This giant pink Taste fork welcomed us to the middle of Centennial park, where we were able to park (for free!). We arrived at about 8pm and it was still very, very busy. Caitlin saw people holding Dilmah showbags the minute we got there and made it her mission of the night to get as many as she could.
We purchased some Crowns - the official 'currency' of the Taste of Sydney festival. You load up your Crown card (sort of like a gift card) with how much you want (1 crown = $1) and then go around buying whatever you like. Food and drinks were between 6 to 12 Crowns for basic things, less for some drinks and desserts and more for the 'Taste Icon Dishes'. Milo and I had 50 Crowns to spend, Caitlin and Ben worked out some obscure number, like 34 I think, Galvyn had two lots of 30 Crowns, and Zach had 30. If your card runs out, you can top it up at the Crown Bank, or from roaming Crown sellers in hot pink shirts.
We sampled lots of free things, which is something Caitlin and I used to do when we were very poor students in high school. We'd go to the village fair at St Ives Shops, to the Heritage and Homemade markets, basically wherever people would give out free samples of cheese, dip, chutney, jam, olive oil... And we would fill up on that and then share the smallest and cheapest lunch once we were already 3/4 full. <3 I loved those days.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the free things we tried at the festival. We also had coconut water and some strange muesli stuff, jam, juice, beer, biscuits, cookies, cake, banana bread, ice cream, frozen yoghurt, nuts, cheese...
Medley of baby tomato salad. This was actually delicious - speaking generally as a tomato hater - I went back for seconds. The balsamic vinaigrette was amazing, and the little balls of bocconcini definitely helped. And also the fact that you put them into tiny little bamboo boats... !
Chutney, salsa verde, dips, beetroot and pumpkin ravioli:
Onto the real food.
Ananas Bar & Brasserie
Coq au Vin - slow cooked chicken in red wine - 10 Crowns
I really wanted the Tonkatsu cups but they had run out :(
Sake Restaurant and Bar
$10 for Smoked Salmon Nigiri with Yuzu Truffle Dressing. Caitlin was upset, Galvyn thought it was worth it.
Four in Hand
Spit roast Suckling Pig with Coleslaw and Hot Sauce. 12 Crowns.Milo thought the Coleslaw was the best he's ever had.
Suckling pig on a spit.
Three Blue Ducks
Duck, Snow Pea Sprouts, Green Mango, Chili Jam. 12 Crowns. Amazing.
Sweetcorn with Jalapeno Salsa. 8 crowns. Worth it.
Destination Dining - Biota Dining
The best thing I ate all night.
Croquettes - Southern Craylish with Paleta and Biota Garden Onions. 10 Crowns. Worth 30.
Charred Local Spatchcock with Black Garlic Farro with Garden Sage and Bush Lemons. 12 Crowns. Deliciously crispy.
Frozen yoghurt is one thing I will always pretend I don't have a lactose intolerance for.
Cross section of a Salted Caramel Macaron. 4 crowns.
And yes, we did manage to find the Dilmah stand. Caitlin took multiple showbags, and the lady recognised her. But we did get a free 'High Tea'. Acai Berry with Pomegranete and Vanilla, Rose with French Vanilla, and Masala Chai Fiery Ceylon Spice.
In summation: free things are the best, I love croquettes, tea is fabulous.