Food and Wine Festival draws a full house

The 9th Food and Wine Festival hosted by the Insel Fehmarn Hotel drew a full house on Saturday, with dozens of vendors selling food from around the world and dancers and singers performing traditional and contemporary shows.

The festival started late, with hardly any stalls ready for the advertised 10am start. But by lunchtime, things were running smoothly and tables were filling up.

The event's coordinator, Brianna Bertram, the granddaughter of the late Fritz Kruse who opened the hotel, said the festival has always been dedicated to celebrating international cuisine.

The Curry House was selling Indian-Fijian food; Roko’s Restaurant put on a Mexican selection; El Churro Loco had sweet Mexican treats covered and local pastries were sold by Maggie and Dolly Treats. There was even a Hawaiian pop-up.

Ms. Bertram said cuisine in Samoa has improved impressively both in range and quality recently. 

“I actually think it’s really come a long way in the past ten to 15 years. We have Italian, we have Indian food. There are some restaurants that try their hand at Japanese or Mexican," she said.

“And we have Korean and Chinese, so I think that’s a really good range of cuisine for a small island.”

But the supply-chain between farmers and chefs needs to improve, she said, so that restaurants can source more food locally more often.

Without a steady supply of quality fruit and vegetables, cafes and restaurants will continue rely on frozen and imported food.

“That comes down to agriculture and sustainability, and investing time and education so that restaurants can be more locally sourcing their supplies. 

“For example potatoes are not something that can be supplied locally which is a staple across the world.  We could probably use our local taro and kumara as well. We could aim to do that a bit better.

“What we do well in is using a lot of our local fish, and for our hotel we source several of our greens from W.I.B.D.I (Women in Business Development Incorporated)."

Chef and owner of The Curry House, Sabreen Cleverley, said she also finds securing a regular supply of local produce a challenge.

She imports spices herself, and now is excited to utilise recently launched Eat the Kiwi for quality produce imported from New Zealand, like cumin, turmeric, almonds, cornflour, self-rising flour and even tinned tomatoes.

“Hopefully I will never run out of supply.”

Ms. Cleverley said local turmeric, while abundant, does not quite suit the curries she makes. For taste and texture, powdered turmeric is best.

“To grind it and keep it is an issue too, storage is a problem. You have to use it all, and keep buying it so it’s easier to use the powdered one.”

The Curry House has been running for 14 years. In that time, Ms. Cleverly has watched the food market grow and grow each year, and like many, is surprised they all stay in business.

“There are so many choices for consumers these days, which is amazing for such a small country, to have so many cafés and restaurants.

“It seems everyone is surviving somehow, I don’t know. You go in and it’s always busy.”

She said the trend of meeting up over food may be helping

“With all these restaurants, people have a fashion now to have a meeting in a coffee shop, meeting at a restaurant.

“And, people don’t want to cook, it’s becoming like New Zealand. You work long hours, you’re tired, you get takeaways. This is amazing for businesses.”

El Churro Loco founder and chef Ben Toilolo said he is excited to bring food from his childhood to Samoa. He grew up on Long Beach in California, and ate a lot of Mexican food growing up, and is selling the quintessential Mexican dessert: churros.

“My wife is also from the States as well, my kids love Churros. We started doing this for the kids and then we figured we would make them for everyone else too.

“I got a special little recipe that everyone loves.”

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