Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Taste of Taste of Melbourne 2013

Taste of Melbourne ft. Huxtable and Rekorderlig 

Disclaimer: I did not pay for my meal, Huxtable hosted a free media dinner to promote their stall at Taste of Melbourne. The opinions reported below are based solely on my thoughts at the time of my visit.

Address: 131 Smith Street, Fitzroy, VIC

Phone: (03) 9419 5101

Open: Tuesday to Sunday, midday until late

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to one of my favourite restaurants, Huxtable, to experience ‘a taste of Taste’. Taste of Melbourne is a four-day food festival featuring Melbourne’s best restaurants and top chefs, as well as a pile of produce stores, all lined up on Pelican Lawn at Albert Park Lake. It kicks of next Thursday November 14. 

These days Huxtable is overshadowed by the ever-growing popularity of it’s burger joint across the road, Huxtaburger, of which another store is due to open any second now in Prahran, just up from The Smith and across the road from Hanoi Hannah. Prahran is Huxtaburger’s third shop, following on from Collingwood and the CBD. Plans are also underway for a fourth. 

had spent the day in Coburg sampling and shooting the new menu for Oriental Teahouse. We started eating at 10am and didn't finish until approximately 5.30pm. By then I had to drive straight to Huxtable, stomach crying out for mercy. I was worried that for the first time in my life, my appetite would fail me. To my astonishment I managed to eat almost everything. I put it down to the consistently fantastic food at Huxtable. 

Each dish was matched with Rekorderlig cider, which is one of the main Taste of Melbourne sponsors. By the end of the dinner we counted 42 glasses between seven people. I was driving, but I didn’t mind – I've never been a fan of the drink. The orange and ginger Rekorderlig is the only exception. Best enjoyed during summer on a rooftop in the sun overlooking our wonderful city. 

Huxtable Chef and Owner Daniel Wilson was kind enough to sit down with us while we ate, despite the busy restaurant bustling around him. For once, the conversation was less about food and more about the colourful characters one encounters on Smith Street, from your friendly neighbourhood smackie to that homeless guy you thought seemed like a nice enough bloke but has you fooled. Unfortunately I can’t share the other stories in case my blog is shut down, but it's probably nothing locals don't see every day and mutter to themselves, “only in Fitzroy”. 

Dinner featured favourites from the restaurant, as well as dishes that Huxtable will be offering at Taste of Melbourne. We started with jalapeno cheddar croquettes, golden-fried spheres with and an elasticy cheese filling, toned down with spice from the spice. 

Next came the famous XO buns with spanner crab and Thai basil mayo. Each mouthful was a pleasure and Dan’s partiality for fresh produce and attention to detail was as clear as legitimate apple cider. As for the mango and raspberry Rekorderlig, well, let's just say I spent a whole lot less on lolly water that tasted exactly the same during my teenage drinking days. 

The Kataifi-wrapped lamb puttanesca was a highlight. The wispy, crunchy pastry hairs were wrapped around succulent lamb, rich with spices and packed into a delectable cigar. 

Mini Huxtaburgers followed: one beef, one Wallaby, and both living up to their reputation. The wallaby was only mildly gamier than the beef due to the mix of wallaby and wagyu meat. I have no doubt the Huxtaburgers will sell like hotcakes at Taste of Melbourne – although it’s about time we changed the expression to “sell like Huxtaburgers” – especially with the douche burger special making an appearance (wagyu with foie gras). 

As we finished our burgers, the kitchen delivered some Korean barbecue pork ribs, tender and sticky and served with creamy coleslaw and punchy pickles to cut through the fattiness. Fingers were licked, bones were sucked and serviettes were massacred. How I managed to get this far after a day of non-stop eating was beyond me. You should all be extremely impressed. 

The final dish was a welcomed refresher: Mount Zero grain and broccoli salad with quinoa, chickpeas and sweet bursts of cranberry. 

I would highly recommend eating at Huxtable on any given day, but the problem with Melbourne is that there are so many restaurants to try and so little time to try them all. Taste of Melbourne is a great solution to this problem, featuring dining hotspots such as Tonka, B’stilla, St. Crispin, MoVida, Chin Chin, Albert Street Food and Wine, Burch & Purchese, and many more. I attended last year and made comment about paying for the privilege of seeing so many incredible chefs in one spot. That being said, if you're willing to pay for entry, and then for food and drink, you'll leave with a full belly, some fantastic culinary knowledge and a big smile. Fingers crossed the weather holds up; it makes a huge difference on the day. 

Huxtable on Urbanspoon

Taste of Melbourne details: 

Pelican Lawn at Albert Park Lake (off Aughtie Drive) 

Thursday 14 November: 5.30-9.30pm 
Friday 15 November: 12-4pm & 5.30-10pm 
Saturday 16 November: 12-4pm & 5.30-10pm 
Sunday 17 November: 12-5pm