Hobart’s Feast for the senses
WOW at that mystical light beam in the sky. Wow too at the mind- bending laser and sound playing on the trees in Salamanca. Not too many wows at the swim, I’m afraid. But wows aplenty at the fabulous Dark MOFO Winter Feast events.
Altogether, it was an incredible show of food, lights, music, fire, art, inspired creativity and Hobartian’s love of a party.
You’d think after the almost continuous string of festivals and events in the city over the past six months that Hobart would be partied out.
But no, there we were again, rugged up and in our thousands, queuing for the food, sitting around fires with the music, sipping wines and ciders, tasting whiskies, snapping photos or simply oohing and aahing at the spectacle of it all.
What a show. Not quite Pan and his nymphs, but bacchanalian like Hobart has never bacchanal’ed before, appropriately finishing with Saturday night’s big closing Satanalia gig.
By any terms, it was all another enormous success for the MONA team, for David Walsh’s amazing generosity in both dollars and community spirit, and for the Sydney- based organiser of the Winter Feast, Gillian Minervini, sister of Scott Minervini of Lebrina restaurant fame.
“It’s a year to the day since I was appointed”, Minervini said as Feast opened.
“And behind me has been a team of around 110 others who helped pull all this together, from Jo Cook who curated the stalls to the guys who collected the firewood.
“And MONA has been fantastic to work with. I’ve only had to suggest an idea and they’ve made it happen.”
And, for me and I’m sure for many others, it was a refreshing change to see the mix of operators that Jo Cook selected to man the food stalls, especially some of the smaller ones like the excellent Rin, Ollie Bella, Urban Bounty, Bottego Rotolo, Cygnature and Hejo’s, plus Coffee Republic from Launceston, the Cable Station van from Stanley and Peter Bignell’s rye whiskey.
Then, of course, there were the signature dishes by Feast’s invited chefs.
The fabulous beef and lamb, splayed and spiked round an open fire in true Argentine assado fashion by the boys from Porteno, in Sydney, followed by Christine Manfi eld’s and Frank Camorra’s spiced and Spanish foods on Friday and Saturday nights respectively.
Equally impressive was the lighting and layout of PW1 itself, the fewer kitchens looking cleaner and less cluttered than the same kitchens at Taste, the interior seeming more spacious although no less crowded and the wonderful, expansive use made of the outside with the alfresco kitchens, scattered dining and seating areas, musical groupings and the sit- around fire pots spilling out onto Castray Esplanade.
As an interesting aside, despite the thousands of people at Feast across the road, and in the middle of winter, the eateries along Salamanca were nevertheless pumping. And accommodation houses were full. So where do we go from here? MONA, State Government and Hobart City Council funding for Dark MOFO is committed for another two years.
MONA will no doubt ramp things up even further next year and Gill Minervini has promised to deliver an even bigger and better Winter Feast.
And, for the Taste and Savour Tasmania, it might be back to the drawing board.