Juliana Mare chats to The Last Jar’s Publican and Head Chef to find out just what we can look forward to at this weekend’s Mussel Festival!
Melbournians, it’s okay to skip the gym this weekend because The Last Jar is hosting its first ever Mussel Festival this weekend, serving up some massive gains.
While we’re treated to steamed, fried, marinated and pickled mussels, the folks over in County Galway on Ireland’s west coast are celebrating the Connemara Mussel Festival.
This is the second time The Last Jar has coincided an event with one from Ireland’s calendar, showcasing a key ingredient in a variety of dishes.
It was originally Head Chef, Damon Budd’s idea, which came to life earlier this year in March, when The Last Jar hosted their prawn festival over the same dates as the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival.
While Budd was sure to keep his full Mussel Festival menu under wraps, he says there will be a range of dishes for everyone to love, even those “on the fence” about the star ingredient.
“Some of [the dishes] could be considered common while others have come together in my head, so a little experimentation and reinvention has taken place.”
The Last Jar’s Instagram page has revealed a few sneak peeks, like the beer battered mussels with caper and lime crème fraiche.
Interested in one of the more obscure dishes on offer? Budd revealed that one dish contains pine needles. Needless to say, we’re intruiged.
“Mussels are so distinct flavour wise,” says Budd. “Ideally I would like guests to want to try each [dish] to get the total experience of what we are presenting.”
Proud to be one of Melbourne’s longstanding Irish pubs, publican Chris Fitzgerald says these events present the opportunity for the pub to flex its creativity in terms of not only food, but music too.
“We wanted to combine our food vision with our passion for music.”
Nothing goes better with good food than good music and The Last Jar plan on delivering on both fronts. Saturday’s patrons will hear American acoustic duo Fat Cousin Skinny while Sunday will feature Irish folk artist Louisa Wise.
These two diverse musical styles are The Last Jar’s way of embracing Melbourne’s musical talent without steering too far away from its Irish roots.
“We are introducing a range of American musical styles and aim to make The Last Jar a home for acoustic music in Melbourne.”
Beyond this weekend, Melbournians can expect plenty of food and drink festivals at The Last Jar. From celebrating Irish whiskey on May 6th to nine consecutive ‘Beer, Beats and Banter’ nights during Good Beer Week, this is definitely a pub to keep your eyes and ears on.
As for this weekend though, don’t be shellfish, invite some mates along to the Mussel Festival and celebrate the most underrated little mollusc.
The Mussel Festival is on at The Last Jar this weekend, April 29 – 30.
For a live-stream of the Festival’s dishes, follow Juliana on Instagram @juliimare.
For more of Juliana’s foodie news, check out Peaches & Push Ups.