Corks & Forks Forever!

Corks & Forks: a catchy name for the inaugural international food and wine fair organized to celebrate ANZCHAM’s 30th birthday.

ANZCHAM –the Australia & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce – is an organization that cooperates with the Philippine Government to promote investment opportunities and business relationships between Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. It also works actively ‘to create a community’ by hosting social events such as the Corks & Forks Bubbly Brunch, Oztangi Day, a number of sporting events,  and the Jazzfest, another new event this year. Both the Australian and New Zealand embassies are close allies, and AMZCHAM also cozies up with ANZA to help organize and sponsor the ANZA Ball.

As the global food and beverage industry continues to grow exponentially, Corks & Forks was designed as a way to promote Australian and New Zealand food and wine products in the Philippines.  This country is not traditionally a nation of wine drinkers, but as interest grows, it makes sense to introduce them to the fine wines of their antipodean neighbours.

The event was not confined to Australian and New Zealand exhibitors, however, but included local, Australian-owned businesses such as Chocolate Fire and The Wine Depot. The event also showcased local Food and Beverage magazines such as Yummy and Appetite, and Manila culinary schools Enderun Colleges and Treston Colleges, plus partner hotels such as The Marriott, where the event was held.

Entering the Ballroom at the Marriott Hotel, we chose a glass of wine before stepping into the crowd to sample the specialist products at the exhibitors’ stands. Taste-testing was encouraged, so we ambled happily amongst the various cheese stalls – some very tasty cheeses from New Zealand’s Fonterra – topped up our glasses at the numerous wine outlets, such as  Tanglewood Wines and Craggy Range.  We also  sampled hot chocolate from Max Brenner’s and truffles from Chocolate Fire.

Apparently there were cooking demonstrations and guest lecturers that I will have to visit next year, but by then I was entrenched in the dining area set up at the rear of the ballroom, enjoying the Bubbly Brunch where the bubbles were all too freely flowing. If I had been organized, I would have booked in advance and made up a table with friends, but instead my husband and I elbowed our way in at the last minute, tempted into upgrading our ticket by the wonderful smells and laughter coming through the wrought iron screens. Thus a table in the far back corner was probably our just desserts – except that it turned out exceptionally well, as we found ourselves sitting with a really interesting group of strangers who rapidly became friends.

Although brunch always strikes me as one of those meals that can’t quite decide what it is supposed to be, this one was a splendid affair. Muesli & yoghurt layered in a cocktail glass like a breakfast version of halo halo; platters of fresh fruit; hors d’oeuvres of salmon on blinis; New Zealand roast lamb and Australian beef with asparagus and chargrilled vegetables; and the pièce de resistance: a silver tureen filled with crushed ice and bejewellled with shellfish: crab claws, oysters, prawns and a pearly tiara of calamari. And the individual dessert platters were suitably self-indulgent.

We had planned to pop in for an hour or so. But I have vague memories of fond farewells and a luggage trolley as we poured ourselves into the car four, or was it five hours later? I forget. But I do remember that we not only got to meet some great wines, but we also made a lot of lovely new friends and tasted some really delicious food. Thanks ANZCHAM. Please do it again next year!

*with thanks to Caroline Edgington at ANZCHAM for the photographs.

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