And I Can Cook, Too

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


June 8, 2007

Festidebacle

I had submitted the final paper for my second course (National Cuisine of the Netherlands: Myth or Tragic Reality), and I was determined not to spend the following weeks break in the pit. To that end I decided to go to the Mclaren Vale Sea & Vine Festival, in which the regions wineries (including that winner Leaconfield) paired their best pours with dishes spotlighting South Australia’s fruits of the sea. One of my improv partners lives in the Vale, and offered a place to stay for the night. When the classmates I asked declined to join me, I decided that a little solo festival action wouldn’t hurt, packed my over night bag, left a message saying I was on my way, and boarded the train for Noaralunga, the station closest to Mclaren Vale. I’d previously scoured the associated bus schedule, and knew that from Noaralunga, there were busses a plenty that would transfer me into town in mere moments. Upon arriving in Noaralunga two hours later, I immediately noticed two things: 1) there was not a bus in sight and, 2) it was raining. After twenty minutes of pacing in the rain yielded no bus, I finally called the customer hot line. Turns out, it was a bus holiday! Rather than the routine service from the train to the center of the Vale, I would need to wait an additional 45 minutes, catch a bus going in the opposite direction, de-bus, wait 50 minutes more, and finally catch a bus to the festival. I was of two minds: 1) get the hell out of there and, 2) I’d come this far not to sit at home alone and dammit I was going to that festival. Attitude 2 won, and I spent another 25 minutes trudging in the rain to the nearest shopping center, where the cabbie in the front of the taxi stand line told me it would be $20 to get into the Vale. “Ah, well,” I thought, “in for a $1.25 train ticket penny, in for a pound.” $27.50 later I finally arrived at the Mclaren Vale Sea and Vine Festival. Rather, I should say the Mclaren Vale Booze Fest. I realize that under normal conditions I would call that a good thing, but given the trek to get there, this was another story. Rather than a festival center in which the differing wineries were operating kiosks, this festival took place at the actual participating wineries, requiring the attendees to make their way to 24 different locations throughout the strolling countryside. Which is fine if you’re not on foot, with an overnight bag. “Ah well,” I thought, “I’m here, there are at least 5 wineries on Main Street, I’ll just go to those, have my fill, and head home.” My fill turned out to me all liquid. (Again, not always a negative, but…see above). My first stop was Tintara, featuring a late harvest Riesling and bug cakes. The Riesling was far too sweet for my taste (my own damn fault, they told me it was a late harvest), but the bug cakes were out of sight. As in, I couldn’t see them. I couldn’t see them because they weren’t there. They were sold out. All I could see were the throngs of very drunk people dancing very badly to a rendition of Proud Mary being played very badly. “No problem!” I thought, “I’ll just get dinner at the next place down the road.” At said road I had, as is so often the case in life, the option of turning either left or right. According to the festival map, the wineries in either direction were a mere block away. I turned left. And for twenty minutes trudged in the rain (still with my overnight bag, hadn’t yet heard back from my improv friend) to Tatachila Winery, offering not only a foundation Shiraz from the barrel but also a lovely sounding Escebeche of Perch with caramelized onions. Upon my arrival at Tatachilla, however, I discovered that I had chosen unwisely. “We’re full at the moment.” The beefy bouncer guy told me, “But if you’d like to get into line we could probably have you in within an hour.” I eyed the line. About 100 people, all weaving very unsteadily, were starting to get grumpy about the wait. Have I mentioned that it was raining? Sighing, I conceded that the Christian Right and the lovely lefties in my life not withstanding, there’s probably a reason that they named right “right”, and not “wrong.” I crossed the street; turned to face my original direction upon my departure from Tintara, turned right, and started trudging. Along the way, it was hard not to notice the people sleeping in the bushes, the double decker busses full of screaming drunks careening through the very narrow streets, and the crowd of tanked twenty-something’s shouting obscenities at the single red-headed woman walking in front of them. Forty minutes later I encountered Shingleback, where bugs skewered on lemongrass with tomato coriander cous cous promised to be a great partner to the black bubbles of the sparkling cellar door Shiraz. The bubbles were in fact delicious, but once again the bugs proved elusive as the waiter informed that they were all out. Starting to feel a bit woozy, and noticing that people around me were falling down, I decided to give it one more try before declaring defeat. I marched on to Fonthill and Verdehlo with Moroccan Muscles. I got neither. The moment I was informed that the muscles had gone back to Morocco, I started the trek back into the main center of town. I was tired, I was cold, I was wet, and I hadn’t heard back from my friend with the place to stay. I just wanted to go home. I called for a cab, and unsurprisingly heard that due to the massive numbers of drunk people in town, it was going to be a while. I went to the nearest winery, discovered that their festival license had expired at 5 and therefore their prices had just gone up, ordered a glass of very expensive Grenache, and waited. An hour and fifteen minutes later the cab pulled up to the curb. $22.50 later I was back at the train station. Thirty minutes later the train arrived. Forty-five minutes later I was at the Adelaide Central Rail Station (and Casino). Another 45 minutes (and twenty dollars) later I was on the train home. Thirty minutes later I walked in the door. Three minutes later I called Pizza Hut.

3 Comments:

  • At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Lora said…

    Oh Lord what an ordeal. What ever happened to your lame friend? And what the hell are bugs?

     
  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Jen said…

    Do they put lima beans on the pizzas?

     
  • At 5:24 PM, Blogger Kristin Van Bodegraven said…

    They do not put lima beans on the pizzas unless you specifically and very politely ask for them. If you are very nice, you can also get carved ham, mildly smoked kransky, green olive wedges, and my personal favorite, double bacon cheeseburger. You cannot get thin and shitty crust.

    Bugs are Morton Bay Bugs, similar to crayfish. Out of the shell, they look like a cross between a shrimp and a tiny lobster, which is also what they taste like. When they are in the shell, they look like, well, bugs.

     

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