Perth has joined the ranks of Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, Rome and London with its own Taste festival. Touted as ‘the world’s greatest restaurant festival’, Taste of Perth featured ten of Perth’s top restaurants that each offered four dishes in tasting-size portions, allowing punters to put together their own progressive lunch or dinner.
How it works
The festival is broken into afternoon or evening sessions of four hours duration on Friday and Saturday, and a five-hour afternoon session on Sunday. Entry starts at $32 per person for general admission and from $115 for VIP tickets.
Get your wallet out. You need to do this as soon as you walk in to purchase the festival’s currency, Crowns: 1 crown = $1. Tasting dishes started at $8 and ranged upward to $30 – that was for El Público’s icon dish Fried Crickets and Artisan Mezcal. They sold out quickly before I got a chance to taste the chilli salted insect. Those that did said the crickets tasted “nice and crunchy” and “okay”. I’m guessing the novelty factor had something to do with this dish’s popularity. I’m not sure I would have paid 30 crowns ($30) for a tasting plate of insects.
Crowns are not refundable, making it better to load up less and top up during the session or you can find yourself racing around the in final minutes of the session (there are two four-hour sessions daily) to spend unused crowns. Forget buying a drink because there’s no alcohol tastings or sales in the last 30-minutes with the exception of take-away sealed bottles. Part-payment with crowns and the balance in cash is not permitted either.
Participate and learn
The best thing about Taste of Perth, besides the central location, city skyline backdrop and pretty event set up, are the information sessions and demonstrations. Book into these as soon as you arrive because the popular sessions fill up. Some sessions cost, others are free. From cocktail mixology to rum masterclass, special skills sessions, the art of oyster shucking, and cooking demonstrations, choosing what to attend is difficult.
The best free session I went to is Fun & Informal Wine Matching hosted by Gourmet Traveller’s Max Veenhuyzen and presented by Emma Farrelly. With over ten years experience in the restaurant industry, Emma consults to help restaurants build and maintain a balanced wine list. Her clients include Must Wine Bar, Beaufort Street Merchant, the Trustee and Divido. We tasted three matchings: riesling with chicken and pistachio terrine, chadonnay with proscuitto, melon and bacon jam, and pinot paired with spanish cheddar and quince paste. All were wonderful pairings.
The wine certainly brought out the flavours in the food, and the food highlighted the flavours of the wine.
The other session I went to is the Wine, A Natural Alternative at the Grape and Grain stand (entry 6 crowns). We tried five natural wines, that is wines made naturally without preservatives, filtration or fining. Just some sulphur is added after the wine is made to ensure it doesn’t spoil. Si Vintners winemaker owner, Iwo Jakimowicz, hosted an engaging session thanks to his passion and knowledge of natural wine making. I bought a bottle of his chadonnay ($50) that was one of the most amazing chardy’s I’ve tasted, syrupy like a sweet wine without it being overly sweet.
Eat your way around
- Bib & Tucker
- Bistro Guillaume
- Co-Op Dining
- El Público
- Greenhouse Perth
- Lalla Rookh
- No4 Blake Street
- Print Hall Dining Room
I love the event set up. It’s easy to navigate, there’s room to move, places to stand and eat or sit and relax, and enough exhibitors to keep one amused for four hours.
There’s music on the Virgin Stage in the centre of it all that creates a lovely atmosphere. Little details such as covered garbage bins made the site clean and appealing. Hay stacks, giant tee pees, rugs, a ping pong table, and the instagrammer’s favourite ‘taste’ letters near the entry all contribute positively.
Tasting the Honey Cake on my way out was a definite highlight. This traditional bohemian recipe is a winner. It’s a natural light fluffy honey cake with layers of caramel and ground walnuts.
The lowlights would be the waiting time for some of the dishes, the liquor licence that prohibits alcohol tastings and drink sales 30 minutes before the event closes, and the prices of some tasting plates.
Taste of Perth is foodie heaven, and cashed up foodies will have a brilliant day out. It is not a cheap day out, then again, it’s rare to have the chance to taste dishes from some of Perth’s premium restaurants in one place.
Tips for Taste of Perth
- Arrive on time, you only have four hours (3.5 hours to order drinks)
- Put a reasonable amount on your crown card and top up if needed – there’s no refunds and plenty of crown stations if you need more
- As soon as you arrive, book into the demonstrations / lessons you want to attend
- Organise transport to and from. Closest taxi ranks are outside Hyatt Hotel or Pan Pacific Hotel