I think it was around December that I heard a little fleeting teaser that Taste of Sydney will be on.. soon. Last year’s Taste was so much fun, so I was pretty excited. How excited? As soon as I found out the menu was online, F and I had worked out what to order in a matter of mere minutes and mushed our choices together for an epic mini-gastronomic adventure. And this was about two weeks before our Saturday session haha.
Coming from the west, we took Parramatta Road and then Anzac Parade. Let me tell you, that’s not the best way to get to Centennial Park on a Saturday afternoon. We most probably got stuck in traffic for about 45 minutes, where poor Howie was waiting for us, at Taste, all that time.
The beef was super tender, encased in a nice crispy shell. It was a bit of a pity that the “foam” made the shell a bit soggy and to be honest, I kind of forgot to dip the whole thing into it before taking a bite. F thought that the dish would be still successful without the “foam”.
This dish was a hit with everyone and easily our favourite of the bunch. The tuna was deliciously seared and wonderfully accompanied by a tart, juicy segment of grapefruit and sweet, almost honey-like sauce. The pork slice underneath brought some heaviness to the dish.
A last minute change in plans saw me opting for El Toro Loco’s first dish. As I approached the guys with it, Howie grinned and joked, “I see you brought food from home.”. But it really did look like I did, all wrapped up in excessive foil. The meat was quite nice but I thought a bit overshadowed by the huge chunks of bread, which were also quite nice though not particularly memorable.
“I kind of ordered the wrong thing,” F said rather meekly as he came towards me and I see this dish that weren’t on our list. Crap, I thought. We rationed our crowns quite precisely, so any deviation would result in leftover crowns that we may not be able to spend. My second thought was: double crap, which dessert is going to go? It ended up being Becasse’s souffle sadly enough, but it worked out to be perfect, as the leftover crowns were used to acquire drinks.
At first bite, I wasn’t sure if I liked it as it was a bit too firm for me. F loved it straight off the bat, citing it being one of the better dishes, and eventually, I warmed up to it. Bland as it may seem it was actually quite flavoursome, though as always: there’s always more terrine than bread.
I did wonder, though, how on earth did he manage to mix-up the terrine for the pie? They don’t even look alike! He was just puzzled as I was… such a mystery, but a happy one!
By this time, Howie had to leave us so he could bring home Jonah’s famous (or is it infamous? haha) panna cotta for Linda.
Glorious fatty goodness!! That’s pretty much my first thought when I started eating this dish. All the flavours combined rather well and suckling pig was of course quite tender. F didn’t like it as much as I did – he thought the sauce and peas were rather bland and that the skin wasn’t crispy (though I didn’t think it was supposed to be?). However, F reasoned that it was possible that the quality of the dish was lowered due to the mass production they had going on at their stand.
Minh went to Taste on Thursday night and raved about this dish… I can see why. The ribs were incredibly tender and perfectly seasoned. Watermelon and ribs is not a combination one would think would go well together, but oh boy, it really does work and work very well.
This was another dish that Minh recommended but she did add a caveat to it: it looks really ugly. It does, but it’s a sausage so I didn’t really expect much from it to begin with (though I do confess I laughed when I saw the dish). For a small blob it really packed a huge punch in flavour; the parmesan may have been a bit too sharp, but I quite enjoyed it.
Just two words: oh, bliss. The pastry was reminiscent of the pies from Megalong Valley, but the beef cheek was amazingly succulent and almost fell apart when poked. This dish was definitely one of our favourites of the day.
“This one would need a knife, I should think,” I noted to F and handed him a knife. He speared into the beef and was astonished to find that he didn’t need the knife at all – it pretty much fell apart to his touch, which I thought was pretty impressive for such a thick chunk of meat. This was another one of my favourites, especially with the paris mash. Yum. For F, this was his favourite dish overall of the day – you should have seen the gleam in his eye as he spied the marble fat glistening at him! Hehe.
The salmon was lightly seared and was so soft and flaky. The radish salad added a slight acidity to the dish, which we thought was a nice touch. We liked how nicely plated it was, compared to the rest of the Dish 2 dishes we had. F said that it was one of the few dishes that was pretty much cooked to order when he went to get it.
F and I thought this was one of the weaker dishes out of the Dish 2 category that we had. While the lamb was tender and juicy, it seemed to be a bit bland and for me there was a very near danger of it being outshone by the minted peas. I think the feta dressing would have been nice if there was a touch more on top.
We both couldn’t resist the lure of macarons (as if we haven’t had our fill yet from Linda’s generosity of baking us a whole batch) and the best of the bunch was the strawberry flavoured macaron: it practically was bursting with flavour.
Being relatively late in the game on the fig-loving band wagon, F couldn’t help but order this dessert. The figs were so fresh and went rather well with the honey ice cream. It was the pizza-base I didn’t care for too much as it was kind of tough.
We both had this dessert last year and had to have it again this year. It was as good as we remembered… and as wobbly. Yay! It was a blissful way to end our culinary journey.
I can’t remember if Taste had a live band last year, but these guys did amazing covers and mash-ups. While there were more seats and standing tables this year, there still weren’t enough for the number of people at the festival. We had to hunt around for a bit til we made-do just near the entrance of the emergency exit, only to be politely asked to leave after we had settled down and started to eat. Finally, we decided to make-do on the grass before spying two empty chairs (no table) that was fortunately vacated just at that moment.
Just as we were about to leave, we spied an old school truck that doubled as a display. I had to re-read the sign a couple of times before I could believe that they were really giving away complimentary Ferrero Rondnoir! We were rather full by this stage, so we wisely saved it for later (which, to be honest, wasn’t much later, as we ate it 20 minutes into our trip home).
This year’s Taste of Sydney Festival was just as much fun as last year, possibly even better. In saying that, I can’t wait to see what next year brings!
Thanks to Renee Creer of Stellar*Concepts for the complimentary entry tickets to Taste of Sydney Festival.
Taste of Sydney Festival
Centennial Park, NSW, 2021