Avon calling all foodies
Picture: Nic Ellis

Australian Iron Chef winner Herb Faust will show his skill with a four-course long-table lunch at the Avon Valley Gourmet Food & Wine Festival on the WA Day long weekend.

Festival co-ordinator Tanya Richardson said about 85 producers would take part in the event, which started in the York Town Hall and moved to Northam last year as more exhibitors got on board. "The focus is is on keeping it real and close to home, with WA chefs and produce," she said. "A lot of people come across from Perth but we've had some driving up from Albany as well. It's family friendly, with kids' rides, face painting, a cuddly animal farm and foodie trail for older children, so they can feel part of it."

Faust, who has gone from strength to strength with his Herb Faust Food line, is based at Brownes Dairy in Balcatta, where he runs the cafe with wife Deanna. He will do slow-cooked truffled egg with zucchini flower and potato and buttermilk emulsion, 15-hour "red" cooked pork belly, 24-hour cooked tamarind lamb and a luscious soft-set lemon myrtle milk dessert with macadamia and wattle seed crackle, fresh raspberries, marigolds and bush-honey caramel, all paired with Donnybrook-based Barton Jones Wines.

"The dessert sort of came together but has plenty of wow factor," Faust said. "I first did it for a special Australian menu at a function in Ongerup and all the ingredients are sourced from WA. The egg in the first course is actually crumbed in truffle and deep-fried for layers of texture and flavour."

Barton Jones Wines owner Jackie Barton said subtle wines had been chosen to complement the food; a wooded chenin blanc for the slow-truffled egg, a light cabernet for the lamb and a wooded semillon sauvignon blanc for the pork belly. "We've had to source a cane-cut semillon for the dessert," she said. "Herb's flavours are subtle with a strong textural element and that's what we've picked up on with the wine."

The festival promises something for all tastes, with a big range of food, wine and beer, plus fresh produce from the Avon Valley. Think chilli, chocolate, spirits, yabbies, pistachios, olive oil products, honey, gourmet biscuits, preserves and oysters shucked by Carl, of Thee Shucker.

Star billing goes to New Norcia's Benedictine monks, who will have a stand in conjunction with Avon Tourism. Look out for their new-season cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, which is hand-picked by a team of volunteers from the Benedictine community and still produced by the monks, plus honey, wines, chutneys, jams, a selection of monastery wood-fired bread and the traditional Abbey Ale, available for sale and sampling.

Family-friendly meals will be on offer by food truck-style vendors in marquees, including Fumis Japanese Pancakes and Noodles, Two Queens doing wood-fired street food, Franklin Foodies, Macabee Dorper Lamb and Citrons Catering with curries.

Slow Food Avon Valley has teamed up with Slow Food Perth to host cooking demonstrations and food conversations with Taste Budds Cooking Studio chef Sophie Budd, who has joined forces with Balingup foodie Katrina Lane and gastronomic stalwart Bella Bushell in a new initiative called Food Land Culture, which aims to reconnect people with producers. "The aim is to highlight the Avon Valley produce in each dish and tell the story of the farmers behind it," Ms Bushell said.

On the menu, yabby pancetta risotto with sandalwood nuts and lemon, lamb tagine with seasonal vegetables and quince tarte tatin with homemade custard and wattle seed.

"It's designed to be educational and interactive so people can learn where their food comes from and make more informed

choices when they shop," Budd said.

The Avon Valley

Food & Wine Festival will be on the WA Day long weekend, from May 31-June 1, 10am-4pm daily. avoneventsandmarketing.com.

The West Australian

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