Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic 2013, Centennial Park

Food. Cameras. Laughter. Sunshine. And 25 kgs of cracklings.
Only a fraction of the food at Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic 2013

All of those add to a very happy group of 70+ food bloggers on the annual Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic.

Let's talk about the sunshine first, shall we?

The weather definitely made some drama to test our patience and faith in food bloggers' power. It was quite sunny in the morning, but then all hell broke loose with buckets of water, thunder, lightning, and all opposite things from rainbows and unicorns. It was concerning, and quite depressing, as I had been looking forward for the epic picnic.

However, the ever awesome Helen and Suze soldiered on and they even bought tents to accommodate the keen bloggers and food.

And so, the picnic began.

Building tents

We have a VIP this year. Behold: 25 kgs box of pork cracklings. I wonder how many pigs were sacrificed, and I was doubtful at first that we were even going to finish the whole box.

25 kgs of pork cracklings by Mr. Crackles (thanks heaps, guys!)

So I heard you like pork cracklings?

I obviously had underestimated the power of hungry food bloggers. We polished the box. Probably only a handful of crumbs left. Or less.

Anyway, the cracklings were awesome. They were, admittedly, very salty and could be a bit dry. Caution was needed not to chew a big mouthful of this or you might actually choke. Having said that, it was really hard to stop nibbling them. They were tasty, crunchy, and not too oily either. I am having this instead of popcorn for movies from now on.

Don't even get me started on how monstrous they were in terms of the size. Way bigger than my head, or even two heads, it could actually be used as umbrella, writing board, and even serving pan, I reckon. Simon might as well serve his glasses of cocktails with these planks of deliciousness.

It's just a small piece of crackling, nothing special. NOT.

Breaking the 'bread', food blogger style

I noticed that there was somewhat balanced amount of sweet and savoury this time, which was a great point as I am more of a savoury person. The spread, just like last year, was very vast. Abundance of food was experienced once again. Not that I'm complaining, though.

The first part of the food tents; see the throne of the pork cracklings there?

The second part of the food tents. So. Much. Food.

It did get a bit tricky reaching for the ones on the further part of the tents. Some body bending and twisting skills needed. But when you get your hands on those little morsels, all of the effort would feel like nothing.

Simon (Simon's Food Favourites) and his pop-up bar. Alcohol (and Simon's t-shirt) made the day even brighter!

Now. Let's go through the individual food pics. All of them were nothing short of awesome, but I do have some favourites. I regretfully missed some, but hopefully I can try them next year!

A really memorable point from the picnic for me personally was meeting Billy Law, the author of A Table for Two, one of the most inspiring food blogs for me. It was almost dream-like to finally see the person after years stalking on the internet, sobbing with admiration to his amazing pictures, and cheering for him on Masterchef. It was one huge starstruck when Billy walked to my direction, holding one of the lemper I bought.

Following was my conversation with Eileen:

(Billy took one lemper, and looked around)

Eileen: Do you think he's looking for you?
Me: (grabbing Eileen's arm) OMG I was thinking the same thing!

(Billy walked to my direction, eating a lemper)

Eileen: Tell him you bring those!
Me: *whimpering*

(Billy getting closer)

Me: (pointing at the lemper) D.. d.. do you like it? I brought it!

So yeah, finally I get to talk with one of my food idol. And he liked the lemper, yay!

And I hope everyone who tried this liked it too!

My contribution: lemper (Indonesian snack; steamed sticky rice with shredded chicken filling). Read all about it here.

Salted caramel and malteserons macarons by Raff (Ramen Raff). I practically went there early just to make sure I get my hands on these babies. Missed on them last year, I would kill myself if I had missed them again. And they were amazing. Like, breathtakingly amazing.

Deep fried brie by Simon (The Heart of Food). Deep fried cheese. 'Nuff said. I went for seconds but they were gone. Pffttt.

Rice paper rolls with fried tofu and roast chicken from Shanshan (Food is Our Religion). Fresh, tasty (especially with the dipping sauce), and somehow lessened the guilt from eating lots of the cracklings.

Apple, leek and zucchini galette from Irene (A Swoonful of Sugar). Definitely one of the best things I ate that day. I kept reaching for more, I couldn't help it. Lovely crumbly pastry with super delicious toppings. More more more!

Fore: choc fudge brownies with caramel by My SeeFood Diet, which made every brownies that I have tried almost taste like cardboards. Luscious is an extreme understatement, these blocks of rich, fudgey, chewy, and full-of-caramel brownies needed to be framed and kept at a museum or something. Dear My SeeFood Diet, let me give you a massive virtual hug for bringing/making these! Back: mini cherry pies (I don't know who made them but they are super cute.)

Some more food is coming. Food coma was unavoidable, yet was already expected from the start.

Coconut & pineapple cupcakes by Swah (Love Swah)

Pesto & tomato puffs from Mel (The Adventures of Miss Piggy)

Vegetarian marshmallow with chocolate crackle and Milo by Spoonfuls of Goodness

Mangomisu by Eileen (Soft & Stiff Peaks). I really wanted this but then I blinked and they were all gone! Judging from all that I've heard, it was gorgeous.

Finger-licking good hot wings by Bob (Jugernauts)

Chicken caesar wraps by My SeeFood Diet

Cheese platter by Cindy (A Foodie's Joy)

Clockwise from top left: addictive pork & fennel sausage rolls from Ando (The Lamstock), homemade bread wreath by Crunchy Tiger, white chocolate raspberry muffins by The Chronicles of Hilda, quiche Lorraine by Olivia (Mademoiselle mange a Sydney)

Of course, the fun continued with the Kris Kringle, a.k.a. the Evil Santa, where we exercised every kind of deceit and trickery. It was epic and hilarious. I have always wanted the lens mug but in the end it got stolen (argh!) again and I settled with a really cool 'Food Snob' book.

Starting the Kris Kringle a.k.a. Evil Santa!

Billy (A Table for Two) and his present

In a nutshell, the picnic was so much fun! The new friends, meeting the idols, great food, and stealing gifts made a really amazing day.

Again, massive thanks and hugs for Helen and Suze for organizing this. You guys are rock stars!

Group photo; thanks to Simon (The Heart of Food) for this pic!

OK, last words: pork crackling FTW!

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  1. great write up irene. so sad to have missed it, def looks like it was one to remember!

    1. Thanks, Tina!
      yeah, I was kinda looking for you hehe. See you next year :)

  2. i LOVED your lemper! thanks heaps for coming irene!

    1. Really glad you did, Suze! And thanks heaps for organizing! We would not have such a blast if it weren't for you & Helen :)

  3. Boy that LEMPER really really was DELICIOUSLY AMAZING! I think you should consider hiring me to be Lemper's poster girl ;P KIDDING!

    1. Yeah.. I am already considering it LOL
      Really glad you loved it, poster girl! ;)

  4. I am so devasted for not being able to try your Lemper! Everytime I try to get one, there were ppl infront of it :(. Nice write up and beautiful photos :) Also nice to have finally met you in person and glad you got to try a macaron.

    1. If I have some in hands I'll contact you & I'll hand some for you!
      Your macs were amazing, and I took 2 hehehehe
      Really nice meeting you in person too, Raff! :D

  5. ooo.. can i join this next year? =)

    1. Yeah sure! The organizers are Helen (Grab Your Fork) and Suze (ChocolateSuze), though, so you may want to let them know :)

  6. it was great to finally meet you! i had heaps of fun!

    1. The pleasure is mine! Me too! It was epic :)

  7. omoooo.. look at that gigantic pork cracklings! i would kill for those!! *kidd

    seru abis ya ren kayaknya picnic gni!

    1. LOL come here already, Cend!
      Banget. Jakarta food bloggers need something like this!

  8. Your Lempers were amazing! I was tempted for a second one, but opted against it so others could enjoy the goodness too!! :)

    And yes, that weather! insane!! but lucky Helen and Suze went through with it and the sun coming out as if it did not POUR moments before is amazing! haha

    - Cassie

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Cassie!
      True that! :D
      I believe we haven't really talked on the picnic, next time for sure! Thanks for dropping by, Cassie! :)

  9. "definitely one of the best things I ate that day"... Girl, you're making me cry of happiness! You're way too kind. And thanks loads for the taste of home contained in the little gem of lemper you saved for mehh :D hope to catch you around sometime soon. Have heapsa fun in indo and take care! x

    1. No, seriously, it is actually one of the best things I have ever eaten. Ever. You seriously got talent.
      Let's catch up when I'm back, yeah? Thanks heaps! :D


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