Centennial Park is one of the gems of Sydney — never more so than when it plays host to Taste of Sydney. The festival — with outposts as far-flung as Helsinki and Abu Dhabi — pops up periodically around the world.
The key point: it brings together local restaurants and producers, so event-goers can get a sample of local and regional cuisine all in one spot.
I’d gone several times in Melbourne, and, as a recent Sydney transplant, was excited to check out what makes Taste of Sydney different. Billed as ‘for friends who feast’, Taste admirably brings in groups of friends, lovers, and families. Of course, you can fly solo, but it’s so much more fun with others. My +1 and I were able to split several dishes between us, making the culinary experience that much better.
Upon entry, it’s an absolute must that you pick up a mini guide with a map. How else will you know what is where? At this year’s Taste of Sydney, vendors and bars were set up in the middle, with some of the larger restaurants ringing the edge of the oval space. We started off with a visit to Nel for a little bit of snapper ceviche and tomato gazpacho. (Clocking in at $18, we quickly realised that the $50 we put on our Taste card wouldn’t go far.)
Off to Porteno, one of our must-dos in Sydney, we quickly turned one of their tables into a perch from which to try their grilled cheese with almond romesco, plus a steamed corn and cheese tamale. I’m normally not a huge tamale fan, but there were no corn husks in sight in this deconstructed version, which I found very tasty indeed. Add to that an ‘Icon Dish’ (one of the featured dishes at each restaurant) that my +1 brought back from Mercado: spit-roasted Berkshire pork belly, with apple, herbs and quince aioli. A feast indeed!
We’d gotten there late in the day, so weren’t able to fully sample all of the wares on offer. The Orange Wine Region had a cute little countrified setup with straw bales, showcasing their wines and the upcoming F.O.O.D. Week festival. Luckily, we had just enough time to try out one of the cocktails at East Indian Trade Co.
Taste isn’t cheap — for two people, our bill came to $80, without drinks — but it’s a heckuva lot of fun. And if you plan it right and go for an entire session, you can add in free samples and tastings. Being able to visit some of Sydney’s top restaurants, all in one fun setting, is a reason Taste of Sydney has such a loyal following. I’ll definitely be back next year.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa loves exploring Sydney’s culinary world.