“Are we there yet?” That’s me in the passenger seat, in between texting everyone I know.
A trip to Lakes Entrance from Melbourne seems to take forever. There are a few unscheduled stops along on the way, a quick $15.oo meal of flathead tails at the Trafalgar Hotel, a visit to an Op Shop or two on route, a stop at the Thorpdale Potato Shed for some fresh Nicola or Dutch Cream potatoes. And what about that Turkish Magic shop in Stratford for an exotic ottoman? No wonder the trip to the Lakes seems to take forever. Mr Tranquillo is a patient driver: I justify the stops in the interest of leg stretching.
Each year this seaside town holds a Seafarers Festival, which occurs on the Saturday following December 6, the feast day of St Nicholas of the Seas. The festival commences with a march through the main street, the green statue of St Nic leading the way. He is then carried to the sea and watches silently while a group of pastors conduct the Blessing of the Fleet, a simple Christian event, preceded by an Aboriginal tribute.This year’s Aboriginal welcome to country included a remarkable didgeridoo performance, the melancholic sound silencing the gathered crowd. Today both Lakes Entrance and LakeTyers retain a strong Aboriginal community and presence.
Three large marquees were set up for the day’s entertainment. The first cooking demonstration was conducted by Mark Olive, or the black olive, as he calls himself. Mark is really funny and engaging: he introduces us to indigenous foods as we taste a huge variety of peppers and herbs from the Australian bush. He is a great advocate for local produce, and sees the day when our herbs and animal meats become mainstream.Although St Nicholas was known for his abstinence, this doesn’t deter us from indulging in a full wine tasting. This year only one wine company tempted us with their goods: in previous years, the Gippsland wine industry was better represented.
With a glass in hand, we moved on to the next event, conducted by Mark Norvoyle and his handsome apprentice Samuel Smith. Within 40 minutes Mark and Sam deftly pin boned a side of fresh salmon, making one simple gravlax, some salmon and eggplant spring rolls, salmon confit, and a sashimi and tofu salmon. They made it look all too simple.Salivating from the food demonstartions, we headed off in search of tucker, finding a wondrous Paella stall. The serves came in small buckets, with a generous supply of calamari, scallops and mussels for $8.00. We scoffed these down as we watched a troupe of Greek dancers spinning around in the big marquee.
Off to another cooking demo by Matt and Mike, from My Kitchen Rules fame. These two were hilarious. Not cooks, these entertainers gave us an insight into the world of MKR.
A quick rest, then off to the Lakes Entrance Bowling club for an Italian Buffet night, with all you can eat pasta and pizza. The food was so- so, and that’s being kind, but the main attraction was the band, I Viaggiatori. Kavisha Mazzella and her troupe, performed beautiful Italian folk songs and ballads from the album, ‘Suitcase Secrets’.Included was the Australianised version of Mamma Mia Dammi Cento Lire, one of my favourites, and Canzone della Lega, the radical womens song from the rice growing area of the Po Valley. Kavisha is a Melbourne legend, having initiated and led Le goie delle donne, an Italo- Australian womens choir, in the 90s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jse5tqHTIdc
And then on Sunday we rested and ate more fish.