Taste of Sydney 2011
We finally made it to Taste of Sydney! And what a day it was- by the end of it, we were both pooped, because there was so much to see, eat and do! Our first stop was the Australian Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen where we watched the affable Warren Turnbull of Assiette and District Dining whip up 3 chicken dishes. The photo above shows a confit with sweetcorn purée and sweetcorn ragout, and behind it, poached chicken breast with a ginger and shallot sauce à la Hainanese chicken rice.
The third dish was fried chicken with Warren’s special concoction of herbs and spices. “If anyone says they don’t like fried chicken, they’re lying”, said Warren, and I guiltily agree. According to Warren, though District Dining, the more causal sister to Assiette has only been open since October last year, the fried chicken pieces have already become a signature dish. The key to keeping Warren’s chicken breast pieces moist despite being deep fried is by soaking them overnight in a solution of brine, honey and herbs.
After soaking in the delicious smells of fried chicken, our tummies were rumbling and we knew we just had to taste the chicken so we made a beeline for the restaurant stall. The batter was crisp, salty and delicious, and the inside was truly juicy and moist. I wouldn’t say that the chicken was spicy in terms of chilli-hotness, but it was definitely aromatic. And somehow this little indulgence seems much more acceptable than KFC.
Soy had been eyeing this dish from Restaurant Balzac even before the event. However she had been imagining a crisp piece of beef, not shreds of wagyu in a spring roll. It was tasty, and the mushroom foam was light and deliciously creamy (we licked it up with our fingers) with the slightest hint of truffle aroma, but the dish as a whole was a bit of a let down, especially at its price.
Undeterred, we headed off to the Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Chef Table with what we thought was plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, like us, many people were interested in having a chat with Peter Gilmore so it was standing room only when we arrived. Peter’s story and journey to his Quay fame was such an interesting and inspiring one. Soy was especially excited about the heirloom varieties of vegetables and edible flowers that Peter gets grown for the restaurant. He told us about a new mini white cucumber that is just maturing and that he hopes to use in a salad. Another piece of trivia: he now has 1 chef employed to work specifically on the snow egg, a dish that went viral after Masterchef.
We also had to make a stop at the De Dietrich cooking school with Patisse’s executive chef, Vincent Gadan, who was cheekily gorgeous (well, he is French!), who demonstrated his version of a classic tarte tatin.
Vincent’s version is a chilled tarte tatin. The apple filling is made in the traditional way- stewed apples with vanilla and Calvados combined with caramel, but then Vincent adds gelatine and sets the filling in a mould.
The puff pastry is baked over a mould as well to get a spherical shape, then the whole dessert is assembled with the lightly-set apple filling. Beautiful!
Now, want to know Soy‘s and my highlight of the entire festival? This dish was hands down our absolute favourite, though the photos don’t do it justice! We were eyeing other people’s burgers since the time we stepped in, but we were busy checking everything else out. We knew we couldn’t leave without trying it and are we glad we did! It is one of the best burgers I’ve eaten. One thing I don’t like when having a burger that doesn’t have a patty is when you can’t tear off the meat easily with your teeth, or if there’s sinew in the meat. This burger was melt-in-the-mouth, even down to the sesame bun which was like a fluffy cloud. And though the meat was moist and tender on its own, the cheddar and aioli made it even more delicious.
If you thought nothing could make the burger better, think again because these parmesan and truffle fries made us emit very questionable noises of satisfaction. We could smell the truffle oil and the half-melted parmesan clung to the crispy exterior of the perfectly-cooked fries. We later gushed about the burger and fries pairing to my best friend who lives in Sydney, and she sheepishly admitted sneaking out of the office for these fries on numerous occasions! Soy and I are going to make a special visit to Charlie & Co. on our next visit to Sydney for sure!
Here’s a series of more photos from the day
As I said, by the end of the day we were pooped, but we had learnt lots, met some lovely people and ate some delicious food in manageable portions and prices that we would have otherwise waited a lot longer to try. We have been wanting to go to a Taste event for a long time and we’re glad we did- it’s an experience anyone passionate about food should have at least once in their life.
Now tell me, what is something you would absolutely love to learn from a chef?
Taste of Sydney
Taste of Sydney will be held in 2012 from March 8th-11th.
Taste of Melbourne will be held from 25th-28th August 2011.