What did you do last weekend? Chances are, you were at Rootstock Sydney, where a total of 13,531 people celebrated artisan products, sustainability and a sense of community. It's the second year this wine, food, music and arts festival has run, moving from The Forum last year to much bigger premises at The Carriageworks.
Sixty nine wineries from around the world came together with artisan producers, farmers and restaurants. The giant hall may have been sweltering with humidity but that didn't stop us staying for about eight hours on the Sunday.
Rootstock Sydney 2014
The Sunday Marketplace was a free and unticketed event, bustling with familiar faces and products, including Pepe Saya, Flour and Stone and Brickfields.
Brickfields and Woods Organics
Bryce Woods from Woods Organics, who supplies the organic flour to Brickfields
Woods Organics grow and mill organic flour in Moree in northern New South Wales. The family-run farm uses organic farming methods and is completely self-reliant in its energy resources, sourcing and managing its own water, sewage and solar electricity.
Bryce said they started supplying Brickfields with one tonne of flour a week but that has now grown to three tonnes!
Persian love cake from Brickfields $5
Fig and fig leaf frangipane tart from Brickfields $5
Chocolate and salted kaya croissant from Brickfields $5
We ate the Persian love cake, the fig leaf frangipane tart and the chocolate and salted kaya croissant! There's only a glimmer of salted kaya piped in with the chocolate, but the flaky pastry is wondrous, puffed up like a pillow with distinct layers you can't even begin to count.
Custard and date tarts from Brickfields $5
The custard and date tarts are also tasty, a layer of rich and smooth custard baked in a short buttery pastry with a hidden squidgy base of date.
Brisket, cabbage and salsa verde on ciabatta from Brickfields $12
Bonito fillets cooking over charcoal at Brickfields
Barbecued bonito with ox heart tomatoes, red onion and aioli from Brickfields
After making several laps of the market, we were too full for a sandwich here, but head baker Simon Cancio treated us with the barbecued bonito sans bread instead. Fresh off the charcoal grill, the bonito was lusciously tender and smoky.
Simon Cancio, head baker and co-creator of Brickfields
Pastured smoked ham from Feather and Bone
Pastured ham with Young Henrys cider glaze sandwich $10
Beef and bacon burger $10 both from Feather and Bone
Ethiopia coffee beans from Sample Coffee Roasters
Pepe Saya butter tastings
Glorious Pepe Saya butter. How can you say no?
Ravioli fritti from Full Circle using Pepe Saya buttermilk ricotta
Next door to Pepa Saya, Full Circle were cranking out homemade ravioli fritti, with fresh pasta hand-cranked on-site.
Making fresh pasta at Full Circle
Making ravioli with kale and Pepe Saya buttermilk ricotta at Full Circle
Kale and buttermilk ricotta ravioli at Full Circle ready for the deep fryer
Organic penne and strozzapreti from Pasta Emilia
Beetroot and chevre tortelli from Pasta Emilia $8
Strozzapreti with Karrawong Organic Farm basil pesto and a traditional rich ragu from Pasta Emilia $5 each
We swooped on the bowls of strozzapreti pasta from Pasta Emilia, one tossed with Karrawong Organic Farm basil pesto; the other with a traditional rich ragu.
Nadine Ingram at the Flour and Stone stall
I hightailed it to Flour and Stone, determined to buy up their pannacotta lamingtons before they sold out.
Panna cotta lamington from Flour and Stone $6.50
If you haven't had one, the panna cotta lamington is life-changing. The sponge cake is soaked in panna cotta then assembled with jam, a thick chocolatey icing and rolled in desiccated coconut and coconut flakes.
Old fashioned vanilla cake by Flour and Stone $5.50 per slice
Inside the old fashioned vanilla cake by Flour and Stone
I also picked up a slice of the old fashioned vanilla cake, sandwiched with cream and fresh raspberry coulis.
Fine apple tart from Flour and Stone $6
Lovely little lemon curd tarts by Flour and Stone $4.50
Chargrilling Iggy's Bread for bruschetta
Bruschetta with pig's head on Iggy's Bread $5
The pig's head on bruschetta was a winner too, a fat slice of terrine on a thick slab of crusty bread from Iggy's.
Waste Not Rolls by Cornersmith
Ham hock and slaw on a whey and porkfat bun by Cornersmith $8
Woodfired pizza by Vini $10
Highland Gourmet Potatoes
Sapphire potatoes from Highland Gourmet Potatoes
Alex Herbert making paella at Bird Cow Fish
Crooked Madams with ham, gruyere and fried egg from Bird Cow Fish $8.50
Toasted Crooked Madam with ham, gruyere and fried egg from Bird Cow Fish $8.50
Paella with chorizo, mussels and prawns from Bird Cow Fish $10
It was hard to resist the allure of a giant paella pan either. There was a generous amount of chorizo, mussels and prawns from Bird Cow Fish.
Chemical free garlic from Silvertop Organics
Free fruit at the City of Sydney Green Villages stall
Caramelised onion and gruyere tart from Pinbone $6
Braised sticky lamb ribs with rice and beans from Pinbone $10
The braised sticky lamb ribs from Pinbone were incredibly tender but what I found surprisingly addictive was the black beans and rice that were deliciously al dente with a garlicky hit.
Gluten-free chocolate cookies with cream cheese from Pinbone $4
Kylie Kwong of Billy Kwong
Chefs from Mary's Newtown
Gregory Llewellyn from Hartsyard
Southern fried chicken legs about to go into the fryer at Hartsyard
It was a heart-stopping moment when I spotted the Southern fried chicken sign at Hartsyard.
Southern fried chicken from Hartsyard $5
This was a beast of a chicken leg, coated in a crunchy layer of batter with tender brined flesh beneath.
Sipping and eating at Rootstock Sydney 2014
Orange wine: 2007 Denavolo Dinavolo (Italy) $15
At the far end of the markets was the Orange wine bar. Orange wines aren't necessarily from Orange - although they can be - but refer to white wines which have a reintroduced period of contact with grape skins, giving an amber hue and greater complexities to the end result. White wines usually discard the grape skins after juicing.
Orange wine: 2012 Serragghia Bianco Zibibbo Vino Secco (Italy) $15
There's a lot more to taste in orange wines, which have an increased sense of gutsiness. Unfiltered wines, like the zibibbo above, give an even broader spectrum of flavour.
Cheese toastie with Manjimup black truffle and gruyere cheese by Alquimie $10
The G Man can't resist anything with truffle and ended up buying two gruyere cheese toasties grated over with Manjimup black truffle. There ain't a more decadent toasted cheese sandwich than this one.
Chocolate mousse with Manjimup black truffle and Diantree Estates 70% chocolate by Alquimie $10
We also hoed into the chocolate mousse with Manjimup black truffle. It might seem like a strange combo at first, but the earthiness of the truffle resonates well against the dark chocolate.
Milk crate hipster seating
'That's Amore' Coorong Angus tartare with tomato, parmesan, garlic and oregano by Cafe Paci $10
A pizza box with a smudge of parmesan dusted Coorong Angus tartare looked a puzzling sight, but this Cafe Paci offering did taste eerily like pizza.They cheekily called this dish "That's Amore".
Sakes: Fragrant midori 60 by Okamura Honke (Shiga) $10 and
wholegrain genmaishu by Kameman Shuzo (Kumamoto) $10
Mrs Pig Flyin' also gets us onto the sake bar. The fragrant midori 60 was sweet and musky and there was a lovely sweet toffee note to the wholegrain genmaishu.
Rootstock Sydney 2014 Wine Festival guides
After spending $50 on drinks at the orange bar and sake bar, we figured we might as well call it quits and enter the Wine Festival. The Wine Festival cost $50 to enter, but the enclosed area allowed you to taste as much as you like from 69 wineries in a four-hour period.
Tasting stalls at the Rootstock Sydney 2014 Wine Festival
After one hour, we had only only covered one quarter of the vineyards represented and were already starting to feel tipsy! The producers were all super friendly and eager to share the backgrounds to their wines.
The Rootstock wine manifesto dictates that all the wines represented comes from vineyards that use organic, biodynamic or sustainable practices. All wines should be made with naturally occurring yeasts, no or low levels of sulphur (all clearly labelled) and without commercial additions, including enzymes, acids, sugars and tannins. All grapes should be 100% hand-harvested.
Albert Mann pinot blanc and riesling from Alsace, France
The Albert Mann estate is 21 hectares in size and produces 120,000 bottles of wine per year. The estate's wines have been organically certified by Ecocert since 2000.
2013 Weeping Tiger pinot gris 'orange wine' by Cambridge Road Vineyard, Martinborough, New Zealand
Lance Redgwell started Cambridge Road on the site of one of Martinborough's oldest vineyards, the Fraser Block, in 1986. The 2.2 hectare estate is made of pinot noir and syrah, producing 12,000 bottles of wine per year.
I liked the Weeping Tiger pinot gris, an orange wine with 12 days of skin contact and no sulphites added. Only 400 bottles of this vintage were produced.
Pheasant's Tears, Kakheti, Georgia
Georgia is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world, with some archaeologists theorising that the first cultivated grapewines were grown here over 8,000 years ago.
Pheasant's Tears 2011 Khisi orange wine produced in Kakheti, Georgia
Pheasant's Tears was started in 2007 by John Wurdeman, an American artist living in Georgia, who partnered with local vigneron Geia Patalishvili. They use local grape varieties and traditional qvevri clay pots for fermentation.
Wapengo Rocks certified organic wild oysters
In the midst of wine swilling, we stumbled upon Wapengo Rocks and their certified organic wild oysters.
Wapengo Rocks certified organic wild oysters
These oysters were wild harvested, and their plumpness was incredible, giving an intense hit of supreme brininess.
Wapengo Rocks certified organic wild oysters $20 for 8
Fatalone Azienda Agricola Primitivo Reservo from Puglia, Italy
The Fatalone vineyard was established in the late 19th century, growing primitivo and greco grape varietals. The Primitivo Reserva 2005 and the Primitivo 2009 are both orange wines with 15 days of skin contact.
Cheese tasting plate from Ocello $10
Vacche Rosse Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (4 years) and Tretingrana di Montagna DOP (2 years)
Cheese also works well with wine. The four-year-old Vacche Rosse Parmigiano Reggiano from Ocello was wondrously sharp and crumbly.
Costa Georgiadis gets in on the fun
Dorper lamb on a spit by Luke Powell
At 6pm the Night Festival kicked off, another free event that saw chefs from Sydney (plus Garagistes from Tasmania) offer up special dishes matched with their favourite wine.
Between the four of us, we ate practically everything.
Breaking down the lamb
Luke Powell's whole lamb on a spit attracted hordes of crowds throughout the evening.
Dorper lamb on Brickfields bread with pickled onion and garlic yoghurt by Luke Powell $10
Chefs on the grill
Whipped smoked eel and beef heart panini by Luke Burgess, Garagistes $10
I loved the partnering of whipped smoked eel with thin slices of grilled beef heart by Luke Burgess from Garagistes.
Whipped smoked eel and beef heart (no bread) by Luke Burgess, Garagistes $10
Pig Flyin' got his without the bread which would have been even tastier.
Burrawong chicken with chimichurri and grilled cos by Shannon Debreceny, Thee Blue Ducks $10
Mario pastor tacos by Dan Pepperell, 10 William St $10
Sardine, smoked mussel aioli, sorrel and pancetta by Jordan Toft, The Eveleigh LA $10
Jordan Toft will soon be starting at the Charing Cross Hotel in Waverley.
Braised pork neck with almonds, cherry, rosemary and eschallot by O Tama Carey, Berta $10
The braised pork neck from Berta was superb, the tender flesh harmonising with the sweetness of cherry and scattered rosemary leaves.
Pork skin noodles in a pumpkin skin broth with powdered chicken and sesame by Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman from Pinbone $10
The pork skin noodles by Pinbone were an interesting twist, the chewy 'noodles' slurped up with a hearty broth that included powdered chicken and white and black sesame seeds.
Heirloom tomato, fennel and olive crumb by Mitch Orr, 121BC $10
Blood sausage sanga by Mat Lindsay, Ester $5
The blood sausage sanga by Mat Lindsay from Ester was so more-ish - hearty sausage on a soft steamed bun - we went back for seconds.
Sustainable tiger prawn and mushroom with sesame, shallot and soy by Nic Wong, Ester $10
Compressed peach with lemon thyme curd and toasted almonds meringue by Federico Zanellato, Ormeggio $10
The compressed peach with lemon thyme curd from Ormeggio was the perfect end to a great day out.
What struck me most about Rootstock Sydney was the genuine sense of collaboration, community spirit and grassroots enthusiasm. Can't wait for the next one.
Rootstock Sydney 2014 was held February 8-9, 2014 at The Carriageworks.
Rootstock Sydney is a not-for-profit festival run by Giorgio de Maria (121BC and Vini), Mike Bennie (wine writer), James Hird (Wine Library, Vincent, Pinbone), Matt Young (Black Market Sake) and Linda Wiss (Black Market Sake).
10 William 10 William Street, Paddington
121 BC 4/50 Holt Street, Surry Hills
Berta 17-19 Alberta Street, Surry Hills
Brickfields 206 Cleveland Street, Chippendale
Cafe Paci Level 1, 95 Riley Street, Darlinghurst
Cornersmith 314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville
Ester 46-52 Meagher Street, Chippendale
Flour and Stone 53 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo
Garagistes 103 Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania
Hartsyard 33 Enmore Road, Newtownga
Mary's 6 Mary Street, Newtown
Ormeggio The Spit, D'Allbora Marinas, Spit Road, Mosman
Pasta Emilia 259 Riley Street, Surry Hills
Pinbone 3 Jersey Road, Woollahra
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2/12/2014 11:18:00 pm