When we moved to Australia almost eight months ago, some of the first offerings of advice that I received from the local food bloggers were to attend certain food festivals that took place throughout the year. One notable festival was the Araluen Chili Festival in Fremantle. I had heard there was going to be some mind blowing chilies to try and also a lot of local businesses and producers to check out. The weeks coming up to the festival, I was researching some of the stall holders that would be there and taking note of what to expect.
When we arrived down to the Esplanade in Fremantle just after lunchtime, we were all a bit wary of the Heatwave that had been forecast ( a sweltering 38 degrees centigrade and it is Autumn!!) for this weekend but fortunately as we stepped into the festival grounds, we were greeted by awnings that provided generous shade to those of us not so used to this kind of heat. The festival was in full swing with festival goers perched on garden chairs sipping on some of the local brew and sampling the gourmet street food that was on offer
We jumped in at the deep end and went straight for the Bucking Hot Chili Con Carne. A large portion shared between the both of us. It came with a strip of death sauce on the side so you could adjust the level of heat depending on your preference. After we both tasted the hot sauce, it was swiftly pushed to the side :s We noticed a couple of our favourite breweries had showed up for the occasion and we were in no way going to deny ourselves a cool remedy from the heat and loss of sensation on our tongues. Bush Shack brewery provide an excellent range in blondes, my favourite is the strawberry blonde, with hints of honey and strawberry. We settled ourselves with a wagyu beef burger and a special chili burger from the Margaret River Burger Bar. Looking around the grounds at the festival, it was pretty obvious why this festival was so popular. Packed with groups chilling on the grass sipping on the beer and munching on good food and families with kids experiencing their first chilies and then hardcore chili fiends testing their ego on how hot they could go. It was catered for everyone and best of all the vibe was supremely chilled out. An African band and dancers had set up to boost the festival buzz and they did not disappoint.
Doing a full circle of the festival, provided you with a host of the hot food vendors and then moved you on to local businesses selling their product by the bucket load. We started with tastings of chili wines, five tasting for $2 and fell in love with the kick released from the wine that we picked up a bottle of Chili Supreme.
Afterwards we bumped into friends who run the Mettwurst Bar, small goods shop. We picked up some Hubgarian Csabai and Venison Mettwurst. Speaking with the stall holder at the Colmena Honey Stall, it was obvious how passionate she was about her honeys, I bought a small jar of Pollen from her, which she suggested went perfectly on cereals and yogurt. We sampled some of the chili tastings on offer but were a bit wary judging by some people’s reactions.
Eoin Cameron of 720 ABC was in the middle of a cooking demo when I ventured over and was lucky enough to grab a spoonful of his Thai inspired ice cream. A wonderful creamy combination of turmeric, galangal and chili. I grabbed him at the end of the festival to ask his advice on making this style of ice cream; so now I am in the midst of researching a recipe to test.
We then ventured over to Herbs r’ Us to find Ben Mitchell, notorious chili fiend and fountain of knowledge. He gave us some great tips and advice on our chili plants