Regular readers of this page will know that I love all things pig – bacon, pork, ham, crackling – it surely is a magical animal (right, Lisa?).
And so I was thrilled to be invited along to Western Australia’s first ever pork and cider festival – because you know what goes well with pork? More pork – wait, I was meant to say apples. Apples go well with pork.
Held out at the beautiful Oakover Grounds in the Swan Valley; WA definitely brought its A-Game in the weather department with the sun shining and a lake full of ducks practising their selfie face.
We arrived at around 12.30pm, shortly after the gates opened and, having skipped breakfast in anticipation of all that pork, made our way straight to the food.
Our first port of call was the Stables Bar’s stand where Mrs Grillah and I shared a pork, sage & leek bratwurst with onion jam and the maple smoked pork scotch with spiced bourbon sweet potato. This first offering to the pork god (me) was most pleasing and foretold of many great pork delicacies yet to come.
The Gusface Grillah senses then drew me over to two massive BBQs over at El Asador grilling up a an absolute meatstorm Argentinean style over charcoal. The smell coming from this stand was sensational and we just had to order something.
While not sticking with the overall theme we just had to try the beef ribs with chimichurri. Man, these were great – a smokiness imparted from the charcoal, zingy chimichurri and with a bit of chew for that tearing from the bone viking experience.
Ayo Gusface – what about the cider?
Okay, so while I don’t mind the odd cider, this is undoubtedly Mrs Grillah’s department and boy did she go to town. I’m not quite sure if she sampled every cidery on the grounds but she sure gave it a sterling attempt.
The favourite for the day was the Oakover Offsider, and from my samples I would tend to agree – I usually find ciders either sickeningly sweet or way too dry but the Offsider struck a nice balance between the two.
For myself the stand out beverage for the day came, unsurprisingly, from my favourite brewery, Feral, with their latest release of Knuckles, a coffee IPA. The Fiori coffee beans give this heavily hopped IPA a brilliant earthiness that paired surprisingly well with the tropical flavours from the hops.
For the true cider heads at the festival there were three masterclasses on offer. Run by the doyens of craft-booze, Mane Liquor, you could choose from French, English or East Coast Australia. I didn’t participate, but from my awkward stalker-ish peering through the window, everyone looked like they were having a great time.
While my crew was running around getting their fill of cider I also spent a bit of time over at Barbeques Galore’s stand, staring adoringly at the beastly Kamado Big Joe, like Wayne Campbell would a Fender Stratocaster (oh yes, it will be mine).
The festival was extremely popular, with what felt like half of Perth in attendance (the other half chose to attend on Sunday). But while there were lines from time to time the festival organisers, stall holders and Oakover staff put in a cracker of an effort to make sure everyone had a good day.
Just before attending the festival I was alerted to the fact that local burger gurus, Varsity Bar, were creating a bacon milkshake just for the festival – bacon in a milkshake! Sadly by the time we got around there the milkshakes had brought far too many people to their yard and they were all gone. Luckily they had a killer cuban sandwich – roast pork, ham, swiss cheese and my salty tears of disappointment.
As we set off in to the sunset the festival was still pumping away with a few folk looking ready to bring the ruckus and party well in to the night.
With drinking and eating in the sun being one of my absolute favourite pastimes we had an absolutely amazing day featuring so much delicious local food coupled with an array of beautiful beverages.
And if I didn’t think pork and cider was an unbelievable combo the brains trust behind the Cider & Pork Festival have just announced that spring is going to feature yet another killer combo: Beer and Beef.
Stay tuned to http://www.beerandbeeffestival.com.au/to find out more because this is sure to be another great day – and if I’m more organised this time around, who knows – a Gusface Grillah beef experience?
Thanks to Oakover & Professional Misconduct for inviting me along to such a fantastic day.