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Festival fare set to delight
The West Australian Picture: Robert Duncan

When the curtain rises tomorrow on Fringe World, arts lovers will begin a month-long smorgasbord of sassy entertainment that includes mermaids, magicians and the odd deviant diva and comic chanteuse.

And this year, Fringe World also promises to tickle our taste buds as never before. Culinary fare has been elevated to the front row, and organisers are hoping great food will provide festival-goers with another aspect of art and culture.

"Food's a big part of the program this year," said Fringe World director Amber Hasler.

"Food, eating and that culinary experience is something we really wanted to ensure was a part of the Fringe World because there's something really lovely and enjoyable about being able to have food as part of a festival experience.

"And for us what was most exciting was the idea of creating a really communal and relaxed eating environment with some really special menu items."

These special menu items include some innovative offerings directly imported from the Netherlands.

Hotmamahot! is perhaps Fringe World's gastronomic drawcard, with a crew of four arriving from this Amsterdam collective.

"They're creating some really interesting custom-made barbecues at which they'll be performing and cooking some really amazing recipes from Holland," she said.

Hotmamahot! will be based at the Pleasure Garden in Russell Square, Northbridge which, besides being home to several show venues, will boast a Dutch beer garden theme.

Boele de Vries is one of the three owners of the culinary part of the collective and he's coming to Perth.

Speaking by phone from Amsterdam, de Vries said Hotmamahot! would aim to serve up contemporary Dutch food and some barbecue classics in a small but varied menu.

"For example, we're planning to make classic Dutch meatballs - beef meatballs like our grandmas used to make with spices that are quite common in the Dutch cuisine, like nutmeg and white pepper," he said.

"And smoked sausages and ribs - that kind of stuff."

Completing the Dutch connection is Flat and Funny, a team of pancake specialists led by Michel van Loen which is also based at the Pleasure Garden.

Van Loen owns a pancake restaurant in the city centre of Amersfoort, near Utrecht, in the middle of Netherlands. Several years ago he decided to build a tent version of his restaurant which he now takes to festivals throughout the Netherlands.

"We cover dance, pop and theatre events and we can make up to 2000 pancakes a night or day," he said. "This is the first time we're going to another country."

A third eating experience combines the phenomenon of "long- table" dining with a WA dimension to create what Ms Hasler hopes will be an experience akin to a weekend barbie.

The renovated tables have been rescued from the old Midland Railway Workshops and will be set up at the Pleasure Garden.

"The idea is we'll set these tables up in a long-table configuration, allowing people to have a more relaxed and very unique kind of eating experience in the festival environment," she said.

"It will be a place you're able to sit with friends and family and have a delicious meal together outside in the summer under the stars in the wonderful environment of Fringe World.

"It's also a really great way for you to talk with other people who are sitting opposite you and keeps it very relaxed - as relaxed as a backyard barbecue at your best mate's place on a Sunday," she said.