As we ate our dinner outdoors last night, another couple sharing our table was celebrating.
"It's our fifth anniversary," she began, "so we thought we'd go to a restaurant.". "But then we said, let's come here," he finished for her.
Good call. Instead of eating at just one restaurant, by spending the evening at Taste of Sydney, they got to choose from 16 top Sydney eateries.
We tried three. My succulent suckling pig in a Sonoma sourdough panino came from Pilu at Freshwater's tent, Gordon's braised Cape Grim beef cheek and glazed onion pie (pronounced "delicious") from Bird, Cow Fish, and our Asian comfort food dessert of tapioca, lychees and jackfruit from Longrain.
This is Sydney's second Taste Festival, one of several held in major cities worldwide. Last year's one, also held in Centennial Park was a runaway success, and this one, which runs from March 11-14, seems set to do just as well, if not better.
Outdoors, in brilliant late afternoon sunshine (OK, there had been rain and wind beforehand, of course), it was a perfect autumn evening in the park, complete with the mingled aromas of so many cuisines. What an ideal spot for people to relax with a glass of wine and a plate of something wonderful.
This is so Sydney, we said.
Wanting to absorb it all, we did a quick circuit of the grounds: stands offering tastes from most wine regions in the country, regional produce – cheeses, saltbush lamb, fruit juice – several breweries, some sensational vodkas and limoncello, knives, cookware, books.
And then of course the various restaurants ranged around the perimeter, each with menus offering three choices, priced in Crowns (the standard Taste Festival currency) that gave more than enough opportunity to create the ultimate personal-choice mix-and-match degustation.
El Toro Loco with a huge paella pan simmering with mussel studded rice offered a touch of theatre, the Longrain bar was pumping, and I got to finally meet one of my favourite sourdough bakers – The Grumpy Baker, looking anything but.
Those who weren"t eating gravitated to the coffee carts or the bars, or maybe the Taste Kitchen to watch a cooking demonstration, the Wine Theatre for a tasting session, or the Chef"s Table tent to participate in a round-table a face-to-face discussion with some of Sydney's best chefs.
Thursday night, opening night, seemed to be for couples, the after work inner city place to be. My guess is the weekend will bring families, as it did last year.
Sydney is for everyone, and Taste of Sydney should suit anybody's taste.
- Taste of Sydney 2017
- Madcap Morpeth's tea cosies
- Brisbane's medieval event
- Taste of Melbourne
- Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2015
- The Coffee Experience
- Leura Harvest Festival
- Battle of the chefs Hunter Valley, NSW
- Anzac Day - Tweeting the past
- Dawn Services in Australia
- Cake Bake & Sweets Show
- Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2014
- Flavours of the South
- Rhinos lead in conservation
- World's best paella
- Skydive indoors, Australia
- Diner en Blanc
- Albany Anzac Centenary
- The best of Mex on screen
- World Environment Day, 2013
- Dine in paradise (Tasmania)
- Meat Free Week 2013
- Young Cherry Festival
- NSW Craft Beer Week
- Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach, Sydney
- Bees on the rooftop, Melbourne
- The Rocks Village Bizarre
- MasterChef comes LIVE
- Hunter Valley Food Fight
- Taste of Melbourne, 2012
- Queensland races
- Bake a cake and make a difference
- Margaret River Gourmet Escape
- Christmas in July
- Truffle Festival - ACT
- Paniyiri Greek Festival
- Granite Belt Elevated Taste
- Lyndey & Blair's Taste of Greece
- Kangaroo Island Sealink Seafood Feastival
- Emily of Emerald Hill
- January in Australia
- Sydney Chinese New Year events
- WA summer events
- NSW Sapphire Coast summer 2012
- NYE in Melbourne and Queensland
- NYE in Sydney
- Parramasala in Parramatta
- Flavours of Vietnam Food Festival
- Sydney Craft Beer Week
- Crave Sydney finale
- Malaysia Fest 2011
- Sydney Food Festival of the Year
- Oman Cultural Days
- Spring in the Granite Belt
- Italian Gusto comes to Sydney!
- Brisbane's South Bank reopens
- Fort Denison Australian Cheese & Wine Experience
- Lyndey and Blair's Taste of Greece
- Audi Noosa Food & Wine Festival 2011
- Taste of Sydney on again
- Chinchilla Melon Festival
- Cuisine Now
- Come on! TASTE TASMANIA
- MasterChef comes Alive
- WORLD FIRST: SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE TO HOST THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW
- National Cherry Festival
- Valentine's Day
- It's Still October
- Orange Wines and Dines
- Aussie Beer Festival 2010
- Flavours of Malaysia
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