Herb and Chili Festival

     Saturday! A day off! It’s raining in the morning and it had rained last night. Whenever it rains, it reminds me of Portland. Not only because Portland rains so much. But the smell. It takes me back. It just smells so fresh and clean and crisp. I love it. It makes me miss Portland, I’d really like to go back!

     Simon and I have the day off together. Usually we’re on alternate days. But since he has a car, I’m hoping we can go do something and finally go outside of Yarra Glen. We talk about maybe going wine tasting and going out to lunch, but first Simon needed to go buy some new work boots. The work wear store closest to us, in Lilydale, closed at noon. So Simon found this guy who sells work boots out of his garage! At really cheap prices too. Sounds sketchy, but Simon talked to the guy on the phone, and well, we went to check it out. And just as it sounds, this guy is selling work boots out of his garage. He has a small display of all the brands and styles he has, and then in the back and all around are all the shoe boxes. He was selling boots for $50-150 bucks (Australian dollars). He had Uggs, Rossi, Redback, Mongrel, Blue Steel, and he makes his own slippers too. It was actually a really good deal! He’s an actual retailer for these brands, and the reason his boots are so cheap is because he has little to no overhead costs (especially when you run your business out of a garage!) Simon got his new work boots and the guy even threw in a free pair of socks. We were all joking around that I should bring back a suitcase full of Ugg boots and sell them for twice the price back in The States. Uggs are relatively cheap here in Australia.

     After that, we didn’t really have any plans. As we were driving back to Yarra Glen, we passed a sign that was advertising for an Herb and Chili Festival, and it was this weekend! So Simon and I made a game time decision and to go check it out! It’s only a few kilometers away… and when we get there it’s on a nursery farm. Which I thought was pretty cool. There are probably about 20-30 vendors, and all are selling products related to chili peppers or herbs! Chili pepper salt, chili olives, chili hot sauce, olive oil with chili flakes, sausages with chili, beer made with chilies, and there was even a chili cook off! And we got to taste and vote on three chilies. They had educational talks on cooking, how to grow peppers, and of course a chicken-wings-covered-in-super-hot-chili eating contest! I was literally in heaven at this place. If you know me well, then you know how I love spicy food. And that I like it REALLY SPICY. Every tasting station, I asked, “What’s the spiciest thing you have?” I tasted some spicy hot sauces, salsa, oh and I got to try Kangaroo sausage! My first time eating kangaroo. And it was good! At the food court, there were vendors with all types of food. German, Indian, Peruvian, Mexican…and I went with the Indian food. I ordered a Bhel Puri, which was a conglomerate of things: puffed rice, cucumbers, potato, bean sprouts, lime, tomato, naan bread bits, and chili! I told the lady to make it extra spicy. It was probably the spiciest thing I ate that day! And I loved it. From another vendor I bought a loaf a bread that was made with chili and honey. And as we were leaving, they were giving out baby chili plants to everyone. I took home a cayenne plant.

     The chili festival totally made my day…well more like my month! After we left the chili festival, we briefly stopped in at the Yarra Glen Dairy. It’s a small little shop filled with fancy dishtowels, fancy butter knives and fancy chocolate. But more importantly cheese! And wine too! There were actually a lot of people in there so I didn’t have a chance to taste any of the cheeses, but I bought a bottle of Syrah from the Yarra Valley.

     When we got home, I opened the bottle of wine and had some of my chili bread. Dinner is served!