Taste of Sydney 2016

So it’s been two months since I’ve figured out I have IBS. I feel as if I am listening to my body and its needs far better than I ever have before. It’s not amazing going through this ordeal but I have this feeling that it’s not a forever thing. Positives I can think of include:

• Saving more money for my France trip

• Eating healthier home cooked meals more nights of the week

• Being far more grateful for the luxury of eating out

What I have noticed about myself is that I don’t let IBS dictate my social life as I know so many others do. I cater to my own needs when I go out so that I don’t need to create a fuss. For instance, if I go to a burger joint I will make sure to bring my own sauce (HOW EMBARRASSING?!) and make sure they provide gluten-free options. If I do Thai, I will find the most basic stir fry and tell them to forgo the onion and garlic.

But I can see how others simply give up and hermit crab themselves into their homes where they don’t need to fret about such minute details. I don’t mind so much – these are the things we do to convince ourselves of normality. If I stopped eating out, I would lose a large part of my identity.Regardless of whether or not I can eat out as often, I still went to the Taste of Sydney festival this year. I’ve been going back for six years now, how crazy is that? I knew I wouldn’t be able to try a lot of the samples or many options from upcoming restaurants but Taste still holds a special little place in my heart.

I’m so glad I continued the tradition this year. There was heaps of new and exciting stuff being showcased and if I couldn’t eat something, my companion tried it instead. Living vicariously, y’know?After walking around for quite some time gobbling down minuscule samples (where did the large portions go?! Cheapos!), we finally went up to see our first chef demonstration.Who else but Colin Fassnidge himself up on stage with the a baby pig carcass. Enchanting. For a good half hour, we watched the Irish chef with the curly brown hair and stern but cheeky attitude glide his knife (Victorinox! Sell sell sell!) ever so gently and respectfully over little piglet’s body. It’s insane the amount of appreciation you gain after watching how much of the animal is actually put to use on supermarket shelves. Not much, I might add. For instance, you only get two fillets out of one pig. Crazy stuff.I’m noticing that each year the festival incorporates more alcohol-based stalls and this year was no different. Almost half of all stallholders were selling everything from gold-speckled vodka to various red/white/sparkling wines from numerous regions throughout Australia. My festival buddy had discovered Cello‘s Limoncello range elsewhere and was ecstatic seeing them here. We tried a few of the range (please read the back story on the website it’s soul-warming stuff!) and she decided to take the Arancello home, the zesty orange-infused liquor made with pure sugarcane alcohol was punchy and invigorating.We had worked up an appetite after wandering aimlessly through stall upon stall and tasting snippets here and there. We settled on Salaryman with their Prawn Toast Okonomiyaki ($10) which was ever so pretty to look at – showered in curls of spring onion and all crispy and saucy underneath with chunks of prawn throughout.I wanted something a little meatier so we ended up at MoVida where the smoky air filled my lungs with spicy aromas. Was that too cheesy? A chef was turning tall skewers of Pinchitos Morunos ($10) over charcoal and I couldn’t resist. The Flinders Island lamb marinated in Moorish spices was heady with the flavours of sweet pimento, nutty cumin and juicy lamb underneath. Gal pal was intrigued by the sound of the Mojama ($6) – air-dried tuna, compressed watermelon and marcoma almonds. To be honest, this was more interesting to look at than to taste. The watermelon was too sweet, the tuna leathery and overpowering with its saltiness and there was no unity of flavour. I’m just glad I didn’t fork out half a tenner for it.There were so many interesting little exhibits this year. Like the tiny makeshift wooden house filled with butterflies (so cute!) and Firedoor restaurant’s country-style display of firewood with a tree standing on its lonesome in the background.Our second demonstration was about to start so we rushed over to the Victorinox Chef’s Skillery to watch a knife masterclass and were handed a bottle of Cornelius Krumps‘ Cucumber Seltzer which was the most refreshing soda I’ve ever tried. This stuff was more thirst-quenching than water, for reals (I stole a bottle of the Blueberry flavour from an empty seat beside me hehe).

Chef Tom Robinson from 4Fourteen was explaining the importance of not applying pressure by letting the knife do most of the work for you. It was such a delicate process and quite therapeutic to watch the chef slice through a chicken and duck carcass as if they were butter. Too bad years of watching cooking shows on TV and hospitality studies in high school couldn’t teach me the practicalities of becoming a chef..With only an hour or so to go, we still had crowns to spend so we headed over to Kensington Street Social – the new, beautiful model kid on the block – and got ourselves a plate of Tataki Hiramasa Kingfish ($10) with dill and kohlrabi togarashi each. Wow. Slices of kingfish with forest green flecks of dill oil, blobs of pale mayo and intricate cones of twirled kohlrabi were quite a sight. This was the perfect balance of texture, colour and subtlety of flavour. We were both in awe after this.I fell in love hardcore for their table placement display, it’s not everyday you see a restaurant put so much effort into their crockery as they do their food. Bah I want one of those green tumblers..Accompanying friend thought the Eggplant and Macadamia ($8) – smoked eggplant salad, cinnamon myrtle labneh – from Three Blue Ducks at the Farm was both spicy in flavour and and creamy with the slow-cooked eggplant.By the end of the day we had both acquired quite a few knick knacks. I was particularly proud of snapping up a bargain with my camphor laurel chopping board ($15) from Byron Bay’s Eco Chopping Boards. I also find out that Thai restaurant chain Thai Riffic‘s PadThai Deluxe sauce ($5) was completely FODMAP friendly and available to purchase! And how could I go to Taste and not restock my yearly supply of Le Paludier Fleur de Sel ($8)? One bag lasts a whole year and I’ve mentioned it before but I use it on peanut butter and jam toast to savoury sauces, sprinkled over bananas, in roasted vegetables and everything in between.

If there’s one food festival I make sure people know about, it’s Taste, and if you’re keen for forking out a lot of money for food as I am, it’s totally worth a go. I’ll be back next year for visit #7 – yikes I feel old.

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2 comments

  1. grabyourfork · · Reply

    You can’t beat a good salt! And that sparkling cucumber water looks like it would be perfect with a nip of gin!

    1. Yas it would! Yummmm can’t beat a good gin + tonic ;).

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