Saturday, October 26, 2013

East Village Gourmet Food Festival and the Long Dinner by Longrain

Crowds at the East Village Gourmet Food Festival, 5 October 2013, Joynton Park, Zetland
I'm not sure how we can be into the last week of Good Food Month already. Work and social life have cruelly ganged up on me so I haven't seen as much as I would have liked and I've only been to the Noodle Markets once this year.

But I did attend the second annual (renamed) East Village Gourmet Food Festival in Zetland's somewhat hidden Joynton Park earlier in the month.

Table seating at the East Village Gourmet Food Festival
Taking its name from the nearby commercial and retail development, due to open mid next year, the East Village Gourmet Food Festival brought together local producers and festival favourites for a day and night of eating, drinking and lounging in the sunny park.

Festival-goers were greeted by a gorgeous day for being outdoors, with food offerings from the likes of Salt Meats Cheese and their signature cured meats and antipasti, Longrain's yellow curry, East Ocean with a myriad of steamed yum cha dumplings and Foley Lane with a bar and food setup.

The growing festival delivered community spirit in spades - from the sophisticated outdoor seating to the petting farm, it felt like a locals event with kids and dogs out in full force.

Spit roast at the Dan the Man stall

Pizza oven at Salt Meats Cheese stall

Foley Lane stall

East Ocean stall

Gelato Messina flavours

Audi kids entertainment

The East Village Gourmet Food Festival by night
This year the outdoor festival continued well into the night with fairy lights, spotlights and happy glows keeping the park alight and half of the stalls remaining open to offer dinner under the stars.

Fairy lights in Joynton Park

Getting into the spit roast at the Dan the Man stall
There was delicious-smelling consolation for those who missed out on the Long Dinner as part of the festival, with whole spit-roasted pigs and lambs from Dan the Man tempting all that walked past.

Tables set up for the Long Dinner
As per last year for the Long Dinner, long, white clothed tables stretched the majority of the length of a very impressive, colourfully lit marquee.

Tables for the Long Dinner
White chairs and perfectly uniformly set tables were lined up beneath some simply stunning floral and foliage displays, with the evening's menu catered by Sydney modern Thai favourite, Longrain.

Longrain owner Sam Christie was out front running the show while head chef Louis Tikaram ran the makeshift kitchen most impressively for a 250-person-plus outdoor event.

Typo-loma cocktails by Longrain
Longrain's cheeky Typo-loma cocktails were a great starting point, for drinks and chatter with nearby diners.

The martini-glassed cocktail featured tequila and grapefruit juice (Paloma, anyone?) with a supposedly Thai twist of chilli-infused Aperol and lime - and a lychee for that girly touch.

Betel leaf, smoked trout, mint, peanuts, chilli by Longrain
Dinner was a Thai banquet shared at the table, starting with my all time favourite Thai appetiser, miang betel leaves topped with smoked trout and a mix of crushed peanuts, mint and red chilli slices in a slightly drippy, sweetly spicy dressing.

Devoured in a mouthful, the sweet, sour, salty and smoky flavours of the miang were perfect palate starters, readying one for a barrage of big, bold Thai tastes for the rest of the night.

Caramelised pork, prawn, peanuts on sour pineapple
The second appetiser was new to me; a nugget of very caramelised battered pork, and apparently prawn, on a wedge of pineapple.

It was hard not to immediately think of that Australian-Chinese classic, sweet and sour pork, but there were some highlight flavours in the pork and coriander that lifted it way beyond takeaway Chinese.

Grilled king prawn, green chilli nahm jim
The halved and grilled prawns were one of my favourite dishes of the night, with shells fragrantly grilled and split.

The large prawns were served with a very well balanced, just-spicy-enough, chunky green chilli nahm jim dressing that was so good it was drinkable and more fresh coriander leaves.

Prawn, chicken, coconut cream, kaffir lime
To mains, there were three different dishes which I thought was quite a feat 250-plus people. The first coconut cream concoction was a surprise of diced prawn and chicken in a mildly spiced, rich sauce served with witlof leaves on the side, as if a modern Thai take on san choy bao.

Having not ever seen or experienced a Thai dish like this before, it worked unexpectedly well with the witlof cups although it was quite comforting to have the creamy prawn and chicken gravy just over loads of jasmine rice.

Char grilled Cape Grim beef, roasted chilli eschallot dressing
The grilled beef dish was a return to familiar ground, served medium-pink and thinly sliced with a mound of roasted chilli paste on the side for flavouring and a bit of heat.

Red curry of duck, Thai basil
The red curry was undoubtedly the piece de resistance of the meal, coming out resplendently red over generous quarters of fall-apart duck which absorbed all the complex flavours within the curry - perfect with lots and lots of steamed rice.

Steamed Chinese broccoli, oyster sauce
Along with large bowls of steamed rice were steamed Chinese greens, served healthily and simply with oyster sauce.

Banana fritter, caramel custard, passionfruit
With stomach capacity remaining for dessert, diners hoed into platters of thickly battered banana portions, the Thai theme a little wanting.

It's been a while since I've had a banana fritter, and I'm still not convinced I like them, even if the crisp batter made for great mops for the passionfruit pulp and caramel custard covering the plate.

The Long Dinner by Longrain at the East Village Gourmet Food Festival
While bottomless glasses of wine may have helped too, it was a dinner that reminded me that I'm long overdue for a visit back to Longrain.

The Long Dinner also did a fantastic job of fitting into the local community feel of the East Village Gourmet Food Festival - at least for those lucky ones of us which can call this our local community.

The Long Dinner at the East Village Gourmet Food Festival
See more photos of the East Village Gourmet Food Festival on my Facebook page.

Food, booze and shoes attended The Long Dinner at the East Village Gourmet Food Festival as a guest.


gaby @ lateraleating said...

I hadn't heard of that festival, looks great (in particular the spit roast!).

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

The spit roast looks incredible! And love the road for kids mat!

Tina said...

Hi gaby - Yeah, a great one for south-east Sydney.

Hi Helen - Lots of fun things for all ages!


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