Taste of Melbourne is an annual festival showcasing dishes from Melbourne's best restaurants. This year's festival, (15-18 November), is being held at Albert Park for the first time and my sister and I went along to the Friday night session. Many thanks to The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua for our tickets :)
The currency for Taste is Crowns.
Each crown equals $1 and you can buy books of 10, 30 or 50 crowns. Dishes are tapas sized and vary in price with most between 6 and 12 crowns.
There are plenty of outlets offering wine tastings or you could buy a glass. My glass of Laurent - Perrier champagne at 14 crowns was the most expensive purchase of the night. But so worth it.
We shared a number of different dishes. Our choices were sometimes dictated by the long queues for some restaurants. If we couldn't see where the queue ended we moved on!
The Lamb burger with truffled mayonnaise from The Botanical (10 crowns). This was very nice. We particularly liked the mayonnaise. The bun could have been softer but overall a good start.
The crumbed pressed confit pork medallions with apple and fennel coleslaw also from The Botanical (8 crowns). Delicious! Succulent crumbed pork and crisp coleslaw. Possibly our favourite of the night.
We caught part of a cooking demonstration by Philippa Sibley (Albert St Food & Wine), hosted by Chris Badenoch (Josie Bones).
A number of chefs are demonstrating over the weekend.
Next we had the Tempura king prawns with smoked chilli mayonnaise from Taxi Dining (10 crowns). Yum. The prawns were delicious, the tempura crunchy and the chilli mayonnaise was quite spicy.
Chilli trio dumplings (duck, pork and chicken) from Mahjong (8 crowns). I love dumplings and these were delicious, however we couldn't really tell which was which! The fillings all had a sameness about them. But they were still lovely, fresh and spicy.
Christmas cake pops from Burch & Purchese. So cute and tempting but we resisted!
Prawn Burger with Crustacean Aioli from The Aylesbury (10 crowns). This was really tasty but a bit hard to eat. Again I would have liked a softer bun but that's just a personal preference.
Dorper Lamb ribs with pea and mint also from The Aylesbury (6 crowns). These were really good. The meat melted off the ribs.
And to finish, something sweet. Warm chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow and caramel popcorn from Livingroom (8 crowns). This was very rich but surprisingly light. I would have liked more of the caramel popcorn and the gooey marshmallow at the bottom of the cup was a nice surprise.
We also tried the Summer berry Eton mess from Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar (6 crowns). This was an interesting interpretation of this classic. A strawberry mousse with beautiful fresh berries and crunchy meringue pieces.
The festival continues on Saturday and Sunday. It can be an expensive event. If you are not lucky enough to secure a free entry ticket the fee is $30 at the door or $25 if you purchase in advance and then you have to purchase your crowns. But it is a lot of fun and it is a great opportunity to try different restaurants. I'll be back next year!