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Festival bubbles over with ferment events

Eat | Drink | Explore

Adelaide’s first ferment festival has launched a program of events ranging from hands-on labs showing how to make kimchi, kombucha and cultured butter, to beer flights, whisky and chocolate pairing, and sourdough sessions.

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Ferment the Festival director Kris Lloyd, head cheesemaker at Woodside Cheese Wrights, says more than 120 South Australian businesses, including 43 food producers, will be represented at the October 19-22 event in Rundle Park.

She has also assembled an impressive line-up of food and drink boffins, including chefs Jock Zonfrillo, Emma Shearer and Simon Bryant, chocolatier Steven ter Horst, fermenting experts Sharon Flynn (The Fermentary) and Adam James (Rough Rice), and cultured butter maker Pepe Saya.

“We want it to be a very sophisticated event that explains an ancient story in a sophisticated manner that creates a platform for people to learn and to do business,” Lloyd tells InDaily.

“I like being able to introduce new things to people, and that’s what we’re doing here with Ferment.

“Yes, fermentation has been around for thousands of years, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what kombucha is, who don’t know what cultured butter is, or kimchi.”

Ferment the Festival will include hands-on workshops described as Food Labs where participants can try their hand at different fermenting techniques. Cookbook author Flynn, for example, will demonstrate how to make kombucha (a fermented tea drink) and kefir (a fermented milk drink), then send people home with their own SCOBY (starter culture).

Tasmanian Adam James – of Hobart’s Tricycle Café and the fermenting company Rough Rice – will present a workshop focused on kraut and kimchi; Simon Bryant will show how to make fermented lime pickles, fermented sambals and vegan kimchi; Barossa Fine Foods’ Alex Knoll will discuss fermented meats (charcuterie), and Small World Bakery’s Emily Salkeld will share her enthusiasm for sourdough bread.

There will also be Liquid Labs, including a beer flight with Vale Brewing, a cider flight with Hills Cider, and a gin flight showing how to mix fermented products with gin.

Among the products many people may not think of as part of the fermented family is chocolate, yet cocoa beans undergo a fermentation process for maximum flavour (you can read how it occurs here). Chocolate will feature in several festival events, including sessions hosted by small bar Nola where Steven ter Horst chocolate will be paired with whisky.

“We’ll do whisky and chocolate, whisky and cheese and whisky and charcuterie, obviously with all of those items being fermented,” Lloyd says.

Adam James won a Churchill Fellowship to study techniques in vegetable and legume fermentation.

“I want to try to introduce new food pairings as well, so it’s not just cheese and wine – there’s an enormous amount more we can look at.”

Wine writer and marketer Paul Henry will present a series of wine showcases and master-classes, most notably a Friday night “VIP event” where six top South Australian winemakers will share their landmark wines, accompanied by canapes prepared by Botanic Gardens Restaurant chef Paul Baker. On the Thursday night, Ferment patron Zonfrillo will present an eight-course “Fermented Feast”, with each course prepared by a different chef.

Spread over the three days will be “Heroes & Stories” talks featuring the likes of Saya, Salkeld,  Bryant, Hills Cider’s Tobias Kline and Mojo Kombucha’s Andrew Buttery.

Ferment the Festival coincides with a growing public interest in the process of fermentation, fuelled in part by increasing research showing its potential health benefits, alongside new cookbooks and health-food books by identities such as TV broadcaster Michael Mosely.

Given her experience as a cheesemaker, fermentation is certainly not a new interest for Lloyd, but she says she is “completely fascinated” by the process.

“We lost a lot of the fermentation through the industrialisation of food, so it’s been there for thousands and thousands of years but now here we are doing the loop back,” she says.

“At the core of most of the food and drinks we love is the process of fermentation … I think people have been bedazzled by processed foods for too long but now it’s just doing a whole about-face.”

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