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Taste Festival Melbourne 2008


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If you asked me what I did on the weekend, the only answer I'd have for you is that I ate, then I ate, then ate some more! And what's more, I could boast that I ate at some of Melbourne's top restaurants for lunch with a few hundred of my newest friends.

This was my first year attending the annual Taste Festival.The festival is held both here in Melbourne and also in Sydney once a year. This gives the top restaurants in each city a chance to exhibit their signature dishes, as well as smaller concession stands a great environment to promote their produce.

I had an absolute blast at this event, and I will be making it an annual event that I MUST attend! I was so glad I didn't eat any breakfast before we went because I was so full at the end of it. The vibe in the Royal Exhibition Building was invigorating!
So many people passionate about food and wine, and free samples every where you looked! Everyone wanting you to try their specialty.

There were multiple classes including wine and beer tasting, to cooking demonstrations. You could even meet the famous chefs behind the restaurants. All the staff seemed to be buzzing, there was not a frown in sight!

Iron Chef Rob and I had Emirates V.I.P tickets. This meant we got extra "Crowns" and access to the Emirates V.I.P lounge which included 3 free drinks.
"Crowns" were the official currency of the event. Essentially, 1 Crown = $1.
Dishes ranged from 8 Crowns to around 16 Crowns.

However there was a higher level of V.I.P ticket available, and that was the Saab Saffron. You could sit in a lovely enclosed area in the middle of the exhibition, special Saab waiters would go out, order the food and bring it back to you. Thus you wouldn't have to try and find a seat to eat your food. You could also get free cocktails!

The Emirates V.I.P Lounge

The Press Club
We stared off the day at The Press Club's stand ordering a souvlaki (not really the best idea for breakfast from a nutritionist's point of view);

George Calombaris @ The Press Club
"Hellenic Republic" lamb souvlaki & "Press Club" mastic pannacotta married with "Maha" turkish delight filled doughnuts

The souvlaki was amazing, just like most things we ate. The bread was light, fluffy, warm and handmade to hold the contents of the souvlaki. The lamb just melted in your mouth, with the mustard, onions, chips and whatever other secret ingredient just tying everything together so nicely. We could have stopped there and eaten these all day long!

Whilst we went around and tasted a few other things we came back to try the dessert. How on earth can anyone resist trying Turkish delight filled doughnuts? It was yet another taste sensation by George, whom some of you might recognize from the TV show "Ready, Steady, Cook!" Nice and crisp on the outside, doughy and warm on the inside, along with a lovely pannacotta, I will be making sure I visit The Press Club at least once in my life!

The Botanical

Who can resist Wagyu beef at such a cheap price? Who?... not me that's who!

The Botanical Wagyu Burger

Gorgeous little sample size, a little disappointing that this was not cooked to order, there were just some sitting on the stand. However it was still amazing cold. There must have been some sort of smokey, barbeque relish that gave this burger that "Oh my GOD!" factor. After one of these, you'll never settle for anything less than a Wagyu burger ever again!

This is the stand most of the Asian community headed to first. I don't blame them. Cheap seafood from Robert Di Nero's famous restaurant, Nobu.

Beef Tataki: Seared beef topped with onion ponzu, spring onions and garlic chips with ponzu dressing

Whilst we probably should have tried the signature cod dish, we went for something a little more beefy. I expected this to be served hot but it was more of a cold salad style dish. To eat it you had to get some of the onion ponzu (the noodle looking thing), some spring onion, beef and garlic. It was incredible, the dressing really brought the taste of all the ingredients out. I've looked at the prices on Nobu's website, and I think this will be my only Nobu meal until I will lotto! I was glad I got a chance to see what all the hype was all about, and I will confirm it lives up to all it's hype.

The James Squire Beer Masterclass
We broke the day up with a beer tasting class. Mind you this started at 11:45am, a little early to be on the grog, but with champagne flowing freely, no one was judging anyone!

Our teacher was Chuck Hahn. He has been brewing beer for quite some time, if he doesn't know the answer, I don't think anyone would. We learnt how to properly pour different beers, and how a little bit of soap in the glass could affect the quality of the head on a beer. The we got stuck into it, 6 bottles of beer to share between 4 people.

We tried:
- Golden Ale
- Knappstein
- Amber Ale
- Pilsner
- I.P.A (Indian Pale Ale)
- Porter

We got to try cow cheek marinated in beer with mash potato from The Courthouse restaurant; Carbonade of beef with pomme puree, parsley and caper salad, which was truly delicious. accompanied by a beer, for which the life of me I can't remember which one it was!

We also got free Lindt chocolate to try with the Porter, which was really complimented eachother. This beer had coffee notes to it's smell. I know I'm starting to sound like a pretentious wine connoisseur
but we learnt out to properly smell and taste our beers.

Fifteen & Circa, the Prince
We are all familiar with Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant. There was a TV show about it, critics were raving, you had to book months in advance to get a table. I definitely wanted to try, but the price always put me off. Sadly, the food was our least favorite of the day.

Pork sausage with chilli and garlic on caponata di melanzane (a Sicilian eggplant relish) & Fifteen's Olive Oil Chocolate mousse with candied pistachios and grappa marinated strawberries

top right:
Slow cooked Sher Wagyu, braised meat pie, truffled coleslaw, licorice spiced pumpkin

The top part of the chocolate mousse was delicious with the candied pistachios, however the marinated strawberries at the bottom didn't seem to flow so nicely. It was almost like McDonald's strawberry sundae sauce.

The pork sausage with relish was yum but didn't really stand out like the souvlaki or burger we had earlier in the day. It was all just a bit average I'm afraid.

The Wagyu meat pie from Circa, The Prince was impressive though. And the coleslaw and spiced pumpkin, incredible! I could not stop drooling over this dish. I had never heard of this restaurant before but I would love to go there one day to try some more.

Lindt Cafe
Those of you who know me well will guess that this was my favorite stand, Lindt chocolate.

I was talking to the chocolate barista and he said Melbourne will be getting one early next year, so far there is only a Lindt cafe in Sydney. I'm so excited! The hot chocolates from here are to die for, made with Lindt chocolate of course! We bought some chocolate flakes to take home to brew up a cup ourselves. Luckily we saved the best stand till last!

This was the only thing I spent money on, mini cupcakes! Although they looked very familar, Decadence cafe in South Yarra are currently stocking them. So I asked the girl if they supplied to this cafe and she said yes! Although they might not be for too much longer as the owner has just changed hands. Seriously, if you can get your hands on these babies you will not be sorry. I would HIGHLY recommend the "Lemon Meringue" cupcake.

So to conclude; We had an amazing time. Lots of fun, new flavours and laughs. I found a bean dip called "Fart Alot", and there was a chutney/sauce company with the quirky name of "Spice Girlz".

Definitely put this in your calender if your a foodie fantantic!


The beer we had with the cow cheek was the pilsner. :)

I didn't get to go along, but heard it was fab. Love the "Fart Alot" dip!

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