Sugar Mountain Festival has come a long way since its inception in 2011. After joining forces with Mushroom Group in 2013, the beautifully curated music/arts festival has taken it up a notch with a new venue, and a new capacity to offer even more than before.
Gone are the days where you can put on a music-only festival that only offers UDL cans. The festival-goer these days expects an all-round experience that includes art, music, food and other exciting events. Sugar Mountain certainly achieved this, with more than 35 art and musical acts held across their new VCA location.
The most exciting new addition to the 2015 event for us, obviously, was the food. Hammer & Tong, The Beaufort, Rockwell & Sons and Uncle all came to the fore to bring us yummy things in brioche buns accompanied by lashings of sriracha, which is all one could wish for at a music festival.
We went straight to the foodie business end for our first indulgence – Hammer&Tong’s Soft Shell Crab burger. Most Melbourne foodies know that this is the thing to get at Hammer & Tong, but we’d never had it before and were super excited. It didn’t disappoint, with its crispy deep fried soft shell crab, fresh coriander, slightly pickled cabbage slaw, sriracha mayo between toasted sesame brioche. It was delicious and uncomplicated, and enough to completely distract from the energetic Chela and her back-up dancers doing their brilliant 80s-esque thing onstage.
After some time out and a couple of Agrum cocktails in the “Executive Sweet”, we were primed for the next gorging: Uncle’s pork meatball banh mi with sweet potato fries. This was definitely a crowd favourite as the hordes got more boozy, and it certainly didn’t hurt that Uncle had huge bottles of kewpie mayo and sriracha at the counter for customers to help themselves (quality mayo is NEVER offered as a help-yourself condiment so us kewpie enthusiasts were ecstatic).
The banh mi baguette was very fresh with a crunchy outside and soft inside (so important!). The meatballs were mildly spiced as they should be, and lovely with loads of fresh coriander, Vietnamese slaw and lashings of the sriracha/kewpie combo – although we would’ve liked more meatballs in the roll (not that we needed the extra sustenance). The sweet potato fries were out of this world – caramelized and crispy on the outside… deliciousness.
By this point we were nursing some serious food babies and were ready for the soothing cadences of Oscar Key Sung accompanied by another Agrum cocktail (why not, it’s the long weekend). This brought us to our third and final round of the food crawl, the Americana goodness that is Rockwell & Sons.
The buttermilk fried chicken made fresh to order… DEAR LORD. This was definitely my favourite dish of the day. That chicken was tender melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, and with crispy buttermilk batter on the outside… we had to stop ourselves ordering ten whole chickens cooked in this way.
We ordered the tater tots because we just didn’t feel like we’d eaten enough fried stuff. Ever had a deep fried tater tot? You should. Especially when they’re coated with a bunch of tasty dried chilli and herbs and spices and served with a generous dollop of whole egg mayo.
We weren’t yet mayo weary, but definitely brioche weary as we tasted our last dish – Rockwell & Sons’ pulled pork sandwich in a soft brioche roll. We pushed through because it was delicious (#firstworldproblems). The smoky pork, the pickled shredded veggies in the soft, sweet, glazed brioche definitely rendered this sandwich worthy of our attention, and was all the nourishment we needed before watching the Sugar Mountain’s headliner, hip hop icon Nas.
Phew! What a day. Out of all the music festivals to attend, Sugar Mountain was certainly one of the classiest we’ve been to, from all sides. Looking forward to what’s in store on the food front for 2016! We’re hoping for Jimmy Grants and Messina…