Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Amore della mia vita- Porchetta


Oh my goodness. I am sorry It has taken so long to post about Porchetta Day- I have been absolutely wiped out from the festivities!

Porchetta... Porchetta... Porchetta

My day started at 5.a.m- Dad and I headed down to the grounds where the festival was being held. We needed to help the event hire guy setup the little tents. He had been there since 4.a.m. (lucky him.) Looking outside was VERY discouraging. There was a dust covering in the sky and the wind was howlling. I for one, would definitely preferred rain to wind because chances are, in this arid country, the rain would have blown over. Instead we had DUST and WIND to contend with. This was the biggest dust storm since 1947, I believe, and we copped the tail end of it. Great. Was God trying to tell us something?


We got our butts into gear and started getting everything organised. People were everywhere helping out. Apart from the very few paid workers, I think we probably had close to 50 volunteers helping out, all before 8 a.m. The number of volunteers on the day could have been up to 100. I was seriously impressed with their efforts. Almost a year of planning has gone into this event and it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that so many people were willing to sacrifice their time for the good of the community. All the profits (if any were made) went into the annual porchetta day fund to ensure the event continues on. Ohh... country towns are so cute!


Luckily the dust cleared off by about 11 a.m. and the crowds started to come. The day featured a string quartet, bocce, spaghetti eating competitions, photo competition, cooking demonstrations and most importantly... TRUCKLOADS OF GLORIOUS ITALIAN FOOD!


Special Mentions:

1) Porchetta Stand

The Porchetta stand was easily the busiest stand. Hoards of people wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We had two pigs on spits as show pieces, and the rest was cooked in commercial ovens. I think we made a mistake in having cibatta buns for the pork. We should have had soft bread rolls and I think that could have made the MASSIVE servings of pork more edible. The pork could have also been basted a little more but most reports were very good. Obviously I am overly critical! The porchetta looked spectacular and definitely attracted so much attention. I posted a recipe for baste a couple of days ago (HELP-proIT bloggers?? how do I link?) so check that out if you want to create your own fantastic, show stealing porchetta. It also helps to have some great quality pork and Gary Goscomb supplied us with exactly that. He is a local pork producer and the product quality was top notch.



2) Pastry/Pasticceria Papa Stand

Oh My GOD! Pasticceria Papa's cheesecake from Haberfield in Sydney is the SINGLE BEST PIECE OF CAKE I have EVER eaten. Words cannot do justice to this perfect treat, however I will try describe to you, the delightful flavour explosion I experienced. The cake is a cake of contradictions. Most times, I am not a fan of contradictions, but hell, I'm happy to adjust my moral compass for anything that tastes this good. The ricotta filling is creamy but light and fluffy. The base is perfectly cooked-crumbly and moist at the same time. The cake is rich, but not overly so and in hindsight I should have eaten/bought a whole cheesecake. It turns out I am not alone. The cheesecakes were the first thing to sell out, and the cannoli was next. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to taste the cannoli (greedy gutses- please bring me one!!) but if the cheesecake and the sales are anything to go by, I'm sure they are spectacular. Is this the best cheesecake in Australia? Can we have a competition that I judge? For those of you lucky enough to live in Sydney, you can visit Paticceria Papa anytime. I'm considering moving.




3)Bread Stand- As I worked on the bread stand for most of the afternoon, I can tell you a little about the bread. We bought the bread down from Haberfield Bakery and we had all sourdough Cibatta loaves. The bread was made from manildra flour, which is a local flour. The paninis for the porchetta also came from Haberfield. The bread was delicious and we had heaps of people buying about 6 loaves. This shows that the people just want good food. Cibatta, Cheesecake, Cannoli... Why doesn't the whole of Haberfield move to Gunnedah?!



4) The Little General Olive Oil- I had the pleasure of working on the stall next to Nadia, a quirky Italian girl, who was selling The Little General Olive Oil. The Little General Olive Oil made by her family company and she is very passionate and knowledgeable about olive oil. There were a couple of local olive growers that were putting Nadia through her paces but she resoundingly proved her expertise. I tried The Little General Olive oil and fell in love. The Little General Olive oil is so good, Nadia is happy to serve it to you in a little testing cup- true confidence! To add to their repertoire, they have won various prizes in Italy- the Concorso Oleario Internazionale Armonia. I loved it so much, I begged the cabin crew to let me bring it on the plane (not an easy feat for a 12 seater plane) You need to get yourself some- I'm not sure where they stock but the contact details for the Mancini family are on the website- http://www.thelittlegeneral.com.au/


5) The cheese stand was run by an ex- Gunnedah Italian and was also a hit. They stocked a variety of Italian Cheeses although I cannot tell you exactly what was sold because I (very sadly) did not get a check out the stall all day. The same goes for the bruschetta stand and the gelati stand. Luckily someone bought me a little taste of the lemon sorbet and it was really quite good.

6) Pasta making and Pasta eating... gee Gunnedahians just love their pasta! The pasta stall had to restock 3 or 4 times fully throughout the whole day. Some of the local Italian ladies prepared the pasta for the spaghetti eating competition which attracted crowds of people and was a hilarious and fun touch to the day.

7) Wood-fired pizza also had people lining up... for 45-60 mins at some times. To me, this was not really acceptable. Although everyone seemed to like the pizza, if you are at a festival, the last thing you want to do is stand around waiting for an hour to get a pizza. We outsourced the pizza making and next year I think we should find someone who has the capacity to cook a large volume of food quickly because it just was not in the spirit of the festival.


In general, the day was a massive hit. Despite the weather, conservative estimates suggest 1500 people visited on the day. For a first time event, we were really happy with those numbers. Obviously, it was a huge learning curve and so there are things we will change for next year and it should all be lots easier the second time around.

There is one main change i'm asking for.... Can someone replace me?! I need to go around and eat at EVERY stall, ALL day! Any volunteers? No... ok- well I will settle for a helper to bring bits of everything including wine in half hourly intervals. Hope to see you at the next Annual Porchetta Day!


3 fabulous comments:

sami said...

such a good blog, almost made me feel like i was there! im definately booking my trip for next years Porchetta Day, thanks lovely

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh fantatsic! You got some PP ricotta cake :) It's great isn't it! ANd Porchetta Day? If I were PM that would be a public holiday :P

Dawid said...

Fantastic meeting you tonight and I am well impressed by the blog! keep up the great work and I've subscribed on google reader so I can finally figure out where the best spots for good food is. Have you tried the Verve Cafe in the city? Completely different to your usual posh restaurant, brilliant italian food. I highly recommend the chilli bread for a starter and the blue cheese and chicken risotto! Keep up the good work.

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