The Taste of Sydney Festival for 2010 is right around the corner (March 11 – 14). As the name implies, the festival gives one a taste of the culinary scene in Sydney. It showcases what this great city has to offer with regards to good food, whether that be a fine dining restaurant, or a food & beverage supplier.
If you have yet to experience the Taste of Sydney Festival, or you’re after a refresher, read on for a summary of what to expect, along with a few handy tips to make your experience as enjoyable and as effortless as possible.
Please excuse the quality of the photos in this post. The photos were taken around a year ago on a compact camera that I’d only used for a month, with an equivalent amount of experience in photography. Anyhow, moving on.
First things first – obtaining a ticket for entry into the festival. You can either order your tickets online at Ticketek, or at the venue on the day.
I would normally advise ordering online without question. However, if you’re looking to go there on your own with a standard entry ticket, depending on what you go for, you’ll either save 5 cents and perhaps a long wait in a queue if you don’t arrive early enough, or it ends up costing you a few dollars extra, for ordering online no less! This is due to a $4.95 transaction fee that Ticketek charges.
Go through the costs and weigh them against the potential time wasted on queuing to see what works for you.
The Taste of Sydney Festival is held on the grounds of Centennial Park, located within the Inner Eastern Sydney suburb of Moore Park. Just make your way towards the centre of Centennial Park in order to get to the Festival. It’s very hard to miss! That’s the easy part. Transporation on that other hand can be somewhat bothersome depending on what you decide to do in that regard.
Buses are, in most cases, the best means of transport to the venue. If you’re coming from the city area, a large number of buses either at Central Station or down Elisabeth St. will stop right at Centennial park.
I wouldn’t advise going by car, especially if you’re looking to go to one of the evening sessions. I use to work at Fox Studios (just opposite Centennial Park) so I know what the evening peak hour traffic is like. Let’s just say that you either need to come real early (I’d suggest an hour prior to the Festival start time) or have a lot of patience. Then there is the issue of parking.
If you’re the kind of person that hates to pay for parking, you’ll likely find that you’ll have a lot of trouble finding a suitable spot. Odds are too it’ll be a very long walk if you do.
The parking arrangement at the park itself is apparently very limited, so I believe your next best bet would be the parking station at the Entertainment Quarter, the retail side of Fox Studios. Check out the Centennial Parklands FAQ on the Taste of Sydney event for more info on how to get there by public transport (direct link), and parking (under Patron Information).
Crowns are the currency of choice (in most cases) at the festival. They have a 1-1 value to the dollar and are sold in books of 30 Crowns for $30. Though Crowns can be pre-purchased online at Ticketek, I wouldn’t bother with it as you’ll have to queue up in order to claim your Crowns. If last year was anything to go by, there will be a number of stands, such as the one in the above image, to purchase Crowns from. Also, there will likely be individuals floating around, especially around the ticket booths, selling Crowns as well.
In my mind, there’s no real advantage of purchasing Crowns online beyond those that may already be included in the ticket price.
Once you’re inside, there are a fair number of restaurant stalls to check out. These stalls are of restaurants on the finer end of the dining spectrum. Places like Becasse, ARIA, Longrain, Danks St Depot & Marque, just to name a few. In other words, don’t expect restaurants like food blogger regular haunts Chat Thai or Mamak to have a stall.
Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a gozleme or Dutch poffertjes stall at the festival. I’ve seen at least one of those at every food festival, including the SIFF Asian Night Noodle Markets of all places!
The restaurant stalls typically serve three courses; an average of two savoury dishes with one dessert. These are usually dishes that you can find in larger, more elaborate portions at their restaurant, giving you a sense of what’s on offer if you were to actually dine in. In order to get more coverage with sampling a large number of dishes, bring along a group of friends in order to spread the cost, as well as the load on your stomach!
The Chef’s Table is an opportunity for an informal chat over wine with the head chefs from the restaurants featured at the festival. You can glean an insight into their background, philosophy with regards to food and the restaurant business, as well as learn from their many years of experience and expertise in the industry. Seating is limited and, at least from the previous year’s experience, is on a first come, first served basis. However, if you happen to miss out on a seat, feel free to loiter around the area to listen in on the conversation.
For a schedule of the Chef’s Table sessions, as well as staying ahead of the curve with regards to available seating, check out the Taste Featured Areas on their website.
The Taste Kitchen is the venue where the chefs from the various restaurants at Taste hold a cooking demonstration, usually of something easy enough that you can try at home.
George Francisco of Jonah’s at Whale Beach demonstrates how to make his famous Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Pomegranate & Lavender Honey.
Prior to this, George prepared a toasted truffle gruyere grilled cheese sandwich with truffled egg, whilst talking about his previous experiences with truffles early on in his career.
As with the Chef’s Table, seating is limited and is on a first come, first served basis. Once again, check out the Taste Featured Areas for a schedule.
Last but not least, what I’ve lumped into the “other” category (mainly because there aren’t photos to break it down any further). This consists of the various food and beverage producers/vendors selling items typically with cash more so than Crowns, as well as sessions for Wine Tasting and a live band.
The food & beverage stalls are a rather eclectic mix of gourmet foods, chocolates (above image of the cocoa nibs was from the Zokoko stand), ice cream & real wasabi in paste form just to name a few. There are plenty of free samples to go around here, so it worth checking out. With some stalls, a few times :)
That’s about it for the run through of the Taste of Sydney festival. Hopefully, the tips provided will make for an enjoyable and frustration-free experience at the festival.
One last thing, if you’ve never tried Jonah’s Vanilla Panna Cotta, I recommend that you give it a go. I’ve not found many panna cotta that have been as good as his. Certainly not as fun to play with! :)