Taste of Melbourne 2009 – Part 2

by April@MyFoodTrail on September 1, 2009

in Food Events

You can read about Part 1 here.

Prior to receiving the media pass from SBS Food on Saturday, I had already purchased tickets for hubby and I to go to Taste of Melbourne on Sunday afternoon. The media pass also allowed me to enter on Sunday, so I was left with two spare tickets and I offered them to our neighbours who happily took them. If not for the free tickets, I wouldn’t have paid the entry fee twice.

Hubby couldn’t go with me on the Saturday so he made it clear I was not to get any of the dishes he wanted to have because he knew I wouldn’t want to eat them with him on Sunday again! That was fine with me – I got to try a wide variety of dishes that way!

The first dish we selected was the seared Hervey Bay scallops from Jacques Reymond. To be honest, the dish did look rather pathetic with two small scallops sitting on a vastly empty, already small, paper plate. There was a miniscule piece of raw wagyu beef on top of the scallops, so small that split between the two of us, it was hardly worth chewing! The saving grace was that the scallops were fresh and tasted good. They were slightly undercooked, but hubby prefers it that way and it is better undercooked than overcooked.

Jacques Reymond – Seared Hervey Bay scallops, Thai style Sher Wagyu beef, crispy Asian salad $12

I had already pre-warned hubby that the serves are small but the size of the Jacques Reymond scallops had him worried that he should have eaten a more substantial breakfast! By the end of the day though, he was full and satisfied.

The next dish hubby chose was the tuna sashimi from Botanical. It was one round piece of tuna sashimi which had been seared slightly on the outside and rolled in black and white sesame seeds, top with a roasted prawn, an avocado wasabi puree and thinly sliced cucumber and daikon (white radish). It presented very well, probably one of the best looking dishes. It also tasted great, the wasabi really coming through and complementing the tuna and prawn.

Botanical – Sashimi of yellow fin tuna with roasted prawn, sesame & avocado $12

Yesterday I went to a Chef’s Table session with Shane Delia from Maha and we each got to try one of the lamb ribs from his menu. If there was such a thing as a taste orgasm, I would have had one when I put the rib into my mouth because OMG, the lamb was incredible! When I went home and told hubby that, he looked shocked, because I normally have an aversion to lamb!

Each serve had three lamb ribs which were covered in a variety of herbs and spices that come together and taste wonderful. It was served with a wedge of lemon and a dollop of yogurt. The lamb just slides away from the bone and melts in your mouth. It would be so easy to overcook the lamb and end up with a dry, tough piece of meat but even in the mass quantity producing environment of Taste of Melbourne, it turned out perfectly. The burnt look of the outside actually deceives the eye into thinking it will be hard but the blackness is just the caramelisation of the spices. This was definitely the best dish of the event for hubby and I.

Maha – Lamb Kustilji: crisp lamb ribs, roast nuts and spices, lemon & yogurt $12

Since I already had the pork belly from Fifteen on Saturday and hubby wanted to try a pork belly dish, we chose the one from Nobu. I couldn’t really taste the spicy miso, but the sauce did taste nice with the pork. A few of the pieces of the pork were dry, but the ones with the fat just melted in your mouth.

Nobu – Pork belly with spicy miso $12

I read a few reviews from last year that said the black cod dish from Nobu was worth trying but it was the most expensive dish of the event. It came with a Japanese berry which looks a bit like the outside of a lychee and a stick of pickled ginger. The fish had a beautiful sweet flavour, unlike any other fish I have tried before. The outside had caramelised nicely and the flesh flaked off easily. I was told the fish is soaked in miso for 3 days and while I can’t taste the miso I associate with miso soup, every bit of the fish has been infused with a wonderful flavour.

Nobu – Black cod with miso $16

I went hunting for dessert at close to 4pm and felt like having the chocolate, honeycomb and salted caramel cup I had from Circa, The Prince but unfortunately it was all sold out. I ended up choosing the milk chocolate delice from Verge. It was such a pretty looking dish, with dots of coconut cream and basil jelly around the outside of the plate and the salted caramel popcorn sitting on top of the chocolate slice. I didn’t like the basil jelly, but I love the flavour combination of the chocolate and popcorn.

Verge – Milk chocolate delice, coconut & basil, salted caramel popcorn $10

Well, that sums up all the food I had. I can’t believe I tried 14 dishes over the course of two days! While the main drawcard of Taste of Melbourne is the food from the restaurants, it was also good to see the chefs wandering around and happy to engage and chat with people.

Philippe Mouchel (The Brasserie) & Jacques Reymond

Shane Delia (Maha) & George Calombaris (The Press Club, Hellenic Republic)

Gary Mehigan (The Boathouse) & Tadashi Takahashi (Nobu)

There was also the opportunity to see chef’s cooking in the Gourmet Traveller Kitchen and meet them at the Gourmet Traveller Chef’s table for an informal half an hour chat. The chef’s table was a good experience and over the two days I went along for 3 sessions, one with Shane Delia from Maha, a beer tasting session with Chuck Hahn from James Squire and the last one with Stuart McVeigh from Botanical.

James Squire beer tasting session with Chuck Hahn

There was also a host of food & wine exhibitors displaying their products and offering free tastings. There were a few wine stalls that made you pay $2 for a sample but most of them were free. I tried a new Red Square cheese from Tasmanian Heritage which was just divine, but when I went back to buy some, it was all sold out. The lady said I was able to get it from the supermarket but I checked at Coles that night and it wasn’t there. If someone knows where to get it, I would love to know. It was a creamy cheese like a camembert but had more of a bite.

Overall: As I said in Part 1, the food is not exactly value for money, but it gives people a chance to sample a variety of dishes from some of Melbourne’s top restaurants without the full cost of going to eat at the actual restaurant. It is kind of like going to a tapas bar and trying a whole lot of small dishes. Hubby and I ended up spending just over $70 for the two of us which I thought was reasonable and we enjoyed the food and the experience. We’re not heavy lunch eaters anyway, so we probably would have spent more at dinnertime.

Would I return? Yes. I would try and go with a few more people so you get the chance to try more dishes.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Iron Chef Shellie September 1, 2009 at 9:07 pm

awesome post!
man I shoulda tried them lamb ribs!! I want a taste orgasm 😛

Looking forward to next year, hopefully we can be with the press again 😉

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spatulaspoonandsaturday September 1, 2009 at 10:33 pm

definitely in agreement that the lamb ribs were the best, it was the best dish there (of all the ones i tried anyway).

im planning a dinner at maha!

actually come to think of it, i have had something similar to the lamb ribs but it was in an indian restaurant on racecourse rd. in singapore. i might have some pictures somewhere…

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Anita September 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

How fun! I was getting a little scared at the portion sizes at the beginning… but they got bigger. The delice looked quite pretty and the flavour combination sounded very interesting.. 🙂 great review, you got to see heaps of chefs!

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 2, 2009 at 9:32 am

Wow you got some incredibly ohotos-like you had your own studio there! 😀 I agree, the food isn't great value at the event-partiularly some of the smaller dishes but the quality of the food in the outdoor setting is wonderful.

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OohLookBel September 2, 2009 at 9:53 am

Your photos and review are first-rate – it was like I was there with you! You are right, Taste is a chance to sample dishes from some great restaurants, but it's not good value for money (especially if you add in the entry fee). I am envious, though, of all the restaurants there. I hope I can go next year.

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Maria@TheGourmetChallenge September 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I have a secret crush on Jacques Reymond. I think he looks so distinguished and I just adore his food. If I could I would have an affair with him.

The chocolate delice looks so delish. I wonder what basil and chocolate would taste like together. Oh man, basil is my most favorite herb in all the world. I always joke that I will have a bouquet of basil on my wedding day.

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B2 September 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Awesome review. I agree. The pictures you take are really good quality. Guess it pays off to invest in a decent camera.

I want to try the lamb! Next time you're in Sydney, you have to try the pork ribs from hurricane. Mouth orgasm x 10!

I think it's hilarious that the chef from maha looks do similar to George!!

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Rilsta September 2, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Hi Iron Chef Shellie: Thanks! I can't believe you didn't try the lamb ribs! You got to try a lot of different stuff though which *kinda* makes up for it!

Hi Kat: Yeah, the lamb ribs have also made me plan a dinner at Maha! I'm interested in trying their other dishes and hoping it is as good as their lamb ribs!

Hi Anita: Thanks! Unfortunately I don't go gaga over chefs (unlike footballers and celebrities! :P) but I did take a picture with a few of them.

Hi Lorraine: Thanks! The lighting was good because I went during the day and I chose the table with the most natural light! At least the table and plates were white so it made for good photography!

Hi Belle: Aww thanks! It can actually add to an expensive day out since you also have to pay an entry fee! I would love to go to the Sydney one to see what it's like.

Hi Maria: LOL abt having an affair with Jacques and the basil bouquet!! I think Jacques has aged well.

Hi B2: Thanks for your comment! I do think that a good camera makes for better photographs.

Shane actually said that a lot of people think he and George look alike. They started out in the industry at the same time and have been friends for over 14yrs!

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Ellie September 3, 2009 at 10:35 am

Awesome post. Thanks for the roundup for us who live too far to attend the event. I am heading to Melbourne in December… can't wait to find out good places to eat from you.

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Andy Miller September 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Another great post April. We'll definitely keep you in mind for future food events in Melbourne.

Andy Miller (SBS)

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Esz September 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Great post 😀 It was a really good event overall wasn't it! Looking forward to next year!

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shez September 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Sounds like you had a fantastic time (two whole days of taste? Oh My!) It's so interesting to see how the different cities do Taste differently – Sydney was held in a park so it felt like the never ending picnic 🙂

It does get a touch expensive (I think I spent close to $100 for two people) but when you think of the quality of the food (& how much they'd cost at the restaurant itself) it's not so bad after all!

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Forager September 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

What a great post! Lucky you with a media pass too! You sure did get through a lot of food and all the photos look great – better than the ones I took in Sydney being jostled about by park crowds in searing heat!

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Rilsta September 7, 2009 at 10:26 am

Hi Ellie: Thanks! I am expecting a round up of the Sydney one when it comes around again! 🙂

Hi Andy: Thanks again!

Hi Esz: Yeah it was! I'm looking forward to next year's event too!

Hi Shez: I can't imagine what it would be like holding this event outdoors! It seems more suited to an indoors location!

Hi Forager: Thanks! I guess hot weather is slightly better than it raining and having to walk around muddy grounds! It was raining in Melbourne on the Saturday.

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maria September 7, 2009 at 11:27 pm

I'm now convinced I wouldn't go to Jacques Reymond and pay for full-sized dishes. I would go to Maha however! I'm glad I had the opportunity to see more of the dishes here on your blog 🙂

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Rilsta September 8, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi Maria: I'm glad you got to see more dishes! 🙂 I would choose going to Maha over Jacques Reymond too!

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