My second Taste Great Southern event was the Fervor Camp Oven Cook Up in Albany, a short 90-minute drive back from lunch in Ongerup.
The meal was a collaboration between Fervor and local camp oven cooking expert Col Sippe, who kindly hosted the dinner in the grounds of his private farm.
Social matters – especially with strangers – are not my strong point, and I was expecting an evening of awkward silences. Thankfully, I had a dining buddy for the evening in Amy Hamilton, chef and owner of Albany restaurant and bar, Liberté (a must-visit if you’re anywhere in the region).
Liberté was my first stop when I arrived in Albany on the previous day and I asked to meet Amy, having interviewed her for Broadsheet some weeks earlier. Unfortunately my message didn’t quite get through, and she didn’t realise until later that night that I wasn’t a fanboy stalker.
Misunderstandings out of the way, she was great company during the dinner despite harassing me into driving her home half way through the evening to collect more wine 🙂
Fervor’s mission is to take guests on a unique culinary adventure that draws on fresh, locally sourced produce. Its leader and executive chef Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov has worked in an impressive array of kitchens including Vue De Monde, Amuse and Noma.
The Fervor crew operate like a well oiled machine, producing dish after creative dish in near-darkness for much of the night. There’s obviously a great deal of technical wizardry going on behind the scenes.
I knew in advance that I was going to be challenged by this meal, especially as I’m not much of a seafood eater. Now that I’ve eaten a barramundi swim bladder, I feel like (almost) nothing is off-limits. I think this was my first time eating ants, too.
There were at least five dishes in addition to what you see above, and the dinner lasted for nearly six hours.
For much of the evening it was too dark to see what you were eating, which is why I didn’t take many food photos. This shot of the emu dish was lit with my phone, at a point in the evening when most of the guests had drunk enough not to notice.
My favourite dish was the slow-cooked egg with samphire, muntrie (native berry) and mushroom, which was an adventure in texture and flavour – you can see it in the gallery below. I kept going back for more saltbush, too…
A night with Fervor is not your standard dinner-table experience, but is one that should be on your culinary bucket-list.
You’re probably not going to like everything that’s served to you, but that’s not the point. It’s a journey, and one you’ll feel much richer having been on.
See below for more pictures from the dinner. I’d like to thank Taste Great Southern for sponsoring my visit to the festival, and the Fervor crew and Col Sippe for hosting this memorable event.