The Winter Feast at Hobart's Dark Mofo is huge. I like to think of it as Australia's premier, unholy gourmet food court. But that's the problem - it's so overwhelming - how do you choose? Here's my pick of what to eat if you only have a short amount of time, and don't want soggy empanada regret back at the hotel while scrolling instagram.
1. Venison bolognaise maccheroncini with truffle from Tipo 00/Fico/Atlas Dining collab
If you're reading this, you can't have it; Andreas Papadakis and Charlie Carrington will be safely nestled back home in Melbourne. Too bad, you missed out. It was amazing. Never fear, though, Winter Feast week two will haveAlejandro Saravia from Pastuso trading Melbourne's AC/DC Lane for Salamanca Place and doing what he does best - grilling huge pieces of insanely delicious meat over blazing fire in collaboration with Hobart chef Massimo Mele. Red Norland potato gnocchi, slow cooked Robbins Island Waygu with Grandvue Perconi? Yes please.
2. Sullivan's Cove "XO Single Cask Brandy"
It seems like every moustached man and his dog in Tasmania have a small-scale spirits distillery these days, and it's apparent at the feast. A standout this year is Sullivans Cove launching their first brandy -Pinot Noir grapes, aged for 10 years in French Oak ex-Tawny cask. The single cask is limited to 190 bottles. Drink it, it's delicious. Then try their other single malts. Hello Tasmania.
3. Soy-glazed pork, sesame brown rice, kimchi, Bulldog Sauce, Kewpie mayo, wakame cucumber + Furikaki - Heavy Metal Kitchen
Outside is where the action is food-wise. Don't be distracted by the flashing red crosses in the huge banquet hall, head outside for the fire. MONA's executive chef Vince Trim's Heavy Metal Kitchen is there for the duration. Vegetarians aren't forgotten with their very own section. Pay your $5 enamel plate bond, grab a feed and sit by the fire and think about whether your conservative Christian upbringing is making you feel uneasy about all the St Peter's crosses, or whether the cold is just getting to you.
Blood orange and cardamom custard doughnut. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
4. Blood orange and cardamom custard donut - Lady Hester Donuts
Okay I lied, there's definitely great food in the hall as well. After you've had your chunks of meat cooked by pagans over the fire, head inside to Lady Hester. Look at those donuts. Also on the list is 'Rhubarb and star anise jam donut', and 'Dark chocolate and Earl Grey ganache'. Thems fightin' words Lady Hester, fightin' words indeed.
5. Moo Brew Stout - Moo Brew bar
You know what they say, when you're in Italy you drink Peroni, when you're in the US, Budweiser etc. Well, when you're at Dark Mofo, you're gonna drink Mona's own Moo Brew, right? (Of course you are). And because you don't want to look like some fancy foodie from Melbourne, you're gonna drink a tinnie. The hot tip this Dark Mofo is the Moo Brew Stout. It's gorgeous. Like drinking a hug. Albeit, at 8%, a boozy, rugged up with frosty cheeks that goes on just that little bit too long kinda hug, but a hug nonetheless.
6. 2008 Domaine A Cabernet - Pleasure Palace
Apparently it's David Walsh's favourite drop, and it's $30 a glass. Huon Hooke actually gave it 96 points, so it's almost definitely worth it. Drink it in a cute little wine lounge up the end of the hall called the "Pleasure Palace" and get doted on by kooky Tasmanian somms while they pour you drinks and make jokes about giving pleasure. It looks like a VIP bar, but it's actually not, you can just walk right in, and skip the huge bar lines the rest of the plebs are waiting in.
7. Taco box - Pacha Mama Tacos
I get it, dietary requirements are a thing. Well, I've got you covered. At Pacha Mama you can have a gluten-free, vegan option that's delicious. Check it out - Fried pumpkin, pepita and green tomato salsa morita aioli and jalapeno pickle slaw. And if your only requirement is deliciousgrab my pick; the Slow Cooked Wallaby with morita aioli, fresh herbs and slaw. Wallaby tacos - now I really have seen everything
8. Paula Labaki with 24-hour coal cooked big river Highland beef, with Locro beans, cassava and corn forofa and Brazilian salsa - Heavy Metal Kitchen
Possibly the carnivorous standout, direct from Sao Paulo, is chef Paula Labaki cooking whole cows over the fire. The whole damn thing. It's huge, and impressive. Elbow past all the gobsmacked bystanders with their iphones up, and you'll see it, all trussed up and cooking away gloriously. Served up with the traditional Brazilian dressings, it's simple, insanely good comfort food that - if it weren't freezing, possibly raining and in Tasmania- you could easily be eating in some back alley in Sao Paulo.
Dark Mofo is on until June 28 in Hobart, Tasmania