You would be so proud of us, Mena and me.
This year we had a plan. We took heed of the advice we gave ourselves last year.
– We bought a trolley.
– We started the day with a substantial breakfast.
– And we didn’t make any plans for the evening.
Amy (second-eldest niece) and Mena’s mate Kay joined us for the day, which we started with breakfast and a game plan discussion. More rules: no stopping at stalls selling non-food items. If the stall doesn’t grab your immediate attention – MOVE ON. Don’t spend all day in one corner of the hall and miss out on other fun stuff. No wandering into the drinking area before 3pm.
We were like a military attack group. Mena grabbed handfuls of Frangelico with lime, while Amy tried anything resembling a chocolate mousse. No showbags were purchased as they were likely to slow us down. We divided and conquered every new aisle. it was marvellous.
We had tickets to the celebrity chef performance – Donna Hay at 12.30pm. An hour earlier we were close to the entrance and heard whoops and cheering coming from the auditorium: Ainsley Harriott was in town. Orlando would be horrified. We considered waiting like groupies for him to come off the stage so we could get a photo with him but decided our time was too precious.
To our dismay, the Donna Hay session conflicted with the “easy weekday meals” session at the Australian Good Taste magazine kitchen. Now, Mena and I spent a wonderful hour or so at a similar session last year, and decided that Michelle Southan (AGT’s chief editor) was our best friend because she cooked all our favourite foods and laughed a lot. After a moment’s thought, Donna lost out to our best mate Michelle and we sat and watched the show.
Mena and I frantically trawled the stalls looking for the divine dips we bought too little of last year; mercifully at the last moment before we were sucked into the wine area, we found Yumi’s and stocked up on their divine smoked trout mousse and tuna dip and all the other amazing flavours they have.
Then the onslaught began. We split up in the wine section, the better to cover more ground. Again, last year’s rules applied:
– Only taste one wine per stall
– Less talking, more drinking (yes, even Doyles can adhere to this at times)
– Don’t buy ANYTHING after the first half hour – you are drunk by then
– Have a chat to people you come across at the counter, but MOVE ALONG QUICKLY
– Ask the nice man to write the name of the wine down. You will not remember anything (much)
By closing time we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. We had bought some bread, some dips, some books and Mena had somehow purchased two cases of wine after the first half hour (it turned out to be a Good Decision). Exhausted, we walked slowly down to E Gusto (sounds much more fun if you say it with a Yorkshire accent and not an Italian one) and had one for the road with some antipasto and – yes – dips.
Home before nine o’clock, more or less in one piece, and we remember everything.
Oh, and we accosted Michelle Southan after her cooking show, told her she was our best friend, and she told us to email her anytime! Not that we are stalkers or anything…