A taste of ‘Taste’ at Longrain

Eat, Restaurants, Sydney / 13 March 2014

You’ve gotta love it when someone else throws a party on your birthday. No cooking, no cleaning and they organise the guest list. All you have to do is show-up and enjoy. For the sixth year now, the Taste of Sydney Festival has been so kind as to do this for me (well, maybe not especially for me but the timing works). I could not think of a better way to enjoy becoming another year older than sampling a delicious range of dishes and drinks in the surrounds of Centennial Park. Notching my age up by one is most fitting with a glass of red in hand and an adventurous cut of meat, cooked to perfection by Colin Fassnidge. And I can’t say no to one of Warren Turnbull’s famous Chur Burgers!
My birthday came early this year when I was invited by Longrain to not only taste the dishes that they’ll be serving at Taste of Sydney, but also getting to be involved with making the accompanying cocktails. This is in spirit of, Sensology ‘The Art of Cocktail Making’ experience that is on offer at the festival.

Bombay Sapphire, Mint and Fresh Lime and Bacardi Oak heart

First-up was concocting a Southside (Bombay Sapphire, mint and fresh lime)… but not without having a shot of Bacardi Oakheart before to really get us started! The cocktail making station was initially a little intimidating, but after some muddling, shaking, straining and love-tapping (of the mint that is) I was quite proud of the result. Not to boast but it tasted as good as it looked! Especially when paired with a Crispy King Prawn in green chilli and lime. The shells of the giant-sized prawn were capable of being eaten too, making it the perfect snacking item and very suitable for festival conditions.
My Cocktail- Bombay Sapphire, mint and fresh lime

With the basic cocktail making skills down-pat (i.e. keep it cold and shake the sh*t out of it!) we embarked upon making a Ping Pong (lemon & lychee infused vodka, passionfruit, lychees and fresh lime juice). The natural sweetness of the lychees meant that we did not have to add any sugar – keeping the flavours fresh and fruity. This was paired with Cape Grim Beef Jerky in lettuce cups, which had a surprising kick to it. Again, this is great “Taste” food as it is san-choy-bow style with minimal mess. If you are going on a date to Taste of Sydney, I would highly recommend this one for gourmet yet graceful eating.
Ping Pong – Lemon & Lychee Infused Vodka, Passionfruit, Lychees and Fresh Lime Juice

Cape Grim Beef Jerky in a Lettuce Cup

Finally, Longrain’s selected Icon Dish from Taste was served – Dry Red Curry with Cloudy Bay Clams, wild ginger, holy basil and pork crackle along with some steamed rice and Chinese broccoli. An Icon dish is one that enables the participating restaurants to really show their creative flair. They are slightly bigger portions than the other festival dishes and are also slightly more expensive than the standard cost (think at the upper end of the $6 – $12 per serve price range), but if Longrain’s clams are anything to go by, they are most definitely worth it. This was my dish of the night – the shelled clams were combined with baby eggplants in a think curry, the richness of which came from the pork crackle being cooked down into it. In both texture and flavour this was an exciting dish and a great way to end what was a special prelude to my birthday. It’s gonna be a good weekend!
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Dry Red Curry, Cloudy Bay Clams, Wild Ginger, Holy Basil and Pork Crackle

The Taste of Sydney Festival starts at 5.30pm tonight, Thursday 13 March and goes until 5pm on Sunday 16 March.
For a list of participating restaurants, masterclass timings and to purchase tickets, visit the website here: http://www.tasteofsydney.com.au/