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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Fergus Henderson and a nose-to-tail barbecue - Sydney International Food Festival

Pigs. On. Spits.

Three words guaranteed to get me out of bed early on a Saturday morning.

The Sydney Morning Herald Growers' Market
celebrating Barbecue Madness for the Sydney International Food Festival

The October Good Living Growers' Market was one of the first big events on the calendar for the inaugural Sydney International Food Festival. It promised to be a event like no other, featuring international guests Fergus and Margot Henderson, freshly roasted pigs on spits and a phenomenal gathering of Sydney's top chefs.

Mother Nature was determined to rain on the parade, but that didn't stop Sydneysiders from flocking to the markets regardless, armed with umbrellas and an appetite for good food.

Rain and umbrellas at 8.00am

Wet and empty chairs and tables

Red artichokes

Cheese from Formaggi Ocello


Oranges and lemons

Brie and washed rind cheeses from Binnorie Dairy

Sourdough breads from La Tartine

Cherry crumble from La Tartine

SWEETNESS the Patisserie

SWEETNESS fresh marshmallows

SWEETNESS fresh marshmallow samples

SWEETNESS chocolate-covered peppermint mallows

SWEETNESS macarons

SWEETNESS passionfruit macaron and chocolate macaron

Oyster mushrooms $5.50/100g

Best part about the wet weather?
Raincoats and gumboots!

Raincoat cutie


Prickly pears from Leppington Farm

Panama passionfruits

The cheeky sign at Kinkawooka Mussels

Kinkawooka urged market goers to forget about noses and tails and check out their mussels, but the pigs on spits were always going to be the star attraction. When I caught up with Minh (who found me when Simon Marnie announced my presence during the live broadcast!) we both ended up standing in front the pig for at least five minutes, just watching the pig go around and around over the glowing hot coals. If there had been a chair, I would've sat down and watched a pork tv.

The pig on the spit

Pork ribs

Pork crackling goodness

Pork cheek crackling

Close-up of the head

Fergus Henderson and Simon Marnie

The highlight of the day was the nose-to-tail barbecue, underpinned by the philosophy of appreciating and eating the entire animal--not just the choice cuts--trumpeted by Fergus Henderson, founder of the famed St John restaurant in London.

Simon interviews Margot and Fergus Henderson live on ABC 702 Weekends

The roast pigs on the spit weren't due to be eaten until 11am. In the interim, a powerhouse of Sydney chefs could be found in the makeshift restaurant set-up under shelter. Twelve noted restaurants were each cooking a dish that reflected the nose-to-tail approach, serving tables of ten in half-hour sittings.

The assembly of head chefs was like a who's who of the Sydney retaurant scene: Jared Ingersoll, Justin North, Matthew Kemp, Kylie Kwong, Jeremy Strode, Alex Herbert, Paul McGrath, Martin Boetz, Colin Fassnidge, Warren Turnbull, Lauren Murdoch and Sean Connolly were manning barbecues, stirring pots and plating dishes amidst the constant sizzle of barbecues and the wafting smells of roast pig from the spit next-door.

Simon talks live to Jeremy Strode, Bistrode

Jared Ingersoll, Danks Street Depot, tends to his pigs trotters

Kylie Kwong, Billy Kwong

Warren Turnbull, Assiette

Fergus Henderson with Justin North, Becasse

Beans and bacon from Becasse

The timekeeper ensures everyone stays on schedule

Martin Boetz, Longrain, plates up

Warren Turnbull

Fergus Henderson chats to Kylie Kwong

Sean Connolly, Astral, oversees his green eggs and ham

Jeremy Strode

Table setting

Twice cooked pork hock $15
with a tomato, tamarind and coriander salad

Longrain - Martin Boetz

A mere $15 entitled you to a seat at a freshly laid table and a dish from one the twelve restaurants. I was randomly allocated Longrain with my ticket for the 9.00am session, an exquisite offering of a twice-cooked pork hock ringed by crackling. A side salad of grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and baby coriander leaves was sweet, salty and sour from the drizzle of tamarind dressing.

The egg on top was also a revelation, deep-fried until the outside formed a golden crispy skin.

Salad of crisp lamb belly and tongue $15
with broad beans, artichokes and rocket
Restaurant Balzac - Matthew Kemp

Minh ended up on the table for Restaurant Balzac - the lamb belly had a lovely flavour to it and lamb tongue was amazingly tender.

We stuck around for the next session to try to get photos of all the dishes.

Fergus Henderson

Plating up at Four in Hand

Pig ear schnitzel with pork belly and iceberg salad $15
Four in hand - Colin Fassnidge

Twice cooked pork belly with pate on toast $15
Ash St Cellar - Lauren Murdoch

Martin Boetz

Twice cooked pork hock $15
with a tomato, tamarind and coriander salad

Longrain - Martin Boetz

Carpaccio of stuffed pigs trotter $15
with black pudding and crispy quails egg
Restaurant Assiette - Warren Turnbull

Barbecued, marianted black Berkshire pork ribs $15
with pickled biodynamic beetrot and aioli
Billy Kwong - Kylie Kwong

Duck hearts and lardons at Bistro Ortolan

Plating up at Bistro Ortolan

Confit of duck hearts and cured black pig lardons $15
with soft quail egg on brioche toast
Bistro Ortolan - Paul McGrath

Minh and I both kept sighing as this dish was built before our eyes. Brioche! Hearts! A poached quail egg! And the final swoon - a shard of crispy bacon!

Setting the table for the next session

Twice cooked pork belly with pate on toast $15
Ash St Cellar - Lauren Murdoch

We were about to leave when the lovely folk at Ash St Cellar asked if we wanted the two leftover servings that hadn't sold tickets. Rhetorical question, much?

The lovely Lauren Murdoch personally came over to our table to explain the dish was cooked. The marinated pork belly is placed on a rack and slow-cooked at 120C for four hours. It's then rested and allowed to cool before barbecuing again to render the fat and make it crispy. The result? Melt-in-the-mouth succulence.

Check out the Sydney International Food Festival site for details on all the events on offer throughout October.

View Larger Map

Good Living Growers' Market
7.00am - 11.00am on the first Saturday of every month
Pyrmont Bay Park, Pyrmont (opposite Star City Casino), Sydney

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Good Living Growers' Market 2009: May
Good Living Growers' Market 2008: October ¦ September ¦ August ¦ July¦ February
Good Living Growers' Market 2006: November ¦ October ¦ September ¦ July ¦ June ¦ May ¦ April ¦ March ¦ February
Good Living Growers' Market 2005: November ¦ October ¦ September ¦ August ¦ July ¦ April ¦ March ¦ February
18 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/03/2009 11:44:00 pm


  • At 10/04/2009 12:39 am, Anonymous Mrs Pig Flyin' said…

    St John is my favorite place in London, I went there for dinner twice during my three days visit :p So sad I couldn't make it today

    Great to see so many chefs are making the effort to introduce nose to tail eating to Sydney and some even have them on the regular menu... but pork belly and ribs?? Should they be disqualified for this event?

    Funny enough, my home chef started preparing stuffed ox tail last night, will let you know how it goes :)

  • At 10/04/2009 12:42 am, Anonymous fooderati said…

    Sorry I didn't see you there...was on a mission looking for frenet branco (could he ask for anything more obscure?) for Fergus. Great pics of monsieur piggy, how delicious was it?!

  • At 10/04/2009 12:52 am, Anonymous Mrs Pig Flyin' said…

    Was there a mad hunt for "Where's GYF" when the announcement was made? They should give out free dishes to the first 5 people who identified you!

  • At 10/04/2009 1:18 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Talk about a rich breakfast. Pity about the weather but bet that didn't dampen the occasion too much.

    Awefully kind of Lauren to offer you freebies :)

  • At 10/04/2009 3:03 am, Anonymous Alan said…

    lol I must admit we were looking for GYF too but ended up being snapped by the Fooderati!

    We stuck around for the roast pig but sadly the results were mixed. Some parts (my plate) were overdone, whilst other parts were perfectly soft! :(

  • At 10/04/2009 7:58 am, Anonymous Miss Dissent said…

    Wow, excellent documentation! The dishes look amazing. Good perseverance!

  • At 10/04/2009 8:36 am, Anonymous noodleboy said…

    We got the Becasse pork and beans. The beans were studded with bits of trotter and melt-in-your mouth chunks of fat, all crowned with a thick piece of beautifully smoky crisped bacon. One of the best brekkies I've ever had (too bad the dish went cold in about 30 seconds thanks to that freezing wind)

    I didn't hear the announcement but figured you'd be here Helen :) The event was a bit of a blogger magnet though so stared at all bloggers with their cameras trying to figure out which one was you!

    Great day all round. Can't wait for next year's.

  • At 10/04/2009 11:57 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Haha...pork TV!

    Couldn't make it to this year's due to going to TWO weddings yesterday in the rain...but, there is always next year!

  • At 10/04/2009 12:03 pm, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    The twice cooked pork hock looks delicious. I wish I could go to all of the SIFF events and markets..

  • At 10/04/2009 12:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We went and had a poke around as we usually do, but didn't stay long for the weather. Was hoping the food blog crew would be onto it and as always you didn't dissapoint!!

    I heart SIFF / GFM

  • At 10/04/2009 1:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i was going to go,but it rained!! Good for you to stick it out


  • At 10/04/2009 8:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    SO jeallouuusss!! Wish I could be there to watch pork tv too X(!! Hee hee no photos of your raincoat and gummies ;)? And wow at the collection of so many chefs!!

  • At 10/04/2009 11:43 pm, Blogger Y said…

    Love the photos, all sixty-whatever of them. Stellar reporting!

  • At 10/05/2009 12:20 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Mrs Pig Flyin' - I would love to go to St John one day. I love the philosophy behind it, and the reverence with which all food is treated.

    And lol, I suppose some people struggle with pork belly and ribs although these days they're both fairly ubiquitous.

    Stuffed ox tail?! I'm filled with envy!

    Hi Fooderati - I expect we'd already left by the time you got there. I got there at 8am and left at 10am, so alas I missed out on the spit-roasted pig. He did look great though!

    Hi Mrs Pig Flyin' - No, I don't think the crowd included many food blog readers at the time, although I think many bloggers arrived after we left. And ha, don't encourage him! :)

    Hi Simon - Oh but they say you should eat like a king at breakfast! Alas I think I eat like a king at every meal...

    And it wasn't Lauren, although she did recognise me from the Merivale dinner :)

    Hi Alan - Haha, I must've just missed you - I left at 10am after my early start.

    I guess a roasting a whole pig is always going to be difficult with consistency. I'd love to do my own one day, except I can imagine the fight over the crackling!

    Hi Miss Dissent - Thanks, it was worth the early start, and that's coming from a dedicated night owl! Glad you enjoyed the pics. I was a little in awe the entire morning - so much good stuff going on!

    Hi Noodleboy - Oh you make those beans sound so deliciously good.

    It was only a casual throwaway line, but made quite early - about 8.50am. I expect I left before the arrival of the camera-toting fans as I was gone by 10am. Curious to see the posts as they get published :)

    A fantastic day, wasn't it? Here's hoping it gets repeated next year!

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - I'd definitely watch a pork channel. I'm regretting not taking a longer video of the pork rotating action!

    Two weddings in one day is pretty impressive. Hope the brides didn't get wet! And yes, hope there'll be a similar event scheduled in 2010.

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - There are so many events going on with SIFF aren't there? I always make an effort to go to the free ones - they often tend to be the most fun!

    Hi Anon - I'm curious to see what other posts come up - would love to see everyone else's photos. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    SIFF is so much fun. My stomach always loves October :)

    Hi Sydneyguyrojoe - Rain schmain - I took the train! lol

    It was totally worth it!

    Hi FFichiban - Shame you couldn't make it, and lol, I wasn't wearing a raincoat or wellies. Glad my camera didn't get too wet and yes, the gathering of chefs was incredible. I can imagine there were a few sleep-ins this morning!

    Hi Y - lol. Thanks. I was snapping away like crazy. Good food always does that to me :) Glad you enjoyed them.

  • At 10/05/2009 8:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can't help staring at the pig and thinking of your yummy bacon cupcakes >_< Was it a 'monk robe' that Kylie Kwong was wearing??? xD

  • At 10/06/2009 2:04 pm, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Looked like it was a great day, despite the horrible weather.

    I was looking at the first piggy pictures (ok, I was staring for a full 5 minutes) and wondering what happen to the middle of the piggy. A few photos later and all was right in the world again.

    So many piggy pictures. Which one will I use for my wall paper.

  • At 10/08/2009 2:20 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    I like your umbrella and raincoat photos. Looks like lots of people braved the weather. How exciting to get spare seats for second breakfast too!

  • At 11/13/2009 5:52 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Ellie - I couldn't stop staring at the pig either, so lol, I don't blame you. Definitely recommend you try making the bacon cupcakes too :)

    Hi Veruca Salt - Yes, the deconstructed pig did bewilder me at first. lol. I would use it as my wallpaper but then I think I'd be hungry all day, but hmm, what's new. lol

    Hi Arwen - We were very lucky indeed to get some spare seats, and the weather was reasonably kind although apparently it was wetter at 7am!


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