I was lucky enough to attend the bloggers tour of the opening night of Taste of Melbourne 2011 last night and had a ball! It was a huge night, jam packed with almost more foodie excitement that one can handle in one go…I will do my best to keep it concise.
Behind the scenes at Sarti
Our first stop was a visit to Sarti where we were taken behind the scenes into their kitchen to meet the chefs. Here we saw the prepping in full swing for a full night of service. They were platting up their ‘Bresaola di rombo’ celery, beetroot and dried mandarin. Fabian (wearing the hat), one of the chefs insisted we tried the freeze dried mandarin, and his description of “Cheese and bacon ball texture” with a sweet edge was just spot on!
I asked Fabian how they choose dishes for events like Taste of Melbourne, and for them it was all about choosing something visually pleasing, that they could put together without too much stress yet still “send out with love”.
Rekorderling Cider Bar
Our next stop… Cider!!
We were lucky enough to sample their entire range including the new Apple and Blackcurrant flavour. This new addition was sweet, yet had a refreshing dry after taste, almost like soda water. It was clean and delicious. The apple and pear flavours with their subtly and sweetness were still my favourites.
A trip to Italy with San Pellegrino café Society and + 39 Pizzeria
As we made our way upstairs we entered what looked like a café on the streets of Italy. A large old counter housed a pizza oven and chefs at work. There were tables and chairs, chalkboards explaining the menus, wooden crates decorating the walls and more hospitality that you can imagine. It was exactly how the art director explained it to us “A 40’s or 50’s Italian Pizzeria”! Photos from their café society photo competition offered to final year RMIT students also decorated the venue, showing San Pellegrino in café settings from numerous artistic perspectives.
After sipping on our San Pellegrino we were treated to pizza’s from + 39 Pizzeria, winners of Best Pizza in Melbourne two years running! Having to know their secret I asked Remo Micolini (second from the left) just what sets them apart. He told me it’s all in the dough. The key to the perfect dough? Simplicity he tells me. Keep the ingredients to a minimum and give it the perfect time to rise and spin and you will have perfect dough.
As I bit into the Margherita I have to say I was blown away. Simplicity and perfection is exactly what I got! The base was light and crispy and straight from the oven and topped with beautiful cheese, tomato and a few simply basil leaves. Heaven. They deserve the title of Best Pizza in Melbourne in my books.
I was also told that we are to expect a new and exciting venture from the team at +39 Pizzeria very soon. All I know is that it will be called Non Solo Pasta! I can’t wait.
Mojito’s with the team at Sensology
Now it was cocktail time!!
We spent 15 minutes with the boys from Sensology learning step-by-step how to make the perfect Mojito every time. From slicing the limes to measuring the sugar to only muddling 5-6 times…they had a lot of secrets to share!
The final product? Delicious! They were also kind enough to have us all walk away with our own cocktail making kits…cocktail night anyone?
The wonderful Jacques Reymond
This man needs no introduction! Receiving three chef hats from The Age Good Food Guide for many years, his restaurant has become a Melbourne Institution. We had the pleasure to meet Jacques and get to know the man behind the success. When I asked Jacques what he thought it was that sets him apart and keeps him at the top after all these years he said it comes down to passion and loving what you do…”I love to do it” he told me. He also has a great team and family behind him. He also told me that even though he works in the restaurant every day it is open he still enjoys cooking for his family on his one day off.
Jacques cooked two beautiful dishes for the demonstrations. These gorgeous mussels were one of them.
Last Stop…Jindi Cheese
The last stop of the tour was a Masterclass with Jindi Cheese. We were lucky enough to sample their ORT Camembert, the Robin Hood Gold, the Jacksons Track, the Triple Cream White and their Sapphire Blue.
Personally I would highly recommend the Jacksons Track, which was a very soft white creamy cheese that you almost needed a spoon to serve, and their Sapphire Blue which was salty and creamy and not too strong.
Let loose in Taste Of Melbourne
From here we were released into the chaos that was opening night of Taste of Melbourne 2011. There were more people there that I would have imagined, literally having to squeeze through crowds to make your way around.
Cocktails from Stokehouse
I was sure to sample the Espresso Martini II from the Stokehouse bar. It was Grand Marnier and White Crème de Cacao topped with hazelnut praline “for a little crunch”. Yum…
Dumplings from St Kahterine’s
I also made my way to St Katherine’s to taste the Turkish Lamb Dumplings, garlic yoghurt, sumac and dried fruit. These were fun and delicious. Tiny steamed dumplings were packed with beautiful lamb and then sprinkled with herbs and sumac and topped with yogurt. They were beautiful.
On the hunt for something sweet we walked past the Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum stand and I saw tasting and became very curious. Richard, the bartending proceeded to take us on a tasting of three of their rums. The youngest to be accompanied by dried peach and the oldest dark orange chocolate. Not a huge Rum drinker, I didn’t quite ‘enjoy’ the drinks themselves, but I could most certainly see the differences and it was a very fun experience.
We finally found our sweet fix! The people from Shocolate kindly gave us a tasting of their praline balls, which are literally the size of golf balls! They were divine! Creamy and rich and crunchy.
After buying a number of products we were treated to a taste of their Lemon Grass Macaron. I was blown away. The outside was so soft it melted in your mouth, but still retained that subtle crisp exterior while the inside was lemony and creamy. I bought some Macarons to take home.
All in all it was an amazing night…too much to see in such a limited time, so I recommend going early and taking allllllll the time you can!
For more information on some of the products listed:
San Pellegrino: www.sanpellegrino.com/
+ 39 Pizzeria: plus39.com.au/
Jacques Reymond: www.jacquesreymond.com.au/
Jindi Cheese: www.jindi.com.au/
St Katherine’s: http://www.stkatherines.com.au/
Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum: http://www.appletonestate.com/