What I'm eating this week - Things over fire
Words: Jess Ho
Things were all things fire over this festival, especially with the first outdoor master class held at the Collingwood Children’s Farm in Abbottsford. Apparently it was five years in the making, bringing all the meat-lovers and fire-starters together. Staffing was heavy, first aid was on site and the day could only be described as informal.
Why is this relevant?
Fire connotes barbeque, grill, animals of the land and all things big, bold and brash. Ed Mitchell was clearly a highlight, for the first time leaving North Carolina, cranking a machine well above 400 degrees Celsius, advocating moonshine as a special ingredient in the expert formation of crackling, retelling a story of “kicking Bobby Flay’s butt” in a cooking competition and spanking a pig after David Chang fumbled over his understanding of jerk, love of meat and defining different types of radishes and butchery, as well as Dario Cecchini’s performance of Dante’s Inferno in Italian for 12 minutes and 50 seconds while butchering a whole Chianina carcass (not once cooking over a flame), but it was the contrast to expectation, delicacy and thought behind Lennox Hastie’s attitude to grilling that seemed like revelatory information.
Sure, it got little awkward when the farm’s resident cat started slinking around Hastie and Richard Cornish (the living food dictionary) started handing out pieces of wood and twig so people could play their grown-up investigatory game of scratch and sniff, but once Hastie explained his reasoning behind creating different aromats and flavours from smoke and wood in relation to grilling food over an open flame, the madness and obsession that is a power only harnessed for good by chefs started to make sense. Oysters and cucumber, mussels and carrot appeared from the coals in a lightly plated manner that would only contradict the food that would follow (wagyu shoulder, spicy chicken, barbecued pork, and whole lamb). Hastie served a lightly grilled swordfish belly with a fennel salad tossed through with the warmed pearls of fingerlime. The swordfish was grilled lightly for flavour from the wood and the fingerlime was warmed only to coax the juice from the fruit. I die.
It haunts me, and will continue to do so until he reveals when and where his restaurant will open- a question posed many times on the day. I’d like to say I did some investigatory work and dug out some relevant information, but I haven’t. I have found only strands and hearsay, so, for the time being, I urge you to consult the Google Machine.