Monday, March 15, 2010

Taste of Sydney 2010 - a Battle of the Tastebuds

Food from Danks St Depot and Four in Hand at Taste of Sydney 2010

This is the second year of Taste of Sydney, and like its premiere season in 2009, it did not disappoint.

I had fingers and toes crossed for the predicted rain to hold off on Saturday, and it did, with intermittently sunny skies and a refreshing breeze providing a relaxing backdrop to the AM session (here ends the weather report).
Taste of Sydney seemed a bit better organised this year, with no waiting to get into the event (held inside Centennial Park). Once there, there were several seating areas scattered around, though very little shade was provided. The restaurant tents were around the perimeter with food and wine producers’ stalls filling in the gaps.
We nabbed a seat near the Opera Bar, with a front row view of the bandstand and DJ – they provided some pleasant entertainment for the hour or so we were there eating our meals. So let’s get on with the food...

The dishes we tried are in contest this year – a head-to-head battle between restaurants competing for the title of Best in Show.

First up, Berowra Waters Inn and Four in Hand (Paddington).
Berowra Waters Inn’s contribution was Quail Breast and Truffled Risotto Croustillant, with tender quail encased in risotto with a crispy batter/coating. It sat on a gorgeous broad bean(?) puree.
Four in Hand had Dashi and soy marinated tuna with spicy avocado puree and pickled cauliflower and garden radish salad. This was a pretty dish with the fresh tuna a good match with the bite of the radish. I did find the marinade a bit salty, though.
And the winner is... Berowra Waters Inn – this was an amazing dish, very well executed.

Next, we have Danks St Depot and Guillaume at Bennelong.
Danks St Depot’s Beef Ribs Smoked in Watermelon with a Watermelon and Avocado Salad certainly sounded intriguing. The flavour of the smoke (very like Liquid Smoke, actually) was pervasive. The beef rib was a bit dry though I loved the smokiness of the watermelon cubes.
Guillaume at Bennelong’s dish of Wagyu Beef Daube with Paris Mash was outstanding. The beef was so tender it had no trouble being shredded with just a plastic fork. The flavour was spot on, and the Paris mash was smooth and with a beautiful flavour.
In the battle of the beef, Guillaume at Bennelong is the clear winner!

Next on the menu are El Toro Loco (Manly) and Pilu at Freshwater.

My first recce to grab a paella from El Toro Loco was denied – the massive paella was not ready. But 10 minutes later, it was, and what a magnificent paella it turned out to be. Chock full of mussels, prawns, fish and saffron, the taste was superb. A little salty, but a great version.
Pilu at Freshwater’s Risotto with Crystal Bay prawns and zucchini was another example of rice done well. While not quite al dente, the risotto had an amazing flavour that was enhanced by the almost scampi-like richness of the prawns.
This was a close call, but the award goes to ... Pilu at Freshwater.

One of the most prestigious Ooh, Look awards is in the Dessert category, where we have Becasse up against Jonah’s at Whale Beach. This was always going to be a tough call, as Jonah’s jiggly panna cotta was my favourite dish from last year’s Taste of Sydney.
Becasse’s Chocolate Souffle looked like and upside-down chocolate friand. It also looked a bit dry. But looks can be deceiving, and it turned out to be a light-as-air concoction that melted in the mouth. It was accompanied by a quenelle of vanilla-scented cream.
Jonah’s Vanilla panna cotta with lavender honey and fresh pomegranate was as awesome as I remembered. The creaminess of the panna cotta was incredible, and it had a subtle scent of lavender. The pomegranate syrup was tangy and intense. A perfect combination.
Again, this was a close one, but Jonah’s at Whale Beach is the winner in this category.
And again, for the second year in a row, Jonah’s panna cotta wins Best in Show!

All up, the two of us spent $110 for the food, plus 2 James Squire beers and a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water. The weather held up well and we got a table to eat at. The food and wine stalls and kitchen sessions did not interest me much this year, and I found there was not so much to buy. But being able to get out and enjoy the event with such wonderful food really is priceless (or $110 for two).


  1. Totally agree with you on Jonah's panacotta. Such an awesome combination of flavours and the pannacotta was flawless!!

  2. I really liked the Quail in risotto great too. I asked Dietmar Sawyere what was in the puree it is was in fact peas, spinach, fennel and chilli. I could not guess it.

    I think I preferred the soufflé to the panna cotta. All in all they were two great dishes.

  3. My fave dish was definitely the panna cotta, it was amazing!

  4. Belle! I love your take on Taste of Sydney - so super original. YOU are the clear winner here!

  5. i was in melbourne and missed out on taste in sydney; reading up on posts now, seems like they've done a good job with the food this year!

  6. What a great writeup! I agree with Trissa, you win! Yay for you! Now take a bow :D

    No matter how many photos of that panna cotta I see, it still makes me shake my head with a smile.

  7. Hee hee battle of the beef mmmmmmm beef, looks like you hit up many of the dishes :) Great coverage!

  8. hehe love that pannacotta in motion winner. I know, it's so good isn't it? He just shouldn't change it at all :P

  9. I like your little battle of Taste. Very entertaining indeed. I knew I should have tried the wagyu beef daube as I loved the beef ribs mmmmm....

    I loved the pannacotta but unfortunately mine had an areola.. LOL Still good nonetheless...