On Thursday night I was lucky enough to be invited along to the opening night of Taste of Melbourne 2012.
Risking Melbourne weather, Taste went ‘al fresco’ this year in Pelican Park, Albert Park. With an umbrella and sunglasses handy, in true Melbourne style I ventured south side. The new outdoor location while risky was very beautiful.
We started the evening with a trip to the Rekorderlig Cider bar where we tasted their new flavour, launching at Taste itself.
The new Orange and Ginger flavour is pretty damn good. It reminded me of lemon lime and bitters and will be a perfect summer drink.
Movida was our next stop where Frank himself gave us a taste of their Pinchitos Morunos, Chargrilled Moorish Lamb skewers, which were served with a baby roll on top.
Aside from the difficulty in eating a dish like this on the move (with an SLR over the shoulder) it was great. Moist, tender char grilled lamb with a floury roll to go with it.
Our next stop was Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar. Here we started with their regal king salmon ceviche, smoked paprika yoghurt and finger limes. This was a nice dish with a great balance of textures and flavours.
We finished our visit to Mr Hive with their summer berry Eton mess. Again the balance of flavours and textures was the stand out for me. The beautiful meringues worked nicely with the fruit and a sweet sauce, lovely and light.
There were three dishes on offer at our next stop Livingroom. The lovely staff were serving up a starter of beetroot cured salmon, vanilla and lime pickled cucumber and horseradish cream. The horseradish cream was a nice addition to this one.
While I managed to get a photo of the grilled marinated chicken Tyska with pickled chilli and yoghurt dressing I have no idea where I was when the eating of it happened.
What I do remember however was the simply divine dessert. Warm chocolate mousse with toasted marshmallows and caramel popcorn. This one was absolutely stunning. Warm, rich chocolate with sneaky marshmallows at the bottom of the cup. The caramel popcorn added nice crunch and saltiness. I won’t be forgetting this one in a hurry.
We spent some time learning how to de-bone a chicken with Nick Creswick from Libertine before heading off to make some Whiskey Sours with the crazy guys over at Sensology – The Art of Cocktail Making.
What really topped off the night for me were the two delicious tarts that were on offer from Albert Street Food & Wine. The chocolate was rich and packed all the chocolate one needs from a dessert.
But Pip’s Meyer lemon tart was the stand out. It was tart and sweet and all things good. As a serious dessert fiend the lemon tart was my favourite dish of the evening. I have not ruled out going back just to get my hands on more.
While I got no where near tasting everything, the judges did, so a big congratulations to the winners of the ‘Best in Taste’ awards. Albert Street Food & Wine took out the best dish with their “Minted Mermaid” – pea and mint soup with smoked salmon and apple. Second place went to Mamasita with their “Cerdo en nogad” – Mulato rubbed pork filled with walnut sauce, pomegranate and tequila soused raisin. Third place went to The Botanical for their Yuzu cloud, coconut pearl and guava sorbet and The Aylesbury took out best front of house.
It was a great night all round and was lovely to see so many of Melbourne’s finest on show. It truly demonstrated the quality that is in the Melbourne dining scene. It has only lengthened my list of must-visit restaurants.
A big thank you to the lovely team at Hot House Media for showing us around.