Counting the sleeps: Taste of Melbourne 2014
Can't believe it has almost been a year since I last experienced one of my favourite food festivals, Taste of Melbourne. Next week this fun food event returns to Albert Park from the 13-16 November 2014. If you have been hiding under a rock or are new to Taste of Melbourne you can read all about my experience last year here.
I am praying again that the weather gods are kind this year and turn on some spectacular Spring weather. The biggest tip I can offer anyone attending Taste of Melbourne this year is to arrive prepared. The menu cards have just gone live, check them out here and start planning for your session. With just 4.5-5 hours and loads to eat, see and experience the key to maximising your Taste experience is definitely in the preparation. Thursday night is the opening night and one of the most hotly contested tickets if you love to rub shoulders with the who's who in the food industry. Friday and Saturday sees both a lunchtime session from 12-4pm and an evening session from 5:30-10pm, while Sunday rounds out the event with a long lunch from 12-5pm.
Crowns are the official currency at Taste and your crown card can be loaded with up to $200. Most dishes are $6-$16 with a handful of the icon dishes running between $20-$28 each. Generally I find sharing a couple of the dishes with a friend allows me to taste as much as I can at the same time as conserving valuable stomach space. Very pleased that this year you will be able to get a refund of your unused crown dollars, which you have not been able to do in previous years. So feel free to load up to your heart's content this year.
So...what's new for 2014? I am very excited to see that there are lots of new restaurants joining the festival this year; Gazi, B'Stilla (Thursday/Friday), Uncle, Pope Joan, Tulip/Gladioli (Sunday) and Niew Amsterdam (Saturday), Brooks, The Smith/Lucy Liu and Huxtable. Along with old favourites Burch & Purchese, Huxtaburger, Mamasita and Movida.
I have browsed through the menu card and there are a number of dishes that I am excited to try:
- Cannot pass up a good Lobster Roll so I'll be heading to Mr Claws to try this (the newest venture from Daniel Wilson of Huxtaburger fame)
- I have heard some rave reviews of the cauliflower ice-cream with almond toffee from Brooks of Melbourne
- Lucy Liu's Flinders Island Lamb Rib sounds delicious
- Should I not be full trying all the new dishes, I will definitely have to try the Elote Callejero street corn from Mamasita- a perennial favourite
- One of the more expensive dishes but it sounds amazing- sichuan duck leg with cashew butter from Huxtable. I might have to part with a number of crowns for this one ($24)
- Mmmm cheese...the saganaki with honey, balsamic and lemon sounds divine, as does the soft shell crab souvlaki from Gazi
- If you happen to go Friday I like the look of the BBQ Octopus with tahini remoulade and herbs from B'Stilla
- Love a good dumpling and I am sure the prawn shumai dumplings from Sake Restaurant and Bar will be tasty
- The PJ Singh's rogan josh goat curry with rice and Mr Wilkinson's pineapple chutney from Pope Joan sounds delicious!
- Smokey beef brisket from Niew Amsterdam and the spicy steak tartare on betel leaf from Uncle are also serious contenders.
- Finally I will absolutely have to save room to try the Flavours of Lamington Tart from the dessert geniuses Burch & Purchese.
In addition to the pop up restaurants, I always try to get a little education in the Taste Kitchen, learn some new skills in the Dilmah Chef's Skillery sessions and cook with delicious creamy butter in the Lurpack Cookery School- the Flinders Island Lamb Cutlets with herbed raita is a dish I look forward to cooking. Also looking forward to seeing MasterChef fave Kylie Millar cook up something sweet and salty in the Olssons Salt Sessions.
Very excited to learn that this year Canon are offering some sessions in food photography. Hoping to get along to check this out and brush up on my skills before heading to Margaret River, WA the following week for Gourmet Escape. These sessions are geared towards all levels and cost $20, which includes an SD card, 5 prints and use of Canon equipment.
Taste of Melbourne would not be as much fun without a few drinks and with the Munich Brahaus beer tent, Rekorderlig Cider Bar and my personal favourite the Paul Louis Champagne Bar there is something for everyone.
If all of this sounds like fun to you, jump online now and purchase your tickets here OR check out my Facebook and Instagram page where I am running a competition and giving away some free tickets for the Saturday evening session on the 15th November. To win a double pass comment on Facebook or Instagram and tell me your dining highlight for 2014 in less than 25 words. Bonus points for pictures. I will choose the four best entries next Tuesday 11 November. Looking forward to seeing your entries.