Felton Food Festival organisers Rob and Sally McCreath, who are also farmers, are proven believers in promoting produce from our region. Their latest idea was a Pop-Up Restaurant in a Paddock fundraiser, held with 50 invited guests in a crop of wheat, just days before harvest earlier this month. The menu featured Kym’s Home Grown Organics Grains chickpea and mungbean hummus made from pulses grown at Millmerran, and sourdough bruschetta made by Chalala Micro Bakery at Pittsworth using organic flour from the Kialla Pure Foods mill at Greenmount.
Gourmet pizzas cooked in a woodfired oven on site by Forest Grove chefs and salad came out for mains, and featured meats, herbs and vegetables from local producers. Each course brought a short talk from the producers who had the crowd thinking about food miles, and just how diverse, wholesome and marketable the food from the Darling Downs is. Apart from raising around $1000 for the restoration of the Felton Hall, the Pop-Up brought guests – many of them neighbours who have been struggling with ongoing drought – together under the stars to enjoy a truly magical evening where the wheat heads rustling in the breeze provided the background music.
Dinner was laid out on a long table complete with white tablecloths, and dotted with Rob’s bespoke lightstands made from repurposed shanks and sweeps. Burleigh Brewing Company beer and Ballandean Wines were available to complement the Adam’s Ale, and a hayride down and back was on offer from the car parking area for those who were not so keen to find out why guests were advised to wear flat shoes and bring a torch.
“The festival committee has been keen on doing something like this for a while but we are all so busy working on aspects of the festival that we thought the volunteers might get burnt out, so Rob and I decided to give it a go,” Sally McCreath said. Sally’s homemade apple crumble with sorghum flour in the topping rounded off the meal and after-dinner conversation was interrupted by a weather warning from Rob which went something like “we’ve got 20 minutes before the storm hits”. Hit it did when most had made it back to shelter, and a storm dropped seven welcome millimetres of driving rain on the Prestbury crops. Sally said the Pop-Up or something like it may become a regular on the Felton calendar to go with the annual food festival in April, which attracted 4000 visitors in its first year in 2012, and drew a record crowd of 10,000 this year. “I would like to see two main events for the Felton region each year focus on local food and farmers.”
Words by Liz Wells