Last Sunday, the Middle Park Hotel, along with help from Fancy Hanks, Huxtaburger, Mitchelton wines, Mornington Brewery, Rickets Point fine food and Calendar Cheese Company put on the second annual Meatopia.
I’d never heard of Meatopia before, but on finding out what it was there was no way I was going to miss it, so bought my ticket and headed on down.
On arrival the place was packed, you could see the gazebos outside housing Huxtaburger and smell the sweet aroma of the smoker from Fancy Hanks. I’d dragged my friend along because two mouths equals double the amount of food right?
After receiving our coupon ticket stub thingy (the best way I can describe this at the moment) we walked in to this.
Two things crossed my mind: one, I am sure glad I came to this and two, I’m glad I brought a friend so I could get everything on the Fancy Hanks and Huxtaburger menus and half the Middle Park one.
The ribs were first out, crispy, hot and juicy.
The flavour was good and the mayo was creamy and added depth but wasn’t overly spicy which I thought was a bit of a letdown. My friend didn’t like them that much which was fortunate for me as I got to demolish them all. Just as I finished the ribs the burger we ordered came out.
Served up take away style wrapped up it didn’t look as good as their normal burgers but tasted just the same; a rich buttery bun, good use of condiments and pickles and a well, though slightly over-cooked patty.
As soon as we got the burger I moved into line at Fancy Hanks, because I was hankering for some hanks.
They had a Carolina style whole hog pulled pork with apple pomegranate slaw and jalapeño cornbread, and their Kansas style pork ribs.
Now I’m an old Fancy Hank’s fan, I still remember when they first came out onto the scene and started doing their thing. They were still experimenting with styles and had not quite perfected their recipes, but the quality was great and everything was tender, juicy and amazing. On this particular occasion though, Hank let me down.
The ribs were good as always, although a bit dry, but the disappointment was the whole pulled pork meal. The pork was dry, and not really in the “pulled style”, the corn bread wasn’t enjoyable and the slaw was mostly cabbage with little trace of dressing and other ingredients.
After that round of meat we decided to take a break and check out what else was on offer in terms of ice cream and cheese.
Ricketts point fine foods were out the back giving away heart shaped ice cream sandwiches, and small cups of ice cream. Being a complete pain I wanted, moreover I needed, to try all of them because they looked so good. They had a salted caramel sandwich, a strawberry one, and in the two cups were a coffee and a coconut. The biscuits were phenomenal; it was like a cross between a brownie and a biscuit with amazing ice cream (the strawberry was my favourite).
The coffee ice cream was good but had a slight instant coffee flavour, while the coconut was almost like eating the real thing.
Back inside the Calendar Cheese Company was giving a plate of cheddar-like hard, white mould brie, and a blue cheese. I wasn’t expecting to have this much cheese (this is not a complaint, the more the better) but the woman behind the table just piled on the blue.
The Middle Park Hotel was the last one serving up food, and they had a choice of four meals: a tasting plate of beef, a Flinders island lamb souvlaki, a twice cooked pork jowl BLT and a bbq St Louis cut pork rib.
Having had so much pork already my friend decided she wanted to get the lamb souvlaki, and I went for the most obvious reason I was there, the meat tasting plate.
The tasting plate was a John Dee sirloin, a Warialda Belted Galloway bolar blade and a sher wagyu rump, while the souvlaki had spit roasted lamb with hummus, tabouleh and tzatziki.
The tasting plate was good, all meats cooked med rare to medium, definitely sealed then roasted in the oven. There was nothing overly tender, but everything was great flavour wise, with the wagyu standing out the most. I don’t think I can really rate or criticise too much considering it was being served cold. All well salted and served with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
The souvlaki was the other big disappointment of the day. The bread was dry and there was simply too much, while the hummus and tabouleh destroyed any lamb flavour you could hope to get.
After about two bites I gave up and unwrapped it, scrapped of whatever sauce was on the lamb and ate that. It was cooked well, slightly fatty and tender. I enjoyed the lamb on its own but that mix in the souvlaki was terrible.
Meatopia was in my opinion a raging success and a good lot of fun. I hope it will be back next year bigger and better.