We pushed through the thronged aisles, sampling all Australia has to offer in terms of gourmet food: Indian spices, seafood pates, jams and preserves, flavoured olive oils, teas and coffees.
The first cookery demonstration we sat through was wonderful. We learned how to make a winter soup and a delicious home-made rocket pesto. An actual member of the McGuigan family talked us through wine matching and handed out samples to taste. We could have gone home then and felt we'd got our money's worth.
The second demonstration was given by Ben O'Donoghue, an Aussie celebrity chef, but he didn't teach us as much as the previous food editor lady. We cut our losses and headed for the wine tasting.
Two hours and dozens of tastings later, we had made lots of new winery friends and pretended to be able to taste the difference between a pinot noir and a sangiovese. I got lost on the way to the loo and went missing for half an hour. Mena opened her purse next morning and found six comedy store tickets where her cash had been. We stood Orlando up in the casino afterwards: he finally found us in a food court unable to remember how we'd arrived there, and still managed to stay civil to us.
Next year I will do three things differently:
- I will bring an old lady's shopping trolley on wheels to save my poor shoulders from all those freebies;
- I will have a decent lunch before starting the wine tasting section of the day;
- I will not stand Orlando up afterwards, but respect his kind offer of a lift home and try not to be a disastrous drunk!