Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Sunday, 02 January 2011 14:05 Cassandra Culture-Practices - Taboos

Al Age this week included a 95-page magazine promoting this important festival, which showcases the huge array of food and wines to be enjoyed in Melbourne and Regional Victoria. Featured prominently were the many wineries dotted across Victoria, which often have gourmet restaurants – an idyllic setting for a wedding or other special function. (ref: Melbourne Wine and Food Festval)

Glancing through its contents, it occurred to me how many of the attractions would be considered haram should we – heaven forbid – turn into Australistan. Space doesn’t permit me mentioning them all (you can check them out online), but here is just a sampler. 

 Page 20: Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience – an entire weekend of four international benchmark wine tastings guided by a selection of Australia’s most noted wine personalities and luminary overseas guests. Sip rare and exclusive wines and drink in the wisdom of world-class makers and experts getting together on our home terroir to debate, taste and learn.

Gosh, that mention of “terroir” reminded me of the day Jason Koutsoukis took time off from bashing Israel and wrote “Postcard from the Gaza Strip”.

Illicit winemakers tread warily for a taste of freedom
IT HAS the colour of petrol and a nose like burning rubber…Tawfeeq Mohammed, his ''nom de fume'', calls it Chateau Zeer Salem, a private nod to a fifth-century Christian poet who loved women and wine.
Since the militant Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, enjoying a drink in this tiny Palestinian enclave has become a high-risk pursuit.
With Hamas imposing an increasingly ascetic way of life on Gaza's 1.5 million residents, Mohammed says alcohol is the most forbidden of fruits.
"Alcohol is considered worse than hashish, or worse than any other drugs. If you are caught drinking alcohol you will first receive a severe beating and several months in jail."
Determined not to be made to give up drinking wine, Mohammed decided that instead of paying a small fortune to buy wine on the black market, he would try making his own.
The winemaking itself is a cloak-and-dagger affair.
The grapes are sourced in batches from fruit sellers all over the city. The golden rules are: never use the same seller twice; always buy in small quantities; and, most important of all, don't breathe a word to anyone about what you are doing.
"If I went to a fruit seller and bought 20 kilograms of grapes, he would be suspicious and next thing I know would be a knock on the door from the secret police," Mohammed says.
… his next task is to smuggle them into his apartment without the neighbours seeing.
"We don't drink to get drunk here - this is about the freedom to choose what to do,'' he says. ''And drinking this wine is like drinking freedom itself."

Mohammed has nailed it – it is about the freedom to choose – a freedom we will lose should Islam take over. Hard to imagine that severe beatings and jail could result from what is a regular feature of our life.

Page 24: The Pork Trail
Join the Progressive Pork Trail dinner as The European, Bottega and Longrain reveal the gastronomic mojo this is all things pork. Trot the few blocks of the Pig Trail to revel in the variety and lip-smacking subtleties of the whole of this delectable beast with a feature dish at each of the three establishments.

Page 40: Celebrate the Beast
The Eruopean’s unstoppable PorkStar Ian Curley will pay homage to what is described the world over as the most versatile of meats. He will unleash his brilliant pork alchemy to lovingly prepare three courses in three different styles …complete with matching wines.

Page 43: Asian Kitchen
Presenting classic dishes with a contemporary twist…confit Chinese roast pork.

Page 43: Indulgent Suckling Pig Banquet
All animals are delicious, little baby pigs are divine. Chef Adrian Richardson has lovingly hand reared a litter of lovely, rare breed pigs for this celebration of pork. He will be serving whole suckling pigs alongside a variety of dishes made from all parts of these wonderful creatures.

Page 49: Paddock-Pig-Plate-Perfect
We love a bit of culinary theatre, and Mentone Hotel head chef, Rafic, will present just that when he slow roasts a whole suckling pig with an audience of salivating diners. For this ultimate farmers’ feast, Raf’s piggy will be served with all the trimmings of seasonal produce from local farmers, matched with traditional ales, ciders and Mornington Peninsula wines.

Page 59: Beast on a Block
Suckling pork on your fork. Think you know a pork chop from a trotter? How about a belly from a loin? Join The Point’s executive chef Scott Pickett whilst he breaks down the whole beast…See it all up close and personal, with a pork-focused tutorial and four course meal.

Page 64: Duck, Pig and Pinot Long Table
Join us at The Botanical for an intimate dinner celebrating the ‘ultimate marriage’ – braised duck and wood-fired suckling pig matched with exceptional pinots from the Mornington Peninsula. Created by Cheong Liew.

Page 65: Return to Terroir
London, New York, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and now Melbourne. This extraordinary gathering of international winemakers has sparked hype as they’ve moved around the world with their Return to Terroir tasting.
Try some of the purest wines on the planet as you roam the room – visiting many of the winemakers themselves – at this special tasting.

Return to Terroir is a group of 176 top international biodynamic winegrowers who hail from all corners of the globe…

Funny how that mention of “terroir” takes me back to Jason Koutsoukis’ report on Gaza:

As an ideological struggle plays out within Hamas between the comparatively moderate Erdoganis (named after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and the more extreme Talibanis (after the Afghan Islamist movement) it's not only drinkers who have to watch out.
Last month Hamas militants set fire to a Gaza social club, the Crazy Water Park, because they believed the owners were allowing too much fraternisation between men and women.
One of those owners is Alladin Mohammed al-Araj, a former economics minister in the first Hamas government.
"Unfortunately, we are seeing the more conservative faction with the upper hand at the moment,'' he says. ''All over Gaza, restaurants and clubs like this are being regularly shut down for no reason.''
"I hope that things change. This is a society where moderate Islam is the majority, but those people have not yet found a way to take control."

If Erdoganis are described as comparatively moderate, it’s a worry, as Turkey is rapidly Islamising under Erdogan, Scary too that social clubs in Gaza are being burned down because of fraternization between men and women.

In Australia, pubs and restaurants, water parks and beaches are places where both sexes mingle. It is unthinkable for it to be otherwise.

But there are countries where women are largely confined to the house, or if allowed out, have to be shrouded in a burqa.

Surely it couldn’t happen here! Sadly, we’ve seen totalitarianism gain a foothold, so we cannot be complacent.

Page 81: Snag Beer and Bubble Fest
These are a few of our favourite things…regional sausage makers at the barbeque…boutique brewers of beers and ciders behind the bar…a glass of bubbles from the winemaker…live music in the shade.

Unfortunately, many of our favourite things – pork sausages, beer, wine and music – are strictly off limits under Islam.

If you think sharia can be accommodated within our free and equal society, you don’t know Islam. Just look at Islamic societies like Saudi Arabia and Gaza. Do you really want to live like that?

Or do you prefer FREEDOM?
So in the lead up to the festive season, enjoy celebrating with family and friends.
But be on your guard. Freedom must never be taken for granted.

As Winston Churchill said:

“If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

At the moment, Muslims number only about 2% of the population, so we can still assert our right to freedom over Islamic slavery. But as Islam marches inexorably onwards, the more we delay, the more we risk losing everything we hold dear.