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Monday, February 09, 2009

Taste of Sydney Festival media launch

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

View Larger Map

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
9 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/09/2009 12:04:00 am


  • At 2/09/2009 9:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great photos. Looks like you had a very delicious day

  • At 2/09/2009 9:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great photos Helen! 'Twas a great night. Would love another beetroot macaron and some Porno Pannacotta :P

  • At 2/09/2009 10:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i've already got my ticket. i hope it's a good day... but judging from your photos i have nothing to worry about!

  • At 2/09/2009 12:58 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    It all looks fabulous. I have my tickets and can't wait to go. Wonder if it will be crowded?

  • At 2/09/2009 8:37 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    The food looks delicious and I have to say that Taste of London is oftern held in very bad weather so I would probably agree that for alfresco eating Sydney is the place to be...

  • At 2/09/2009 10:09 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - Oh a non-stop feast from Sydney's top chefs is guaranteed to be delicious :)

    Hi Lorraine - I wish I could re-live the entire evening too! So many good things!

    Hi Lindsey Clare - Ooh how exciting. Should have lots of tasty things on offer if the preview was any indication!

    Hi Belle - Presumably the weekends will be more crowded. Let's hope the weather is glorious too.

    Hi Gourmet Chick - I was actually thinking that very same thought... surely if London can pull it off with its unpredictable weather then Sydney should be a cinch!

  • At 2/10/2009 5:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the shout-out! Sad I missed out on the pannacotta, looks so wobbly and creamy!

  • At 2/10/2009 10:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    mmm Look at ALL that food!!! I wish I cameeee!

  • At 2/11/2009 12:59 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Christie - Shame you missed out. The pannacotta was delicious - and entertaining too!

    Hi Teresa - I'm sure you're eating up a storm in Japan! I wish I were there!


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