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Taste of Sydney 2012 Preview

by Simon on March 4, 2012

Photo of a yellow fin tuna dish from Flying Fish

The Taste of Sydney Festival is one of the few food events that I look forward to each year. You have the opportunity to sample great food from some of Sydney’s premiere restaurants, meet with and learn from acclaimed head chefs, and sample a wide variety of foods and beverages from various artisanal food producers, vineyards and vendors. What’s not to love?

As a preview for Taste of Sydney 2012, a host of fellow bloggers and I were invited to partake in a progressive degustation to sample some of the food and beverages on offer at this year’s festival.

Read on to have a taste of what’s on offer and an opportunity to win some free passes to the Taste of Sydney Festival 2012.

Montage of images from Sake Restaurant & Bar

The first leg of the progressive degustation commenced at Sake Restaurant & Bar with cocktails and canapés. Each of the canapés were bite-sized samples of dishes Sake will be serving up at the festival. These dishes were (from left to right) Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviche, Pan Seared Ocean Barramundi and Hiramasa Kingfish Double Crunch Sushi.

While all the canapés were good, I was particularly fond of the ceviche, with its light and refreshing hit of citrus. The barramundi was quite interesting too with its textural contrast of chewy, ponzu-flavoured buckwheat kernels.

We split into two groups to head off to a separate set of dining destinations with the assistance of chauffeur-driven vehicles. Details regarding the restaurants and the food to be served for each course were kept from us until we arrived at each destination.

Montage of images from Flying Fish

Our driver takes us around the city, past a multi-vehicular accident and down a long dark drive way until we arrive at our first destination. We walk out to a scenic waterfront view on a decidedly unscenic sort of evening to Peter Kuruvita’s Flying Fish Seafood Restaurant. The kitchen is headed by Chef Stephen Seckold, who bears quite a resemblance to the actor Cary Elwes during his younger, less rotund years.

We start off with some of the best bread sticks you’ll likely ever have in a restaurant, smeared with fish paste and dusted with nori (dried seaweed) powder. Unfortunately, this is a dish that won’t be available at the Taste of Sydney festival. Pity. It’d make for some fine drinking snacks.

Photo of the yellowfin tuna dish from Flying Fish

Each year the organisers of the Taste of Sydney festival incorporate new concepts or activities, which keeps things interesting for returning clientele. One such concept this year is the Icon Dish. The Icon Dish is a special menu item that some of the participating restaurants serve that are available at a higher than average cost and with a limited number of serves available per session.

Chef Robin Hood presents what amounts to the entree course of our progressive degustation. It’s a signature dish of the restaurant and their Icon Dish at the festival – Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Ruby Red Grapefruit, Sweet Crackling Pork & Black-Pepper Caramel.

It’s an absolute cracker of a dish. Every element in harmony with each other; from chili salt coated seared tuna, segments of tart grapefruit, the twig of crispy pork crackling as well as the surprise pieces of pork belly, through to the black-pepper caramel sauce.

Montage of images from Four in Hand

The next stop on our mystery food tour was Four in Hand.

Chef Colin Fassnidge runs an impressive kitchen, one that runs like a highly-tuned performance machine. With an intense focus, concentration and economy of movement, watching the chefs go about their work in the rather small kitchen seemed more like a performance art than food preparation.

We indulge in a young Spanish red and a wonderfully flavourful fish broth as we wait for the main course to be served.

Photo of the Suckling Pig with Cauliflower and Prunes from Four in Hand

The generous platter of food that we received, Suckling Pig with Cauliflower and Prunes, bears little resemblance to the dish that they will be serving up at the Taste of Sydney festival, namely Roast Suckling Pig, Coleslaw, Onion Rings & Hot Sauce.

The Suckling Pig with Cauliflower and Prunes consists of three different cuts of pork with crackling attached. It’s served along with cauliflower, cauliflower puree, prunes, radicchio and a drizzle of pork reduction. There are also some fried greens foraged from coastal regions of the Eastern Suburbs which are reminiscent of fried seaweed. Finally, colcannon, a traditional Irish potato mash with cabbage and spring onions, is served in a miniature cast-iron pot.

This is an absolutely fantastic meal. If the Roast Suckling Pig (which they will have roasting whole at the festival) and its accompaniments are even a shadow of this one, it’ll still be a great dish.

Montage of desserts from Quarter 21

Finally, we make our way to Quarter Twenty One for the dessert course of the evening. We’re here for the Hokey Pokey Ice-cream Sandwich; chocolate-coated honeycomb pieces embedded in vanilla ice cream sandwiched between biscuit layers. The “soil” and quenelle appeared to be much the same as the ice-cream sandwich itself but in a deconstructed form.

We were also introduced to a number of other desserts available on the Quarter Twenty One menu, including a Mango and Passionfruit Bombe, Macadamia, Yoghurt Sorbet and a Warm 68% Alto Beni Zokoko Chocolate Pudding, Cherries & Coconut Ice Cream, both of which are pretty nice desserts. Unfortunately, these desserts won’t be available at the Taste of Sydney festival.

Montage of cocktails being made at Longrain Restaurant & Bar

The final destination of progressive degustation was Longrain Restaurant & Bar, where we joined back up with the other group to discuss our respective dining experiences over some expertly-crafted cocktails. There were four cocktails on offer, all of which will be available at the festival – Acapulco Gold, Ginger Rogers, Ping Pong and Stickmata.

The Stickmata is a good cocktail for those that have an aversion to drinks with a strong taste of alcohol. With Eristoff sloe berry vodka and strawberries, raspberries and blueberries shaken with fresh lime, it’s a sweet and refreshing beverage that’s very easy to drink. It was a great way to bring our progressive degustation to a close.

To find out more info about the other cocktails or details regarding the other dishes on offer at the Taste of Sydney festival including the new Icon Dishes, check out the official Taste of Sydney menu (PDF). For more information about the Taste of Sydney Festival itself, check out their official website.

Also, make sure to read Jenius’ post to find out about the other group’s preview dishes and dining experiences.

Image mocked up to look like a ticket

With thanks to Stellar* Concepts and the guys at Taste of Sydney, there is one VIP double pass valid for one session Friday-Sunday (valued at $200) and five General Entry double passes valid for one session Thursday-Sunday (valued at $50 each) to give away.

All you need to do to enter the competition is to leave a short comment below stating one challenge you would hold if you were in charge of producing a show called “The Amazing Taste” – a fictional food-centric reality TV game show in the same vein as The Amazing Race.

The most interesting, creative or humorous idea will win the coveted VIP double pass, which give you and your guest access to the exclusive HSBC VIP Lounge, 3 complimentary drinks and 30 Crowns to spend at the festival. An additional five entries will be selected to win the General Entry passes.

Entries for the giveaway closes at midnight, Tuesday 6th March with the winners to be announced on blog the follow day. The competition is now closed.

Make sure to enter a valid email address as this will be the address that you will be contacted on regarding details of claiming your prize if you happen to be fortunate enough to win.

Good luck with your entries!

the heart of food dined at the courtesy of Stellar* Concepts

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Vivien March 4, 2012 at 8:42 am

My Amazing Taste Challenge involves & detours
Challenge: you have been given a dish to taste and which in order to recreate the plate in the originated country. You need to taste and figure which country it is from and then head to that country
Route Tasks involved:
Find the recipe of the dish (Puzzle pieces in a large field and put together before given the recipe)
Find the market for the ingredients (Fast Forward Task: You help a market stall to sell their goods- Once task completed, you can save time by all the ingredients in one location to collect)
Figure out the location where to recreate the dish

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sydneycool March 4, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thanks for the review – we’re looking forward to Justin and Colin particularly
sydneycool recently posted..Art Month Sydney-Brilliant Art-Professional Galleries-Exciting Month

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Vaness Shai-Hee March 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

My Amazing Taste Challenge will be a culinary experience and it will be fun,
It will involve many food comas and participants, but winner wise there can be only one.
The participants will have to travel the world to attempt many roadblocks and detours that involve eating and cooking many exotic dishes and taste new weird things,
They will never know what they will have to eat and cook or what surprise any task may bring.
The challenge is to be brave and cook or eat what ever the task details,
If you are not successful, you will fail.

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Dee March 4, 2012 at 11:11 pm

The challange would require teams to cook one national dish of every country they visit, using at least one ingredient that is native to that country. At the later stage they are to create an original dish (or dishes), using a certain number of these native ingredients which are to be determined through a draw (of the countries). Not only they have to remember what ingredient belong to which country, this challange would test the their creativity and understanding of the ingredients’ characteristics (flavor, aroma, texture, etc). And to add to the twist, they would have to sell their creation to the public. The team who sells the least lose. Simple :)

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Ramen Raff March 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

OMG Suckling piggeh! What an awesome sampling deg y’all had!

My challenge would be called “It’s getting hot in here!!” 
There will be 7  hot and spicy dishes (1 dish each from 7 different countries) to try.  To progress through the challenge, participants will have to taste and guess the name and country of origin of every dish while blindfolded. If they cannot guess the name & country of origin of a dish they will have to finish the whole dish and handle the heat!

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J Thomas March 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

My challenge would have to be in the “catch it kill it cook it” style maybe like a chicken in rocky 4!! Everyone chasing chooks around a farm!! and then make a nice coq au vin!! I’d watch it.. Mind you I’d watch most things!

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Louise Rhodes March 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

My challenge would be “Forage & Feast”
The clue card would describe three local, wild ingredients the contestants would have to search for and collect. Then they would need to bring the ingredients to the outdoor kitchen stadium and follow a recipe to make a restaurant worthy dish, tasted by a local restauranteur.
Last team to arrive – would be left hungry – and may be eliminated!

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fluffy March 6, 2012 at 1:34 am

My “Amazing Taste” would revolve around Sydney/Australian culinary scene. Each team would have to solve a series of tummy boggling gourmet puzzles about specific countries while eating through the restaurants specialising in food from those places. One of the other challenges also involves recreating the dishes using foreign ingredients, while also learning about new cultures. It would eventually be something like Food Safari but more interactive version :)

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Jen March 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

Great to see what dishes you guys tried that night! I have my eye on that suckling pig! See you at the Taste Of Sydney ;)
Jen recently posted..Progressive degustation around Sydney… Plus WIN free tixs to Taste Of Sydney 2012!

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Simon March 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I can’t wait to have the suckling pig again :)

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Carmit Zur March 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

My TV show THE AMAZING TASTE will be a competition which every week contestants will be cooking food from a different country and the audience will choose who got it right and eliminate the rest.

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muppy March 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

How awesome does all that food look!!!! I had given up on the idea of making it to Taste as we just booked a holiday (to china and HK – super excited, but now so poor) but here’s my chance!!!!

I have not really watched amazing race but if I was going to do an amazing food challenge it would have to along the lines of finding all the ingredients for an exotic dish! (a challenge that I myself have experienced many times). Let’s make it many exotic dishes across the cultures and having to source a special fruit in Cabramatta, maybe some jaggery at a Sri Lankan spice shop and of course a strange packet of Asian ingredients only found in the depths of a narrow aisle of an Asian supermarket! We would also head to a specialist south American store, some chicha maybe, and then to little Italy…..
This sounds like an awesome race :)
muppy recently posted..Ginger Biscuits filled with Lemon, Ginger and White Pepper Buttercream

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Simon March 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm

A lot of the food was really good. Can’t wait to go to Taste :)

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squishy March 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm

My version of the Amazing Taste would involve contestants flying to every continent in the world. On each continent they would be presented with an obscure ingredient and asked to create a dish featuring it.

The contestants would then have to have their food critiqued by the local tribes/community/host family etc who would then determine whether the dish served was acceptable.

Road blocks/challenges could be things like;
- Hunt/catch this animal/fish etc
- Find today’s rare plant ingredient in its native rainforest
- Eat all 5 samples of the traditional food of X tribe

The race could start in outback Australia and end in Antarctica.

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Gianna March 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

It would have to be a marathon cocktail construction and consumption challenge. It would have to start with a basic cocktail recipe and progress in difficulty recipie-wise. Catch is you’d be measured on accuracy in following the recipes and after making each one you’d have to completely consume it.

I think I’m onto something here!!!

**gianna promotes the responsible consumption of cocktails..
Gianna recently posted..March in to Merivale – American Diner at Mad Cow, CBD

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penny aka jeroxie March 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

My Amazing Taste Challenge will be to a speed dating type challenge. The teams will have to cook one dish in 30minutes and try to promote and sell it to a group of people. The one with most votes WIN!
penny aka jeroxie recently posted..Oatmeal with dried pears, nuts and All-Bran Toppers

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Colin March 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I want to do an extreme Amazing Taste challenge.. You have to do a series of extreme sports to collect ingredients – bungee jump bobbing for apples, white water rafting on sacks of flour, snowboarding down a hill of sugar! Then it all comes together on a skydive above a volcano, where – naturally, you bake your apple pie!

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CC March 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Roll up, roll up!
My food challenge concept for the Amazing Taste is inspired by the highly anticipated food trucks hitting up Sydney soon! Each team takes over a truck for the day and must theme and decorate; prepare and cook; and promote and serve from their food truck at 3 different locations on Sydney’s streets. Tacos on George St, souvlaki on Crown St and curry on Kent St…
The challenge would be judged on the biggest crowd pull, tastiest food and the best experienced judged by the Sydneysiders themselves!!

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Maltesers March 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm

In celebration of the Olympics this year, I thought it would be fun for the Amazing Taste to host a foodlympics. Contestants would compete in a relay of delicious events such as the traditional egg and spoon race, jelly wrestling, bobbing for donuts and synchronized pancake flipping.
The pitt stop and Closing ceremony could end in a food fight!

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Paul McDonald March 6, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I think a really effective way of training your palette is to try and recreate an Asian dipping sauce. After trying it then balancing those four elusive gems of salt,sweet,sour and hot. Maybe we’ll find a Hestonlike who can squeeze in some umami!

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Lola (Figs & Brie) March 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

Oh it would be wonderful if I could go to the Tasty of Sydney Festival! I’ve never been but I should’ve gone last year when I could’ve gotten in for the children’s price ha ha!

Anyway my challenge for The Amazing Taste would have to be a road block. In Africa, teams would have to play a game of Russian Roulette with one of the world’s hottest chilis, the African Devil. They would each have to select an African samosa to eat, one of which contains the chili, whoever gets the loaded samosa has to take an hour delay from the race (recovery time!)

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Jessica April 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I’ve went to the festival. the food was really amazing ! lots of different choices !

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