Taste of Sydney 2011
Over the past few years I think I have missed out on quite a bit of what happens locally here in Sydney since a lot was based on the BURNING PASSION. However since the passion has been on the downhill I’ve taken interest in a lot of other things. And food is one of them. So with last weekend being the Taste of Sydney Festival it was an opportunity to start the year on a good note. So grabbing my camera, plenty of cash I headed down to Centennial Park last Saturday.
Though going to a food festival on my lonesome is no fun. So I asked MrOptic to join me as it was also a way to celebrate his newfound job and the return of his weekends. So meeting up at Central we took a bus to Centennial Park. I can say that in all my years of living in Sydney this is truly the first time I have EVER been on a bus in Sydney CBD. In a sense at least they run better than the trains.
Upon arriving at Centennial Park we had to purchase tickets first. Tickets were $30AUD and would probably put some people off from going, and even though being there around 10:40 there weren’t that many people around surprisingly.
One other thing about this festival is that the main currency to use to purchase food was called crowns. 1 crown was worth $1AUD and you could purchase crowns in either 10 or 30 crown booklets. When I had a look at the menu available from the website, most food items were between 8 to 12 crowns. So to start with I bought 50 crowns, so $50AUD.
Now it may seem expensive at first when you include the ticket price, but I can guarantee that it is well worth the money. Plus the fact that this is a food festival there are plenty of free samples around. Not to mention there is a large variety of things to see and eat. And so the very first thing that MrOptic and I had was a coffee at the Nespresso tent. MrOptic is more of a coffee drinker than me so it was good to hear his impressions on it.
So the first thing I wanted to try out was Etch & Charlie & Co. tent. One of the dishes they had on offer was Organic grass fed Wagyu burger. I remember seeing a picture of one of their other burgers on Twitter so I had to try this.
Organic grass fed wagyu burger
Although it seems just like any normal burger, but even burgers can be quite extravagant. Of course in this case it’s not something that brings takes it beyond a normal burger, but the texture and taste of the wagyu beef is the thing that makes it stand out. The owner of Gundooee also came up to us and we had a small chat about it too. This cost 12 crowns/$12AUD.
So continuing on MrOptic was feeling parched. So what better way to get started than to have a beer. At the festival there are a LARGE number of vendors that sell alcoholic beverages from beer, wine, and spirits. I didn’t want to get stuff into the alcohol too early as it would ruin my appetite. Luckily next to the beer tent there were more food tents.
Mussels steamed with chilli, white wine, tomato and parsley
From the A Tavola / Omerta stand, MrOptic chose Mussels steamed with chilli, white wine, tomato and parsley (10 crowns/$10AUD). It certainly looked delicious and for $10 that’s not a bad price for mussels.
Beef battuta with eshalots, crispy amaranth and mustard figs
I on the other hand went to Ormeggio at the Spit and got myself a Beef battuta with eshalots, crispy amaranth and mustard figs (10 crowns/$10AUD). This actually reminds me of a tartare and is essentially finely diced raw meat. The eshalots on top give it a slight subtle taste, the balances the slightly saltiness of the beef, and the amaranth adds a crunch to it.
With MrOptic being a coffee drinker, I figured he would be interested in the coffee masterclass that Nespresso were holding throughout the day. However the spots filled up quickly and we actually didn’t get in until the last class of the day. But more on that later.
With a food festival, it’s not only about meat and alcohol. There’s also desserts galore! I bought a raspberry brownie (the one on the left) and I forgot what MrOptic bought. These each only costs 2 crowns/$2AUD. Great for the sweet tooth but as a raspberry brownie I was actually disappointed. I could taste more chocolate than raspberry.
Regal King Salmon Curado with Chilli and Star Anise
Next MrOptic got himself a Regal King Salmon Curado with Chilli and Star Anise from Aperitif (10 crowns/$10AUD). Aperitif also had a paella dish but in my experiences I’ve been let down by paella many many times so I gave it a miss. But I did try the salmon but the chilli was very subtle.
Cold pale duck ale and duck nuts
Given that I have been eating quite a bit (some of the freebies were not photographed) at this point I was getting thirsty. So what better way than to quench my thirst with a cup of cold pale duck ale and some duck nuts (8 crowns/$8AUD) to go with it. The duck ale was nice and it wasn’t too bitter. I don’t drink much beer because of the bitterness in them. The duck nuts were great at the start but it had a sour after taste.
Black pepper and curry leaf prawn skewers with lime and fresh coconut
If MrOptic and I were to choose a dish of the day, it would definitely be this. Over at Flying Fish they had Black pepper and curry leaf prawn skewers with lime and fresh coconut (10 crowns/$10AUD). My god these were delicious beyond the shadow of a doubt. The spice of the black pepper and curry leaf add a nice zing to the beautifully cooked prawns. The coconut adds a slight sweetness to it but not enough to overpower the black pepper. If given the chance I would just eat this the entire day.
One of the freebies I picked up was this interesting donut. An apple and cinamon donut with a sour cherry sauce. What you had to do was stick the sauce straw into the donut and squeeze it in. It’s quite a fun novelty for the many kids trying to grab more as well.
Now alcohol is a major theme at this food festival. Whilst walking past a tent I had a quick look and the lady at the entrance asked us if our names were on the list. We told her no and she invited us in as people who were listed haven’t shown up. Not knowing what it was until we sat down we both realise it’s a Johnny Walker masterclass. Now this is my kind of drink, the hard stuff. It was interesting to hear what the presenter had to say as I never knew how to tell the differences between whiskeys but after a short while I could taste the differences.
At the end of the masterclass, they had an offer to try 20mL of Johnny Walker Blue Label. Now Johnny Walker Blue label is whiskey that has been sealed for 60 years, and trust me, this stuff is not cheap. It’s about $300AUD for a bottle. As much as I would’ve liked to try it, I don’t think I have the experience to fully enjoy 60 year old whiskey.
Ice cream was also available and given that the day had been pretty hot around midday it was a perfect time to get some. What I got was a single scoop of Golden Syrup (4 crowns/$4AUD).
And to end our day of fooding and drinking was the coffee masterclass at the Nespresso tent. It was certainly a good class and I learned a bit more about coffee. So next time I’m out for a coffee with friends, I might think about the type that I should drink. This class would have been the highlight for MrOptic.
So thus ends my short coverage of the Taste of Sydney Festival 2011. I can honestly say that we both only covered about 40% of the actual food stalls there. Despite the portions being quite small, they can be quite filling. Personally I would have liked to try a lot more but one cannot fight when their stomach says it’s full. By the end of the day I personally had spent a good $80 on food, add the $30 for the ticket, and so it’s $110 for the entire day. Now that may seem a lot just for food but you have to remember that this is not something that I do often. So splurging a bit is not such a bad thing. Plus the fact that I have a new job that pays me MUCH better it’s not even an issue.
Given the variety of foods and the quality, the price isn’t all that expensive. But even for the cheap ass, the $30 ticket price is still worth it as there are plenty of food stalls around that were giving away free samples. So the day was a great day out and i look forward to what the next food festival I’ll be attending.
Oh and yes I even bought some sweets for my princesses. They’d be angry with me if I didn’t bring them back something.