A Taste of Slow Festival; the Refectory

A belated report on the A Taste of Slow Festival at the Abbotsford Convent a few weekends ago, now that I have found the cord for downloading photos from my camera. The last few photos of the bakery are from the first, temporary, opening for the Festival. The festival attracted 16,000 people, triple the numbers at last year’s festival. I paid a flying visit, which was no doubt completely the wrong thing to do, but the place was pretty much in gridlock as pointed out by today’s Epicure. That aside, it was good to see the Convent buzzing with crowds, the great majority of whom no doubt were having their first introduction to the hidden treasure of the Convent.There was a great big refectory where you could collect one of three meals from the counter in return for a ticket purchased outside for $15 at one end, and wine, if you liked, at the other. It was in Rosina, the Convent’s theatre. The slow food crowd has some well-heeled elements, and that’s as polite as I can be. (One woman exhibited behaviours which made me think an electric fence should be erected around Malvern, Armidale and Toorak. A more repulsive creature is hard to imagine. Blonde and bejewelled, her fluffy dog no doubt waiting outside in the double-parked Range Rover, she asked the harried but winsome bakery girl who was engaged in satisyfing the despicable creature’s desire for a croissant whether she had deliberately painted lines of mascara on her eyelids or whether it had just rubbed off, then giggled to her lady friend “I just wanted to wreck her day”.)

Then, in Rosina, two older women sulked with the most dramatic petulance while standing waiting, admittedly for a very long time, for their meals in the refectory. I so wanted to point out to them that it was a slow food festival, but I restrained myself.
Quite unexpectedly, the beef cheeks on parmesanny polenta I ordered was poor. I kept pinching myself to check that something that sounded and looked so good could be so tasteless. Cooking slow food for 16,000 people must be trying, and when I was there the people behing the counter were very tried, but my particular dish just wasn’t up to it.

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