Almost one month ago, M and I went to our first Taste of Sydney event. It's an annual celebration and premier food festival at the iconic Centennial Park, with lots of amazing restaurants involved, to showcase the diversity of Sydney's delectable food scene. I remember us salivating over numerous images on food blogs over last year's event and vowing that in 2013 WE WOULD BE THERE NO MATTER WHAT.
The Verdict? It was truly a delight to our senses and worth every single penny to go!
For those who have never been, Taste of Sydney works by featuring over 20 of Sydney's best restaurants whereby they fashion special menus of starter sized dishes (usually 3-4 options) for the occasion - including signature dishes created by chefs. It's essentially an alfresco gourmet setting designed to showcase seasonal and premium ingredients. You purchase dishes by adding credit (cash) onto a Taste of Sydney Crown Card, which resembles that of a debit card almost. Most dishes and drinks are sold in crowns - one crown equals one dollar, so there's no hard conversion needed when calculating costs.
Apart from some of the best restaurants in Sydney, it's also a crazy fun event filled with activities such as interactive masterclasses, theatres, live entertainment, over 120 artisan producers and top chefs making appearances. There were also many food/drink stalls to purchase or sample goods - absolutely awesome and a must-go for every foodie.
We kick start our evening with our favourite cider, Rekorderlig. We got it in Strawberry (10 C) and it was topped with a cute mint leaf and lots of ice cubes. Sweet, cool and refreshing - it was the perfect drink for the warm night that was ahead.
There are so many flavours in the range and I have tried most of them in the past - Strawberry remains to be the ultimate favourite :) If you haven't tried Rekorderlig before, seriously at your next party, buy a massive box to share with your friends. Best BEST cider alive.
Our first food stop was at Longrain Restaurant & Bar - a contemporary restaurant that specialises in Modern Thai/Asian food. The Tumeric Chicken with Rice Noodles, Wild Ginger & Thai Basil (8 C) was very unique in its concoction of flavours. To be honest it tasted like rice noodles drizzled in a herb-infused Thai curry. I couldn't really tell what I was tasting but I wasn't a big fan of it. M however thought it was super delicious and so did my colleague...so I guess it might just be me.
Next stop was at Claude's, a French fine-dining restaurant.
The Slow Braised Pork Cheek and Black Fungus Relish Roll (6 C) wasn't too bad apart from the fact that the burger bun was a little dry. The pork cheek was quite tender and tasty with a delicate sprinkle of the black fungus to add extra oomph and French fanciness.
4Fourteen/Four In Hand was memorable as it was the only stall where we tried ALL 3 of their options on the menu. Yes you guessed right, the suckling pig caught our attention.
The Spit Roast Suckling Pig with Coleslaw & Hot Sauce (12 C) was not a disappoitment after all. The meat was super juicy and succulent - a perfect match with the balancing flavours from the coleslaw and hot sauce. The potatoes were also a nice addition and overall, I liked it alot.
M loves mussels and so this dish was predominantly for him (as I'm not a big fan). According to him, the Spring Bay Mussels with Chorizo & Proscuitto Broth (10 C) at 4Fourteen were huge in size and soaked with tasty flavour from the crazy chorizo and proscuitto broth. I watched as M gobbled them all up whilst beaming with joy. Ok a bit of a dramatisation there but you get the jist - they were yummy.
Now this was my favourite dish of the night - 4Fourteen's White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich (6 C). When I first saw it, it immediately reminded me of my favourite Golden Gaytime Ice Cream however upon taking the first bite, you come to realise that it's got more of a hardened mousse-like texture as opposed to ice cream. It was creamy and crumbly and heavenly and just simply fabulous. Didn't actually taste that much like white chocolate and wasn't overly sweet, which made it even more winning. I will definitely go visit 4Fourteen just to see if they still have this on the menu...
This year, The Argyle Xchange Restaurants also got involved with Taste - they're the chain of restaurants at Circular Quay which includes Ananas, Sake, The Cut and The Argyle.
I had heard great things about Sake Restaurant & Bar and they did well to live up to their reputation.
The Seared Salmon Nigiri with Yuzu Truffle Dressing (10 C) was gobsmacking good! All sushi lovers (especially those who are obsessed with grilled salmon like M and I) will fall deeply in love with this. Fresh and seared to perfection with a slight textural crunch, the salmon melted beautifully in our mouth with hints of yuzu truffle scents lingering afterwards
Because the salmon was so good, we decided to also try out the Tonkatsu Cups from Sake. These interesting-looking "nuggets" were in fact Panko-Fried Pork Belly and Spring Onion Bites served in Lettuce Cups (8 C). How cute and creative! I was so amazed by the perfectly-shaped lettuce leaves and how pretty it looked against the bright purple from the onions. Anyways, it was delicious and we literally demolished it in one bite.
We then moved on to The Cut Bar & Grill's ICON DISH - Sher F1 Standing Beef Rib, 4 hour slow-roasted (16 C). Although it was a bit expensive, the words ICON DISH and 4 HOUR SLOW ROASTED had us convinced immediately. Each cube of beef rib was stunningly tender and flavoursome - though considering the amount we got, it was pretty pricey after all :P
Prior to coming, I had already seen countless instagram shots of the Salted Caramel Eclair (6 C) from Ananas Bar and Brasserie. As soon as I reached for the plate, in my head I was thinking "THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING".
You'd assume by looking at this image that it'd be crazy sweet but in fact it was very well-balanced and not overwhelmingly sweet at all. Just look the caramel ooze! It was a delightful treat despite the skin of the eclair being a tad soggy. The loaded amount of caramel made up for it.
After all that meat, it was time to try some seafood. At Peter Kuruvita's Seafood BBQ - the BBQ Prawn Skewers with Black Pepper, Curry Leaf Sauce and Sri Lankan Pickle (10 C) was fantastic. Beautiful fresh prawns with abundant flavouring from all the seasoning - simple and pleasant! I googled Peter Kuruvita and turns out he is an accalimed Australian Chef who also works as the Consultant Chef at the famous Flying Fish Restaurant.
More dessert! I had to have something more chocolatey and so we ordered the Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart with Chantilly Cream (6 C) from Jonah's - a restaurant specialising in Contemporary Australian Cuisine. This dessert epitomised everything that was sweet, rich and creamy. It wasn't anything shockingly special but it satisfied my chocolate craving for the night.
Despite us feeling quite full by this stage, we just couldn'y resist trying out the infamous Mike's Pluto Pup (10 C) from Kitchen By Mike. Like most of the restaurants we had seen thus far, I had also heard raving reviews for this place - apparently it's become one of the most popular canteen style cafes in Sydney, with a menu that changes daily based on what's found at markets. The Pluto Pup was a good old hot dog with a crunchy skin - dipped in tomato sauce, it was a yummy feed and super fun to eat :D
Although I had declared my utter love for Rekorderlig Cider at the start...I must confess, I am also an equal lover of Pimm's and Lemonade (8C). It's the ultimate drink for classic summer evenings to quench your thirst and keep you nice and cool. The striped straws were extra cute however within minutes, they sort of became soggy...
We had a few dollars left in our Crown Card and so we finished off our feast for the night with Miss Dipity's Delectables Chocolate Gelato (4 C). It was oh so sweet and oh so yummy. A sugary ending to a perfect night!
On the whole, both M and I LOVED Taste of Sydney 2013. It was everything that we had imagined and expected - except a whole lot better. We attempted to try as many restaurants as possible (or as many our wallets could afford and our tummies could fit)...and I'd say we did quite a good job, having covered 9 restaurants. Sure it was a bit pricey but we thought it was totally worth it. After all it only occurs every year for 4 days and you really get to taste a great range of food, all in one vicinity. Doesn't get any better than that.
Plus there were heaps of cool stalls around and lots to sample - it was just a fun experience. Think upbeat music, buzzing crowds of people and delicious whiffs at every corner. A foodie's dream :)
See you again next year Taste of Sydney!
Here are the website links to all the restaurants mentioned in this post, for those of you who have salivated enough and need to step foot in one (or more of them) asap:
- LONGRAIN: http://www.longrain.com.au
- CLAUDES: http://claudes.com.au
- FOUR IN HAND/4FOURTEEN: http://www.fourinhand.com.au/
- SAKE: http://www.sakerestaurant.com.au/
- CUT BAR AND GRILL: http://www.cutbarandgrill.com/eat
- ANANAS: http://www.ananas.com.au/
- JONAH'S: www.jonahs.com.au/
- KITCHEN BY MIKE: www.kitchenbymike.com.au
For more information on Taste of Sydney: