The weather bomb hit Eastbourne just before the Wild Food Challenge got under way on Saturday. I stepped off the bus into a river. Inside the Day's Bay Pavilion they were mopping up an instant flood.
But none of this deterred hardy locals for a moment. They turned up in droves, to deliver their entries, cheer on friends and relations or just have a great time.
The grand prize winner was Andrew (Roo) Wilkins with Escalier de Fruits de Mer (Seafood Staircase). For photos and more, look for Local Wild Food Challenge Eastbourne on Facebook.
Here's one of my favourites: Peacock (wild, of course) in a Paua Kawa Tree. Paua balls for the peacock tail, and breast of peacock with kawakawa rub at the base. It tasted a bit like very good smoked chicken, and it won the Best Wing award.
I had a remarkably easy job judging the Hemingway Award for the best story to go with an entry - one stood out immediately. The winner wants to "preserve the veil of mystery", but I do have permission to share the story with you. It covers all the essentials - the ingredients, where they came from, how they were treated, why the combination worked - and it tells a remarkable tale...
50 Shades of Nachos
By an Eastbourne Entrant
The quest for success at the 2015 Wild Food Challenge started early. Wairarapa crayfish were too wily for the pot, rabbits bounced away from the sling shot in Taupo.
All the while the corn in the back yard grew, waiting for a partner to complete it.
But then the corn changed. The journey from corn to corn chip left it hardened both in form and spirit. Plucked in the prime of its youth, it was boiled and sliced from the cob of its birth. After being softened by the caustic kiss of boiling baking soda, cider vinegar was added till all the fizz from that relationship was gone. Screaming for mercy, the corn is passed through a mincer, flattened and then fried, first shallow and then oh so deeply.
Is it any wonder the corn, now successful and presentable, yearns for control? And who could complete it?
The goat. Nubile, succulent. Innocent. Charmed off its bones by 8 hours soaking in tepid chicken stock, the goat is teased apart until it’s not sure what way is up. The goat, no longer a kid from the Wairarapa hills, is ready to learn but unsure of the ways of the world.
The corn and the goat meet in the roomy ruby redness of a banging barbeque sauce. Smoke deceives the senses into luring shackles of flavour. To garnish, toasted rose petals, saucy tomatoes and cheese and avocado for lubrication.
What says romance more than corn chips and wild goat?