Taste of Sydney 2013 Cover

DIY Degustation – Taste of Sydney 2013

So after the awesomeness that was the Crave Sydney International Food Festival (related posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), I was mightily looking forward to the next great culinary sensation. Luckily for my taste buds, the 2013 Taste of Sydney festival was coming up not more than half a year later – 14-17th of March 2013!

I attended on Sunday during the allotted time of 12pm-5pm, but there were many other lunchtime/dinner sessions in the days prior. It’s my first time visiting this taste sensation, so it was all so very new to me, but boy, was it awesome.

Date Visited: 17/03/2013
Address: Centennial Park, Sydney

I won’t include a “go to dish” this time, since as you’ll soon see, it’s all about choice. For disclosure however, the wagyu beef brisket w/BBQ sauce and pickle dish, by Porteno won “Best In Taste” this year.

Let’s delve into this sensation.

Taste of Sydney

Yours truly, ready to taste and snap

So what is Taste of Sydney exactly? Well, the website would tell you a lot, but to summarise:

  • Lots of restaurants, some very well-known, some not, set up stalls and serve a small menu (3-5 items) throughout the day. There may be an “icon” dish which is essentially a signature dish of the restaurant. First come, first serve. These aren’t your cheap places either – we’re talking hatted beats of the industry such as Claude’s, Longrain, Four In Hand, Sake Restaurant, etc.
  • There are many other stalls, usually selling drinks (mostly beer/cider), and local produce (meat, veggies, condiments, juices, etc). In this respect, ToS is like a grocer’s market.
  • Several larger stalls have talks on food/drink-related subjects. I only attended one about pasta making, more on that later.
  • (Almost) everything purchased in the festival area is made with “crowns”. One crown = $1. You use a crown card which gets digitally charged with crowns when you buy them from crown banks, or people in pink shirts selling them. I don’t quite understand this system, but oh well, go with the flow.
  • The food costs you, but there’s also an entry fee – $20. I guess this isn’t a cheap festival to run. I’ll be straight out – if you’re not particularly into food, or you’re not well off, this fest ain’t really for you. You’ll easily spend over $40 to eat till satisfaction point. I spent $70 and I felt I needed maybe $100 (or 100 crowns) worth to feel full. It’s a DIY degustation alright – all the portions are deliberately small to encourage variety and sampling. The mindset is right, the value is what you make of it.

There’s more to it, but the above summarises it. To summarise the summary – it’s where you can purchase lots food, hear about food, talk about food, and overall, spend lots of money :)

Sounds just like the event for me.

Taste of Sydney line

The line is already so long, and the festival hasn’t even gone on for 5min yet!

Taste of Sydney crown card

We loaded up 90 crowns on this card. Something tells me that it’s not going to be enough… *foreshadowing*

Taste of Sydney - stalls

Just a small, small portion of all the stalls that were there on the day. There’s something for everyone!

Taste of Sydney stalls

Another selection

Taste of Sydney bar tents

There were several bar tents which are awfully inviting with their shade and copious amounts of alcohol.

Our first stop is Claude’s. This two-hatted restaurant is famous for their French and occasionally Asian fusion. They shared a super large tent with Longrain and Muse Dining.

Claude's, Longrain & Muse Dining

The actual restaurant Muse Dining is located wayyyy out in the Hunter Valley. Worth a try if you ever go there.

Taste of Sydney crowd

And of course, the crowd already begins building up. 2 hours later, imagine this scene with 8x the people…

Before I start rattling off my opinions, it should be noted that the dishes served shouldn’t be taken as a 100% analogue of the food served at the restaurant’s own premises – factors like a different (e.g. less-featured) kitchen, or the weather (it was a cold and windy day) could affect the final quality of the presented dish. This is also why I’m not scoring the stalls, it’s only fair I think.

Claude's - Slow Braised Pork Cheek and Black Fungus Relish Roll

Slow Braised Pork Cheek and Black Fungus Relish Roll

The first dish we tried is their slow braised pork cheek & black fungus roll. I was kind of underwhelmed by this dish – it was blandish and generally there’s not much flavour there. I think there are circumstances when pork can be eaten cold – say when it’s smoked or like ham, but cold pork belly doesn’t really taste like much. Overall, serving the bun with warm/hot ingredients would go a long way in improving its taste.

Claude's Slow Braised Pork Cheek and Black Fungus Relish Roll

The insides

Claude's - order ticket

Our next dish involves a 10min cooking time. Something hot whoop whoop!

Claude's Twice Baked Cheese Soufflé

Twice Baked Cheese Soufflé

As for my preferred dish, the twice baked cheese soufflé – now that’s an icon dish alright. Amazingly rich and delicious. The outer layer was especially yum due to the crusting effect of the upper layer of cheese. The inside, while not as texturally incredible, is chock full of cheesy goodness. Think the cheese soufflé at Claire’s Kitchen.

Claude's Cheese Soufflé - insides

The delicious innards

Yep, I’ve discovered that I have a thing for cheese soufflés. The lady believes that due to the richness of the dish, it should be served with some bread. Can’t argue there – it is dying to be paired with something to water it down with, even if said “watering” is provided by dry carbohydrates…

Taste of Sydney

Cya later Claude’s…

Claude's on Urbanspoon

Afterwards, we walk around a bit, taking in all the stalls and seeing what they have to offer. One particular stall had some yummy looking cupcakes which I was very tempted to try, but resisted *phew*.

Taste of Sydney - cupcakes and sweets

Various cupcakes and sweets. What a sugar rush…

In fact, seeing this got me hungry again (not that I was anywhere near full, having consumed half a cheese soufflé and half a slider) so we marched to two-hatted Argentinian restaurant Porteno next.

Taste of Sydney - Porteno

Porteno stall

Taste of Sydney - green herbs

Shicks, that’s a lot of coriander. Hallmark or decoration?

Porteno - BBQ Waygu Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce and Pickle

BBQ Waygu Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce and Pickle

So we’re going for their awarded dish yeah? Yes, for their awarded dish. The BBQ wagyu beef brisket w/BBQ sauce & pickle is definitely worthy of accolade. It wasn’t my pick of the day, but it was definitely up there. The BBQ sauce isn’t your supermarket style sauce – there’s a smokiness and spiciness to it that ups it two notches, and is a great complement to the brisket itself. Speaking of this beef, it was a bit cold by the time it got plated to us which is very unfortunate. It retains its excellent texture though – very soft, and tears apart so easily, but not to the point where it’s mush.

Oh yeah, check out where they’re cooking their dishes – meet Jack the Ribber.

Taste of Sydney - Porteno's BBQ Jack the Ribber

Porteno’s BBQ – Jack the Ribber

Taste of Sydney

Definitely steals attention alright

How AWESOME is the concept? And if that isn’t cool enough, check the below out.

Taste of Sydney

It’s not just for show – it’s an oven!

Yeah that train opens up. Just awesome. Porteno, you’re crazy cool. I still need to visit the restaurant too.

Porteño on Urbanspoon

After Porteno, we walked around a bit more to work that brisket off.

Just kidding, we made a straight beeline for our next stall – the stall by Maggie Beer – the “Australian Pears Restaurant”. Unfortunately, the nicest lady you’ll probably ever meet herself wasn’t there, but the food sure was. As you’d expect, it’s pear-themed and no, things did not go…pear-shaped. Yeah you’ve probably given up reading this blog now…

Australian Pears Restaurant by Maggie Beer

If only the restaurant actually existed…

But if you keep reading, you’ll find out what we got at the Pear Restaurant stall.

Taste of Sydney - Roast Pear and Duck Slider

Roast Pear and Duck Slider

Another slider? We must be nuts, but no – this was actually my (and the Lady’s) pick of the day. The roast pear & duck slider is a surprise in the most pleasant way possible. I haven’t had pear in my burgers before, but I suppose I should have seen it coming – what with Thai cuisine using fruits like pears, apples and papaya to make duck salad. It definitely works in a burger. There was a bit too much pear relative to the duck imo, but overall it was a very attractive package.

Taste of Sydney - Roast Pear & Duck Slider insides

A lot of pear makes me wanting for more duck…

Okay now we decided to take a short break from nomming. We took rest under one of the many bar stalls which have ample seating. Well, ample seating right now as it was still before 1pm – very soon the place got PACKED. We soaked in the sun (kidding, the shade), and listened to the ambient music provided by many live bands around the festival grounds. Ahhhh, this is life. Sunday relaxation at its best.

Taste of Sydney - arvo beer decoration

It’s the perfect Australian lager, yet I’ve never heard of it. Nor did I drink it.

Taste of Sydney - Rekorderlig tent

Thank goodness for shade

Taste of Sydney - live band

Unfortunately we sat really close to this band and that speaker was in my face (ear). Ouch. Good music though!

After some chilling, we set off on our next taste sensation – Kitchen by Mike.

Taste of Sydney - Kitchen by Mike stall

Kitchen by Mike

So I hear that the actual Kitchen by Mike has a very DIY-style way of making your brekky/brunch. I can’t wait to see what that’s like in action. Shortlisted!

Taste of Sydney - Kitchen by Mike condiments

They had quite a few condiments for sale too! If only I had that cooking spark…

Taste of Sydney - Kitchen by Mike chilli salt

In retrospect, I wish I had bought a jar of that chilli salt. Looks DELICIOUS.

There’s lots of buzz about what’s best to get here. Apparently it’s something as humble as a corn dog. We decided to go with the crowd’s flow.

Taste of Sydney

And our order is being served…

Taste of Sydney - Mike's Pluto Pup

Mike’s Pluto Pup – yep, it’s a corn dog!

It’s a pretty good corn dog, though nothing spectacular. The chilli sauce was completely um…what’s the opposite of spicy? Anyways I have a higher tolerance to chilli than most people so I didn’t even really taste it in the chilli sauce. The cornmeal batter was very nice – super oily, but that’s the idea of deep-fried batter. The sausage inside is aromatic and pretty much as good as a hot dog sausage is going to be. Overall an extremely guilty eat. Mike’s Pluto Pup - eating one a day definitely will bring the doctors home. No rhyme for you!

Taste of Sydney - Mike's Pluto Pup insides

Corn Dog – a look at the sausage within

Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon

By now, we were feeling a bit thirsty. Water just wasn’t going to cut it any more, especially as we saw some rather interesting cocktails being made…

Taste of Sydney - Cointreau

Cointreau – I’ve never heard of this liqueur before, but it’s made with oranges. Think orange skin.

The cocktails were based on Cointreau triple sec liqueur, and though neither the Lady or I drink, we decided that splitting one small flask wouldn’t hurt. It process looks pretty cool, as does the result.

Taste of Sydney

CRUSH

Taste of Sydney

POUR

Taste of Sydney

FINISHING TOUCHES YEAHHH

Taste of Sydney - Cointreau strawberry & mint cocktail

Strawberry Mint cocktail

We got ourselves the strawberry mint cocktail. Gorgeously orange and just as refreshing. The alcohol taste wasn’t too strong – it was half a shot of Cointreau and between two people, it was pretty much nothing. For 8 crowns, it’s not too bad a price when you think about it.

Now, because there’s no rest for the foodies, we made our way to one-hatted restaurant Three Blue Ducks. Let’s keep this degustation rolling!

Taste of Sydney - Three Blue Ducks

I wonder if their menu changed during the 4 days Taste of Sydney was on…ERASE!

Taste of Sydney - Three Blue Ducks stall

A very simple stall with minimal clutter. Kitchen as usual is not visible :(

We got ourselves a salad. Can you believe that? A salad! Hah!

Taste of Sydney - Duck, snow pea sprouts, green mango & chilli jam salad

Duck, snow pea sprouts, green mango & chilli jam salad

This is actually quite a nice salad. It’s reminiscent of Vietnamese salads, or alternatively, Thai salads with a lot less spiciness and tang. It’s quite saucy and can get a little thick at times, but never overloads you with flavour. I’d have actually preferred it with more flavour; that’s my bias towards Thai food right here. The ingredients were all pretty good though – as fresh as they can be. The duck was tender and stringy along the muscle fibres, made for a pleasant eating experience.

Three Blue Ducks - duck salad

Love playing around with DoF

Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon

We walked around for a bit more after this and saw some pretty tasty things.

Taste of Sydney - pasta

Guess how many grams of carbs are in this picture? If you thought “a lot” you’d be right

Not a smart idea for me to linger at this stall for too long, I can feel my weight gaining just looking at it.

Despite that, we still attended the last few minutes of a Bertolli kitchen talk.

Taste of Sydney - Bertolli Kitchen

A lesson in cooking pasta that I’ll probably never utilise due to my carb-avoidance; interesting nonetheless

So you cook the sauce WITH the pasta in the last few minutes. OHHHHH. No seriously, how many of you put the sauce onto the pasta after plating? Yeah….

Moving along from that, we walked past the Four In Hand stall which had the most amazing display:

Taste of Sydney - Four In Hand's suckling pig on a spit

You can’t tear your eyes away from it. BACON, ALL THE BACON.

How on Earth did I end up resisting the temptation to get the dish? Well, I guess I was beginning to fill up at the time and well, I could taste this with my eyes. Meat cooking on a spit/coals in the open always draws me – look at those magnificent specimens of pork. I could so do a homer simpson and just munch into it.

There’s also a huge pot of mussels cooking to the right – that’s another dish served at FIH.

We did end up getting food from FIH – our first dessert!

Taste of Sydney - 4Fourteen's White Chocolate Ice Cream

4Fourteen’s White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich

So recall that Four In Hand and 4Fourteen are sister restaurants. Dishes between the two are commonly served and this time, we get their ice cream! The White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich doesn’t look like an ICS, nor does it look like white chocolate. It doesn’t matter though – it’s delicious and that’s what matters. The ice cream itself is thick and rich, not too creamy. The honey nut crumble is reminiscent of Universal’s Gaytime Goes Nuts. That’s a great thing, by the way.

Taste of Sydney - 4Fourteen's Ice Cream

Another angle because I can

4Fourteen on Urbanspoon
Four in Hand on Urbanspoon

Okay, we’re reaching the end of our degustation tour at Taste of Sydney, but we’re not quite there yet! We still had crowns to use up and I sure ain’t giving them back. Onto Longrain!

Taste of Sydney - Longrain Stall

The Longrain stall. Check out the grain of those wooden plates…okay I tried.

If you recall, Longrain was right next to Claude’s, so it wasn’t too difficult to find. Actually, I’ve noticed Taste of Sydney had quite a good layout – we never had to look at the map for more than 10 seconds to figure out where we needed to go. Good work!

Taste of Sydney - Longrain's Tumeric Chicken w/Rice Noodles, Wild Ginger & Thai Basil

Tumeric Chicken w/Rice Noodles, Wild Ginger & Thai Basil

The tumeric chicken w/rice noodles takes out second place in my most preferred dish of the day. I love Thai food and this was fantastic. The tang of the chicken mince, the soft and slippery rice noodles, the spiciness. Ah it’s classic. Extra points for being quite well-seasoned – no blandness here at all. It’s no wonder the dish also won runner up to Best In Taste!

Taste of Sydney

My face is containing the joyous emotions I’m experiencing as I eat this delicious dish :D

Longrain Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Okay, we’re nearly there. We had 6 crowns left and needed to spend them. What better way than a second dessert? Oh no we didn’t…

Taste of Sydney - Saké, The Cut Bar & Grill, Ananas Bar & Brasserie

A trio of stalls in one

Guess which one we went to? Nope, it’s not actually Sake

Taste of Sydney

This picture doesn’t provide you with a clue either

It was Ananas Bar & Brasserie :P

They had a salted caramel eclair which sounds very fattening and thus is a must-buy. Boy were we right.

Taste of Sydney - Salted Caramel Eclair

Salted Caramel Eclair

It was quite sweet as you would expect, and the salted caramel on the inside was ever so yum. The Lady reports that you wouldn’t want to eat much of this due to the massive amount of cream inside. It’s good to get for the novelty, but definitely not a staple dessert. If you don’t want a heart attack, it’s solid to follow this advice.

That does mean that it’s delicious to have – just not too often.

Taste of Sydney - Salted Caramel Eclair insides

Check out that salted caramel on the inside. Tastes just as good as it looks. Guaranteed.

Brasserie Ananas on Urbanspoon

And that’s our 9-course degustation!

That’s it folks! It’s been a great first time for me, and I sure hope I’m able to make it to next year’s festival as well. Congrats to all the sponsors of Taste and the City of Sydney for organising. I can’t wait to see what’s on for next year.

I leave you with a picture of me being kind of ridiculous next to a black swan (Centennial Park is full of these birds). Nothing quite like working off all this food than pulling faces right?

Taste of Sydney

This picture doesn’t need a caption

For further reading and a take of the festival from a different angle, check out the ToS 2013 posts by Ramen Raff & Bite Me Show Me.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three :D

3 thoughts on “DIY Degustation – Taste of Sydney 2013”

  1. Great read Mate. Well done. You actually enthused me more about the show than I’ve felt. I’m the signwriter for sydney/melbourne Taste festivals. After the weeks of installation, I’ve never actually up&went to the show itself! You’re 100% accurate though in your summary of the summary… it’s a place to eat, drink and spend a LOT of money. When I was designing each restaurants menu, I was reading the descriptions and thinking wwwwtttffffff… Certainly not my thing, but your photo’s and blog really makes the show look like a great day out! I printed melbournes show this week, install next week, and show’s on next weekend. Maybe I’ll actually attend my first taste?!

    1. Wow thanks for the comment buddy! Looks like you’ve had your fair share of involvement in Taste – it is indeed worth a try, even if you don’t end up buying anything.

      Bucket list item? Tick. And who knows, there may just be a dish or two that may tick your fancy!

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