Petit Feast Masthead
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Fireside Festival Part IV

Michelle Brotohusodo

If you follow HerCanberra, you’ll know that over the past few weeks some local Canberra food and wine lovers (Le Bon Vivant, Andrew and Emelia and In The Taratory) have been enjoying the Fireside Festival – a month long series of events that embraces winter and all that this season has to offer – in lovely cars from Rolfe Classic BMW. Last weekend, it was my turn. After reading about the others’ experiences, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me—and what I’d be getting to drive!

First things first—the car!

Now, I will ‘fess up and say that I own a BMW (a 2004 325i), so I already know that they are lovely, lovely cars to drive. However, my car is 10 years old, and since cars these days are as technological as computers and mobile phones, we all know that there can be vast differences in just a few months, let alone 10 years!

I’d been told I’d be picking up a new BMW 3 Series, but I didn’t know exactly what, as there are three models: Sport, Luxury and Modern. So I was very curious as I was led into the carpark and to my car for the weekend. And was then very excited to see that it was a beautiful white 328i from the Sport line.

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Getting into the car, the first major difference between it and my car was the key. My car uses a standard key that you have to stick in the ignition and turn to start the engine. The new 3 Series uses a keyless ignition. This means you can leave your key in your handbag or pocket, and as long as it’s in the car, all you have to do is push a button to start the engine. Very convenient!

Next, I was pleased to find out that the steering wheel could be adjusted—not just up and down, but also towards or away from me, and that there were electric switches to adjust the seat. As a short person, being able to adjust things in this manner rather than having to just deal with a default or limited setting is just so, so great (I had to sit on a cushion when I was learning to drive in my dad’s Mitsubishi Magna back in the day).

Like my car, the 328i has a colour display from which you can control the radio, multimedia, GPS, telephone and settings, but it looks a lot sleeker than in my car, and is also at a much more practical height; where mine is just below the aircon vents, this one is above, which means you only have to glance across rather than down.

I mentioned before that 10 years equals a lot of advances in technology, and this was really apparent in the differences between my car and the new 3 Series. Where my car has a CD player inside and a six CD-stacker in the boot, this car had not just a CD player inside, but also a USB port and an AUX-in port, plus you could use Bluetooth to sync up your mobile and play music off there. So many options (I tested them all, I think the USB was my preferred one)! The Bluetooth could also be used to make calls through the car, rather than having to fiddle with your mobile

The gear stick was also very different to my car. Apart from looking a lot sleeker (as did all of the interior, the inside was just as gorgeous as the outside), to put the car in park, all you had to do was push a button. I was also shown a feature that my car definitely doesn’t have, which was the ability to shift between Sport, Comfort, and ECO PRO (economy) modes. I have to admit I totally skipped the ECO PRO mode but had fun trying out the Sport mode when I got out onto the highway. Apart from handling beautifully, the car was a really smooth, powerful ride, and I have to admit I got a bit of a thrill every time I got behind the wheel.

As someone who doesn’t have fantastic spatial judgment and dislikes parallel parking, the final thing I want to mention is that the new 3 Series has a few touches that are a godsend for people like me. First, there are parking sensors at both the front and rear, and not only does the car make noises as you get closer to things, but you also get a visual on the display (green good, yellow getting closer, red you probably want to stop!) Second, the side mirror (which is bigger than the ones on my car) tilts down automatically when you’re reversing! Which means you can see the kerb or the carpark lines, you can see where your wheels are going, basically you can see, which makes things a lot easier! And then the mirror automatically tilts back up when you park or go back into drive.

Next—The Poacher’s Way and Fireside Festival!

Now that we were set for transport, my friend and I set off for our first stop of the day: brekky at Two Before Ten in Civic. Tucked away in a corner of Canberra House, it was already busy at 9.30am on a Sunday. My friend and I liked the quirky artwork on the walls, and the coffee roaster called Hank.

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Now, I don’t drink coffee, so I opted for a hot chocolate, but my friend chose a Piccolo latte served with pistachios and dates, which she said was the best coffee she’d had in a while.

While we were enjoying our drinks (and waking up), we pored over the menu, and both ended up deciding on thesmashed eggs, local mushrooms, brioche and smoked ricotta, with smashed avocado on the side for me (which my friend had food envy over, so I let her steal some—I’m nice like that).

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The breakfast was delicious. While there’s a trend for sourdough at a lot of places, I thought using brioche in this dish was a really great choice. I like things a bit on the sweeter side, so that probably biased my judgment, but my friend also enjoyed it, saying it felt a bit more decadent having brioche rather than toast. It was also a bit easier to cut up than sourdough can sometimes be (at some places it feels like you need a saw rather than a knife).

Having fueled ourselves up, we left for our next destination—the Beaver Galleries in Deakin. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the lovely Penny, who ran us through the history of the Galleries and showed us around. Established in 1975, the Beaver Galleries is the largest privately-owned gallery in Canberra (to be honest, I had no idea it was there until I got my itinerary earlier in the week). It has a large stable of artists, including a strong base of local Canberra artists, such as G.W. Bot and Alex Asch.

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The gallery features three exhibition spaces. One is the stock gallery which features the work of the gallery’s artists, and the other two spaces are used for feature exhibitions, which change approximately every three weeks. There is also a lovely and serene sculpture garden out the back.

On this occasion, the two artists whose works were being exhibited were Dianne Fogwell, a local Canberra artist and master printmaker, and Nick Wirdnam, a glass sculptor from Victoria.

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My friend, who is a lot more cultured than me (she’s even worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London), was really impressed by the gallery, noting that the space was beautiful and elegant. She also really liked the sculpture garden, which she described as secluded and peaceful, with an Alice in Wonderland feel to it.

We were both very taken with the exhibitions, although she preferred the plainer prints of Dianne Fogwell’s while I was drawn to the coloured paintings. Both of us loved Nick Wirdnam’s creations, which in this instance were based on beliefs, e.g. the meaning we attach to objects, such as temptation and apples.

After getting our cultural fix (including a browse around the giftshop), we were shown to the on-site eatery, the Palette Café. We were introduced to the owner, Meg, who also makes all of the cakes for the café. My friend and I had both spotted some delectable looking bread-and-butter puddings when we walked in, so we decided that we needed to fit in some pre-lunch dessert.

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The bread-and-butter pudding turned out to be the best one I’ve ever had. It was served warm, with crème anglaise (that had the black dots that indicate vanilla bean was used, so extra points for that), and it was the perfect thing to eat on a winter day in Canberra. Meg later told us that it was made with croissants, which explained why it tasted so decadently delicious.

After getting our sugar hit, we set off for our next stop, Capital Wines Epicurean Centre in Gundaroo (this leg of the trip is where I really had fun with the BMW). Housed in a quaint building behind Grazing, it was one of those places where you walked in and just instantly felt comfortable. It had a wonderful, cosy atmosphere, and the staff were really friendly.

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My friend and I were seated on a row of benches which had been set up with wine glasses, ready for the Comfort Food Epicurean Lunch. This lunch featured four courses with matching wines. We decided to try some garlic bread as an entrée, which was like no garlic bread either of us had ever had before—it actually had the garlic baked into the bread, which gave it an incredibly rich flavour.

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Then it was time for the first course, cauliflower soup served with onion marmalade crostini and accompanied by a 2012 Kyeema Chardonnay Viognier. The soup was incredible. Thick, delicious, rich, creamy, and comforting. While it was served in cute little mugs, my friend and I both agreed that you wouldn’t have wanted the serves much bigger, because it was so rich. The onion marmalade was also sweet and moreish. As for the wine, it was lovely and light. As you may know, I’m a real lightweight when it comes to alcohol, and I don’t really like the taste, but I liked this.

Next up was a serve of grilled prosciutto-wrapped figs, accompanied by a 2013 Capital Wines Sangiovese. This dish didn’t look very big, but wow was the flavour intense, in a good way! The prosciutto had a lovely crunch and saltiness to it, which a great contrast/complement to the squooshy sweetness of the figs. And again, I liked the wine (as did my friend, who ended up buying a bottle)!

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I think it was best described by the lovely Adriane from Capital Wines, who told us it was a puzzle wine, that constantly evolves and keeps you guessing, because it takes on the flavours of the food it’s been paired with (as an aside, Adriane gives the best descriptions —when you go out to Capital Wines, get her to describe something and you’ll see what I mean. I actually asked her if she could just describe everything, all the time, because we could have listened to her for ages).

The figs were followed by a serve of slow cooked lamb and garlic mash, accompanied by ‘The Backbencher’ Merlot from Capital Wines Ministry Series.

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The lamb was fall-apart tender, and the garlic mash was tasty, as garlic mash is usually wont to be. The merlot was introduced with another wonderful description from Adriane, who used the words ‘hot, spice, sensual but not sexy, warm, and not old-fashioned’ (unfortunately my note-taking couldn’t quite keep up, but you get the idea). The other thing I liked about Capital Wines, apart from the wine and the food, was its sense of humour, which you could tell from the wine labels.

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The last dish was a croissant bread-and-butter pudding (total coincidence—neither my friend nor I had ever had croissant bread-and-butter pudding and then we had it twice in the one day), with ice cream and a glass of late picked riesling. This bread-and-butter pudding was quite different to the one we had at the Palette Café, as you can see from the photo, but it was also tasty in its own way, with a nicely toasted and crispy exterior, and with quite a different texture to the other one.

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My friend and I really enjoyed our time at Capital Wines and made a vow to go back to try out their other food (and wine). But for now, it was time to head to our next stop, Mount Majura Vineyard in Majura. At this point I should probably also mention that the GPS in the BMW is awesome, and perfect for someone with absolutely no sense of direction, i.e. me. So we got there with no trouble thanks to the guidance of the car.

We were lucky on Sunday that the weather was Canberra winter at its best, a beautiful, clear, crisp day with blue skies. Perfect for doing the self-guided Gumboot Tour at the Vineyard, which took us on a lovely amble through the different vines.

Upon returning from our stroll, we took a seat outside in the sun, and enjoyed a delicious regional tasting platter (yes, even after lunch we were still eating), featuring Homeleigh Grove semi-dried olives, Lynwood tomato and mango chutney, Poacher’s Pantry kangaroo prosciutto and Small Cow Farm eastern style fetta with walnuts and crackers.

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The platter was, of course, accompanied by a wine tasting, since we were at a vineyard, but I decided to bow out at this point and leave the tasting to my friend. She tried the Silurian (which I read was named after the Silurian period but which my friend preferred to think was named after a Dr Who villain), the Molli, the Chardonnay, the Pinot Gris, the Shiraz and the TSG. She declared the Shiraz her favourite red (and favourite overall) and the Pinot Gris her favourite white, although she also said the Chardonnay was really good.

After a lovely afternoon relaxing in the sun (really, Mount Majura Vineyard is such a pretty place to while away an afternoon while enjoying wine and nibbles), we decided it was finally time to call it a day. But what a wonderful day it was.

Thanks so much to Rolfe Classic BMW for lending me the gorgeous 3 Series to cruise around in and to The Poacher’s Way for a fantastic day of food, wine and culture!

Find out what you can experience if you’re out and about this weekend by downloading the full program of events here.

the essentials

What: The Fireside Festival
When: Until the end of August
Where: Venues around The Poachers Way
Web: thepoachersway.com.au/fireside-festival/

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author