Does any city do al fresco dining better than Sydney?
The Taste Festival finally comes to Sydney after its inception in London, and a rapid-fire international take-up in cities including Dublin, Dubai, Cape Town and Melbourne. The concept allows the public to sample some of Sydney's hottest and best restaurants in the outdoor sunshine of Centennial Park over four days in March.
Jared Ingersoll of Danks St Depot plating up in the kitchen
The Taste of Sydney media launch was oragnised by The Mint Partners and hosted by Centennial Parklands Dining, providing a delicious preview of the dishes on offer, with more top chefs assembled under one roof than many of us would have ever seen.
In a room filled with journalists, sponsors and festival dignitaries, the most coveted spot to take up camp was outside the kitchen door.
A Soignee Truffle Risotto with Mozzarella and a
Spinach Fennel Rockerfella Sauce
Berowra Waters - Chef: Dietmar Sawyere
The truffle risotto by Berowra Waters was the first sample I tried. Shaped into balls and pan-fried into an arancini, this was one of my favourites. Thin crisp coating gave way to risotto grains that were plump but still firm, a molten stretchy mass of mozzarella a welcome surprise.
Yellow fin tuna with ruby grapefruit and sweet pork crackling
Flying Fish - Chef: Peter Kuruvita
Yellow fin tuna by Flying Fish was fresh and firm, a peeled segment of ruby grapefruit adding juicy tartness, and a crumble of pork crackling giving crunch and richness.
Sydney Rock Oyster with Vietnamese dressing,
crispy shallots and baby coriander
Restaurant Assiette - Chef: Warren Turnbull
Sydney rock oysters by Restaurant Assiette were brightened but not overshadowed by a sweet Vietnamese dressing and crunchy shards of deep-fried shallots with wispy tendrils of baby coriander.
Housemade spicy pork sausage on betel leaves with pickled ginger
Longrain - Chef: Martin Boetz
The spicy pork sausage on betel leaves by Longrain was another favourite of the evening. I loved the kick of chilli and lemongrass sausages balanced by the sharpness of the pickled ginger, the tumble of coriander, fresh chilli slivers, peanuts and fried shallots wrapped up in the slightly sour betel leaf.
Betroot Macaroon with foie gras
Centennial Parklands Dining - Chef: Mark Best
Beetroot macaroons by Centennial Parklands Dining were a crowd favourite. Given its description, I expected a crisper surface, but these were more sponge-like in texture, its glorious pink colour a hit with many.
Chandon vintage brut
Drinks were supplied by Chandon, and whilst it didn't take long for me to down two glasses of sparkling, further drinks were abandoned for more important priorities: one hand free for photos, the other for food sampling!
Prawn Miang served with peanuts and lime on betel leaf
Sailor's Thai - Chef: Ty Bellingham
Prawn miang by Sailor's Thai was another dish wrapped in betel leaf. This didn't have quite the fire of Longrain's spicy sausage, a milder and sweeter mouthful with the presence of fresh prawn.
Wagyu Beef 'Bourguignonne' with Truffled Cauliflower and Onion Rings
Restaurant Balzac - Chef: Matthew Kemp
The wagyu beef 'bourguignonne' by Restaurant Balzac was also popular. A thin cigar of pastry held a rich mouthful of tenderest red-wine simmered beef.
Etli Borek - crisp home made filo rolls filled with braised veal shank,
currants and pine-nuts, served with pomegranate and yoghurt sauce
Ottoman Cuisine - Chef: Serif Kaya
Etli borek by Ottoman Cuisine were like a Turkish take on spring rolls, the thin filo pastry shell a crisp contrast to the filling of braised veal sweetened with currants and crunchy with pine nuts. Plain yoghurt and ruby pearls of pomegranate added colour and liveliness.
Mini organic grass-fed wagyu burger
Becasse and Etch - Chef: Justin North
Wagyu burgers by Becasse were a delight for the kid in all of us, especially when filled with the very adult patties of tender moist wagyu beef.
Pastrami of kingfish with smoked oysters and a cucumber and apple salad
Danks Street Depot - Chef: Jarred Ingersoll
The kingfish pastrami and smoked oysters by Danks Street Depot were probably the most unusual offering of the evening. The smokiness of the kingfish was echoed by the tea-smoked oysters, a crisp salad of apple and cucumbers giving a fresh sweetness.
Celeriac and smoked trout remoulade with ocean trout roe
Bird Cow Fish - Chef: Alex Herbert
Celeriac and smoked trout remoulade by Bird Cow Fish was the final savoury dish to exit the kitchen. Tart and creamy with mayonnaise, the celeriac gave a nice crunch against the flakes of smoked trout, topped with glistening pearls of ocean trout roe.
Double chocolate hazelnut baklava
Civic Dining - Chef: Peter Conistis
Double chocolate and hazelnut baklava by Civic Dining was dense, nutty and resplendent with syrup.
Mini vanilla panna cotta with pomegranate molasses and lavender honey
Jonah's at Whale Beach - Chef: George Francisco
But it was the vanilla pannacotta by Jonah's at Whale Beach that generated the biggest reaction. The white conical dessert bore a cinnamon tip and wobbled with such alarming enthusiasm it was hard not to give in to lascivious thoughts. Eating the delicately fluffy and slippery smooth dessert only further fueled the imagination.
Martin Boetz of Longrain and Alex Bird of Bird Cow Fish
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Taste of Sydney will be held 12-15 March 2009 at the Brazilian Fields, Centennial Park.
Entry tickets cost $25. Food is then paid for using purchased tickets in the form of Crowns. Pre-purchased premium tickets cost $50 and include $30 worth of Crowns.
Taste of Sydney also includes the Australian Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen, Australian Gourmet Traveller Chef's Table, James Squire Beer Masterclass and Taste Wine with Gourmet Traveller Wine.
Read other foodbloggers' posts on the Taste of Sydney launch by A Table for Two, Chocolatesuze, Eat Show and Tell, Fooderati, I Am Obsessed with Food, Jenius, Not Quite Nigella and Spicy Icecream.
With thanks to Prue from The Mint Partners for the generous invitation extended to so many food bloggers (pro-actively arranged by Christie from Fig&Cherry).
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Taste of Sydney Festival, Centennial Park
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2/09/2009 12:04:00 am