Disclosure: Alastair and I received entry courtesy of Taste of Melbourne and Hothouse Media. We purchased our own crowns.
Taste of Melbourne has returned for another year, and like last year it’s at Pelican Lawn in Albert Park Lake. Alastair and I headed down for a couple of hours tonight to check it out.
As for all previous Taste of Melbournes, you have to buy Crowns as your currency to spend at the event. $1 = 1 Crown. One thing is different this year – they’ve done away with the paper vouchers and you now get a rechargeable card. We found most places told us the balance remaining on our card whenever we bought something, which helped me keep track of how much we were spending.
But onto the food. The line up this year is pretty good, with restaurants like MoVida returning for another year, and new restaurants like very newly opened Uncle in St Kilda getting in on the action. The full list of participating restaurants can be found on the Taste of Melbourne website.
Alastair and I ate seven dishes this year.
Albert St Food & Wine: Calamari Fritto, corn, black garlic coriander, green chilli, black aioli – 12 crowns
Let’s start with the best. Albert St Food & Wine’s fried calamari is DELICIOUS: lightly coated and tender, and surrounded by kernels of sweet charred corn. The best eat of the night – I liked it a lot.
Huxtable: Korean BBQ Pork Ribs – 12 crowns
I also really liked the ribs from Huxtable. They were excellent – very tender, fatty, sticky and slightly spicy. One of our top eats tonight.
Mamasita: Taco de Pescado – grilled fish, achiote, cebolla salsa and chipotle mayo – 8 crowns
This is seriously the only fish taco I’ve ever truly enjoyed. Fresh and zingy and just a hint of heat.
B’stilla: B’stilla cigar – free range chook, brik, saffron, cinnamon, pistachio – 12 crowns
B’stilla is one of the New Taste on the Block restaurants, and the cigar was their icon dish. We found the filling of the cigar a little dry, it would’ve been good otherwise.
On Saturday, the New Taste on the Block restaurant is Saint Crispin. On Sunday, it will be Tonka.
Taxi Dining: Prawn and almond brioche toast – 6 crowns
You have to love a good prawn toast and this was a very good prawn toast. A bit oily but so damn tasty and crunchy.
Uncle: Hapuka Betel Leaf with coconut, chilli and pomegranate – 6 crowns
Our last savoury dish was the hapuka betel leaf. The coconut came through really well in the fish, giving it a nice texture and flavour. Quite nice.
I also heard good things about Uncle’s goat banh mi.
Burch & Purchese: Explosive raspberry ice cream, freeze dried raspberry, milk chocolate, pop rocks – 8 crowns
We finished with B&P’s ice cream. The sun was starting to set by the time we ate this and it was starting to get quite cold. Brrrrr. Still, no regrets. Raspberry ice cream and pop rocks was a good way to end the night.
The most popular restaurants tonight seemed to be Mamasita and Huxtaburger (what is it about burgers that people go mad for at these events?). I’d suggest making a beeline for them if you’re interested.
In addition to the restaurants, there’s also exhibitors selling beer, wine, cider, sauces, sweets, chocolates etc. Plus a beer hall, cookery school, and wine theatre.
I’m a big fan of the outdoor location – it has such a nice vibe and there’s so much more place. But we all know how ridiculously wet it’s been this week. The event organisers have done a good job in minimising the mud at Pelican Lawn but I highly suggest that you don’t wear your nicest shoes because it’s still seeping through in some spots. I’m sure the ground will dry further over the next two days (if it doesn’t rain… but who knows, this is Melbourne).
If you’re interested in Taste there’s still three sessions left over the weekend:
Saturday 16 November: 12pm – 4pm
Saturday 16 November: 5:30pm – 10pm
Sunday 17 November: 12pm – 5pm
If you’re going – enjoy! (And eat the calamari.)
Taste of Melbourne 2013
Pelican Lawn, Albert Park