For four days the gorgeous Centennial Park in Sydney was transformed into a foodie lover’s heaven. From March 9 punters got to sample the best that Sydney’s food scene had to offer, thanks to some 12 restaurants cooking up 50 dishes, a marketplace with over 100 artisan producers, and over 80 masterclasses taught by this city’s leading chefs. It was a fantastic day out and a chance to sup at a delectable smorgasbord of goodness from the food and drink varieties.
The annual competition was fierce among Sydney’s best restaurants as they competed for the best dish at the show. The likes of Kensington Street Social, nel., Four In Hand and Long Chim were all represented. But the first place was taken out by Bouche on Bridge and Chef Harry Stockdale-Powell’s unashamedly Australian wallaby skewers with spiced cashew sauce. Coming in a very close second was Nathan Sasi from Mercado with a decadent hazelnut mousse cake while award-winning chef, Grant King of Gastro Pub took out third place with his liquid pumpkin and parmesan gnocchi.
There were a number of fantastic masterclasses at the festival. On the Friday former MasterChef contestant Mindy Woods hosted the Lurpak Cookery School where participants could cook a passionfruit curd tart and a butter poached fish with a butter-charred corn.
Chef Sam Burke and butcher Doug Piper from Meat & Livestock Australia (a not-for-profit that represents Australian farmers), cooked up some tasty double cooked masterstock lamb ribs and a Hawaiian beef poke bowl. The latter was a great twist to a dish that’s traditionally made with seafood. It was also one you can quickly whip up with the contents of your pantry to make a nice, healthy family dinner. Piper also spoke about how versatile oyster blade meat is and encouraged the audience to try cooking with these secondary cuts from the cow. He also said that anchovies make a nice alternative to salt as a seasoning on meat, and he joked about the importance of the 20 minute or two-beer beef roast.
The Taste of Sydney also played host to a number of different table talks. On Friday this included a Q & A with Matt Tran from Tea Angle, where he described the evolution of tea-drinking in Australia. Tran said that the climate and soil type has a big impact on tea and its final taste. He described how the plants that grow at a high altitude tend to be more fragrant and aromatic whereas those grown at a lower altitude tend to have a greater depth of flavour. The other talks throughout the festival included a master pasta class as well as ones about the smoking of foods, and information about fermentation and organic products.
The artisan markets had lots of yummy treats and show specials on sale. For some of these businesses it was an opportunity for them to connect with customers (as some traditionally deal exclusively with wholesalers), while others could showcase new products. Our picks for the “best at show” included:
– Little Green Kitchen- the makers of homemade baked goods and breakfast cereals based out of Drummoyne.
– The gluten-free Madhouse Bakehouse who produce lip-smacking brownies, cookies, cakes and slices.
– Sydney Chocolate or a business that could be renamed “Cheeky Chocolate” as it features locally-sourced chocolate that is handmade and set into bars and named after different suburbs around Sydney.
– The Woombye Cheese Company from the Sunshine Coast who make amazing, handmade artisan cheeses. The Blackall gold (washed rind) and marinated Persian fetta were simply delightful and moorish.
The most colourful tent from the show was undoubtedly the one presented by Tourism India. Here you could learn about Kashi Indian Cuisine tours where you can travel to India with a chef and immerse yourself in the local culture and cookery. They also pumped out zany Indian pop tunes, and made a real show out of creating an Indian street food staple called Bhajia Chaat. This is a kind of onion fritter which is made by frying onions in garlic paste, ginger, chickpea flour and various spices. It’s one that is best made by massaging the mixtures together because according to Chef Arun Bose, “The love and passion comes from the massaging!”
The Taste of Sydney 2017 was another successful instalment of this annual fiesta. The punters were able to buy some absolute treats and sample signature dishes, festival exclusives and flavours from some high-class restaurants around Sydney. The attendees were also able to connect with food producers and top-class chefs in order to learn some tricks of the trade, and to gather some ideas that they could take home to make food and eating more exciting. In all, the Taste of Sydney Festival was one enjoyable and relaxing day in Paddington and one that proved to be no mere walk in the park.
Originally published in March 2017 at the following website: https://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/503/#27
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