Coming to Geelong for three mouth-watering weeks throughout the month of July is the ‘Tastes of Central Geelong’ festival, celebrating all things delicious in the region. Held throughout the heart of Geelong, you can sample gourmet food and drink, learn tricks of the trade from local chefs, wine and dine, and participate in food-themed events.
With hundreds of activities on offer, it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned foodie or a new-found food lover, young or young at heart, we can guarantee that there will be something new and enticing for you to devour.
One event that we are excited for (and is sure to be one of the biggest treats of the entire festival, for Forté readers especially) is the Fried Chicken & Froths event.
Whether it’s doused in gravy or hot sauce; sustainably-sourced or gluten-free; Taiwanese, Korean, or South American, fried chicken is the epitome of soul food in any language, and Geelong’s vibrant restaurant scene brings you this heavenly bird done every way imaginable.
But of course, fried chicken is nothing without its golden counterpart. Best paired with a crisp pale ale, golden ale or pilsener, it is truly one of life’s little warm, crunchy constants — especially in the cold, cold heart of a Geelong winter.
Running across three dates (July 10, 17 & 24), this Tastes of Central Geelong event will see guests spending an evening with this ultimate couple. Sample tasty Korean, Japanese and Southern fried chicken while washing it all down with crisp local beers found in Central Geelong.
Your tour guide will lead you to five locations where you will receive a delicious tasting at each. Let’s take a quick look at the five participating businesses.
Pioneered by the team from the far-famed Piano Bar, it was the rise in craft beer both here in Australia and around the world that inspired the creation of Big Ears – a bar dedicated to good beer and good food.
Making itself a home on Little Malop street almost a year ago to date, Big Ears has become a favourite for the avid beer lover with a list of more than 70 beers, providing an ever-evolving collection of stellar finds. Ranging from locally made small batch craft beers to boutique treasures from some of the oldest breweries across the globe, there is just one thing constant on their changing menu; passion. The team loves what they do and they love what they serve. We can be sure your taste buds are going to love you for making this stop on the tour.
It’s not just alcohol, however, that has Big Ears earning its stripes. They’ve also mastered the recipe for the best meatballs using only the best ingredients. Comforting in every guise, the lure of a meatball is hard to beat – and why would you want to? Big Ears is quickly becoming Geelong’s Meatball Mecca, revolutionising the humble meatball you were once served alongside three serves of vegetables, and embracing a ‘build your own dinner’ concept. The moment you smell the heavenly aroma from the kitchen, you won’t be able to help yourself from devouring these round morsels of awesomeness so make sure find a time to head back and try them following the event.
Big Ears is a clear favourite amongst the locals… and we can absolutely see why.
Located at 86 Little Malop Street, Big Ears is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30am – late.
LEEGA KOREAN BBQ
Have you ever wanted a sensory experience of authentic Korean cuisine? Well lucky for you the Fried Chicken and Froths tour will take you inside Geelong’s first genuine (and #1) Korean barbecue restaurant to fulfill all your cravings.
Located on Gheringhap Street since May 2017, Leega has established itself as one of the most recommended restaurants in Geelong, and when you go, you’ll understand why.
Upon first look, you’ll quickly realise it’s all about the theatre of Korean barbecue. Here, each table has its own charcoal grill and extractor fans, so you can eagerly watch your dinner sizzle before it lands piping hot on your plate.
If you’ve never been to a Korean BBQ before, the aim of the game is to pick a staple – so BBQ beef, pork, duck and/or chicken and with it comes four delicious sauces, and a range of side dishes (think pickled radish, kimchi, coleslaw, fishcakes) to help you create the very best meal. There’s even a vegetable platter for the vegetarians so no one misses out on the DIY Korean experience.
Who can resist the multiple sensory pleasures you can experience from Korean barbecue? A combination of spicy salty flavours, mixed with the different textures and temperatures, and the hands-on fun of creating your own meal to top it off, this is a sensory experience that we highly recommend you give a go.
Leega Korean BBQ is located at 37 Gheringhap Street in Geelong.
TOMODACHI IZAKAYA & BAR
Izakaya style dining is about eating, drinking and sharing in a casual environment with good people, and is a staple of Japanese cuisine.
Izakaya is a relatively new concept in Australia, and over the last couple of years Tomodachi Izakaya has been teaching Geelong about this style of dining in a warm environment tucked into a cosy space on Little Malop St, a space you’ll get to check out during the tour.
‘Tomodachi’ is the Japanese word for friends, so it makes sense that Tomodachi Izakaya is best-enjoyed tapas style. Tomodachi’s menu lends itself to this perfectly, it’s centered around sharing: from succulent meats like pork belly, beef, chicken; to fresh sea food and sashimi; plus, plenty of vegetarian options too.
All the classic Japanese options are available, like mouth-watering takoyaki, tempura, karaage, unagi, and okonomiyaki. A number of more unique dishes are on offer to try as well, such as renkon chips (made from sliced lotus root), kani korokke, and chicken curry udon.
The word ‘Izakaya’ is a combination of ‘I’ meaning to stay, and ‘zakaya’ meaning sake shop. So, in my humble opinion, it would go against tradition to not get a little boozy when you visit. Boozy won’t be hard either, with a perfectly curated cocktail menu, sake, beer, and wine. Their bar takes inspiration from the backstreet, corner bars found throughout Tokyo.
A relaxed setting that brings unique flavours to Geelong’s palette, you can expect some mouth-watering chicken, Japanese style.
Tomodachi Izakaya is located at 85A Little Malop Street.
PISTOL PETE’S FOOD N BLUES
It wouldn’t be a Tastes of Central Geelong tour without a stop at Pistol Pete’s.
Known as the only place in the Geelong region where you can taste, smell, hear and actually feel like you are right in the middle of the Southern States – minus the travel fare, owner Pete Raimondo has aimed to create a truly American experience since opening back in 2014.
Their menu consists of three sections. A range of ‘Vittles’ are great for something to nibble on, while ‘In Ya Hand’ covers your range of burgers and po boys, from the crispy Southern Chicken BLT, the tasty Mojo Burger, to the Shrimp Po’Boy and Pete’s famous New Orleans style Gumbo.
‘On Ya Plate’ steps it up with scrumptious eats like tender Pulled Pork, Jambalaya or Southern Style Chicken with your own choice of sides, or there are sharing options like the Pistol Platter and The N’Awlins Taster Plate to take your taste buds directly to The Southern States.
There’s also no stress for those with the dietary requirements, as they have a range of vegetarian and gluten-free options, including the Southern Style Tofu Burger or Jambalaya with Okra.
With blues music as an overarching theme, there’s a staged area for live blues music, which is now hosted six times a week.
Pistol Pete’s is located at 93A Little Malop Street, Geelong.
Luckily for us here in Geelong, we’re blessed with a heap of taprooms, bars, and pubs, so you can sip freshly brewed beer and get your hands on limited edition releases, just-tapped one-off kegs and to pick the brains of the knowledgeable brewers at any time.
One taproom you’ll get to visit on the tour is Valhalla Brewing & Taproom. Located in Geelong’s Union Street in a newly developed building (the one with the striking mural of musicians Jay-Z and Beyonce on the side wall), Valhalla creates craft beer that honours the Viking philosophy: That life is to be lived to the fullest; that life (and, of course, beer) is a gift from the gods and therefore should honour the gift that has been bestowed upon us. Honouring the philosophy, Valhalla create “seriously drinkable” beers, with beers that will excite and interest dedicated craft beer drinkers, yet also provide an enjoyable experience for the average beer drinker.
Just take a look at their range and you’ll see what we mean. Some of their honourable mentions include the Obsidian Black Ale (fuelled with black malts with bold grassy hoppiness), their Aragon – India Pale Ale (coined a warrior of a beer), the Gallowtree Oatmeal Stout and the Freya Moon Passionfruit IPA. How’s that for creativity?
With ten taps in the middle of the bar, Valhalla features four to five of their own beers, with some on rotation, while the other taps will focus on showcasing independent Australian and New Zealand craft beer and cider. Alongside the beers on tap, you also have access to an ever-changing collection of more than 40 bottled beers, as well as a modest, prime collection of Victorian wines, and quality spirits.
This unique taproom oozes elegance, class, and quirkiness, infused together in the best possible way, you’ll be coming back time and time again.
Valhalla is located at 12-14 Union Street.
Alongside the chicken and froths tour, there is so much more to do at Geelong’s Tastes of Central Geelong festival, including more guided tours, a series of food and drink-related classes, checking out The Central Geelong Bake Off, fancy high teas, wine dinners and themed nights, as well as a huge range of special offers from an enormous number of cafes.
There’s even a variety of kids activities including a VR experience, cooking classes and food crafts, and a Sweet Street Friday event which sees dessert pop-ups, entertainment, and giveaways take over Little Malop West.
With hundreds of activities on offer, Central Geelong will become the ultimate food hub to indulge in all of your senses.
The Fried Chicken & Froths tour will kick off at 6pm and bookings are essential. You can save your spot via www.trybooking.com/BCBYS.
*Patrons must be 18+ to attend this tour
Tastes of Central Geelong 2019 program will be available online at www.centralgeelong.com.au/tastes
Tastes of Central Geelong is an initiative of Central Geelong Marketing.