Jamie Oliver recently graced our shores and performed a couple of his energetic brand of live shows in Melbourne. The bonus part was that following these he came to Sydney and performed an open-air show in Centennial Park for free! I came to know about this event through the powers of mX on the way home one day but the advertisement was vague. The Centennial Parklands website was not much better and only described the event as featuring ‘live entertainment’, so for all anyone knew it could’ve just been a pre-recorded show played on a large screen in the park. Nonetheless, I made sure I remembered to try for tickets come 9am on Friday 5 March when they officially became available because who doesn’t like a free event?
I was all prepared and made sure I was logged in, fingers poised at the ready, prior to the time tickets would be ‘on sale’. When the little notice went from ‘tickets available soon’ to ‘tickets available now’ I clicked away furiously in the hope of securing some tickets. Fifteen minutes went by without reward but my spirits were high. At 9:30am I still held hope and at 9:50am I officially gave up. I was disappointed, until the husband let me know that he’d managed to nab 4 tickets, the maximum allowed, within five minutes of them becoming available.
Show evening swung around, the skies were clear and the evening featured the company of my two lovely ladies, Wifey and Mistress. The instructions for the event were to bring-your-own picnic dinner and I absolutely love picnics. Contributions from me included savoury tartlets made simply by pressing squares of store-bought shortcrust pastry into a muffin tray and filling them with mushroom, sundried tomato, pesto and haloumi, as well as ones with peas and haloumi and baking at 190°C for around 10 minutes.
And another rendition of finger sandwiches from me as well!
Wifey bought a small cheesecake that had a wonderfully fluffy texture that was topped with a berry jelly layer and encrusted with flaked almonds around the outside.
Seating for the event was unallocated across an expanse of grass although there were several rows of fold-up chairs at the front of the stage presumably for guests that were circulating in the VIP tents on our arrival. A band provided live musical entertainment pre-show and stayed on as Jamie’s back-up music throughout. And why would he need music, I hear you ask? Well, the first dish he demonstrated was pan-fried scallops with asparagus and prosciutto which he cooked on an adjacent stove burner whilst playing the drums to Oasis’ Wonderwall! At times he even used a drumstick to double as a wooden spoon.
The evening continued in Jamie Oliver’s inimitable excited manner and featured television clips from his time at River Café as well as other television series. Ben O’Donoghue was invited on stage to help out with a version of River Café’s infamous Chocolate Nemesis. Jamie talked about his plans to start a Ministry of Food in Australia and all proceeds from sales of the $15 show program were going towards this cause. Now to be involved with something like that would be a dream job for people like us!
I wasn’t able to attend any of the Taste of Sydney events in the lead up to Jamie in the Park due to wedding planning commitments as well as having to attend a friend’s wedding, but you can read about it and drool over photos at various blogs. However Jamie Oliver’s free event at Centennial Park was a most ample consolation prize for me, especially when we spotted the shadowy outlines of Manu Feildel, Pete Evans, Matt Moran and Alistair McLeod in the distance with the VIP crowd.
happy cooking & happy eating!