Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taste Of Sydney 2010

        For those of you who arn't familiar Taste of Sydney is an outdoor food and wine festival held over 4 days at Centennial Park, Randwick/Moore Park. This is only the second year that the event has been held. The festival involves a whole lot of food and wine from some of Sydney's best restaurants and producers. You get to sample dishes for a fraction of the price that would usually cost you around $100-$150 per person if you were to dine at one of these restuarants. It's almost a degustation in itself but you get to mix and match dishes from different restaurants according to what appeals to you most. There are 16 restaurants to choose from each offering 3 dishes, that's a choice of 48 dishes! We managed to squeeze in 9 dishes from 6 restaurants between two of us so that we could both sample as much as we could. There were also plenty of wine and food producers there with plenty of samples for you to try but we were there more for the main attractions. It was definately not a cheap event ($165 for two) but it was worth the experience - only if you truly have an appreciation for good food though. 

        I left the house without the umbrella I was meant to grab out of my other handbag. The sun was still out when we left my house and I did remember to grab a jacket as it had cooled down quite a bit. As we approached Randwick the sky just got darker and darker and before long the skies opened up and down came the rain! I just felt soooo cut but there wasn't anything we could do, I'd pre bought the tickets and the crowns (you had to buy "crowns" or vouchers in order to buy food at the festival, $1 = $1 crown but they were in 2 crown denominations with dishes being between 8-12 crowns). I was hopeful that if it was going to be torrential rain that maybe they might offer us a refund or a transfer or something. We arrived at Moore Park and the rain had slowed, we were still hopeful that it would be okay. We had a bit of a wait as we were early and the sky started clearing a bit, before long the rain came again though only light. Just before 5:30pm the rain stopped and then we were let in. It pretty much rained on and off for a while but did stop towards the end of the night though not without small showers here and there randomly.

        Ryan and I have read and heard so much about ARIA so we couldn't help but try something. We were both quite hungry by now which probably contributed to Ryan buying all 3 dishes at once to my suprise. When I sent him off with a of 30 crowns I wasn't expecting him to use it all at one stand. I did appreciate it though and because we were so hungry it was probably a good start to fill up our empty tummys. The entree was "Cured ocean trout with cucumber and horseradish (10 crowns)" - we both quite enjoyed this, neither of us had tried cured trout before and found it quite light and delicate, preferring this over smoked salmon. The side salad of cucumber and horseradish was refreshing and went well with the trout. Main was "Slow roasted Moran Family Lamb Spit Roast (12 crowns)", pretty much roast lamb on a roll - the lamb was cold though very tender and flavoursome, we both really liked the sauce not quite able to put our tastebuds on what exactly it was. Both agreed that a little more sauce would have been nice as the bread roll was a little dry. Dessert was "Strawberry jelly with Champagne foam (8 crowns)" - even though I thought it was a little strange going for dessert already it wasn't too sweet and was quite refreshing so acted as a palate cleanser before we moved on to our next dish. The jelly was light with the flavour of strawberry, fresh pieces of strawberry on top of this and then topped with the Champagne foam which we thought complemented the strawberries and jelly. We even got a glimpse of Matt Moran while we were eating when he came out the front to greet customers. I didn't rush over to get a photo, I'm always too shy and awkward to do such things.

        On our way to our next stop we passed by some stands and had a few samples of different things. A guy from Game Farm had a tray of freshly grilled quail breast and approached us as we walked past, who could say no? The meat was absolutely juicey and tender and the garlic marinade was quite good. We passed by Houn Aquaculture where a platter of freshly cooked salmon was being passed out, it was that good it melted in my mouth. Ryan was drawn into the Moraitis stand (he likes tomatos) and the girl behind the table offered us some bruschetta which was made from their Kumato tomatoes which were quite sweet, I am not a tomato lover but enjoy eating bruchetta and really enjoyed this variety of tomato. We also tried some Limoncello which I quiet liked. We finally made our way to the Becasse/Etch/Plan B stand where I wanted to try their famous "Organic Grass Fed Wagyu Beef Burger (12 crowns)". That was a good burger, meat was juicy and tender though Ryan said he would have enjoyed it more if there was a bit less cheese as it overpowered the meat. I do agree with him but was happy to chomp down the rest of the burger when Ryan didn't want anymore.

        We stopped by the Planet Cake stand so I could have a bit of a sticky beak. Ryan bought me their cake decorating book for my birthday last year. The guy there was telling us about their cake decorating courses and I mentioned that I had their book though having used their cake recipes am yet to do any fancy pancy decorating work. (I didn't want to tell the man that yes I had attempted to decorate my own cake once and had a bit of a disaster doing it). We then signed up for the mini cake decorating workshop where they let us decorate a cupcake as shown above and we got to keep the cupcake too - at no cost. (Ryan was kind of coerced into this but I am sure he enjoyed himself thoroughly). The icing was pretty much all ready done for us, all we had to do was attach the purple circle to the cake and buff it smooth and then roll the balls for the body of the dragonfly. The wings were hearts which were already cut for us too, all we had to do was cut them in half and glue them along with the balls onto the base. I am keen to do their basic cake decorating 101 course but for the price... it's a big amount to fork out but I am sure it is worth it. So who did a better job? Ryan's is the one on the left and mine is the one on the right. (These cupcakes were good to eat too). While we were waiting for our turn Ryan went to a nearby stand Cerbaco Distribution - Spirits of France and sampled some spirits apparantly as much as you want for $2. Some strong stuff he reported.

        After decorating cupcakes we were keen to get some more food into our tummys so went back to El Toro Loco to try their "Paella a la Maestre (10 crowns)", and Ryan loves Paella. (We came past earlier but there was a 10 minute wait for it.) They must have sold a lot of paella because each time the girl took an order she would shout out to the chefs something along the lines of "another paella please" and the chefs would respond with a loud "AYE". It was quite amusing to stand there eating and watching/hearing the action. Some of the people eating nearby even "AYE'd" after the girl would call out.

        The paella was good, the best in Sydney by far in Ryan's opinion (we've had some bad paellas). A little disappointed with the amount of seafood and serving size though.

        I think this was the highlight of our night, and was Ryan's choice from Longrain - "Yellow curry of Byron Bay Berkshire Pork with mustard greens (12 crowns)". There was about a 5 minute wait but when it came out it was piping hot and worth the wait. The pork was just succulent and soft, the curry quite strong but flavoursome and not too overpowering, you could just taste the different spices. I also wanted to try a cocktail from Longrain and chose the "Rose Porteous (12 crowns)". This was watermelon and mint muddled then shaken with 42 Below Vodka and cranberry juice. Very refreshing and tantalising.

        Some entertainment provided by Longrain while we sat and ate.

        The crazy people who braved the rain to come out, it was umbrella and ponchos for everyone.

        We couldn't come and not try anything from Guillaume at Bennelong. A very exquisite restaurant at an equally exquisit location at the Opera House. We had the "Wagyu Beef Daube with Paris Mash (12 crowns)" At first I found the beef to be a little bland although very tender. It was lacking a bit of sauce, which I discovered after digging down really deep into the bowl to get some mash, eaten all together it was quite good. Some more sauce over the top would have been nice. Ryan thought the mash was a little grainy, I didn't seem to have noticed.

        Ryan was a little thirsty so we went around to look for somewhere that sold drinks, something of the non alcoholic type. We stopped to admire the band which were quite good, the electric drumkit was impressive. Upon discovering that Opera Bar was selling soft drinks and juices for 4 dollars/crowns we decided we would go back to a juice stand we passed by and sampled earlier on.

        We forego the drinks and with 30 crowns left decided to head back to Longrain for dessert. Ryan loves pudding and lychees so it was a no brainer that we would try this. "Tapioca pudding with poached jackfruit & lychees (8 crowns)" - yummy! It wasn't as heavy as I would expect an asian pudding to be. Ryan wasn't a big fan of eating the Rambutan which I happily ate, after sucking all the tapioca pearls and coconut cream stuck to the outer shell.

        I had read about the "Vanilla panna cotta with lavender honey and fresh pomegranate (12 crowns)" which Jonah's at Whale Beach was serving. Absolutely love panna cotta and was intrigued by the "wobbliness" which has been described. I sent Ryan in wioth 12 crowns to grab the panna cotta and he came out with the expression above on his face - classic! The way it wobbled around and the the tip of the panna cotta, yes it totally looked like a boob =D

        The panna cotta was absolutely smooth and creamy, Ryan thought that the pomegranate was a nice texture/flavour contrast but wasn't all that impressed with the lavender honey saying that it had a strange taste and really didn't do anything for the dish. It was his second favourite dish though. I just wanted to lick the place clean.

        We finally went to grab some juice from Preshafruits which we had stopped by and sampled earlier. Apparantly they cold press their fruit. There was only one flavour left which was apple & strawberry and they were 4 crowns for a 350ml bottle we bought 2 and the guy gave them to us for 6 crowns.

        After spending all night eating we finally were able to catch up with a couple of friends, it was too hard for us to stay together the whole night because we were just interested in different things. It was raining not long before this was taken so we look a little wet. We were a bit cold by the end so about quarter past eight decided to call it a night, but not before going on the hunt to find something to buy with our last 6 crowns.

        We passed by the San Pellegrino stand where Ryan suggested I buy some water, I was not going to waste 6 crowns/dollars on water. We stopped and had a look and discovered they were selling more than just water so bought two soft drinks, a can of Aranciata and a can of Chinotto. They were 4 crowns each or two for 6 which meant we had spent all our crowns and were able to head home at last. We walked hand in hand back to the car, happy and satisfied with our night. I would definately consider going again next year. We enjoyed all the food which we sampled and the set up/venue was done quite well. Let's just pray for no rain though.

        P.S After a weekend of eating I have packed a healthy salad and some fruit for lunch tomorrow. I also went for a walk today and should really be going to the gym tomorrow too.


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Looks like you had a great day. I have to say I usually choose dessert over drinks and oh that wobbly pannacotta has a reputation that precedes itself!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Ahh what a shame they changed things a bit. I think the first night was a tester night. I thought the Preshafruits were a great bargain at 2 crowns but definitely less so at 4 crowns!

Simon Food Favourites said...

wow you covered a lot of dishes. well done. next time take the challenge and walk up to matt moran confidently and get your photo with him. i'm sure he would be thrilled. i think most of the chefs i saw were very talkative and wanted to chat with their customers. don't be afraid, i'm sure they're more scared of you than you are of them :-)

angielivestoeat said...

Helen, yes dessert over drinks but after eating so much we needed something to wash it down, that was not a sample and was not alcoholic. I just absolutely loved the moment my boyfriend appeared from the Jonah's stand with the panna cotta =D

Lorraine, I had a feeling we got the short end of the stick being second last session, plus the rain didn't help. Enjoyed our experience none the less, if we decide to go again next year we might try for an earlier session ;)

Simon, thanks! Yeah, with 120 crowns and so many great names there the aim was to try as much as we could, my boyfriend is a big eater though and hates little bites of things so was a little worried he wouldn't want to share but I think he totally understood me. I'll try and not be afraid next time I see a chef in the wild =D