Taste of Sydney 2010

23 Apr

Okay I know this is super delayed, but hey, after reading everybody else’s experience there, I can help you revisit…!

*Note: Pictures were taken by my DSLR for the first time, so it shows. Plus it was at night when I went and they were in JPEG, so I couldn’t save them very well…

To be honest, I didn’t know about this event till a friend called me up one day and offered me 2 tickets for it (shame, he couldn’t make it). A food festival of sorts? That’s it, that’s all I needed to know, feel free to pass me those tickets, please and thank you!

Taste of Sydney brings together the chefs of top restaurants in Sydney, offering 3 signature dishes from their restaurants, at an entree size. There are also products from the area and beyond showcased at the event grounds itself, plus some special sessions, the private dining sessions with a top well-known chef, like Matt Moran.

You might be amused to know that my companion for Taste of Sydney, SSM (Seemingly Small Mouth – it looks small but you can pack a lot in apparently), and I, got lost – Well, really we SOMEHOW thought that it would be in Hyde Park (it was our lazy brains who just didn’t want to think food would be that far away). But anyway, we got there eventually.

The walk into the actual event grounds worked up our appetite, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the stores selling produce, giving out samples, some other random tents which were apparently for the private dining sessions (missed out on those because of my oblivity), and all I could think about was, “WHERE’S THE FOOD!!!???!”

Got a map, sorted.

It took quite a while for SSM and I to decide on what to eat. We snacked on Nando’s chicken, fresh of the grill pan and dripping with juices and yummy marinade (Made me sing. Almost, thankfully for the public). We decided to start with the ‘entrees’ that appealed to us on the menu and would work our way through ‘mains’, then desserts. And so, the blissful damage begins…

Four in Hand served up a Dashi and Soy Marinated Tuna with Spicy Avocado Puree, Pickled Cauliflower, and Garden Radish Salad. A nice use of different textures, and the flavours were rather fresh and light.

Restaurant Balzac‘s Crispy Wagyu Beef with Wild Mushroom and Truffle Foam did not look exactly like what I imagined it to be. In fact, I wondered what SSM had gone off to get despite him telling me he was going to buy it. But when I bit in, the juices from the shredded wagyu beef gushed out and mixed in with the tasty sauce the springroll was sitting in. As I chewed on the beef, the juices constantly bursting out, mixed with the crunchy texture of crispy  springroll skin, and that sauce…! That was rather impressive, for something that LOOKED unassuming. SSM was grinning with bulging cheeks and tiny mouth.

Next up, Berowra Waters Inn‘s Chilled Vichysoisse with Salmon Caviar and Hwakesbury River Oyster Beignet. I’ll admit, and don’t abuse me for it, but I’m actually not a big fan of oysters. At all. But when I saw people walk past me with these plates of oysters and a glass of something with ikura at the bottom as I lined up to actually get Dish 2, I thought I had to try it, it just might be awesome. And it was! I loved how they did their oyster, because the strong metallic taste was gone and I loved it’s slightly crunchy fried exterior. And the vichysoisse! Coupled with the salty-sweet richness of ikura popping in your mouth…!! With the taste of the oyster beignet lingering in your mouth, I was just so pleased with how well all the different parts of the dish came together well and lingered on my tongue.

Still in front of Berowra Waters Inn’s stall, we tucked in to Dish 2 of Quail Breast & Truffled Risotto Croustillant. Yet again not what we were expecting from the description, but I truly enjoyed how the taste of truffles continued to develop in my mouth as I chewed and really savoured it. The quail breast got a little lost as the truffle flavour developed, but altogether with the almost-scary lime-green pea puree, it all went together perfectly.

Who would have thought that watermelon went so well with beef ribs? Well, okay, I didn’t at least, and thank you, Danks Street Depot, for your Beef Ribs Smoked in Watermelon with a Watermelon and Avocado Salad, I now feel enlightened. Salty and juicy sweet.

I love risotto, and Pilu at Freshwater‘s Risotto with Crystal Bay Prawns and Zucchini was light on the tummy but packed with flavour, yet delicate enough to let us keep eating. Nice and oozy, as true Italian risotto should be. Yum.

We weren’t going to get this, but… We did. I convinced SSM to go for it when I couldn’t help but rave about its smell as someone went by me with a portion. Another great one from Restaurant Balzac, the Saddle of Suckling Pig with Garden Peas and Smoked Bacon Jus. It was a truly flavour-RICH dish, that buttery thick sauce with the hearty flavour of bacon, with the tender pork that falls apart as you pick at it. So. Good.

We had two other ‘mains’ which I unfortunately didn’t get to shoot at all; Fagottini di Carne, from Buon Ricordo, which was a homemade sausage, bound with parmesan and truffle egg – Very rich especially with the distinct smell of parmesan, very ‘meaty’, though we found that more rucola to neutralise its strong taste might make it possible to have larger quantities of it, but we were glad for a small serving; and the Paella a la Maestre from El Toro Loco, which was the usual winner ever since our first taste at the Winter Festival last year.

And desserts!

I knew I wanted the Zippulas from Pilu at Freshwater from the beginning, it just jumped right out at me! Would have preferred it warm and a little softer, but I loved the fresh notes of citrus from the citrus sugar.

I still get all cheery thinking about this dessert to this day, and how fun it was to swirl it around, making it bob, quiver, and shake. It reminded me of Flubber!!! If only it could get up and start dancing too… But YES. The Vanilla Panna Cotta with Lavender Honey and fresh Pomegranate from Jonah’s at Whale Beach. The panna cotta was actually a lovely texture, and it was refreshing to have it with the honey and pomegranate, but felt the tartness of the pomegranate was so strong it overpowered the lavender honey a little.

And this, we almost didn’t have: Cheescake Foam, Late Summer Fruits, and White Chocolate by Berowra Waters Inn. Seemed like, ah, cheesecake, I can imagine what it tastes like, but it was that with a twist! If you had each part separately, it has its distinct flavour, texture, taste, but it was TOGETHER that it truly blended together and was in harmony to create a great cheesecake-like dessert – only more! Still couldn’t figure out the bottom layer, but what mattered was how wonderful it tasted in my mouth.

Yes, as you would have noticed by now, SSM and I, just 2 people, had 3 ‘entrees’, 6 ‘mains’, and 3 desserts. HEY it was all entree size alright, they were small portions! By the end of it, we were BROKE, but so full and satisfied. Hey if you get to go to an event like this, you have to go all out to experience it fully right..? I must say, I was most impressed by Berowra Waters Inn, as my top 3 favourite dishes (one from each from 1, 2, 3), were really all from them. Each was made with different components to the dish that you can taste them distinctly on their own, but it was when eaten altogether that the flavours came so well together. Sadly I dont have a car that will take me up to Berowra easily for a full sit-down meal. Any offers…?

Ahh… so who’s next to give me more free tickets to a food event…..??


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