Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Taste of Melbourne: A Review

Posted by kel @ sweet treats at 10:27 PM
I don't know why I thought going to the Taste of Melbourne festival alone was a good idea. No one to split food with, no one to rave about delish treats with, no one to whinge to about how much of an ass Chris Badenoch is (story to follow).

On the flipside, there's no one to be embarrassed at you taking photos of everything you eat.

I got there early so I was one of the first people to get inside. It was scary running 'the gauntlet' of exhibitors as they all seemed a bit eager to get the show on the road and were eyeing every punter that walked by. I'm not a particularly brave person so I shuffled off, head down, to the Australian Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen to catch Matthew Wilkinson from Circa, The Prince make his Quail Kiev with Horseradish Spiced Coleslaw.
Matthew was a joy to watch; he was funny, quick witted and really appeared to enjoy cooking for all of us.
Oooh, I love a man with a piping bag...
Next, I stopped by The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel and snapped up a deliciously decadent dessert...dark chocolate mousse finished with a caramel ganache with a hint of salt, served with an anglaise sauce flavoured with Tonka bean.

I'd been curious about Tonka bean ever since the infamous cake on MasterChef so I decided upon this dessert as soon as I saw it on the menu listing.

The ganache/mousse was absolutely amazing; velvety on the tongue and not bitter at all. The anglaise helped to cut the richness of the dessert. Impressive. Oh, and they called me 'madam'. I liked that. I felt somewhat important.

I then found myself at the Babycakes stall, which was stocked with gorgeous cupcakes and macarons. I got talking with one of the sisters who owns the business (I think it may have been Linda?) and she was lovely. We spoke about how she finds it hard to experiment with flavour combinations as people inevitably stick to vanilla. Oh, I hear that!

I opted to get four cupcakes (these were all mini sized) for the bargain price of $10. I chose Toffee Apple, Arabian Nights, Strawberry and Lemon Meringue. It was hard to pass up the Tangelo and the Vanilla but I had to draw the line somewhere!

Next, it was off to Botanical to sample their Wagyu Burger. The relish it was served with was peppery and tangy and the bread was crusty on the outside but soft on the inside. This is possibly the worst photo I've ever taken; the lighting in the Exhibition Building was atrocious for photography.

Next, it was off to meet Tobie Puttock. I'd seen in the program that he was doing a half hour spot at the Chefs Table, which involved 'an informal chat over a glass of Stefani Estate wine'. I was determined to make it into this session; I got there half an hour early just so that I could definitely get a spot.

There was about 25-30 of us seated around a huge table where we got to listen to Tobie speak about his work with the Fifteen Foundation and his Fifteen restaurant , his friendship with Jamie Oliver and his love for Melbourne. We were given complimentary wine, salmon (yes, I ate salmon! My mum would be proud!) and caviar (I drew the line there, however).

Tobie was gracious enough to pose for a picture with me! He's so lovely and friendly.

I then went back to The Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen to catch Patrice Repellin from Koots Salle a Manger preparing a dish from the restaurant - spice-crusted Spanish mackerel with fennel and witlof fondue, light carrot and orange butter sauce. Unfortunately my camera had a spaz at this point so I didn't get any pics of the Frenchman preparing his dish.

It was around this point that I literally almost ran smack bang into Chris Badenoch from MasterChef. I don't know why I'm surprised that he was an ass; I mean, he was an ass on the show and he was an ass to the three women he was dating at once (yes, I love trashy gossip mags). I made eye contact with him and opened my mouth to speak, yet when he spied the camera in my hand he scurried off before I could ask him for a pic. Ass.

My last stop was Verge, where I chose a milk chocolate delice, with coconut & basil and salted caramel popcorn.

I was intrigued by the inclusion of basil in this dessert; and to be honest I'm still not sure about it. There were little dollops of basil jelly on the plate and I did mop them all up with the delice but I don't know that it made the dish more incredible than it already was. I loved the caramel popcorn on top - the crunch and saltiness perfectly complemented the milk chocolate.

So there you have it - a round up of day one of the 2009 Taste of Melbourne festival. The festival is on until Sunday, and it is conducted in the form of lunch and dinner service (four hour sessions). Visit the official Taste Festivals website to view menus, demonstration timetables and to purchase tickets. I would recommend the Premium Ticket - at $50 it includes entry (normally $30 at the door) and $30 worth of crowns (the official currency of the festival - all restaurants use crowns instead of money). You cannot buy premium tickets at the door so make sure you prebook online!

9 comments on "The Taste of Melbourne: A Review"

chantarelle on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

I would be the oddly chatty girl that pounced on you at the tram stop!
What a lovely blog you've got :)
I'm so jealous that you managed a photo with Tobie!

kel @ sweet treats on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

Hahaha thanks for chatting to me at the tram stop, it was nice to meet you :) Wish you had have stayed longer - after you left all the creepy people arrived!

Esz on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

Oh its great to see a review of this before I go on Saturday. It will probably be very crowded wont it!

Overall was it good value for money? Me and my boyfriend are going and I'm hoping around $70 worth of crowns should cover us. Do you think thats enough? And did you have any crowns left over that you couldn't spend?

kel @ sweet treats on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

Hi Esz,

I spent $30 worth of crowns and didn't have any left over. There were massive lines for the banks though so I would definitely recommend getting some crowns beforehand (ie with the premium ticket - if you and your boy both get premiums you'll already have $60 of crowns between you, and then you can buy more if need be).

I got three dishes but I didn't buy any drinks, so if you'll be drinking you'll need more crowns.

All of the dishes are between 8-14 crowns each (all the ones I got were 10 crowns each) so it depends how much you want to eat :)

Have a great time!

weenie_elise on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

*snicker* crowns... like you're a princess

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

Thanks so much for this great review Kel, I'm heading there Saturday night so it was awesome to have a heads up. So jealous of your Toby session!!! I love that man.

Esz on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

Thanks for answering my questions Kel :-)

I bought tickets beforehand - got the 2 for 1 offer so only paid $30 for entry. Guess I'll have to line up for crowns cos I'm not going to be able to get them early now. Thanks again for the tips!

kel @ sweet treats on Friday, 28 August, 2009 said...

Ah well, just make sure you get there early and make a beeline for one of the banks :) Otherwise, there were people in bright pink Taste tshirts going around selling crowns outside beforehand, so grab one of them if you see one! :)

Sandra said...

sounds like you had a really great day. too bad chris was an asshat, it's always so annoying when a rude person ruins an otherwise lovely day, good on you for not letting that happen to you!


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