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Taste Sensation – Taste of Sydney 2009 [1 of 2]

The final day of the Taste of Sydney festival had arrived and it was now my turn to experience all that I’d been reading about over the last few days (damn, one short).

Centennial Park was a great venue to host the festival. Picturesque surrounds, easy access and across the road from my work place, where I am able to take full advantage of the free parking. A pleasant day. A pleasant walk. A pleasant destination. What more could I ask for?

That panna cotta. That damned panna cotta.

Ever since I’d come across that ingenious piece of viral marketing, it has dominated my culinary mindscape. The hypnotic sway. The crazed look of fascination. That infectious tune. I had to get me some!

However, that wonderously wobbly panna cotta was a while away. There were queues to file into, crowds to wade through and stalls of produce and other goods to navigate (cocoa nibs pictured courtesy of Zokoko).

Finally, I’d uncovered a food stall. Restaurant Balzac. There was no panna cotta here. However, the food looked good and I was feeling somewhat peckish.

Wagyu beef bourguignonne with truffled cauliflower and onion rings, or so it said on the menu. A crisp exterior encompassing what can only be described as a thumb of wagyu beef (finger would be too delicate a term).

The beef was moist and wonderfully flavourful. The truffled cauliflower sauce was smooth and aromatic and serviced well as a delicate harmony to the beef’s robust flavour. The onion rings were scraps in comparison to ones I’ve seen in other blogs but this did not detract either from the overall presentation or its appreciation.

With my appetite on fire, I was all the more eager to track down the source of my desire. The pursuit continued stall after stall; shelters that conspired to serve as a mocking reminder of that which I had yet to savour.

Next on the menu was Assiette and their fabulous loin & crumbed belly of lamb with basil mayonnaise & a tomato olive jus. Each piece of meat was a succulent morsel, clearly lamb on the palate without the distinct scent that has turn many a carnivore off its fare. A marvelous dish, albeit a tiny one.

Finally! After many long days, it was finally within my grasp. Jonah’s at Whale Beach signature dessert of the festival, the vanilla panna cotta with lavender honey and fresh pomegranate.

The splinter of my mind. My heart’s desire. My prreciousss…

The panna cotta was far beyond what I’d imagined! A sublime combination of textures and flavours. Mellow and sharp. Sweet and sour. Soft and crisp. Every aspect of the dish served a purpose. The crisp pomegranate kernels, a counterpoint to the soft custard-like texture of the panna cotta. The sweetness of the lavender honey balanced the tart pomegranate molasses; a harmony and contrast of flavours and presentation. For me it was the perfect dish.


Ok, next…

Continue on to Part 2 of Taste of Sydney 2009.

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella March 17, 2009, 8:21 pm

    Looks like you had a wonderful time Simon! I adored Assiette’s lamb dish-can’t wait to read Part 2!

  • shez March 17, 2009, 10:19 pm

    hoorah! i got to be “experience” :) that thumb of beef has been popping up everywhere and everytime i see it, i get iron cravings.

    looking forward to part 2 – more meals maybe?

  • chocolatesuze March 18, 2009, 1:42 am

    heh heh i never considered my youtube video viral marketing but i guess its turned out like that hey! but glad the pannacotta lived up to your expectations =)

  • Christie @ Fig & Cherry March 18, 2009, 1:56 am

    I didn’t get to taste the pannacotta!

    Glad you had a great time :)

  • Simon March 18, 2009, 11:01 am

    Hi Lorraine! The lamb was indeed fabulous. Makes me want to check out the restaurant sometime in the future.

    Hi shez! Part 2 will be a little the same, a little different and little to do with the food (at least directly). The food in this post was really all that I had, aside from the ice cream survey of the stalls. However, after the first ice cream, I gave up on the photos and stuck to just enjoying them (too messy and unwieldy).

    Hi chocolatesuze! Very much so! I think George made an indirect reference to you and/or your youtube antics during his master class.

    Hi Christie! Nah, I wouldn’t worry about missing out on the panna cotta. It wasn’t anything worth writing about… :P

    If it’s any consolation, everything you had was something I didn’t. Otherwise, you could always go to Jonah’s :)

  • FFichiban March 18, 2009, 11:52 am

    Ooh dammn your detailed recount of the PC… I have to go Jonahs now esp after George told me that the ones at the restaurant were much bigger and wobblier!
    Can’t wait for part 2 mmmmm ^^!

  • Bean Sprout's Cafe March 18, 2009, 10:20 pm

    I had all that 3 (somes were my friends’ dishes). I love Wagyu beef bourguignonne.. I will post mine soon, also waiting to read part 2

  • Arwen from Hoglet K March 19, 2009, 3:45 am

    It’s so good when things live up to your expectations. Sounds like the pannacotta did just that. Yum!

  • Forager March 19, 2009, 5:15 am

    It’s clear I’m one of the few people to not taste the pannacotta. How sad :(

    Love your writing style btw – looking forward to post 2!

  • billy@ATFT March 19, 2009, 10:59 am

    LOL! sounds like you just had an orgasm there which totally understandable. Just how we all had after tasting the panna cotta.

  • Simon March 20, 2009, 2:49 am

    Hi FFichiban! Yeah, I hear you! After trying out the panna cotta, I’ve been thinking about making the trip up there to see what else is on offer. If you don’t have anyone else to go with, let me know :)

    Hi Bean Sprout’s Cafe! The beef bourguignonne was real good. Can’t wait to see what your coverage of the event was like.

    Hi Arwen! Not just the panna cotta but the whole event. Loved it! :)

    Hi Forager! Thanks! You can always make the trip up to Jonah’s to see what all the fuss was about.

    Hi billy! Argh, so many inappropriate puns! I’ll stick to just saying that it was foodgasmic!

  • Anita March 20, 2009, 9:28 pm

    That Wagyu beef looks fantastic! Your description of the pannacotta is lovely… it just makes me want to try it more (and still very jealous).

  • Simon March 22, 2009, 10:50 am

    Hi Anita!

    The Wagyu beef was fantastic! The restaurant is in Randwick, if you want it give it a go sometime. Unfortunately, the roll isn’t on their current menu, according to the website. Maybe it’s a seasonal thing?

    The panna cotta is somewhat further a field but if you may a day trip to Whale Beach, it could be worth it. Otherwise, you could always just make one yourself :) (video in part 2).

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