The Royal Exhibition Building is imposing a beautiful to look at. The crazy taxi driver told us it was once the Parliament building and that's not hard to believe.
As we approached the entrance we could see hordes of people and a text conversation with Ling previously had informed us that there was a huge queue. This had dampened my enthusiasm as I hate crowds. It was also a warm evening so I thought it would be uncomfortable inside the hall.
Indeed there was a queue and it went right round the the central fountain bit but it moved very quickly and there was no pushing or shoving. Once inside the hall, it wasn't overcrowded so all good so far.
Basically the Taste of Melbourne exhibition is very much like the Good Food Show in UK except smaller. There are producers exhibiting wares and samples as well as food stalls representing top restaurants and you can buy signature dishes from them. The good thing about Taste of Melbourne though is that although it's popular it's a lot easier to navigate through the crowds as there just aren't as many people as is the case with the Good Food Show.
We visited the Nespresso stand several times and Ling had about three cups of strong coffee from there although she did spill one.
Barley verdict - pretty good and nice balance of skin and not too much grease. Not enough BBQ sauce on our serve though. Infinitely better than the chicken goujons I've had at the MCG when watching some sporting event although appearances are similar.
Also from St Katherine's - Turkish lamb dumplings, garlic yoghurt, sumac, dried fruit from St Katherine's.
Barley verdict - no dried fruit which isn't necessarily a bad thing as I don't like it. Very rich and no need for a bigger portion. Tang of the yoghurt is a nice accompaniment to the sumac and rich lamb. The dumpling skin is quite thick and pasta like which adds the the richness and heaviness of the dish.
This is from The European and is the Western Plains pork parcels. This was a recommendation from one of the wine exhibitors so we decided to try it. Crispy and thin pastry on the outside and a good tasty piece of pork with some refreshing apple and spring onion flavours. A good choice.
Steve wanted to try this one from The Millswyn - 10 hr braised beef cheeks with beetroot, spinach & field mushrooms. This was a good sized portion although Ling's serve was smaller. The earthy beetroot and spinach were a good contrast to the tender beef. No fancy seasoning here just good produce that tastes of what it's meant to taste of.
Mozzarella tasting plate and we weren't informed what was on it but it all tasted good. 4 big chunks of creamy mozzarella ranging from a butter like spreadable consistency to the chewy, rubbery end of the spectrum. I think I'd have liked the smoked mozzarella / scamorza to be warm and melted though. That would have been sublime.
We also tried the lamb fom Sarti restaurante which was delicious and was so tasty I forgot to take a picture! We left with three jars of Nando's sauces - the exhibition is about all levels of dining form the every day to the high end! It was a fun way to spend a Saturday evening but I think once you've done it, it doesn't need to be an experience that has to be repeated.