Friday, September 17, 2010

Tastings on Hastings - Noosa Jazz Festival

Noosa is usually my weekend haunt during summertime, when I just need to get out of the city. I hadn't visited for a while though- I really didn't venture north very often during winter. That all changes in September though- it's time to get back to the beach! C's family had a family Father's Day brunch planned so we had set aside the weekend to spend with them at the coast. It was a very lucky coincidence that the Courier Mail's Food Editor, @nataschamirosch, was giving away tickets to go to the Noosa Jazz Festival and the Tastings on Hastings event which I just happened to win! Woo hoo Twitter! I'm not sure I have ever won anything EVER before, so I was pretty stoked with this little giveaway.

Tastings on Hastings is a part of the Jazz festival, where they shut off the whole of Hastings Street (the main shopping strip in Noosa) and set up tables all along the road. There are different sections and different participating restaurants. What happens, is each of the participating restaurants set up their own section and set their own menu. The flat rate is $75 per person to attend including food and wine. Obviously all the sections have different menus, so the best way to pick your restaurant, is to have a look at all the menus on offer and see which one takes your fancy. C and I received tickets for Matt Golinski (shown on Ready Steady Cook and has the food range 'The Rolling Dolmade'- I've raved about his dolmades before) who was one of the celebrity chefs cooking at the festival. When I checked out the menus prior to the event, I was pretty happy that we got Matt because the menu looked simple but delish.

When we arrived at the festival, there was a huge kerfuffle (or however you spell it- Please my Grandmother uses this word so I don't know how to spell it, but I think it is an apt description for the next 20 minutes!). We presented our tickets to one of the volunteers only to find out that there was no actual booking for our seats. The lovely Kassie from The Dining Quarter and her boyfriend were also trying to find out what was happening with their seats too. It became apparent, pretty quickly, that the ladies had NO idea about our tickets, and we couldn't see any places that had been set. Both C and I and Kassie and D, didn't want to cause a fuss and told the lady that we really didn't mind forefeiting our tickets because it was obviously stressing everyone out. We had about 5 different people come to speak to us, and look at our tickets, before one lady told us that it was great we didn't mind about leaving, because they really had no other solution. We were happy to leave, but one kind volunteer wouldn't let us go until she had solved the problem.

The staff were even talking to the chefs, which was causing us some serious embarrassment because 1) we had not even paid for the tickets an 2) I'm pretty sure the chefs had more important things to be doing than worrying about people without seats! After we had decided it was probably time to just sneak away, the most mortifying thing happened. Matt McKenzie, the other celebrity chef came over, grabbed a table and started setting it up. Oh gosh- I think both Kassie and I almost died!! We were waving our hands madly telling everyone not to worry, but it became evident that now, it would be even ruder to sneak away. The lovely, but by this stage, very flustered, volunteer asked us to come back in ten minutes when the table was set. Oh my gosh. I can't believe Matt McKenzie was worried about finding us a table about 3 minutes before he was scheduled to be interviewed on TV. McKenzie graduated from Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant in Melbourne and has a pretty amazing career so far! He is now a private chef working at QLD Government House but also does celebrity appearances and has worked at Vue De Monde and I can't believe that he was nice enough to just grab a table and start setting it up.

C and I went for a short wander and contemplated the option of sneaking off, never to be seen again, but after all the trouble they had gone to, we could hardly be so rude. When we arrived back at the section of tables, we found out that we actually were to be seated at Matt Golinski's table after all, because the table had supposedly been booked under someone else's name. At least this is what the volunteers/events people thought had happened. I know that what actually happened, was someone didn't turn up for their booking!! Whatever the reason, we were grateful to be seated, and really thankful to all the effort everyone had gone to, just to accommodate us. It was a stroke of luck that we were seated at the same section of the table as Kassie and D, because I sort of knew them from Twitter, and in real life, they were just lovely!! Aside from the fact that both C and I and Kassie and D were the only people under 45 at the whole event, it was still a great atmosphere. The lady seated next to me, Jane, was lots of fun, and her husband and Mum and Dad were very intrigued to hear about the wonderful world that is food blogging! At one stage, her husband was even attempting food blogging phrases and I must admit he was doing quite well.

After we had been seated for about 1 minute, an amuse bouche arrived in front of us, a lovely soup topped with truffle oil. It had a great amount of garlic and really did awaken my palate.

Luckily, wine was being poured freely, and the water was being topped up continually, because it was a rather hot day. Massive umbrellas provided shade, but there were hints of sun creeping through so it was great to stay hydrated!

Our entree of seared ocean trout, with shaved fennel, semi dried tomatoes, ligurian olives with saffron vinaigrette was served and it took a me a little bit of convincing Jane's parents that this was actually an entree! The size was particularly large for an entree and could have easily been a smaller sized main. The ocean trout was perfectly cooked. My knife ran through it like it was butter, and inside had the barely cooked pink glow that it should have. The fennel made a nice addition, as did the lovely ligurian olives but I wasn't so sure about the semi-dried tomatoes and think a full sun dried tomato with a tad more flavour would have worked well. However, overwhelmingly the trout was really good- a lovely first dish.

Whilst waiting for our main dish, we weren't left bored. There were was plenty of wine being poured and quirky little acts coming around like a 'Manuel' from Fawlty Towers impersonator.

Being the Jazz Festival and all, there was also plenty of Jazz acts to entertain. These cute guys did a couple of shows - aside from the fact they were a quintet, some of the members would break out into song and they reminded me of Homer's Barbershop Quartet on the Simpsons!

On the other side of the road, there was a float driving down Hastings that would stop every hundred metres or so, with a Jazz singer and pianist on the back. They stopped right near us for at least 20 minutes, and even though this was probably a little too long, it was all part of the fun.

After a little while and a lot more wine and chatting, our monstrous main arrived. Oh my gosh- this were some serious sized chicken pieces!

Despite the size of both large pieces, the skin was crispy and the flesh was perfectly moist. This dish was very simple comforting, something that would be great to make at home. I loved the addition of the mustard which gave the dish some spark, even if it looked a little messy on the plate. The Toulouse sausage pieces went nicely with the chicken and the potatoes were good, but the beans were fabulous! They were fresh and crunchy and a great accompaniment - I would have sacrificed my potatoes for the beans and I know Kassie, C and D felt the same! The one problem with this dish was the pure size of the chicken pieces- I seriously could only get through one and a bit. It was nice to see generous portions or comforting, good, homely food instead of mere morsels!

At the end of the of the mammoth feast, we were still being served plenty of wine along side a somewhat smaller dessert- quince and almond friands with double cream. I had two bites and had to put the rest down because I was so full. I could tell that Matt Golinski must have known his meal was quite substantial and no one would have been capable of eating a huge dessert, including C!!

Aside from the mix up at the start, I had a really lovely lunch. I will happily pay the $75 next year and head back with some friends. It was such a great atmosphere and it really didn't matter that all the other guests were a fair bit older- everyone was just there to have a long boozy, cruisey lunch which is exactly how the afternoon panned out. The event started at 11:15 a.m. and went to about 2:30 so setting aside the afternoon to eat great food, talk to great people and listen to some great Jazz was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

So, tell me readers, have you have had a mix up at a restaurant that just makes you want to sneak away quietly without causing a fuss?

6 fabulous comments:

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Awww, embarrassing but very warming all the same! So nice to see people going out of their way to accommodate you and the food looks lovely.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh wow, what a kerfuffle (and hehe that's how I spell it too). How nice of them to make sure you got your table! Sounds like you had a great day in the end! :D

The InTolerant Chef said...

It would have been mortifying! I'm glad it worked out ok at the end though. It's lovely when people bend over backwards to accomodate you.

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

What a lovely festival! Great post.

Rhu said...

I love, love, love Noosa and all it has to offer. Only I'll do my next trip a little simpler than you, if you don't mind :)

Outback Matty said...

Fantastic write ups! I just completed another year in Noosa on Tastings on Hastings street in memory of Angus Ferguson, the young chef who passed away in a tragic motorbike accident in early March 2011. Angus was working as an apprentice chef at last years Noosa lunch with myself and his chef buddies. The 'Angus Ferguson Tribute Lunch' was very enjoyable and successful. Please help support our campaign to review and change the Queensland Motorbike Licensing Laws. To get involved please contact

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