Please also visit my experience at the Opening Night and flickr set for Part 1.
This is my first experience at Taste of Melbourne after missing out last year due to a flu attack. I vowed not to missed out this year and am a very lucky girl to have the opportunity to visit Taste twice. I shall be concentrating a little more on the restaurants food in part 1 of 2 of Taste of Melbourne 2010. It is quite an epic post so please stay with me. I do promise food porn.
Thanks to SBS food, I was given a VIP ticket and some crowns to go around Taste of Melbourne on Saturday to check out dishes whipped up by some of Melbourne’s top restaurants. Fellow bloggers, Shellie of Iron Chef Shellie, Claire of Melbourne Gastronome and Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe and myself met Phil Lees from SBS food and away we went!
My first stop was The Palace Burger by Luke Mangan. I thought it was a great first choice as I was trying to nurse a very slight hangover. This decision was also greatly influenced by the recommended tweets from Thursday and Friday crowd. Expectations were high and the fall was great. It is a cute looking mini burger. I was expecting soft moist beef pattie but was greet with something a little dull, dry and slightly on the chewy side. It was a general consensus all round that this burger is not great.
Mister was recommended by friends that came on Friday to try out the Hopkins River eye fillet on potato mash and Bordelaise sauce from The Palace by Luke Mangan. This is one of my favourite dishes at Taste. The rich and deep beefy Bordelaise sauce coats the eye fillet that is so tender, naturally juicy and flavourful. The buttery mash is creamy and every mouthful is so sinful but I could not help myself in scraping every bit off the plate. The baby capers, cubed tomatoes and carrots gave each mouthful a different dimension.
Vicky ordered the Duck Tortelloni with pea puree and truffle oil from The European. The tortellini skin looked really thick. Reminds me of the thick dumplings skin is famous in Northern China. My thoughts were confirmed by Vicky and Anna. They claimed that the sauce was too sweet, the tortellini was a little underdone and could not taste or smell the truffle oil. A definitely disappointed.
The wild rabbit sausage roll with tomato kassundi from The European was a favourite amongst everyone. It was so good that Mister went off and got one for himself. To quote Vicky – “This is the bomb!” The shredded rabbit meat was very moist and had a very nice fennel flavour. The pastry was super flaky and light. The kassundi had a subtle sweetness, tart and heat.
Next up for me was the cured Marlborough king salmon, sweet corn, chorizo and kipfler potato from Maze Restaurant and Grill. This is a beautiful and delicate dish. The fish melted like butter in my mouth. Every element in this dish made sense. The sweet corn provided the sweetness and crunch. The little pieces of chorizo gave this dish a slight smokiness. The micro leaves gave it freshness. A perfectly well balanced & textured dish. I am seriously considering a visit to Maze.
I tried 2 dishes from Charcoal Lane. The seared Kingfish with red curry, puffed rice and coconut was really odd. When I think curry, I think spicy and not sweet. So I was quite underwhelmed with this dish. It was sweet. It reminded me of ‘brittle’ sweet and just did not work for me or my fellow food buddies. Maybe if this dish was not luke warm, it may have helped with the flavour. I think it is an issue with many of the dishes here. It is usually served luke warm and it is usually not a true representation of the intended dish.
It was a sigh of relieve and my faith was restored when I tried the Wallaby tataki with ginger, soy and horseradish. There was no gameness that one would expect. It was well masked by its dressing. It is quite heavy handed on the soy but I suspect it is to mask the gameness of the meat? It is a very well presented dish and actually a great representation of the restaurant that I absolutely adore.
Sarti was next to Charcoal Lane and the pistachio panna cotta with caramel salted popcorn looked too tempting to walk away. Vicky, Anna and myself thought that the panna cotta was very creamy. In another words, much rich and heavier. It tasted more like thick cream to me and only had the pistachio coming through as an after flavour. It had a mixed reaction from the table. I didn’t mind it but it was too rich for me and was glad that I shared it with everyone else!
Let’s take a short break here. Well, I needed the break to scout around the area. There is a lot more to see and experience than just the participating restaurants.
I remembered wanting to get some Rochester Ginger when I first tried it at Good Food & Wine a few months ago but after wine tasting, all was forgotten. I was glad to see its stall at Taste of Melbourne. The Rochester by itself had a very nice and spicy undertone that lingers on for a while. It could be used for cocktails or desserts. I can’t wait to try it out. Oh! By the way, I heard something about a Celebrity Masterchef Expo that is happening in Sydney in December? What about Melbourne?
And just opposite Rochester was the infamous brownie shop, Dello Mano. There were 6 different brownies on display – Classic Belgian, Espresso Walnut, Macadamia, Ginger and Orange, Coconut and lime and a gluten free version that is made of almond meal and Belgian chocolate. I tried all 6. They were little morsels of richness that just melts in the mouth. I was pretty much defeated after 6 little tasting pieces.
This guy from Original Smoked & Spice Co. was very enthusiastic in his pitch to sell his smoked spiced salt. The salt is first smoked and then tumbled in with garlic, shallots, coriander and mustard seeds.
I promise to go through more producers and different stalls in part 2 of this epic Taste of Melbourne journey. Now, let’s head back to the table. I was greeted by a wagyu beef cigar with artichoke tapenade and horseradish from The Stokehouse. The cigar itself has a nice crunchy texture and every mouthful was just a flavour sensation. Anna, Vicky and I were trying to decide if green olives were used in the tapenade. A friend that went on Friday said that they make a mean Espresso Martini. Mister and I have decided that we are definitely heading to Stokehouse. It is definitely a clear favourite of many.
With my last 14 crowns, I headed upstairs to Ikazaya Den which was the pop up restaurant of the day. This is another restaurant is on my list of must try this year. The tuna tataki with served on top of a beautiful wasabi mayo that we strongly believe is house made. It had a lovely velvety texture and the tuna was nicely seared and of good quality.
And for the last 2 crowns, the guy at Ikazaya was kind enough to give me a piece of sweet corn kaki-age with green tea salt. This is a perfect beer or sake snack. Deep fried with a nice crunchy and dipped in salt.
And how can I not have a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s. This is a triple caramel chunk ice cream. Very rich, sticky and sweet. I am finally happily defeated.
After all the eating, we all went into the HSBC VIP lounge to enjoy some drinks and to catch up with each other. It had been a great day of eating and chatting to various stall holders.
And I could not leave home without getting a piece of eye fillet from Hopkins River. I was told that this is available in Coles! I need to master that sauce and mash.
It was great to see so many bloggers and friends. Attending a Taste event can be quite an expensive trip. I am very fortunate to be sponsored for this event. This is my first Taste of Melbourne and not be the last. Coming in a bigger group is a great idea so that a variety of dishes can be shared and tasted. It is also a great idea to plan the menu and sessions you like to attend.
Special thanks goes to SBS Foods – View article HERE.
SBS Food bloggers for this event – Please let me know once you have posted, I can update the links.
Some say that many of the food served at this event is not a true representation of the restaurant but some say it gives them a sense of expectation and then make a decision of whether to fork out money for a proper dining in experience.
- What do you think?
- What are your thoughts on making this a better event?
- For those that attended, will you go back next year?
And Many Thanks to:
- HotHouse Media & also special thanks to Bacardi
- Green & Black’s
- Ben & Jerry’s
Stay tune for another blog post about Taste of Melbourne 2010. The next post will concentrate more on producers and sponsors of the event.