Thursday, August 27, 2009

Taste Of Melbourne '09

Some people like the whole Taste of Melbourne concept, some don't. I'm one of the people that do. Compared to events like the Melbourne Food and Wine show, Taste is a million times better, in my opinion. The food and wine show is like a room full of those ladies that you see in the supermarket, offering you tastes of the latest Kan Tong Simmer Sauce, or Chicken Tonight.

Boring, if you ask me! And if you're against the whole mainstream foodie event, you could head to your local farmer's market or out of town to some of Melbourne's great producers.

I, however, don't mind a bit of a mainstream event like Taste. I think it's a really cool idea-being able to walk around and sample food from some of Melbourne's best restaurants. Sure there are quite a few missing and sure the quality and atmosphere is not going to be what it is in the real restaurant, but you get the idea. It can also help you decide whether or not you actually want to visit the real restaurant. Chances are, if they're going to give you a tiny, flavourless morsel at Taste, you're pretty likely going to get the same thing, when you visit in person.

I was lucky enough to get a couple of free passes from Spread My Butter (thanks!). We thought we would visit tonight (Thursday) as it was probably going to be the quietest session (well, tonight and Friday Lunch). We were right. While there was still quite a few people wandering around, it was by no means crowded and never any lines for any of the stalls (that we encountered, anyway).

You would think The Press Club if any of them would have had a queue, but the stands were well staffed and then only wait was a couple of minutes for your food, once you had ordered. Speaking of The Press Club, George Calmobares was on hand for photos and autograph signings. As was his Masterchef counterpart - Gary Mehigan. Most of the other chefs were there too, such as Frank Camora, Toby Puttock, Dallas Cuddy, etc. All of them were up the front and chatting to foodies, fans and whoever else wanted a chat.

The main difference I noticed from the last Taste of Melbourne I went to, were that the servings were much larger than before. Our first couple of plates were the Souvlaki and Saganaki dishes from The Hellenic Republic stand. After eating those, we were already half full!

Slow Roasted 'Berkshire' Pork belly, in the Style of Porchetta, with Lentil Du Puy & Salsa Verde - Fifteen
Lentils were VERY, VERY undercooked. I would have taken it back had I not have been talked out of it. The Pork was tasty, but nothing special there. No crispy crackling, which you'd expect at Fifteen, either.

Slow Cooked Cuttlefish with Chorizo and Chick Peas - Movida
I'd never had Cuttlefish before. It kind of has the texture of a thick piece of fat, except with a fishy taste. At first this dish was a bit weird on the palate, but I did warm to it. The chorizo was the highlight.

Seafood 'hotdog' with Corn Relish and Avocado - Oyster Little Bourke
This is one ugly dish! There was no recognisable fish in there, either. Based on this dish, I won't be going to Oyster in a hurry.

Lamb Souvlaki - Hellenic Republic
This was my favourite dish of the evening. Very slow cooked lamb with homemade chips in Souvlaki Bread. So nice to eat and I think there was a little horseradish in there, too. I can now never go back to the Souvlaki King.

Saganaki with Peppered Figs - Hellenic Republic
Another highlight of the evening. Stretchy, chewy Saganaki, with sweet figs, which were a little bit spicy from said Pepper. Delicious!

Pave' of Valhrona Chocolate with Burnt Orange Cream and Candied Cumquat - Botanical
This was very rich, nice Pave. The Orange Cream was so thick it wouldn't come off the plate. Stay away from that cumquat. No joy there.

Chocolate, Honeycomb & Salted Caramel Crunch, Circa- The Prince
Like a liquid cake with a weird textured chocolate at the base. Kind of a cross between a milkshake and a trifle. Worth a try.

One qualm that I did have, was that the whole night we were looking to buy a bottle of water, or some other non-alcoholic beverage. We couldn't find any at all. Might be an idea to have some soft drinks available for people that are driving or that don't drink.

Overall, we had an excellent night out - we spent $64 out of our $80 worth of crowns that we purchased. ($1 = 1 x crown). With our leftover crowns, we bought 2 cheeses from the Yarra Valley Cheese stall to take home. Thanks again to Spread My Butter for the tickets!


encino said...

Seafood hotdog looks rank!!!

Rilsta said...

Great review, I'm looking forward to going!

Amanda (Spread my butter) said...

So glad you enjoyed yourself! The photos look amazing.

Except for that seafood hot dog. Who thought that was a good idea? haha!

MsGourmet said...

That Saganaki with Peppered Figs is to die for!

YarraYarra said...

Cuttlefish was off I am sure - tasted vile. Had the best oysters I have had in a long time from Oyster but steered away from the dog! Best food overall was from Jacques Reymond - scallops followed by quail. Overall a great night out and beetr organised than last year.

Anonymous said...

i thought the cuttlefish was fantastic!!!!!!