Taste of Melbourne 2009 – Part 1

by April@MyFoodTrail on August 29, 2009

in Food Events

Thanks to SBS Food I received a double media pass to Taste of Melbourne 2009 and I attended the lunch time session today. I also got to meet the lovely fellow foodblogger Iron Chef Shellie and Phil Lees.

Taste of Melbourne is held annually at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton and runs over 6 sessions for 4 days. Here you can sample fifteen of Melbourne’s top award winning restaurants’ three signature dishes in one place, as well as fine wines and gourmet food from other exhibitors. Expect to be entertained and indulged in the Taste Wine Theatre, learn gourmet tips in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Taste Kitchen or meet one of Australia’s most renowned chefs at the Australian Gourmet Traveller Chef’s table.

The last session is being held tomorrow from 12pm to 5pm so don’t miss your last chance to experience this year’s event. For those of you who already have tickets, below is a small sample of what you can expect.

Hubby had to work so I went along with Miss LH. When we got there at 11.40 there was already a queue of people lining up to enter, but once the doors opened at 12, the line moved quite quickly.

We were given $20 worth of crowns by SBS but unfortunately $20 crowns is not enough for two people so we purchased our own as well. Crowns are the currency of the event where $1 = 1 crown. The crowns come in books of $10 or $30 and there are “crown sellers” walking all over the floor so you don’t need to purchase too many at the start. There are no refunds for unused crowns, but the food & wine stalls also accept your crowns or cash.

As Iron Chef Shellie had been to Taste of Melbourne last year, she knew to grab a table first as there are definitely more people than there are tables. We looked through the menu and chose the dishes we wanted to try, then took turns leaving the table to go and collect them.

The first dish we tried was the steamed pork & pork siu mai from Silks. These were tasty and had a nice firm texture, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Silks – Steamed pork & prawn siu mai $8

Our second dish was the slow roasted pork belly from Fifteen. It was a porchetta style round slice of pork sitting on a bed of lentils and topped with a salsa verde. All the elements of the dish worked well together and the pork was very tender. This was a favourite.

Fifteen – Slow roasted ‘Berkshire’ pork belly in the style of porchetta with lentil du puy & salsa verde $10

Next we tried Movida’s braised beef with Spanish paprika, saffron and potatoes. This was a flavoursome, hearty dish, perfect for a wintery day like today. The beef was tough to cut, but tasted soft in the mouth. The mash was a nice accompaniment but lacked the creaminess I like in my mash.

Movida – Braised beef with Spanish paprika, saffron & potatoes $12

The longest queues were at the Press Club, Hellenic Republic and Maha stand. I think it was definitely a reflection of the quality of their food as everything was made to order, which meant you had to wait.

We ordered two dishes from the stand, the first being the saganaki (fried cheese) with peppered figs from Hellenic Republic. The fried cheese was so good and nice and crisp on the outside. I’m not a fan of figs so I didn’t eat the fig itself, but the fig sauce was lovely. You could taste the pepper but it is also slightly sweet.

Hellenic Republic – Saganaki with peppered figs $10

The second dish was the Spring Bay half shell scallops with tarama from the Press Club. I googled tarama and it seems to be a shortened version of taramasalata, a fish roe dip. I didn’t see any of the taramasalata I am usually used to on top of the scallops, so it might be something else. The scallops were cooked perfectly and were actually attached to the shell (not like some places that reuse the shells!). There were pieces of what tasted like stale bread and olives, but it all went well with the scallops.

The Press Club – Spring Bay half shell scallops with tarama $10

With the parsley removed

Iron Chef Shellie & her friend ordered the tempura of quail breast from Jacques Reymond and I tried a small piece. This was probably the smallest dish of the day. The boneless piece of quail sat on some black rice and was covered in a whipped Persian fetta sauce. It was interesting to include the black rice as I normally associate it with an Asian dessert. Surprisingly all the flavours came together in a nice tasting dish.

Jacques Reymond – Tempura of quail breast, tajine flavours, whipped Persian fetta $12

At this point Iron Chef Shellie left us and went exploring and Miss LH & I ordered our last savoury dish. We tried the BBQ Sher Wagyu steamed bun from Circa, the Prince. This was the largest serve of all the dishes we tried, but probably because it was mostly bread! The wagyu slices inside the bun were very thin but the whole bun was extremely tasty. The steamed bread bun was really good, so deliciously soft and together with the filling tasted a bit like a modern peking duck pancake!

Circa, The Prince – BBQ Sher Wagyu steamed bun, pickled carrot, spring onion & hoisin $10

Inside the steamed bun

Miss LH & I had exactly $8 worth of crowns left which we saved for a dessert. It was a difficult choice with 10 desserts on offer (6 of which were $8) but we ended up choosing the chocolate, honeycomb and salted caramel crunch from Circa, The Prince. We made the right choice – it was really heavenly! There were many layers starting from the chocolate mousse at the bottom, what tasted like a chocolate cake in the middle, the crunchy salted caramel and topped off with the honeycomb cream.

Circa, The Prince – Chocolate, honeycomb & salted caramel crunch $8

Overall: I think the thing to keep in mind is that there are no bargains and the food is not exactly value for money, but it is more about the quality of the food and the chance to sample a smaller serving of a dish you might not otherwise get a chance to try. We enjoyed all the dishes and had a great day out.

Would I return? Yes, I’m looking forward to the dishes on offer next year and I am actually returning tomorrow, this time with hubby! Look out for Part 2!

You can read about Part 2 here.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Iron Chef Shellie August 29, 2009 at 10:28 pm

awesome photos!
.. cbf reading at the moment though.

see you tomorrow! =D


Conor @ HoldtheBeef August 30, 2009 at 1:26 am

It's so funny seeing such nice dishes on those disposable plates!

It all looks amazing (especially at this time of night). That saganaki with figs is calling out my name in a tasty goopy figgy voice. Mmmmmmm.


Jackie August 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Agreed on the pork belly from Fifteen, that was my favourite too. I was super early on Thursday night so got to watch Matt Wilkinson from Circa present the quail kiev, which was good.

One of the stalls was doing a few pomegranate cocktails, which were quite good.

And as always at these things, we got to eat our own weight in cheese samples – some of which were much better than others!


Rilsta August 31, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Hi Iron Chef Shellie: Thanks! Still waiting to see your review! I've got a whole lot more photos from the next day which I will have to post soon.

Hi Conor: LOL abt the tasty goopy figgy voice! Paper plates were the most cost effective solution and the food did look better than the BBQ food I normally have on a paper plate!!

Hi Jackie: Those chef table talks were really good! Over the two days I went I got to go to 3 sessions. No cocktails for me during the day because I am one of those Asians that go ridiculously red when I drink alcohol! They did look tempting though!


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge August 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm

wow, what a awesome selection of dishes! and you got to go from free. awesome score!


Andy Miller August 31, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Amazingly comprehensive post April. You really covered some ground – and some tasty dishes too! Thanks for being involved (on behalf of everyone at SBS)


Food lover September 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Loved to see comments on other dishes that I didn't try. Looking forward to part 2!


Rilsta September 2, 2009 at 10:54 am

Hi Maria: I know but I had already purchased tickets anyway before getting the free pass! Did you go?

Hi Andy: Thanks and thanks again for the opportunity.

Hi Food lover: Yeh, it is good to be able to read other people's review to see what other dishes were on offer. I would have loved to have sampled a mouthful of every dish!


Food Rehab: The Tastebud Diaries September 2, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Hey Rilsta- the food looked amazing. Esp the Tempura of quail breast- love quail!!

I was seriously intending to go, but the plan was unfortunately put aside. Glad to see you and your taste buds had a ball though!



maria September 7, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Hey Congratulations on being one of the winners of the SBS comp! I was considering whether I should enter, but after conferring with hubby decided I wouldn't want the gig and we'd just attend 'at leisure' ourselves. So I went for the very first time. You had some fabulous lighting (day time). My cheap camera doesn't do too well at night. And so I loved your photo's!

I just finished my review of 'Taste of Melbourne' which has been in the making since the event & through my site meter found your blog through another person's Google search. Not sure if that makes sense?

Your Press Club scallop dish had less parsley than ours I think.. but we weren't impressed at all and same with the Jacques Reymond quail.

Very interesting to read someone elses opinion and to see some of the other dishes I was thinking of trying. I regretted not getting the pork and prawn dumplings, but after reading your review.. maybe not?

I must say I can hardly believe SBS only gave you 20 crowns! Weren't you supposed to sample every dish as part of the assigment? That's what I thought anyway.. but this was only Part 1 anyway wasn't it?


Rilsta September 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Hi Adrian: It was fabulous to have so many different things to try though the serves were small. You should try and make it next year!

Hi Maria: Thanks! The daylight really helped the food look better so I was happy to have chosen the lunchtime session!

You didn't miss much by not trying the pork and prawn dumplings! I don't think if all the food was free I would have been able to sample every dish! Maybe just a mouthful but I think even that would be pushing it!


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