As we farewell Summer and welcome in Autumn, it’s time again for the Taste of Sydney Festival. After loving it last year, I knew what I was in for this year and was empty-bellied and salivating as I arrived yesterday at Centennial Park. With the opening of Taste delayed by a day due to inclement weather, thankfully, Sydney turned on a spectacular day for it today, with the torrential rain and gusty wind not even a memory, well save for the incredibly muddy and soft ground in some parts of the park.
Hmmmmm… What to eat? I wandered around like a lost sheep, soaking in the choices… One doesn’t want to pounce too soon as stomach room is limited and a wrong choice can turn into a severe regret. I let my taste buds shepherd me over to Otto, for their Barbarossa Ravioli. Tangy, pickled beetroot is rounded out by creamy goats curd, finished with pistachios and horseradish. The colours of this dish were stunning. Just look at that beetroot.
Next up, was a Charcuterie Plate from The Cut. Having dined at The Cut, I can say if you want the best steak in town, head there. The plate had a combination of Jamon Serrano, this light ham is a staple of a charcuterie plate. The slices of Fennel Supressa were a gorgeous pale pink and exhibited a great flavour. My favourite though, was the Chorizo Cantimpalo, which was spicy and sweet thanks to its punchy paprika goodness. Embarrassingly so, I was so eager to eat this delicious plate of cured meat, that I forgot to take a photo of it! Here is a photo though from their menu.
Time for a wine tasting! One of the highlights of the festival are the super wine sessions put on by the team Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine. The sessions are a fantastic way to explore the wonderful world of wine and ask any questions you might have. Rosé Revolution hosted by wine writer and judge, Nick Stock was a tour through some of the different styles of Rosé, which often is a misunderstood and unsung hero of the wine world. We started with the 2011 Logan Hannah Rosé from Orange, a blend of shiraz, pinot noir and cabernet franc. With its pale onion-skin colour, this wine was dry and clean on the palate with angular jabs of berry and pear. Next we had the 2010 Chateâu de Sours AOC Bordeaux Rosé, Bprdeaux. This pale cherry coloured wine was a much more vivacious and rich style. With a refreshing acidity, red berry nose and palate, this wine was my favourite of the bunch. The 2011 De Bortoli La Boheme Act Two, Dry Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley has a luscious bouquet reminiscent of Monte Carlo biscuits. The palate is pure strawberries and cream and if you are not a fan of rosé, I suggest you try this to work your way into the world of pink wine. To finish with, we had the 2011 Bespoke Bros Rosé, Heathcote, which was made by our evening’s host, Nick Stock. This wine was so pale with just the tiniest amount of blush, coming from the way the grapes are pressed, which is very delicately, almost like a champagne press. This wine has a bright, fruity palate, with a fresh finish and would be the perfect match for a seafood platter.
After being plied with quite a bit of wine, far more than a tasting (as you can see from the photograph) it was time to hit the main meals! I dashed over to Longrain to pick up the Yellow Curry of Lamb with Cucmber Relish. Relish it, I did. The hunks of tender lamb were so welcome, along with their lashings of spice and zing of the cucumber. Having not been to Longrain for two years, but having had it a couple of times at festivals since, it just reminds me how much I need to go back there to relive the vibrancy and panache of their food.
Just enough time for a quick drop by Chef’s Table for chat with chef from The Cut, James Privett.
Back to the wine tasting… How Cool is Chardonnay, was the name of this session. I love chardonnay. Love it. I am in a minority but Chardonnay is back baby, and it’s more interesting than ever! Gone are the deep yellow, overly buttery styles of the 80s, Chardonnay is exciting, complex and textured nowadays. Don’t believe me? Just try one of these for yourself. Starting with the 2010 Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, this wine has a fat nose and is bright peaches and melon on the palate with lovely acidity. The 2010 Barwang 842 Chardonnay, Tumbarumba, has a “nervy, crisp energy” as host Nick Stock put it. This wine is packed with intensity and structure and tension. The 2010 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay, Yarra Valley was my favourite of the tasting. No coincidence that the maker of this wine, Phil Sexton, also happens to make my favourite beer, Little Creatures. Clearly I like his style! This Chardonnay has a strong, pointy nose with aromas of cut grass and flint. It has a rich palate with some of those toasty notes that I love about Chardonnay. For $32 a bottle, this is money well spent and it will cellar well. The last on the tasting journey was the 2010 Delamere Chardonnay from Tasmania. Tasmania does not produce much wine, but the wine it does it outstanding. 2010 saw a stellar year for Chardonnay in Australia right across the country and the vintage from our Apple Isle was no exception. This wine has a subtle nose. It smells cool. It has a chewiness with warm notes of toast and creamy stone fruit. A delicious drop.
After all of that wine, I knew what it was time to have: the Charlie & Co. Diner Burger of Wagyu Beef & Cheese. This was meaty and hearty and just what I needed.
I thought I would have a hair-pulling time trying to pick a dessert, but alas, there was only one dessert that took my fancy. All of the other desserts were rather fruity and light and I wanted something rich and decadent. I found that at A Tavola, and had their Cremino al Cioccolato. A mix of Amedei gianduia chocolate crema, salty caramel gelato and Italian meringue. I loved the inter play of textures and temperatures in this dish: the silkiness of the chocolate crema, the aeration of the meringue, the cool gelato.
With a full tummy, and tired body, I had just enough energy to grab a couple of bottles of my new favourite olive oil, La Barre on the way out and head home. Another year of Taste under my belt… Literally and figuratively.