with my serve, as it was delicious. Again, I am inspired to explore the realms of barley and it’s potential. The lamb was simply kissed by the coal heat, left in its own glory and dressed with crispy slatbush leaves. A triumph of a dish but I only got three little lambs, it was late and there seemed to be plenty there. I did hear other chefs sold out so to guarantee a sample of the super chefs food you’d better go early.
We went early and hit peak hour exasperated by the rain. Inside was an obstacle course of people and prams: Stop; go; stall; reverse, that’s the person in front of me, mind my cider luv it’s hot! I found myself at the Belgrove Distillery stall and picked up a bottle for my collection. Small batch, handcrafted #ryewhisky $145 for 500ml, pricey I know but Rye Whisky is another of my obsessions and I regret not getting the White Rye too. We missed a couple stalls, notably Rough Rice. I was keen to return for their food and natural wine.
We planned to go back to #WinterFeast the next night, this time prepared for seating, eating and drinking but we managed to score a table at Franklin for dinner. My new favourite restaurant. Lunch is pretty simple and tasty but dinner is exceptional. Sitting inside, warm being served magnificent food was perfect for this evening. Tasting a rare ingredient close to source in a resto I respect is at the top of my to do list so the Abalone was a mandatory choice ( $70 ). Sliced and diced, served in its shell with light warm wave foam is a revelation. Tender, juicy, soft and chewy, true unto itself this brilliant dish is, it’s also an Instagram flop.
At Franklin we started with the Periwinkles, much better than my dad foraged for me once but with a texture I can not love, a bit testing on my gag reflex. The bone marrow #dumpling was a must try as I’m currently collaborating to get a dumpling onto a menu at a Sydney resto. It is not an Asian style dumpling though, more dough based. It is a tasty dish served in a delicate wild mushroom broth with tiny crisp grains that pop and add a surprising exciting element.
Spiced Jerusalem artichoke mash accompanies the hangar steak. I was expecting great steak flavour to reign supreme but this also melted in my mouth. Add some crisp radish and fresh basil and you have another sublime dish. The wines were also outstanding with great assistance from sommelier who brought us several wines not yet on the list. This joint is so good I wanted go back a complete the trinity by having breakfast the next day but I forced myself to try other places. http://franklinhobart.com.au/
A great breakfast spot in Hobart is Pilgrim Coffee, try the French toast with maple bacon. This dish is a play on the old school U.S. diner breakfast where you can eat pancakes, eggs, bacon all together and the flavours work well together. I remember seeing for the first time and being disgusted but you cant knock until you’ve tried it and its surprisingly good. https://www.facebook.com/PropertyOfPilgrim Plus crazy food concoctions are popular on Insta.
MONA is exceptional and worth a trip to Hobart itself. It may be worth a couple of visits as the material is so stimulating its hard not be overwhelmed. http://www.mona.net.au/ The exhibitions during Dark Mofo match MONA in intensity. The Bass Bath is an installation where you enter a dark room and get hit with 2100 hp Sub Woofer bass system and light show. The Fire Organ jets bursts of hot flame as the organ chords pump air into the system, quite theatrical and camp. The Shadows Calling by Patricia Piccini and Peter Henessey is surprisingly humorous, a play on modern sexuality in a funny macabre fashion. There are films and plenty of performances some epic in proportion. I did not attend Wild At Heart, a two night sleepover in Cradle Mountain, through a lack of commitment, somebody please tell me what is was like? http://darkmofo.net.au/wild-at-heart/
At MONA our decision to dine at Source was made by the evacuation of the wine bar, it was the only choice left. Source is the high end resto at MONA, its very good and a beautiful place to sit I found the food just a little tricky. Both my dishes were served with foam and I could not find the relevance of why the foam was on the plate. I also would have preferred a little sizzle on my food for taste, colour and texture. I did get some photos of #decanterporn for my Instagram account as the wine list is exceptional.
A friend put me on to The Standard but I was not ready. Have a chicken burger he said. https://www.facebook.com/standardburgers We checked out of our room and I was rather hungover. I did not expect a counter in a loading dock with milk crates as seats. I expected a warm diner where i could get a hair of the dog. I could not read the menu fast enough and ordered a Los Pollos Hermanos. A fried chicken #burger with bacon jam, hot sauce and blue cheese dressing, with my head, what was I thinking? Sounds like a brilliant combo but there was too much zing for my zang. This burger was similar MONA, pushing the limits of your comfort zone but not right for my sensitive situation. I can’t call this one, I’ll have to try it again as my friend calls it the best in Australia. I was also keen for an Instagram jackpot, although the food was all great I think everyone was sick of me posting and a big fried chicken burger was surely going to break the siege but alas I could not even manage a post
Dark Mofo is a great #festival and would be better with a group of friends. Next time I’d Air B & B a place to stay, find a great spot to sit at Winter Feast and indulge all night. It was cold but with a jacket, hat, scarf and a spot by the fire with mates would be like glamping. Having more people would allow you to try more food and drinks and enable you to keep a spot to dine at, take an Instagram and hashtag #selfie cause that hashtag always gets likes.