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.
Continue on to Part 2 of Taste of Sydney 2009.