Posts tagged Festivals

Taste of Sydney, 2014

Clockwise from top left: Suckling pig on a spit from 4fourteen, Woodfired lamb from Porteño, Mussels in Apple Cider from 4fourteen, the most bad ass name card holder I’ve ever seen

Once a year, Sydney’s top restaurants gather to offer tasting sizes of their most creative, iconic, popular dishes. Where gourmands and gluttons alike can gather and partake in all the hedonistic delights that culinary giants can offer. This is…
Of course, it would have helped if you read the previous paragraph in an epic, movie trailer voice.

Taste of Sydney happens at the beginning of fall every year, and I pretty much start saving up money from Christmas. Between the growing number of restaurants represented to the crazy cool offerings from food producers, I inevitably end up one full, but broke girl.
But man, is it a tasty road to a zero bank balance. The idea behind the Taste of Sydney is simple: Sydney’s most popular restaurants each get stalls at one giant event, and offer tasting sizes of their most popular dishes. Some even create special dishes just for Taste. And because the portions are small, you also often get to sample these dishes at just a fraction of the price of what you would pay at the restaurant, not to mention the chance to try a little something across the huge variety of restaurants all in the one day.
You pay with Crowns, which is the currency of choice at the Taste of Sydney. Elegantly loaded onto spending cards, Crowns eliminate the need for different machines and having cash on hand, which to me makes for a smoother experience. One crown costs one dollar, so there’s no crazy conversions that need to be made. These crowns are non-refundable, but it helps that the food producers also accept them, meaning that you don’t have to worry about not spending everything that you put on your card.
So, now that we know how it works, on to the food!!


The first stop, 4fourteen/Four in Hand. I’d been to 4fourteen previously for Valentine’s, and the experience there left me absolutely excited to see what they have to offer. We got the Warmed Corned Beef with Bresaola, Buffalo Curd and Nashi Pear, 20 Crowns. This dish was a comforting amalgamation of beef on beef deliciousness. A moist, tender chunk of corned beef was sandwiched between two thin slices of juicy apple-like nashi pear, before being laid on top of a yoghurt-like buffalo curd and covered with wafer thin slices of salty, air dried beef that is bresaola. Every bite was melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious, with the creamy buffalo curd providing just enough tanginess to stop me from crawling under a warm blanket and descending straight into a food coma. A fantastic dish to start off the day, 4fourteen proves that they are as consistent in their vision as they are with their execution.


Next stop, Longrain. I do love it when seafood and other meat come together to make a delicious marriage, so the obvious choice for me was the Dry Red Curry with Cloudy Bay Clams, ginger, holy basil and pork crackling, 26 Crowns. To be honest, I did baulk at the $26 price tag, but when the dish came out I understood why. The portion was much larger than I had anticipated, and I’ve never been more glad to have someone to share it with. Spicy both in the sense that it had the heat of chillies and was full of, well, spices, this curry hit me like a two tonne flavour truck that is hallmark of good Southeast Asian cooking. The pork crackling was a great foil for the texture of the clams, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the portion on a 31C afternoon. If only we had met under different circumstances.


I cannot pass by an item like Efendy’s Panfried Lamb’s Testicles with Almond Tarator and Isot Chilli, 10 Crowns, so the decision was once again a clear one. I haven’t had lamb’s testicles before, so I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but I’m pretty sure that the burger patty-like texture wasn’t quite it. It wasn’t the most morish of dishes, but the pickled Isot chilli definitely helped things along. Not my favourite of the day since I wasn’t particularly keen on any of the elements, and makes me wonder whether I should have gone of the kebab instead.


Porteño had me tossing up between the Woodfired Lamb with Potato Salad and Chimmichurri, 20 Crowns, and the Charcoal Grilled Lamb Rib, with Marinated Eggplant, Anchovy and Rosemary Pound, 12 Crowns. In the end we went for the lamb rib because how can we say no to luscious, fatty meat on the bone??? The rib itself was smoky, unctuous and delicious, but the eggplants weren’t quite as big a hit. I could see the intention of the eggplant – it provided a much-needed acidity to cut through the fattiness of the lamb rib – but it didn’t quite hit the spot as I suspected it was meant to.


I was really looking forward to Jonah’s Fruit de Mer, 40 Crowns. Literally translated as ‘fruit of the sea’, Fruit de Mer refers to seafood that is plucked at its peak, like ripe fruit from a tree. Unfortunately, a lady with a big roll of masking tape was approaching the menu as I was approaching the restaurant, which could only mean one thing: they were sold out. This disappointing conclusion was confirmed when I tried to place my order and a look of sympathy crossed the nice lady’s face. She consoled me by asking if I would rather the Confit Huon Salmon with Wasabi, Radish and a Soy and Ginger Dressing, 10 Crowns, so we ended up going down that route instead.
The salmon was nicely cooked, as you expect confit anything to be, but lacked a bit of oomph. Some might say that we were meant to appreciate the light delicate flavour of the salmon itself, but it was just a touch too light and delicate for me. It was delicious salmon though, as Huon salmon is wont to be, but not quite the feast from the sea that I was hoping for.



Chur Burger – one of the more wickedly cool burger joints in Sydney – had plenty to offer, and we went for two of their burgers: the Kinkawooka Mussel Fritter with Spiced Remoulade and Dill Pickled Cucumber, 6 Crowns, and the Wagyu Rossini with Shaved Foie Gras, Truffle and Madeira Jus, 18 Crowns. The master of all things sandwiched between buttery brioche buns, Chur burger did not disappoint.
The mussel fritters were quite delicious and moreish on their own, and were just slightly overpowered by the richness of the other ingredients. Personally, I enjoyed it much more after I took the top bun off – I have a thing about bun to filling ratios when I eat a burger – but each element was delicious and balanced on its own, as well as with the other bits that made up the burger.
The Wagyu burger was an absolute powerhouse of flavour with a creamy truffle sauce and rich burger patty, and once again, the lady-like sizes of the burgers completely belied their ability to fill you up. These satisfying and rich burgers hammered in that final-nail-in-the-full-belly-coffin, and the only thing that kept it from absolute perfection was that the beef patty was slightly more medium-well-done than medium rare, making it a touch drier than what I know they can produce.
I still think that creamy truffle sauce deserves to be on the regular menu, though.


As close as we were to calling it a day and rolling ourselves on home, I still insisted that we had to stop by IconPark and sample their range of eateries. 
IconPark is basically like the Kickstarter of food – instead of restaurant founders having to talk to some administration person at a bank to try and get funding for their big dream, the power is put into the hands of the eaters, and you get to choose which concept you’d like to support by making a donation of your choosing. It’s a win-win for everyone, you get to help out the concept you believe in the most, and allow small establishments that might not have made it, a shot at the food scene. 
We only had space for one dish – I wanted to try them all, but I’m not sure that death by overeating would’ve been the most glamourous way to go – and we ended up with Sedgewick Ave’s De-boned Free Range Chicken Wings, with Grilled Watermelon and Light Blue Cheese Sauce, 10 Crowns. Crispy spiced pieces of chicken wings were covered in a creamy sauce, and grilling brought out a different, addictive texture to the sweet watermelon. It wasn’t overly moreish for me – I’m sure due to the fact that I was already stuffed to the brim – but it was good enough that I wish I left room to try some of the others, like I had planned. 
As usual, we leave the Taste of Sydney thoroughly satisfied and filled to the absolute brim with good food. And if the abundance of fabulous restaurant dishes didn’t get to me, I’m sure that the free samples at the many food producers tipped me over the edge and straight into a food coma…


Pomelo Salad

Happy Lunar New Year y’all!!! May you prosper, enjoy good grades, languish in good health, live a long life and just generally have a good time in the year ahead. If you’re not familiar with it already, Chinese New Year happens in the first 15 days of the lunar calendar cycle, and I see it as an excuse for Chinese (and Vietnamese and Thai) all over the world to see their family and friends, and party and feast hedonistically and guilt-free for slightly over two weeks.

Which is why I would like to share the recipe for this pomelo salad – pomelo is meant to signify abundance so it’s lucky to eat. And besides, it’s darn tasty.

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Sydney Festival 2014, Hyde Park

The Boss, $8, from Woofy’s

Okay, I must admit: I’m not much of a festival goer. I try my best to stay indoors for as much as possible, and the only reason I’d ever head outdoors is when I have to go somewhere, or where there’s food.

Which is why I was drawn to Festival Village in Hyde Park, as part of Sydney Festival 2014. Gelato Messina serving up carnival themed wacky treats you say? I’m there.

Sometimes you need a bit of savoury to go with the sweet. Or rather a savoury to prelude the sweet.

Or any reason to get a hot dog.
Woofy’s Gourmet Sausage Sizzle had a stall there selling their gourmet hotdogs. The idea is that the base sausage is the same – Angus Beef – and you get to choose your toppings. The hotdog was satisfying and filling enough, but the two guys who were manning the stall over the late lunch period didn’t look particularly happy to be there. So, for $8 a pop, I could take it or leave it.

But now, for the pièce de résistance.


For weeks now I’ve been taunted tempted by my friends’ posts about Gelato Messina‘s incredibly creative and intriguing carnival sweet treats. Pluto pup made with ice cream and pancake batter? Red skin and banana flavoured gelato lollipop? Duck fat caramel fudge on a caramel cheesecake gelato? BACON MARSHMALLOWS??!!


Top row: Messinaweiner (Plutopup) $9
Bottom row, from left: Samurai Fairy Balls, $7, So Wrong It’s Right, $9, Gelatofee Apples, $7, Eyescream Lollipops, $7

So my dining partner was gallantly dragged into ordering five desserts to share with me. The Messinaweiner was a hot (no pun intended!) favourite, with it’s pancake batter coated maple syrup gelato. The pancake batter added a kind of moreishness to it, but to be really honest I couldn’t really tell that the gelato was maple syrup and the sauce was plum-flavoured. It made for a delicious bite, but I was envisioning slightly more discernible flavours in my head. The Eyescream Lollipop was the most recognisable, and every bite screamed out Redskins to me. The pop rocks weren’t quite popping, but the bites were still delicious and easy to finish. I wanted the So Wrong, It’s Right to be right so badly, but unfortunately it didn’t quite hit the mark. Once again I couldn’t really discern all the flavours that were meant to be there – duck fat caramel, bacon marshmallow etc – but it really could be that my tastebuds were still rioting in protest to all the sugar. The Gelatofee Apples were a really creative take on traditional toffee apples, and the refreshing green apple gelato providing great balance to the creamy milk chocolate. The surprise gelato for me came in the form of the Samurai Fairy Balls, which had a yuzu popsicle hidden underneath a mound of pink fairy floss. I do wish there was a way to incorporate all of it in a single bite – we ate through most of the fairy floss before we got to the yuzu sorbet, which was foot stompingly tart and actually needed a bit of the sugar to temper it – but I really did enjoy the citrus kick of the yuzu sorbet.

In all, Gelato Messina took us on a crazy sugar-fueled roller coaster ride that left us in a sugar coma afterward. Two lessons to learn: Don’t order 5 frozen treats all at once to finish on a balmy warm night, and maybe it’s a good idea to space out that much sugar over a longer time frame.

If you’d like to grab your Gelato Messina fix, or enjoy the rest of the attractions at Sydney Festival 2014, it will be on till the 26th, so head on down to Hyde Park after 4:30pm, except for Mondays.

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Parramatta Lanes


I’ve finally popped my Parramatta Lanes cherry!!! After missing the previous years because, well, life got in the way, I finally managed to make some time to go! My mission was to stuff my face with good food, and I wasn’t disappointed!

There were 8 stops in total, hidden in Parramatta’s little laneways – hence the name. 

The first stop was The Piazza – Town Hall Lane. A fantastically whimsical tram greeted me the moment I entered the laneway, looking like it came straight out of Alice in Wonderland.


La’Toosh is an old tram converted into a food tram – with a decked out kitchen and all that – and travel around much like food trucks to festivals and food events. They serve a range of coffee, teas and drinks, as well as sweet and savoury crepes.

Smoked Salmon and Spinach Crepe $15

The crepes range from $10-$15, and because I went there so early, the kitchen wasn’t quite ready and there was a bit of a wait.  The staff were amazingly nice, and the coffee was excellent. The is great for a light meal, and it was hot and fresh.

But La’Toosh wasn’t the only one that was in the Town Hall Lane. There was also Grasshopper, which was a bar served built with milk crates. Super cute!


Stop #2 was the UNE Future campus, where Veggie Patch Van was conveniently parked.


Haloumi Burger, $10

The Haloumi Burger was tasty, with a generous amount of haloumi. The onion jam was a touch jarring for me, personally, but otherwise it was an enjoyable burger.

But the next sandwich for me, was the most memorable of the night.


Stop #3 was at the Craft and Cider Garden at Erby Place. Cantina Mobil made an appearance but after seeing people all atwitter about Smokey O’s BBQ I decided to go with that.

If you are a fan of slow cooked meats and go nuts over pulled pork, let me tell you that you ain’t tried nothin’ till you’ve had Smokey O”s pulled beef. There is almost all the dark flavour of beef jerky, but with the moistness of the slow cooked beef. IT WAS PHENOMENAL. I actually felt like getting a whole container of that beef and calling it a day. And accented with pickles and with the heft of the bun? It was transcendent. LOVED IT.

I also had it with some 69 Summer Ale from the Riverside Brewing company.  It was light and fruity, and a fantastic accompaniment to the pulled beef.

I then moved on to the aptly named Laksa Lounge, in the Roxy Carpark. With appearances by Temasek, Spice and Lan Lans Shanghai Dumpling, this was a stop I should have made earlier on in the evening. I was absolutely stuffed by the time I got there, and only ended up ordering a Pad Thai and a Thai Iced Tea from Spice.


The pad thai was nice, but at that point of fullness, the Thai Iced Tea really hit the spot for me. If you haven’t already had it, Thai Iced Teas has an extremely strong tea base that can be sweetened with condensed milk. It usually is extremely sweet to start out with, and on this particular evening, the lady at the stand actually offered to add more condensed milk to my drink. It was like Thai Iced Milk Tea concentrate and was definitely a more a dessert item than a drink for me.

With my appetite satiated and my tummy full, I wondered back to the Connection Arcade, where I saw a fantastic take on container gardening.


Rachel from Vintaged Garden upcycles everything from Wine Boxes to wine glasses. Everything can be a little garden, and they have very smartly used the wine corks for little signs for the plants!


I really loved the way Parramatta Lanes was really organized for us to explore the hidden alleyways of Parramatta. Overnight, Parramatta seemed to be transformed into our own little version of Diagon Alley, with magical hidden worlds spread throughout Parramatta CBD.

All we need now is the floo network!

Night Noodle Markets


It’s that time of the year again! SMH’s Good Food Month has rolled around again, and the whole of October is filled with amazing food from all around the world. The Night Noodle Markets are a must-visit for me every year, which gives me my need-for-variety fix in one place.

This year there was an appearance of the Ramen Burger (pictured above) from On Ramen. The Ramen Burger – brainchild of Keizo Shimamoto – features a patty (beef, pork rib or tofu) sandwiched between two “buns” of crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside Ramen.

At about $12.50 a pop, the Ramen Burger seems to be coasting more on its reputation than what you get for it. It’s tasty and all, but TINY, and therefore, overpriced. Worth a try though, just so you can see what everyone is on about.

I then moved on to Jackie M’s stall, where you can get all the Southeast Asian delights for your Asian food fix.


The Otak Otak, $4.50, is soft and moreish, and I guarantee that you’ll want more than one. Flavoured fish paste is barbecued in banana leaves, imparting an earthy fragrance that you can’t get any other way.


Jackie M herself was on the front lines of her stall, braving the blazing heat and smoking woks to bring us our food. And if you don’t have the highest respect for her already after knowing that, then you should read this
Infuzions was another stall that stood out to me – amongst the sea if dumplings and pad thai (some good, some bad), it was nice to see someone with a menu that wanted to try something different. I had the Apple Somtum with squid, and it was actually a really cool dish. 
Somtum is one of my favourite salads – involving green papaya, chillies, garlic and all those fabulous Thai flavours – and this apple version carried all of the sweetness with none of the heat. Which is good if you’re not a chilli sadist like I am. The calamari was hot and fresh, which I give them props for, and was otherwise a nice salad to finish the day off with. 


Pop down to the Night Noodle Markets while you still can – it’s running every evening at Hyde Park till Saturday night. 

Will you waste food to prove a point?

I am an absolute advocate of reducing food waste. Not only is it bad for the wallet – you wouldn’t throw money into the bin would you? – I also find it incredibly disrespectful of people’s hard work in producing the food for you to buy.

But what happens when you don’t believe in the food producer?

I went to SMH’s Pyrmont Growers Markets and bought tickets to the breakfast talk by Matthew Evans.

As part of the admission, I got given a bag of goodies from the sponsors of the event. As you know, I absolutely getting new things to try, but then I saw Barilla products in the bag.

The CEO of Barilla, Guido Barilla, recently made some comments on Italian radio about how he didn’t support gay couples adopting, and how he wouldn’t use gay families in Barilla marketing because they aren’t a “sacred family”.


This then led to huge international furore and a boycott fuelled by outrage. I stopped buying Barilla, but the reactions of others were more extreme, and I saw many posted pictures of Barilla products in the bin.

Barilla has since apologised, but it almost seems like a case of too little too late. I still have an aversion to buying their products, and I’m sure it’s pretty obvious to them what a PR nightmare they’ve created. The only thing that would really redeem them in my eyes is the resignation of the CEO, but that’s another story for another day.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a quandary: do I throw away perfectly useable product that was given to me, just to prove a point? I very nearly did: I was quite blinded by the instant distaste the moment I saw their products in the bag. Then I stopped. I feel equally strongly about not wasting food, and I didn’t shell out my money buying their products, but I still refuse to have that in my kitchen.

So what to do?

I finally decided to donate them to Oz Harvest. They were there, and thankfully accepting food donations, so I dropped it off. I think that taking a stand is a luxury that thankfully I can afford, but if my kids hungry and I was given Barilla products, I’d be hard pressed to say no. So while I’ll not be using it, I’d rather help feed the hungry than to put it to waste.

What would you have done in this situation?

Australian Garden Show 2013


I was very lucky to get double passes to this year’s Australian Garden show from Destination NSW and Those who know me know that I’m not the most outdoorsy person, but as part of being obsessive about food, I’m trying to grow my own food.

And summer is approaching, shouldn’t we take advantage of this gorgeous growing weather?

At any rate, I’m trying my luck to see whether I’ve inherited any of my mother’s green thumb. She’s a horticulturalist, so you’d think that I would’ve learnt something after all these years. I remember the amazingly gratifying feeling of eating freshly grilled corn that was harvested from the garden earlier in the day. It gave me so much more appreciation for the food that I was eating.


Lindeman’s had a beautiful tree of hanging garden pots. They were giving out little hanging pots to each person, and a 3 little plants – 1 herb and 2 flowers – for each to plant. You got to create your own little pot, then hang it on the tree with your name till you’re ready to bring it home. I had mint, a marigold and a pansy…but we all know that the mint is what I really want.

They also had plenty of stalls and displays to inspire – I particularly loved the ideas for planting in small spaces. I live in an apartment with no balcony, and so I’m hard pressed for window space, and I’ve currently got a little milk crate garden bed going.


I got some excellent advice from the people selling these seeds on what I can and can’t grow – I can’t grow potatoes successfully in a milk crate for example – and I ended up getting beetroot and a micro greens mix. Microgreens are really just the young underdeveloped shoots of edible plants – this mix had sunflower seeds included – and they had it growing out of coffee cups. SO CUTE! Apparently it takes as little as 7 days for you to have your classy meal topping.

From a food perspective, I’ve just learnt so much. I think that it is so important – if you’re into your food – to not just strive to cook food well, but to also have the best produce to start off with. And if you’re a control freak like me, you’ll start wandering into gardening territory, just so that you can control the produce as well. Now just to wait till I get to harvest my food!!

Note: Tammi from Insatiable Munchies and her guest attended the Australian Gardening Festival as guests of Destination NSW and

The Art of Patisse, Masterchef Live 2012


When I got an email inviting me to a decorating workshop from Queen Fine Foods, I somehow didn’t make that mental connection in my head with the omni-present down-every-baking-isle “Queen“. So imagine my surprise and delight when I got there and found all these decorating products at my disposal!!

Decorating basics was really the agenda for the day, and we were taught the basic techniques that can help you get to the point of expressing your inner artist.


The people teaching the class were from Temptation Bites, and gave really good pointers on how to control the point and flow of the gel pens and icing. We were given Marie biscuits and gingerbread men to decorate.


The one big takeaway for me was having a steady grip on your gel/piping bag, and making sure that there are no air bubbles in it. Also, if you want your buttercream icing to have a good consistency, you have to make sure that you don’t over-soften the butter before you start whipping.


But the most important thing of all is to have fun with it! Practice really makes perfect, so just take your time with it and let your imagination run wild.

That’s how I end up with a gingerbread woman with overly botoxed lips. Or maybe its’ a drag queen. I don’t know yet.


Besides the awesome cake decorating workshop, there was much free yummy food to be consumed!!

There were steaks sizzling over Himalayan salt bricks..


Cured meats aplenty…


And the most amazing Kingfish ceviche from Three Blue Ducks.


In all, it was a very fulfilling, productive day. I did have some camera issues at the beginning, but what can’t be fixed by good food and CUPCAKES!!!!

Just sayin’.

You can find more information about Queen Fine Foods – they just make decorating so accessible – here, or find them on Facebook here!

Chinese New Year 2012, Belmore Park


Last year I had a look at the Chinese New Year Festival at Belmore Park, and thought I’d go again this year. Even the intermittent and very grouchy weather couldn’t dampen (haha!) my spirits!

Somehow, though, the festival this year didn’t have the same bustling atmosphere. Sure, there were a lot of people, but it felt like there weren’t the same number of stores, or that the stores were wayyy more spread out. And there weren’t the same randoms! Where are the bunny people???

Anyway, entertainers aside, the only interesting stall that I found this year was this one:


I have no idea what the background really is, but anywhere that I can get a serving of noodles for $4 is well worth a shot! (Mappen still has a special place in my heart)

For a grand total of $10 combined, Sean got his dumplings…



…and I got this


This bowl of 凉粉 (cold noodles) was surprisingly good! It suited the warm, humid weather well, and had a refreshing zing to it. A light addition of chilli oil made it interesting, and the jelly-like slippery noodles made the kid in me giggle. Quite fun to eat.

For that matter, it was really fascinating to watch them make! The noodles came off this translucent dome


Some guy with a hand grater carefully grates off a pile of noodles.


When you order, it gets put into a container with the relevant sauces, and you get a noodle dish!

I think part of the reason why I like it so much is the novelty of eating it – I must admit that it’s not something that I’d enjoy a massive bowl of.

Oh and the dumplings? They were ok. Not mind-blowing, but really we didn’t expect it to be. But they were at least better than the random “Dim Sim” *shudders* places that they had there.

I miss spending Chinese New Year at home!!!!!!

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