Over the weekend a group of about 40 food bloggers got together for a Mad Hatter’s Picnic organised by Billy and Karen. There was another food blogger picnic being held in Melbourne at the same time; but no offence to fellow readers from Melb, I think the Sydney one was better. Both cities were encouraged to wear a crazy hat and bring along a dish to share and be judged as there were a few prizes to be given away. One of the prizes was a KitchenAid, which was kindly donated by the lovely people from Nuffnang, other prizes included restaurant gift vouchers, masterclasses and gadgets. There were 8 prizes up for grab and a secret one which I ended up taking, it came as a surprise to me and I’m so grateful for it; the award was for Best New Food Blogger. For this, I got a gift voucher for Aperitivo. Awww… thanks guys!
I was inspired to make a candy bowl hat; my idea was that I would have people picking candy from it. I know it’s not quite the same as the one in the insert of the picture above but it still worked out ok. I bought a fascinator base and covered a styrofoam cone with black fabric which was then glued onto the base. It was then a matter of adding some colour to the hat by lacing it with some ribbon and then pinning the candy onto the cone. The hat weighed about 0.5kg and I struggled to have it on my head; it didn’t help that it was lopsided too!
I failed taking pictures of the other hats but check out the winner of the Best Crazy Hat in the background of the above picture (on the right). Tammi from Insatiable Munchies made a Lady Gaga Orbit hat.
There were other crazy characters about; Trisha from Sugarlace and her sister dressed up as cute Jap lolita girls, a confused ninja wore a mini skirt and bunny ears and Gianna from The Empty Fridge was feeling tropical with her fruit bowl hat which saw her as runner up Best Crazy Hat.
Spread over 5 picnic blankets, it was time for the food but before we dug in there was about 10 minutes assigned to taking photos. There were more desserts in comparison to savoury dishes and at some point during the day, everyone was scouting for the last piece of savoury item or passing out from the food (and sugar) coma we were all experiencing. There was a delicious amount of food prepared and we spent a few hours feasting and mingling; trying to put a face behind a blog, meeting new bloggers or just catching up.
Apologies to those I didn’t get a chance to talk to or try/take photos of their creations. Here are the dishes featured at the picnic.
Minh from Eat, Show and Tell made some broccoli and cheese muffins; they may have looked innocent but when you cut one open, a whole broccoli reveals itself. Who would have thought that these would actually work? They were quite yummy and won her a prize for runners up best savoury.
There was another theme for this picnic; create something blue. There were a few blue dishes but the one that took out the most outrageous blue dish award was the Blu-schetta made by Moya of YaYa’s Yum Yums which were made fresh on the morning of the picnic.
A last minute dish by Anita of No Red Meat features Thai fish cakes. The night before she made caramel slice with popping candy but they didn’t pop as much as she liked so she decide to make another dish. These fish cakes were served with a cucumber and chilli dipping sauce and were so bloody awesome! So awesome in fact that it won her a KitchenAid Mixer for being the overall best dish of the day.
One of the two momofuku BBQ pork buns was made by Julie of I Dream In Chocolate (the other ones were made by Simon). Julie’s version had slabs of pork belly, pickled cucumber, spring onions and hoisin, whilst Simon’s version was DIY with pulled pork, coleslaw and bourbon sauce. Both versions were different and tasty but Julie’s version took out best savoury dish.
The party kicks on when Eliza of Boomerang Banquet brings out a nacho hat! It was so totally awesome, too bad the hat wasn’t actually made of nacho chips like in the Simpsons. Very cute concept.
Before starting on desserts, I found one last savoury dish to try. Gianna brought along some lamb pies which were stuffed with a lamb mince, olive, sun dried tomato, pine nut and (?) cheese mixture. They were still warm when I had them and were so moreish, I really loved how they were made with puff pastry. YUM! Also provided by Gianna was blue sangria. When it comes to food bloggers, it seems that only food matters, there was a limited amount of fluids at this picnic so everyone found great comfort to this drink. It was very light and refreshing with very little alcohol tasted (although apparently a lot of Cointreau and wine went into it).
Other savoury dishes included Pad Thai by Joe from My Delicious Blog, Smoked salmon blinis with dill cream (which were a slight of relief after all the desserts I had) by Jamie of Grubbing About, Bacon and olive loaf (bummed that I didn’t get to try this out) by Sandra of The French Wench and Cheese and chorizo puffs by Mademoiselle Délicieuse of Spoon, fork and chopsticks.
Definitely one of the show stoppers of the day. The very talented Anna from Diary of a Ladybird made this fantastic food blogger cake! Chocolate mud with layers of chocolate ganache and salted caramel adorn with things fit for a food blogger’s picnic such as laptop, dSLR, hamburgers, macarons, cake, sandwiches and fruit all made out of fondant. She obviously took out the prize for the best dessert.
Now prepare for the sugar coma overload, there were so many wonderful desserts and I’m so sad that I didn’t get to try it all. A lemon blueberry ricotta cheesecake was made by Leila of Tablenosh, I loved the abundance of fresh blueberries on this dessert. Shortbread tartlets by Paulina of Fat Belly Club featured a crumbly pastry tart case with a lightly tangy lemon cream topped with a fresh raspberry, these bite-size treats were so good they took out the prize for runners up best dessert. In the background of the pic on the top right, a triple ginger cake with honey marshmallow icing was made by Sophie of Stove Top Revolution, we all marvelled at it as we were almost lead to believe that it was Zumbo’s V8 cake.
An earl grey chiffon cake was made by Ayana of Oh-Ayana which included cute macarons topped with little rose petals. You can’t go wrong with macarons. Betty of Sugarpuffi made some chocolate chilli brownies which I found to be very subtle in the chilli department but apparently there was an extra brownie in there with an extra dose of chilli. I wonder if anyone got that piece…
Jamieanne of The Sweetest Kitchen made some funky looking chocolate and peanut butter slice which were pretty much like Reese’s peanut butter cups. Tammi took the stage to prepare her Tea-ramisu; the entire cup were made of chocolate which held sponge fingers that were soaked in black rose and french vanilla tea and homemade mascarpone.
Going with the blue theme, Rosalind from Rasa Rosa made blue glutinous rice kuih topped with kaya (coconut) jam and dried bunga telang (blue pea flower), which were quite popular as they were all gone by the time I was about to try it. More creative juices were flowing as Mrs Shanks of YaYa’s Yum Yums made Mad Hatter themed cupcakes.
More blue food on the horizon sees THREE different cookie monster cupcakes being made. They were so cute with their big googly eyes and cookie in their mouth. Jacq’s of Penguin says feed me version featured a coconut icing which made cookie monster look all fuzzy and furry, Sook’s of Nommy nom nom version (see above) was made with blue cupcakes and had very detailed icing of cookie monster’s fur and Eliza’s version had a massive cookie stuffed into his mouth (if cookies are “sometimes food” give me a huge serving of it please!).
More cuteness sees Trisha bringing along some adorable cakepops. Balls of buttercake were dipped into coloured white chocolate and decorated with fondant flowers and mushrooms (I loved the detailing of the mushrooms, there were ridges underneath the mushroom cap), hundreds and thousands and silver dragées.
These caramel slices may look innocent but they are actually bacon and chilli salted caramel slice made by Helen of Grab your Fork. The saltiness of the bacon and additional salt flakes nicely balances the sweetness of the caramel.
The dish I brought along was Phuoc’n Delicious S’mores Tarts (hehehe..) which I made by using this recipe for the pastry cases (with the addition of cinnamon to the dough) which was filled with a simple chocolate ganache (made of equal volumes of chocolate and cream) and some rice bubbles, then topped with some vanilla bean marshmallows made with this recipe. I was planning on toasting the marshmallows with a blowtorch but I ran out of time.
Other desserts included toblerone brownies by Rhonda of The Dainty Baker, Stephanie of Fluffy Makan made tri-colour huat kueh/fatt koh (steamed “smiling” rice cakes), soy milk jelly by Eugene from Nothing Too Sweet and I think a chocolate cheesecake by Gemma of The Cheap Glut.
After the announcement of all the prizes, it was time to smash up the pinata that Billy brought along. Woohoo… Fun times!
The highlight for me was probably witnessing a very happy Anita claim her KitchenAid Mixer; I mean, could that smile get any bigger? There was so much excitement from her and she definitely deserved to win, her fish cakes were so freaking awesome. I felt so happy for her that I went up to her afterwards and we both squealed and jumped up and down like little school girls! Congratulations hun!
I’m so happy to have a new world open up to me through blogging. What started off as a hobby on the side to take my mind away from the craziness that life may throw at me, it has now allowed me to meet so many cool people who share the same passion as me. Sending out some warm and fuzzy blogging love to everyone, may we feast epically together forevermore.
Once again, a HUGE thank you to Billy and Karen whom organised the picnic for both cities. You guys made it the success that it was.