Food festivals always make for a deliciously good time and Sydney has been utterly spoilt in the last month with numerous celebrations of food and wine. The latest to bring the epicureans and food bloggers out from the woodwork was the much-hyped Taste of Sydney at Centennial Park. Inviting Sydney Food Bloggers to its Media Launch turned out to be a very smart PR move as the buzz generated since was palpable.
Taste of Sydney was a delectable orgy of food showcasing Sydney’s top restaurants as well as a smorgasbord of independent produce and gourmet delights. Completing the line-up were wine tastings, live food demonstrations…and this cheery fellow.
After a week of unpredictable weather, our prayers for a fine Sunday were answered but the pay-off was burning heat and extreme humidity (not to mention the biggest crowds out of the four days).
I was praying my white dress will survive the sweat and ensuing yellow stainage and I was this close to stripping off. Poor Mr S. came off worse and was sporting a lovely shade of red for a night.
Before we inspected the food, we spotted Windowrie Wines and the always-affable Chris who is fast becoming a familiar friend at Sydney food and wine festivals. Before we knew it, we were reacquainted over glasses of wine as he regaled some behind-the-scene stories of the festival. Cheers to Chris for the ongong conversations, the complementary glasses of Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc and the bottles of wine that were given as gifts for us to take home.
For foodie fans, the chance to see their favourite chefs up close would’ve no doubt been a highlight. There were no Peter Doyle-esque fan-girl behaviour on my part but I did have the pleasure of meeting Danks Street Depot’s Jared Ingersoll (all urges to yell “ready, steady, cook!” were dutifully restrained). And I wonder if my none-too-subtle gasp was audible when Bécasse demi-god Justin North converged on my path and strolled in front of us. Me? Fan-girl? Never.
Some of Sydney’s loved restaurants were featured at the festival bringing, but a sample of their menu to exhibit their gastronomic prowess in order to tempt a few revisits or two. No doubt my interest has been piqued – I had a taste, now I want more, and plans are now in force to visit a few of these venues.
I suspect Mr S. might have ordered this Justin North specialty as it was one of the larger servings of the day (the poor boy cannot be served little food!), but then again, he could just be filling out his daily wagyu quota. He devoured this in no time at all.
Succulent. Juicy. Tender. Hay-ish. But good.
From the most picturesque restaurant comes the infamous booby panna cotta. The trademark jiggle was ever present and indeed the movement was hypnotically realistic in its mammary-like motions. Needless to say it was the source of much scrutiny and shocked amusement as I walked around with it. After a brief chat, Chef George Francisco is still very much amused at all the attention this risqué dessert is receiving particularly in the form of chocolatesuze’s youtube videos.
Unfortunately the heat resulted in a saggy boob and the vanilla bean ‘teat’ was dethroned (“my nipple broke off!”). Despite its deformity, it continued to garner many giggles from middle-aged women and even more embarrassed smiles from their husbands. Jokes aside the panna cotta was wonderfully smooth, light and creamy although lavender was not detected in the honey.
The highlight of the festival was a gourmet safari of sorts to which I discovered the best of niche food companies and some even prompted me to lament on why I didn’t discover them sooner.
There is a whole treasure box of Australian bush spices and herbs to be discovered and the flavour of some of these are pure bliss. They have a delectable range of Dukkas (spice mixes), oils, chutneys, vinaigrettes and Australian herb infused butters. Check their website for stockists, market dates or to shop online.
My favourite of all was the Passionfruit and Lemon Myrtle Butter (I hope my groans didn’t startle them too much). I recommend you all to stock up on numerous jars of this stuff, bake some scones and find a quiet corner to indulge. How can I ever go back to normal butter now?!
Sure the crowds were tedious, the portions were painfully small and I didn’t sample as much of the restaurant line-up as I wanted to but in the end I discovered some fabulous gourmet food and thanks to a friend over at Windowrie, Mr S and I were constantly wined up and refreshed. Now I’m entering food festival withdrawal.
Oh and to top off the day, Mr S and I spotted a bit of fashion faux pas.