I went to “Taste of Sydney” at Centennial Park!! I was so incredibly excited to go. I went to the Saturday 12nn-4pm session.

Besides top restaurants in Sydney putting up stalls and offering up sample-sized versions of their food, there were also many vendor stalls that were offering samples!! Mmm, if there’s one thing I love more than food, it’s free gourmet food!

King Island Dairy had free cheese platters.

This was a beautiful creamy brie. Served on a slab of chilled marble, the cheese was at just the right temperature and just oozed in my mouth.

Not sure what this one was, but I think it’s a Red Leicester. It had a bite to it, which went really well with the slight crumbli-ness. I enjoyed the depth of flavour, but it was a bit too strong for me to take a large piece at a time.

And the blue. I have a soft spot for blue cheese, and I have an even softer spot for creamy blue cheese. It had a slightly firmer texture than the brie, but was soft and creamy anyway. Not much of a bite, so this would definitely be suitable for people who want to get into blue cheese, but are afraid of the really pungent flavours.

The salmon people were also there with their samples. As far as I can tell, this is a mixture of avocado, raw salmon, salmon roe, some onion and parsley. There wasn’t any dressing on it as far as I can tell, but the salmon was so fresh that it really didn’t need it. My only complaint is that there wasn’t quite enough salmon roe!!

Speaking of free stuff, there were also free talks and meeting thingies that we could attend. They had a tent set up as the “Chef’s Table”, where chefs would come by at certain timings and you could ask them whatever you want. I went to the first one in the afternoon and had an audience with Miguel Maestre of el Toro Loco

He gave us a rundown of his background and a little bit of information about Spanish cuisine. The most important thing I learnt there I think was the tips on making the perfect Paella.

From making the sofrito, to frying the rice to crisp it…even the choosing of the type of rice! Apparently, paella is really the name of the pan, and different regions in Spain have different versions of what you should have in your paella. According to Miguel, don’t worry about what you should put into your paella, but put what you like the flavours of in there.

Which makes sense really, why would you put stuff in a dish that you don’t like eating?

He also brought around some grilled fruit and some jamon (pronounced ha-mon) sandwiches.

I know this might be blasphemous to some people, but jamon sort of reminds me of prosciutto. Still all good though!!

There were also other stands around that I simply had to visit.

I love Tabasco. I carry a small bottle in my bag wherever I go. What else can I say?

Bailey’s also had a stall there and they were introducing their new coffee infused irish cream.

Not bad. Considering that I already use Bailey’s when I’m making Tiramisu, I think this would be a very appropriate addition to my liquor cabinet!

After this, I moved on to sample foods from other restaurants.

First up, the starter dishes. Assiette had Sydney Rock Oysters with Vietnamese dressing, crispy shallots and baby coriander.

To be perfectly honest, the dressing was okay, but the oysters themselves were a let down. It did not taste fresh, and left a slightly metallic aftertaste in my mouth. The coriander overpowered everything else, and the whole thing was just sort of…meh. Big, big let down.

But another oyster dish I had was really good!

Berowra Waters Inn presented a tongue-twisting Chilled Vichyssoise, Salmon Caviar and Hawkesbury River Oyster Beignet. The Vichyssoise was smooth and I unearthed a surprising amount of salmon roe hidden beneath the soft mousse-like folds. The oysters were plump and it was crispy on the outside while retaining a salty creaminess on the inside. It was absolutely fantastic.

Finally, from the reputable Aria

…Cured Ocean Trout with Cucumber and Horseradish. This was one of the most awesome things I had at the festival. The trout had a nice salty kick to it, and the Cucumber Salad with Horseradish dressing was such a deceptively delicate compliment to it. When I had it together, I thought the salad was to mellow the trout out a little, then the horseradish delivered a swift finishing note to that mouthful.

It was absolutely glorious.

Now, to move on to the main course dish that I had – Beef Ribs Smoked in Watermelon with a Watermelon and Avocado Salad from Danks Street Depot.

This is Jared Ingersoll’s restaurant. The ribs were cooked to a salty perfection, with the entire piece coming off the bone. The watermelon and avocado was surprisingly good, especially when mixed with the juices from the ribs. One of the best dishes so far I must say.

And finally, the desserts.

Bird Cow Fish had a Tiramisu Roulade – Chocolate Sponge rolled around a Paesanella Mascarpone and Marsala Sabayon. The head chef was Alex Herbert, and I must admit that I was hoping that she’d have the gnocchi with sage burnt butter sauce that I saw on Masterchef, on the menu. But alas.

Again I’m just being honest, but the roulade didn’t live up to the expectation that the name put forth. It was quite dry, and the “sauce” around the bottom had a “skin” form on top of it. That is to say, that it’s been sitting out in the open for just a tad too long I think. It had none of the richness that I associate with tiramisu at all.

I also had the Macaroons from Guillaume at Bennelong.

There was a chocolate, pistachio and strawberry one. As far as macaroons go, these were really good. However, I shall stop here because I’m not that big a fan of macaroons to begin with, so there’s really nothing much I can add to the review thereof.

And just to finish the day, I went to a live demonstration featuring Matt Moran.

He was demonstrating the recipe for the cured ocean trout starter that I had!!! I was so excited. I’m using the cure on salmon, seeing as how I can’t get my hands on trout on such short notice, so I’ll post up the recipe later together with my “can it be done at home?” results.

Happy munching!!

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