A drink with Hemingway and the Manly Food and Wine Festival
Hemingway’s Bar on Manly’s Beachfront tells you to: “come down it’s mad.” Well, I better do as Mr Hemingway says or he’ll get mad! The Manly Food and Wine Festival seems like a good chance to do this. We decide to check out the festival first and head into Hemingway’s Manly when the weather turns for the worse. We stroll around the festival, stopping for some wine, my favourite being Drayton’s Family Wine’s Shiraz, listen to some guitar work and a cooking demonstration by Manly Grill where they prepare some lamb. Only the beach front section of the festival was worth checking out, the part that went down the Corso not really about food or wine.
From Le Kiosk I have the $12 Mediterranean Tasting Plate: slow roasted salt bush lamb souvlaki (which is incredibly tender), chargrilled chrorizo ( a little oily), vanilla kingfish with prawn escabeche (not the freshest tasting) and marinated Sardinian Olives.
What I (and every other person in Manly, judging by the line) wanted to try was China Beach. Still on my list of places to try (because it’s a bit pricey) they ran out of the Massaman Wagyu shin curry with peanuts and roasted kumera ($12) by 2.30pm on the first day! Quite disapointing. We ended up getting the last serve of slow cooked pork with rice, which was fine but was a bit dry in places because it had obviously been out in the elements all day. The Trio of betal leaves ($9), however, were far from disappointing. The Betel leaf with house smoked trout, grilled eggplant and green chilli nam jim is full of fresh herbs and a strong smoky flavour, without being dry. This betal leaf is on their regular menu, however the other two are all new. One has a lovely crispy texture and the other has diced pieced of green apple, goji berries, chili, mint, Spanish onion and some kind of raw white fish. The last is my favourite as the texture is crunchy, contrasting and the flavours hot but not overpowering and fresh tasting. I’ll make sure I try out the rest of the menu soon.
We decide it’s time to head to Hemingway’s Manly and sure enough, about half an hour later it’s starting to rain. Perfect timing. We find a bench and stools (the perfect spot for people watching) and settle in. I love the bookshelf, the writing on the way, even the table numbers clipped on to books. This is a place run by bearded Manly men, much like Hemingway himself (well, just the beard bit) and you can tell they have a lot of fun running it. We choose the Manly Food and Wine Festival specials ($15 each). I have the ‘school’ crispy school prawns, green tea salt, citrus mayo, which are crunchy and the mayo perfectly tangy. The Boy has the ‘sliders’ beef, cheese, bacon, bbq, mayo, pickles. The menu is also full of American snack food items like nuggets, ribs, pancakes and so on. A slider being a mini hamburger, or bar burger. Quality ingredients that appear as junk food. But it seems appropriate for Hemingways to have a menu like this, similar to the menu at Stitch, Duke Bistro, Eathouse Diner, Gardel’s Bar, Jazz City Diner, Norfolk Hotel and more. It’s the trendy menu of the moment. The location is also perfect, giving you ocean views and the vibe, although a lot more packed than normal, I’m sure is still fairly relaxed. I would recommend making the trip to the North side for it.