Food and Drink


Taste Of Melbourne 2014

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Melbourne has some truly great restaurants; we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to food. Recently the Taste Of Melbourne, foodies from across our fab city flocked to Albert Park to try out all sorts of foods from our city’s top chefs. Two of Milk Bar Mag’s writers attended the Taste Of Melbourne, and were more than impressed.

Written by Sam Giles

Ahh the Taste of Melbourne, welcome back.

The ultimate destination for the discerning foodie, showcasing Melbourne’s vast array of culinary delights. It’s the opening gala night, and friends, families, and people of all ages are arriving to the picturesque setting of Pelican Lawn in Albert Park. Offering a diverse range of attractions, demonstrations and popup eateries from Melbourne’s dining scene, it’s best to take your time while exploring.

So here’s how it works. The days are split into sessions – lunch and dinner, lasting several hours. Its a brilliant way for patrons to enjoy some food, and absorb the vibrant atmosphere. Oh and of course me being me, taking a million years to decide what to order… I opted for the Thai Style King Prawn Salad with green papaya, lime & peanuts from The Smith/Lucy Liu. Perfect on this balmy night, the salad was cool and refreshing, with a lovely balance of flavours.

Having just moved to Melbourne from Adelaide, I had a great time familiarising myself with Melbourne’s food culture and meeting some friendly faces at the 2014 Taste of Melbourne. Definitely add it to your agenda next year!

Written by Rebecca Petrusic

Accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath and sweaty palms as I see the waiter approach my table and I still can’t decide between the salmon or the ribs. His gaze turns to me as he recites the specials; I hear nothing, except for my mind debating between salmon or ribs, salmon or ribs. There is a pause, and in a panic, the words that leave my mouth are ‘Vegetable and Grain Salad please…’ and I hang my head in shame as I have been defeated by this moment, once again.

As one of the most indecisive people in history, whenever I see the words ‘tasting plate’ on a menu, it is the first thing I gravitate towards. Whether it is an assortment of cheese or desserts, having an array of options is a weight lifted off my shoulders. That is why Melbourne’s premier restaurant festival, Taste of Melbourne is the perfect place for people like me. The festival is like one enormous tasting plate, almost like a preview of what each restaurant has to offer. Located at Pelican Lake in Albert Park, the festival attracts up to 25,000 food lovers each year. The festival features 15 of Melbourne’s latest and greatest restaurants, as well as samples and beverages from a host of boutique exhibitors and producers.

Initially, it is very overwhelming, where do I go? What do I get? Am I wearing loose enough clothing? However, I began by doing a lap. The set up of the festival was very functional, the restaurants were on the outer circles, wines and beverages in the centre and the desserts concluded the oval.

The marquees offered more than just meals. The tents were crowded with people sampling olive oils, homemade breads, condiments or shots of cider. The smells passing each marquee pulled in every direction, and after I had come to the end of my lap, I was able to make my final decisions of where to begin.

I started with George Colombaris restaurant Gazi, and ordered the Soft Shell Crab Souvlaki, with mint, coriander, honey and mayo. The serving was a lot larger then expected, it was delicious and was the perfect balance of crunchy and creamy. I washed that down with a cup of Those Girls Iced Tea, which I was heartbroken to find out was not available in supermarkets just yet. I sampled the homemade lemonade and apple vanilla iced tea. Very refreshing.

Sake Restaurant and Bar was my next choice, only because I had overheard two women gushing about the dumplings so I decided to follow their lead. The Steamed Prawn Shumai Dumplings with ponzu dipping sauce, spring onion and chilli were amazing. The combination of flavours was great and they were easy to eat with chopsticks unlike other dumpling experiences I have had in the past.

I was able to enjoy dining alfresco with tables, chairs, benches and beanbags scattered around each marquee. Having ordered a second dish from Sake, the furniture was useful as I was running out of hands. Tonkatsu Cups, a panko-fried pork belly and spring onion bite served in lettuce cups was the dish of the day. Although it was very rich, I had never tasted so many big flavours at once, all of which complimented each other.

The sun began to disappear, crowds grew larger and the music got louder. As I made my way passed the Munich Brauhaus marquee, German dancers replicated the celebrations of Oktoberfest and my eye caught my favourite two symbols when it comes to ice cream, N2. N2 Extreme Gelato use liquid nitrogen and create over the top flavours that will blow your mind. I chose Nutella ice cream, with a chocolate ganuche coating, dipped in rice bubbles with a chocolate sauce syringe. Needless to say, there was none left to share.

Wine tasting tutorials, chef demonstrations and cooking classes are other highlights of the festival, activities that will entice audiences of all age groups, so there is no excuse not to go next year!

The Taste of Melbourne Festival left me with a full belly, an empty wallet and a greater knowledge of the remarkable foods our city has to offer.

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