Ah the Good Food and Wine Show… what’s not to love about a day of tasting lots of different foods, wines and cocktails? My sis and I decided to head to the Brissy event and so we could enjoy the aforementioned wine as much as possible, took a deal on wotif.com at Royal on the Park.

We arrived in the city early and checked in at the hotel.  Service at the front desk was polite and efficient.  Self car parking was $25 so we took up the option.  We were pleasantly surprised that our room was ready, so we headed up to drop off our bags before making our way to the Show.  I’m always a bit skeptical about room photos, especially because we bought from wotif, but the room was exactly as depicted in the photos.  Two queen beds, recently refurbished, and overlooking the City Botanic Gardens.  Nice!  The bathroom was a bit tired, but for the price we paid ($150 a night) we were impressed.

We caught the City Cat from Eagle Street Pier to Southbank which was a great way to start our day in Brisbane.  Growing up around the Southeast you tend to take things for granted, so it was great to see a different view of the city from the water.  The cliffs at Kangaroo Point, Botanic Gardens and city itself looked great.  I have to say, I love a city with good public transport – go Brisvegas!

So… on to the show!  I had (as usual) done my research and printed off a list of celebrity chef performances and Riedel Wine Theatre tasting sessions.  We arrived and purchased our tickets ($21.50 each), then the obligatory tasting glass.  I’m sorry to say that I did also buy the round the neck wine glass holder ($10 for the glass and holder).  Yes, it’s a bit (!) bogan, but practical when you’re trying to taste food.  The unfortunate side effect was that any wine you drank whilst inside the wine holder smelt like neoprene (wetsuit material)… not something I generally like in a wine bouquet (ha ha).  So I ended up taking the glass out when I was tasting… ah well, still convenient for carrying.

We arrived hungry, so started out with some tastings of Yarra Valley Dairy’s Cheeses – Ash Chevre, Persian Fetta and a Soft Goats Cheese – all of which were delicious.  We decided to head to Woolworths Macro Pantry next, and actually realised we were in the Gluten Free Section.  Yep, for all you coeliacs or gluten intolerant people there’s a whole section at the Food Show dedicated to you!  We tried some of the Woolies gluten free products including Beetroot Chips, Sweet Potato Chips and Crumpets.  The Crumpets are sold in a packet mix, and were a highlight for us.  Deliciously sweet with Woolies Macro Maple Syrup, light but doughy.  We tried to go back later and get more but they had started demonstrating other items.  I’ll definitely be buying some of them soon.  As for the Beetroot and Sweet Potato Chips, yummy but a little oily.  Fi and I both agreed that these types of chips are often more oily but still good.

OK, so without going into a laundry list of every stall we visited, some more highlights were Byron Bay Chilli (the Coconut Chilli and green Jalapeno Chilli sauces are great, I had a chat with the owner about fresh Mexican Green Tomato Salsa.. mmm).  I had a soft serve from Maleny Dairy, which was creamy and delicious.  We bought a cheese platter from Barambah Organics that had marinated Feta, Labne and crackers.  We would’ve bought more cheese platters actually, but there weren’t many available… we saw one stand with cheese platters with no crackers?  Sadly we did end up buying an egg and lettuce sandwich and hot chips during the day… the food tasting wasn’t enough sustenance, particularly as we were drinking wine.  Ah wine…

We went along to the Riedel Wine Theatre for the ‘Good Food & Wine Show Dozen’ hosted by Phil Manser and Rob Hicks.  These guys really know their stuff.  We tasted 6 wines from throughout Australia including Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  Rob talked through the characteristics of each wine and showed a presentation demonstrating which areas of the tongue you could taste the wine in.  Overall it was a really interesting presentation, and we tasted some good wines.

Other wine highlights?  Stella Bella Shiraz and Sangiovese Cabernet were delicious.  By coincidence the guy at the Stella Bella stand served us dinner at Must in Margaret River back in March… small world!  There was a whole section of Barossa Wines (yay!) so we tasted St Halletts as I’m a big fan of their Faith Shiraz, and Sime loves their Old Block Shiraz.  My favourite wine was the Sparkling Shiraz which had a soft well rounded flavour.  We also visited the McLarenvale region and enjoyed some Wirra Wirra wines – highlights (memory getting a bit fuzzy at this point) were the Mrs Wigley’s Rose and Church Block Red.

So you might think by now that we had had enough to drink… clearly not because we found ourselves at the Bacardi stand and tasted a couple of cocktails including a Mojito and Cosmopolitan.  They had cocktail making classes so we decided to book in to the next session.  For $12 a head we got a cocktail making class and a finished product each to drink.  We made a Breakfast Martini – a mixture of Bombay Sapphire Gin (yum!), Marmalade and Lemon Juice.  Didn’t sound that good to me, but was delicious!  We had heaps of fun and I ended up winning a cocktail making kit!

That was about it for the day at the Good Food and Wine Show – we had a blast!  As usual we tasted some great food and amazing wines, but what made our day was the Riedel Wine Theatre and Bacardi cocktail making class.  I wish they had more options for lunch than the Convention Centre Food or the Oxford Landing Estates Restaurant serving Bain Marie food for $24 a main (admittedly designed by Poh and Marion from Master Chef… but pre-cooked food for that price? I don’t think so).  If you’re an oenophile (wine lover) then it’s definitely the place to be.  There are lots of free wine tasting sessions in the theatre, plus some paid sessions available.  A friend of mine went to the Cheese Tasting Session and said it was great.  Final tip from me – go on the Friday.  So much space and no line ups.  We have previously been on the Saturday and it just gets crazy busy with too many people and line ups for everything (bathrooms included).

Back to our hotel to rest our aching feet for a while.  We had grand plans of going out for more drinks but ended up ordering room service.  The hotel had done everything right up until this point.  We ordered two Steak Sandwiches and Fries ($22 each) which arrived on supermarket multigrain bread with iceberg lettuce and steak about 5mm thick.  It did taste good, but was about $8 worth of value and pretty poor for a 4.5 star hotel.  I do know that room service is served at a premium as it’s a cost for hotels, but the standard was low.  I left some guest feedback so will be keen to see if I get a response.  Checkout was efficient, and when we had a problem exiting the car park the Duty Manager (I think?) came out and was very friendly and helpful.  Overall a good stay, especially at the price.  Just beware the room service!

Royal on the Park, Cnr Alice and Albert Streets (07) 3221 3411