12 Nov Taste of Melbourne 2015 + Opening Gala Night
Taste of Melbourne is on again in 2015, and I was excited to have been invited to the opening gala night this year. Almost immediately upon entering, guests gravitated towards the impressive cheese spread prepared by Milk the Cow. Amongst the many delicious varieties of cheese, my favourite was the espresso-soaked cheese by BellaVitano, hailing from the United States.
We were also treated to some delicious canapes from Peter Gunn (Ides) and Erling Sundal (of Norway). There was the flavoursome and garlicky duck terrine, cucumber boats with a pickled topping that reminded me of achar, veal tartare, Norwegian Crackers with blue cheese, grilled apricot & pear vinegar, unctuous lamb ribs with vanilla yoghurt sauce, and my favourite – salmon with white smoked egg cream.
Following the presentation of the Best in Taste awards, we wandered around the festival to taste product samples, watch demonstrations and of course, sample even more food. My first stop was the Royal Mail Hotel with the intention of trying the dish that had won equal first for best dish of the festival. This dish was Duck Phat Sundays. The texture of the duck fat ice cream was different to what I was expecting, being firm and slightly crumbly. It had the undeniable flavour and richness of duck fat and was absolutely delicious. As I read the description on the menu I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I’m very glad I gave it a go. Wanting to try something savoury, I also ordered the knuckle sandwich. The pork knuckle was juicy and there was a nice contrast of textures with the coleslaw and the pastry that sandwiched it.
I’ve also heard many good things about Pastuso’s grilled meats, so I thought a visit to their stall was in order. It took a while for me to decide what I actually wanted, but eventually settled on the smoked pork neck. The dish had a more simple, homely flavour, but the pork was a tad dry. I do wonder how well restaurants are able to replicate their dishes in this sort of setting unless it’s something they do regularly, so my disappointment in the cerdo hasn’t completely turned me off having a proper experience at the restaurant.
We had plenty of fun meandering around the festival grounds and exploring products and dishes we hadn’t seen before. Though it’s not quite as busy as the Night Noodle Markets, it offers a different experience and an opportunity to meet with the passionate business owners who create the products we enjoy.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the opening gala night as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way. All food apart from the canapes were purchased out of pocket.