For the third year in a row, the Brazilian Fields at Centennial Park were alive with the Taste of Sydney. The open air event is a veritable dégustation of some of Sydney’s best food, wine, spirits in a relaxed and convivial setting.
A food lover’s delight, the four day long festival makes it possible to go from one chef’s kitchen to the next, indulging in some of the best that Sydney has to offer.
Entry tickets can be booked in advance for $25 (plus booking fee) or $30 at the door. Crowns are the official ‘currency’ and can be purchased in books of 10 or 30, where $1 = 1 crown. Dishes range from 8-12 crowns, and drink tastings start from 2 crowns.
Taste of Sydney Restaurant Stands
Much like the previous year, some stands reflected the restaurant’s theme with décor and art to match. Others featured their cookbooks or introduced their products such as the Cotton Duck Ale.
Hanging pasta: A Tavola and Omerta stand
Etch and Charlie & Co stand – framed burgers never looked this good
Chef Alex Herbert’s of Bird Cow Fish
Cotton Duck Ale
Taste of Sydney Menus
With 46 dishes available to taste across 21 restaurants including 3 drinks from the Otto Bar, making a choice is no easy task. The best dishes we tried were Berowra Waters Inn Chilled Vichyssoise, Oyster Beignets, Salmon Roe and their Slow Cooked Fillet Of Ocean Trout, the Black pepper and curry leaf prawn from Flying Fish, the Regal King salmon carpaccio from Otto Ristorante and to finish, their Amedei Milk chocolate mousse with salted caramel.
Berowra Waters Inn: Chilled Vichyssoise, Oyster Beignets, Salmon Roe ($10)
Berowra Waters Inn: Slow Cooked Fillet Of Ocean Trout, ‘French Onion Soup’ Puree, Peppered Oxtail ‘Croustillant’ ($12)
Flying Fish: Black pepper and curry leaf prawn skewers with lime and fresh coconut ($10); simply moreish
Danks Street Depot & Cotton Duck: Stone fruit roasted with home cured pancetta, verjuice & chilli (vegetarian option is served here with grana pandano instead of pancetta)
Danks Street Depot & Cotton Duck: Hiramasa kingfish roasted in jerky & nigella seeds with heirloom tomatoes & basil ($12); interesting use of nigella seeds, used in Syrian string cheese
Otto Ristorante: Stracci with smoked veal ragout, eschallot puree, bresaola and parmesan ($10); tasty and filling, a good serving size before you ply yourself with alcohol
Assiette & District Dining: Crispy Pork Belly, Cashew Nut Caramel, Watermelon & Mint ($12); a textural dish for pork lovers
Otto Ristorante: Regal King salmon carpaccio with orange segments, citrus and chardonnay vinegar dressing, shaved fennel, salmon roe, baby herbs and crispy salmon skin ($10); elegant and pretty with delicate flavours, loved the crispy salmon skin
Berowra Waters Inn: Fromart Raw Milk Alpage Cheese, Sauvignon Blanc Poached Apple, Beetroot Oil ($10) – with thanks to @stburns who I had the pleasure to meet in the VIP Lounge
Fromart Raw Milk Alpage Cheese Wheel at Berowra Waters Inn stand
Flying Fish: The Wattalapam – Sri Lankan crème caramel with palm treacle and roast cashews ($10); interesting spicy flavours which had us divided, a dessert best enjoyed after a full menu at Flying Fish than a standalone dish
Bird Cow Fish: Tiramisu roulade with caramel sauce; a delectable dessert that hit the right spot
Danks Street Depot & Cotton Duck: Chocolate and rhubarb tart with rhubarb cream, chocolate mint and tonka bean ($10); rich and decadent with a hint of tartness
Otto Ristorante: Amedei Milk chocolate mousse with salted caramel and fresh berries ($8); simply delicious and one you are reluctant to share
(L) Otto Mule – Vodka, ginger, beer, mint and limes; refreshing and zingy – (R) Live Music at Otto Bar Stand adjacent to Otto Ristorante
Taste of Sydney Chef Spotting
Compared to Taste of Sydney 2010, chefs were a little scarce during our visit. Although I am impervious to the celebrity chef hype, I have the utmost admiration and respect for talented chefs who turn a dining experience into a memorable event that is talked about for years to come.
Disclaimer aside, we managed to snap a few photographs of some chefs, particularly when Mr G insisted I have my photo taken with Manu Fieldel and Tony Bilson (not shown here, of course).
Chef Alessandro Pavoni of Ormeggio at the Spit
The ebullient Chef Miguel Maestre of Aperitif
Chef Jared Ingersoll of Cotton Duck and Danks Street Depot after a Taste Kitchen session
A lovely smile at The Four in Hand stand, a future chef perhaps?
The charmingly flirtatious Manu Fieldel from l’Etoile and My Kitchen Rules judge smiling for my camera
Darren O’Rourke of Victor Churchill – he makes tattoos look great
Chef Peter Kuruvita of Flying Fish took a moment out of his video camera interview to smile for mine
A cherished moment with legendary Chef Tony Bilson, after we spoke to him at the Taste Kitchen demonstration
Taste of Sydney Exhibitors
Aside from restaurants, Taste of Sydney includes exhibitors showcasing their varied products. From food to wine, spirits, sweets and the more unusual items, we enjoyed the opportunity to discover, meet and chat with a few people that add more variety to the ‘taste’ component of the event.
Bright bold orange in colour, Achacha is a native Bolivian fruit which is successfully grown in the Burdekin district of North Queensland. Sweet, tangy and refreshing when eaten cold, the white pulp can also be used in a Bellini-style cocktail.
It was our pleasure to meet Helen and Bruce Hill, the people behind this exotic fruit that we fell in love with last year. They also produce a honey made from the Achacha flowers which tastes divine. Thank you Helen for the gift of the jar of honey which will brighten up our Sunday breakfasts.
Helen Hill and Bruce Hill of Achacha
For the unacquainted, visit Achacha’s website for information on this fruit, the suppliers and how it can be enjoyed in recipes and drinks. We can’t wait to get our hands on this season’s produce.
We should mention that Croquembouche Patisserie feels like part of our family. Many birthday cakes such as the Opera, the Croquembouche and Bûche de Noël have graced our tables over the years. We particularly love their duck confit and cassoulet which we often enjoy on Bastille Day.
Range of patisseries including sweet and savoury tarts and bottom right, toffee topped profiterole/croquembouche ball and chocolate fondant
More information on the range from the Croquembouche website.
Sweetness The Patisserie
You can’t walk past Sweetness the Patisserie with their mini shortbread hearts and vanilla caramel bars and not give in to your sweet desires.
City Tattersalls Club
City Tattersalls Club Cinnamon Dough Nuts with White Chocolate or Sour Cherry pippettes (L) Mini Lemon and Lime Meringue Tarts (R)
City Tattersalls Club drew in the crowds with complimentary food and drink samples. City Tatts, as it is more commonly known, holds a special place for us, one that goes back to last century when we first shared a drink after work on what could have been a first date.
Butcher shops couldn’t come sexier than this and Victor Churchill’s Taste of Sydney stand reflects the style of their shop. No tastings were available during the time we visited but the range of confit of duck, charcuterie and desserts will have us visit the Woollahra premises soon.
Victor Churchill stand with Crème Brûlée and French condiments
Paspaley is a name synonymous with luxury pearls so naturally, a stall at taste of Sydney piqued my curiosity. The pearl shells were displayed beside dégustation spoons with oyster pearl meat on taste.
Pinctada Maxima oyster shells grown in the Kimberly region in Western Australia
The texture of the meat was firm and a little similar to abalone but I found the Asian style sauce too overpowering to adequately assess whether it is a delicacy I would enjoy on its own. Definitely the most unusual of all the stalls we visited and therefore rather memorable. Paspaley Oyster Pearl Meat is available through GJ Food. More info from their website.
Taste Kitchen with Tony Bilson
Tony Bilson making Tarte Tatin
We attended the Australian Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen session with chef Tony Bilson where he prepared a Tarte Tatin. We first met Tony last century at a Simon Johnson cooking demonstration then at the (late) Richard Olney dinner at the Treasury Restaurant. After the demonstration, we chatted to Tony about his previous restaurants including our old favourite Canard in Double Bay and we are now looking forward to dining at his Number One Wine Bar.
A Journey Through Coffee with Nespresso
Nespresso could have termed their coffee making/tasting as a sensory journey, and this has nothing to do with George Clooney’s sex appeal. The 20 minute class demonstrated how easy it is to use their swanky machines as we made 3 coffees, a ristretto, a decaf and single origin bean from Brazil. Cupping was explained and we had a chance to slurp and inhale aromas from the different coffee blends.
Wines and Spirits
St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
It’s French, it’s sexy, its name is redolent of our favourite pied-a-terre in Paris. St-Germain is the stand that made me do a double take. Not for the evocative posters and black walls. I learnt about St-Germain through my friend, Forest of 52 Martinis in Paris and I was thrilled at the opportunity to taste it.
Made from elderflower, St-Germain is an elegant and delicate liqueur artisanale. Termed as the ‘truffle of the bar cabinet’, it can be enjoyed in cocktails or sipped neat as you look seductively into your lover’s eyes.
We tasted the St-Germain Cocktail, made spritzer style with 40% wine, 40% soda water and 20% St-Germain liqueur before we tried it neat. A drink that captivates you from the first taste. More information from the St-Germain website and Vanguard Luxury Brands distributors.
Spirits of France/Cerbaco Distribution
We spotted the Pineau des Charentes on tasting but it was the Floc de Gascogne that wooed us into trying the range of spirits and chatting with Valerie Blayac from Spirits of France. Our stop at their stand was more a trip down memory lane in France, where we initially discovered these regional specialties. They carry a good range of spirits including Pommeau de Normandie, Delors Bas Armagnac, Dolin Vermouth and Absente Liqueur.
Nepenthe Wines from Adelaide Hills
We’re no strangers to Nepenthe wines from the Adelaide Hills. Last year we became acquainted with their Nepenthe Charleston Pinot Noir and it quickly became our favourite.
We tasted the 2010 Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (zingy and zesty), 2010 Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (fruity and a little on the sweet side), Pinot Gris 2010 (drier with more acid notes) and the 2009 Shiraz which was a little young but with good potential. More information from their website.
Ron Zacapa Rum
There’s something about photographing a woman with an ice pick after she offers to hand chisel ice for you, Sharon Stone style in Basic Instinct. But at the elegant stand, she puts the ice in a glass and pours you a tasting of Ron Zacaba Rum. You take a sip and immediately fall for it.
Perhaps the most fun you can have at Taste of Sydney wearing protection eyewear with your head titled back, Sagatiba Brazilian rum were doing tastings of an unusual kind.
Patrón Añejo (L) and Patrón Silver (R)
We tasted it last year and came back for more. Patrón Tequila is known as a premium spirit made with 100% pure Weber blue agave, and we couldn’t resist having a couple of shots.
Patrón Silver is a refined taste with light citrus notes. This is Tequila to enjoy with special company. Patrón Añejo is a blend of Tequilas aged in small oak barrels for 12 months. The flavours are complex and sweet, if you like your Tequila bordering on a liqueur.
HSBC VIP Lounge
The VIP Lounge is a welcome respite from the heat and bustle of the event outside. Sipping on Cava from Segura Viudas Aria in air-conditioned comfort while being entertained is a nice way to recharge your appetite before hitting the food stands again.
When night descended on the Brazilian Fields in Centennial Park, the event took on a different vibe. Live music and dance rhythms filled the air giving the festival a party ambience.
There is so much to eat, drink, photograph and learn and much more to discover at Taste of Sydney which make this open air event one of a kind. Each session is four hours long and you need to plan your activities beforehand. Bring a healthy appetite, a thirst for knowledge, a lot of cash and don’t overlook the smaller exhibitors. When the time comes to leave, you will be looking forward to next year’s event.
Taste of Sydney 2011 was held from 10-13 March and will return on March 8-11th in 2012.
Gourmantic attended Taste of Sydney 2011 as media guests.
Taste of Sydney
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