Monday, March 14, 2011

Taste of Sydney 2011 - sunny, with a chance of over-eating

Taste of Sydney 2011 - a festival of eating, drinking and the search for a shady table.

Honestly, I wasn't going to go to Taste of Sydney this year - the high cost of tickets ($25-$30 for standard entry), the risk of inclement weather and the outdoor setting did not make me enthusiastic at all.  Then I saw some of the dishes that were on offer and I changed my mind like a fickle, mind-changing glutton food-lover. And I prayed for dry, cool weather (the Bureau of Meterology said it would be partly cloudy with chance of showers).

I always like to go to the Saturday afternoon session of Taste, so I aimed to arrive at 12pm, grab a table, eat and drink for 1.5 hours, walk around a bit then go home.  The day sort of went to plan. After lining up for tickets and buying $60 worth of crowns (tokens with which to pay for the food), I got a feeling for how hot it was going to get and made a beeline for the nearest table with an umbrella (not too near the loud bandstand). Then I got out my list of 'dishes I must get' and sent my dining companion out to collect.
This is what we had.

From Assiette and District Dining: Crispy pork belly with cashew nut caramel, watermelon and mint ($12); Spicy free-range chicken with lime aioli and coleslaw ($10).
The pork belly skin was quite chewy rather than crispy, though the meat was moist and tasted of Asian spices. The watermelon and radish were very refreshing, though I think this dish was overpriced given the size. The chicken was fantastic (much better than KFC, dare I say).

From Restaurant Balzac: Crisp Wagyu beef with wild mushroom and truffle foam ($12).
This restaurant always surprises with its wonderful pork and beef offerings, and this spring roll was excellent. Like a beef Wellington, the meat inside was pull-apart tender, and the 'foam' was like cream of mushroom soup with lots of truffle flavour. This dish was so good, it was almost enough for me to forgive the constant emails from Restaurant Balzac since I got on their mailing list 2 years ago.

From Berowra Waters Inn and Ad Lib Bistro: Slow cooked fillet of ocean trout with French onion soup puree and peppered oxtail croustillant ($12); Chilled Vichyssoise, oyster beignets, salmon roe ($10).
The salmon was perfectly cooked (it always amazes me how the restaurants manage to churn out hundreds of dishes of mainly high quality). The 'croustillant' was oxtail meat wrapped in pastry and very tasty but the French onion puree was extremely strong-tasting and reminded me of Bonox or boullion cubes (not in a good way).  The Vichyssoise was fantastic, like a creamy foam with an intense flavour of leeks, and the 'pop' of salmon roe balls.

We had to buy another $30 worth of crowns because I forgot to factor in drinks. This is a limonata ($4), a cider ($6) and a 'beer and nuts' ($8) from Cotton Duck restaurant.  I later bought a bottle of water as well ($4).

Now onto the desserts.
From Bird Cow Fish: Tiramisu roulade with caramel sauce ($8)
From Otto Ristorante: Amedei milk chocolate mousse with salted caramel and fresh berries ($8).
The Tiramisu had a wonderfully strong flavour of coffee/Tia Maria, but the serving was a bit small.
The milk chocolate mousse from Otto was more like a tart and was INCREDIBLE. The mousse was so light and the salted caramel was hidden in the centre. The base of crumbs was matched with chocolate crumbs on top of the rich chocolate glaze. And the size was massive, I could barely eat all of my half.

In our wanderings after eating, we came across the Sensology cocktail-making classes which looked fun. There were the usual cookware, wine producers, cake outlets (Patisse shown here) and 'purveyors of fine meats' to inspect.  I didn't try it because I already had it last year, but the massive paellas from Aperitif smelt marvellous, full of seafood and saffron.  And that's my 'must eat' list above - printing out the menus beforehand really helped me to focus on the end goal.

So in the end, I'm glad I went.  It's annoying that Sydney's Taste is held outdoors while Melbourne's is inside. This weekend's weather was fortunately fine, but very warm and uncomfortable when you're sitting in the sun (and can't afford the air-conditioned VIP area).  Most of the dishes we had were lovely, but rather over-priced when you factor in the entry fee as well.  All up, we spent $94 on food and drink for two people, which is quite a lot for lunch.  I wasn't too full afterwards, though being in the heat made me a bit woozy on the walk back to Paddington. But that's probably just my being out of shape for an afternoon of lazing about and stuffing myself!  So, for Taste of Sydney, it's Adieu till next year.


  1. Man thats a lot of money for an unfull stomach. Sadly I was sweating it out in my backyard excavating gravel & clay. Much more fun;)

  2. Balzac's crispy Wagyu beef was my favourite! I went on Saturday evening when there was a gentle breeze every now and again but I had the luxuury of ducking inside the HSBC tent due to being a customer.

  3. Disappointing to hear that the crispy pork sounded like how I had it and that when I purchased it didn't really factor in.

    The mousse from Otto looks awesome! Wasn't all that interested looking at the menu but had I known it looked like that, I so would have gotten one.

  4. All of that food looks amazing! I went to the tasting session at the Food and Wine festival here in NYC and it was totally a glutton-fest. but totally worth it.

  5. The Otto dessert seemed to be getting a lot of raves..!
    It is a pricey day - I think I spent a tad more than you but I had a few take home goodies too...

  6. Great post, and love the title! The Otto dessert looks so rich and delish. Mmmm.

  7. Yes outdoor events are so subject to weather cooperating! The Melbourne one looks really good and so different too! :)

  8. Oh the food look wonderful and such lovely weather in Sydney :) Love the pink meringues in the glass jar

  9. Beautiful photos - makes me want to lick my computer screen! I didn't get to Taste this year (or any other year for that matter) as I didn't have anyone to tag along with, plus it did seem a tad pricey. Maybe next year...

  10. Wow Bel, what a fun event...and the food look fantastic...thanks for sharing the much fun. Have a wonderful week ahead :-)

  11. great post! You had some fun there .. and lots of eating :D

  12. The forecast was so deceiving, so I gave it a miss. But luckily the weather was great for those who attended!

  13. glad you enjoyed the otto dessert. i thought it was good too. i think i must have been the only one that got an undercooked Slow cooked fillet of ocean trout from berowra waters. i had trouble cutting it and had to throw most of it out :-(

  14. What a great and fun event! Everything looks so pretty.