Taste of Melbourne 2010

Arriving extra early (5pm) to meet Thanh (so he can pass me some of his free tickets), meant extra time spent in the dreaded chilly weather, and it almost started pouring.

Then before the opening … a firetruck pulled up after what seemed like a “fire” accident inside, and all the staff inside were evacuated – – what a great start to the day LOL, ah wellz time for some CHEF CELEBRITY spotting!!! After the long wait, with much shivering, the doors finally opened to let us in – – ah, the warmth and wonderful aromas wafting from the kitchens really stimulated my appetite, not that I wasn’t hungry already. And Agnes joined me just in time to go in. Poor thing had a “thin” soup for lunch, clearly starving in preparation for this over-eating session!

Apparently there was a “smaller crowd” typical of weekday opening night for Taste of Melbourne, but still created a handful of queues and swarms of people around the more popular stalls.

Restaurants:

The European

Being hungry and all we went for the first thing that caught our eyes :
Duck tortellini with pea puree and truffle oil (The european) – I was so eager (ie hungry) to eat, that I totally forgot to take a photo. To our horrid surprise, it was a PAINFUL experience. The tortellini had a hard/undercooked skin and dry stringy duck meat. And it was cold… GAH…

Rating: ??/20 (gah… painful start to night, but must soldier on!)

Stokehouse

Next we went for something that looked “steamy” still (given this bad experience). So, something fried – surely can’t go wrong.

Wagyu beef cigars

*Wagyu beef cigars, artichoke tampenade and horseradish

Rating: 14/20
They managed to pull out warm/hot (yay) and still crispy cigar of minced wagyu which was indeed soft & juicy. Though seems like a waste to mince wagyu, but that’s just me wanting to eat a whole steak of wagyu. Artichoke tampenade was a delightful accompaniment. Then later in the night we came back for their dessert…

The bombe in the making

Lots in the fridge

The Bombe

* The Bombe – strawberry sorbet, white chcolate parfait and toasted meringue

(left) in the making … oo blow torch; (middle) ooo i want the whole roll from the freezer HAHA; (right) just before I eat it. LOL

Rating: 17/20
Just watching them take out the whole roll of “the Bombe” and then BLOWTORCHING it – we were salivating (well i presume Agnes was too, haha, since this dish ranked very highly). The sourness of the strawberry sorbet, sweetness of fresh strawberries & white chocolate icecream, slight butter goodness of the base, soft textural amusement and warm temperature from the torched meringue – – was a wonderful stimulation of the senses when you get a bit of all 4 layers. Favourite dish of the night! =)

Will definitely be going to StokeHouse when i can!

Libertine & Le Traiteur

I was initially going to give Le Traiteur a pass (given a non-awe inspiring experience previously), but what they plated up looked delightful, and Agnes was keen to try so we did.

Smoked duck, apple & walnut rilletes

Pissaladiere fevillete

Rating : 15/20

Don’t you agree it “looks” totally awesome. Biting into the flaky pastry, you get a slight sweetness form the soft onion filling coming through the moist/buttery pastry. Not bad at all. (But i think the picture still looks nicer than it taste =P)

Rating: 13/20
Tasty, with similar texture & smokey flavour to their pork rillettes at Le Traiteur (though a little salty for my taste; was disappointed that i couldn’t find much apple in the mixture, which may have given an element of tart complexity). The bread was super crunchy (hard) though … @_@

Mezzo Bar & Grill
By this stage, we needed something “meaty”…

organic slow braised pork cheek, white polenta, raisins and marsala sauce

Rating: 16/20

Mmm very tender lean pork cheeks with intermittent layers of fat which burst with juices as one munches away. Only downside was the onion topping was a little too sour from the red wine vinegar. Still, can expect this to be awesome if brought out hOT!!

Koots Salle a Manger

7hr braised leg of lamb

… So sad that i didn’t get to try this, had good reviews that this was SUPER tender, super tasty.

Esposito

hot date tart

*Hot date tart (Esposito)

Rating: 14/20
The Hot Date tart- (not sure why its “hot”) was a dense buttery cake texture, with a sweet date filling. i think i’d had too much sweets (from some of the stalls) by this stage… LOL

Longrain Bar

Virgin Calmin Miranda mandarin, apple, cranberry & pink grapfruit juice

Was in a bit of confusion when the signs at the stall had $12/drink, whilst the menu advertised $8/drink… and ended up asking. So embarrassing, how did i not notice it was a “virgin” version on the menu, and a non-virgin one on the sign… ooops.

Opted for “virgin” – it was a refreshing fruity drink, probably should’ve gone with the alcoholic version (they tend to be  nicer, haha)


*(left) didn’t actually try this – – but i thought this photo is rather cool, with the radial blurring. Note: took it whilst on the move LOLz; (right) Gourmet travellar taste kitchen shows – Matthew Wilkinsin (Pope Joan)*

Alcohol :
There was abundant array of reds, whites, gins, spirits, mixes… There were many reknowned wineries represented … would’ve tried “a lot more” if i hadn’t drove =). I failed to take any photos of the wine stalls, but yeh, who needs photos of bottles =P, its what’s IN THE BOTTLEs that count!

Produce
Some really nice produce. I think i enjoyed stall-hopping and tasting everything (for free, YAY!), than actually the restaurant foods. Firstly, didn’t have high expectations, and what you see is what you get!

I think I tried like:
– 10 different jam flavours
– 8 honey flavours (favourite – creamy honey from Beechworth Honey)
– 4 stalls worth of extra virgin olive oil, 4-5 flavours at each =) … AWESOME~!@
yogurt (honey flavoured, yum) from King Island Dairy – so generous with their tasting spoon !
– grain-fed beef – – freshly off the grill and still wafting appetising aromas – were super tender & juicy.
– short breads, meringues, fruits, olives, pesto

I had my fair share of chocolate from various chocolate stalls (damn didn’t take photo of that awesome chocolate fountain + marshmellows). P.s. there was NO LINE at all HAHA, though it was a thursday night. =)


* White & 55% cocoa (Green + blacks chocolate); Sisko chocolate.


* (Jam lady jams); Chocolate meringue (Unforgettable products)

Chocolate meringue – – mm soft + silky on the inside, a little crunch on the outside


* vanilla lace (Pat & Stick’s homemade icecream), also tried Espresso Lace

Rating:
– 16/20 – Espresso Lace (strong bitter aromas from the icecream really helped complement the sweet, buttery lace biscuit.)
– 11/20 – Vanilla Lace (too sweet for my taste), and the high butter + syrup content of the biscuit was really apparent without the bitter notes.


* Pesto, ravioli, gnocci (Maria’s pasta); extra virgin olive oil (Cobram estate)

Rating: 17/20
This photo really doesn’t do it justice, the pesto was a marvellous balance of fresh flavours – a must try! I even bought a tub $6 (expensive but worth it).


* olives; view from 1st floor

Impression:

Things i wanted to try but missed out on : wagyu burger (huge queue = must’ve been good), 7hr braised leg of lamb. Actually I wanted to try all the items really, since everything looked so delectable on the menu in “writing”.

Hit & miss really in terms of quality of execution. Some resonated a lot of potential, and i would definitely want to taste their restaurant menu. Others however, with semi/fully pre-preprared food really did not elicit much awe and inspiration, and personally I don’t think of the dishes I did manage to try, the restaurants didn’t do themselves much justice. Some pulled it off (or at least close to) despite mass production, but we will have to wait and see whether on subsequent nights its any better.

I enjoyed it, but to be honest if I hadn’t received free tickets from Thanh, I may not have gone. A positive note: the freebies of food + wine, was worth my money though =).

P.S. plz tell me what you think, especially things i missed out on ! cheers

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Comments
2 Responses to “Taste of Melbourne 2010”
  1. Thanh says:

    I think I had a much better experience than you. If I had known it was so easy to sneak people into the VIP lounge, I would have got you in, and after 3 drinks, you would have been loving everything.

    Now I can link your post to my post, new fellow food blogger.

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  • Food RATING scale

    Unpleasant: damn upset my desire to eat

    Average: palatable but many shortcomings

    Yummy: a pleasant experience

    Yummy +1: mouth-watering like rain

    Yummy +2: exquisite flavours that hit all the right notes

    Divine: sheer culinary perfection!

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