Monday, March 14, 2011

Taste of Sydney 2011

It's hard to know what to say, or do, in the wake of the horrible happenings in Japan at the moment. I kept debating whether its frivolous to post about food in the midst of such catastrophe but I feel that some escapism is needed in times like these, and if I can help someone out there forget for a second, then I'm happy to help. I hope all your family and friends are well and safe. We're all thinking of you. x


The food orgy that is the Taste of Sydney festival returned to Centennial Park last weekend with a super-sized sack full of treats for the good girls and boys of Sydney. I had in my hot little hands free tickets thanks to my boss, which let me through the gates on opening night and then on Saturday as well (to eat everything my belly wouldn't fit in on Thursday night of course). 20 of the city's top restaurants congregated in the Brazilian fields and churned out plate after plate of the dishes that make them famous.

The festival looked absolutely spectacular at night, like a circus but with the smell of truffle instead of popcorn, adrift on the air. By day it was a different story. The pimms cups in the VIP tent went down a treat, but it was a serious challenge to find water in the sticky heat. Dehydration has never stopped us before so on we ploughed. It was excruciatingly hard to choose dishes to eat, they each smelled better than the next, this is not an event to fly solo, you need to recruit at least a couple of friends to cover the expanse of options behind each counter (good effort Georgie and Mill).

Lovely people, your menu awaits...

(District Dining & Assiette's crisp pork belly with cashew nut caramel, watermelon, mint and pickled daikon)

There were two pork belly options this year, and they were like chalk and cheese which was a relief. Collin Fassnidge from The Four in Hand (aka the pork master) was whipping up a smokey confit pork belly with squid, chorizo and chickpeas, (a dish I have a feeling I have eaten at the Four's pub once upon an evening) but Assiette's cashew caramel pork belly won my heart. My picture does this dish no justice (all was a little wilted in the heat) but it was stunning. The crunchy, sweet and salty pork was close to perfect.

(Balzac's Crisp Wagyu Beef with Field Mushrooms and Truffle Foam)

Bow down readers, and remove your hats, because what you see before you may look like a dagwood dog, but is in fact a dish that all but rendered me speechless. That pool of truffle foam you see right there? Heaven. The softest, most meltingly tender beef I may have ever had swathed in a crisp, nowhere-near-greasy jacket of pastry. I can hardly begin to describe how good it was, I couldn't stop spooning that truffle foam into my mouth. Wow.

(Etch's Caramel Date Tart with Earl Grey Syrup and Chantilly Cream)

The dark horse of the day was the earl grey syrup under the date tart at Etch, the tart was nice enough, the velvety smooth caramel ticked the requisite boxes, but that syrup was surprisingly amazing. I'm going to nab the recipe and try to make it, it was such a beautiful Earl Grey flavour, not the Twinnings kind either, it was floral and delicate and gorgeous, would be perfect with ice cream.

(Otto's Amedei Milk Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel and Fresh Berries)

At this point we were bursting but anything with salted caramel in the title is hard to pass up, the mousse was very soft (the heat may have helped with that a little) but kept it's shape, the dollop of salted caramel right in the middle was a little sparse for my liking but was still a nice surprise just when I had begun to think it wasn't in the mousse at all. Nice save, Etch.

All in all a pretty great couple of days. Other honerable mentions go out to District Dining's crisp fried, spicy free range chicken (although way too light on the spice for me) with coleslaw and lime aioli, and also A Tavola's gnocchi with lamb ragu. Considering investing in a second stomach in preparation for next year, thoughts?


  1. They were out of Pimms when I made it into the VIP tent :S

  2. still dreaming of truffle foam...
    geo x