SAVOUR 2015: A Wrap Up | What to Eat at this Gourmet Food Festival

Perhaps I had come with too much expectations. Having attended the Taste of Sydney event last year (read about my experiences here), I had arrived with a benchmark of experiences to live up to. I'm not saying that SAVOUR 2015 had failed my hyped up intentions. Just that it could have been so much more, with better logistics (more seating area) at hand and definitely more amicable service staff around. Jovial attitudes, that's what lacking!

The SAVOUR food festival is an annual event that aims to bring together the palates of gourmands on a relentless pursuit for the best food and drink experiences. Bolstered by the powerhouse of renowned experts and wizards of the culinary field, the 2015 line-up features a mind boggling 50 dishes including some from highly acclaimed Michelin starred chefs.

Here's a quick overview of what I sunk my teeth into.

A mandatory stop over would have to be the Garagistes booth. With the quirky talents of Chef Luke Burgess behind the stoves, one can be sure feast well. To be honest, my top 3 favourite dishes of the night hail from this humble joint. It's a pity to hear that the Tasmanian restaurant, whose strong stance in promoting only locally sourced produce, has now closed its doors. 

Invited to be participant of the festival after a surprise dinner visit by Chef Andre Chiang, it was fortunate that I was able to get a last glimpse of the establishment in action. The Lightly Steamed Sea Bass, Furikake, Fragrant Fish Head Sauce was mesmerising in flavor as much as was a work of art on the stagnant paper plates. The light use of seasoning highlighting the plump flesh of the sea bass which melted with ease at the tip of the tongue. The furikake adding a light touch of salty umami to the equation. The other savoury offering was a winner as well, Wagyu Beef Tongue, Fermented Jerusalam Artichokes, Kunzea Glaze ($18). I adored the use of native Australian ingredients in this dish and relinquished in the fact that my swooning reaction to the dish defiled every pre-notion I had about its predominant ingredients... not a fan of beef tongue, and I hate artichokes... but this dish, did me in. I surrender. 

Feeling a little thirsty? Head up to the Wine and Sake Hall on the second level. Grab a glass ($12 for unlimited tastings) and sweep the halls to get a taste of over 90 wine labels spanning the globe from Germany to Chile to New Zealand. Just be wary that glasses once purchased wont be allowed to leave the room, so make sure to fill the tummy first before taking the alcoholic route. Or, you could rock your wine pairing skills with little morsels of delight from My Little Spanish Place located in the same hall!

Word of advice, make sure to grab a sip of the drool worthy Chateaueuf du Pape from Pierre Henri Morel. Medium bodied with centered with a stone fruit core of cherries and dark plum, the pure, unadorned finish lets a mineral edge hang. Definitely one of the most delicious finds!

Back to solid nosh, a quick stop over at Spathe Public House's booth sees Chef Claudio Sandri handing over a plate of Lewis's Smoked Baby BBQ Pork Ribs to me. From my previous visit to Spathe Public House, it had come to my knowledge that Chef Michael Lewis had taken to using his smoker fueled with apple wood chips to do his own in-house smoked salmon. This time, he presents his version of the BBQ pork ribs boosted with a smoky sweet edge. I could have use a burnt crust of sorts, but with the flesh yielding with ease to the fork, I had no complaints.

Falling short of expectations were the Trio of Molecular Buns ($15) from Bo Innovation. Filled with Charsiew, Lotus and Xiao Long Bao, I felt the loud thud of expectations crashing as we bit into the liquefied packages. Did someone say Lotus? Tasted more like someone stirred up a slurry of sugared water instead. Damm.

To lift the crushed spirit, we headed over to Stellar @ 1 Altitude for some burger therapy. The Japanese Hida Wagyu Burger ($18) worked its magic in tending to some sore wounds with its combination of sweet savoury tomato jam, soft brioche bread, caramelised onions with a juicy medium rare patty. A good burger. My advice would be to get the Stellar Meat Platter ($34) while you're at it, the heady party of kobe ribeye, short ribs and pork crackles getting many stamps of approvals from the meat-lovers.

For desserts, make a dash for the Sea Lettuce Cream, Frozen Sable, Jackfruit & Sencha Tea at Garagistes. A salty sweet combination that combines the likes of jackfruit (a cross between rock melon and peaches, as told my Chef Luke himself at the demonstration held at the Celebrity Chef Auditorium later), with the unlikely combination of sea lettuce cream that thickens naturally through the alginate contents of the seaweed. This soft cream is then dunked into -195 degrees Celsius liquid nitrogen to "cook'' before a quick trip to a 50 degrees Celsius concoction of white chocolate and cocoa butter for a crisp crust. The generous shavings of beurre noisette suffused pate sable over the top creating a strange amalgamation of textures and flavors. Utterly intriguing.

Our last moments at the fair were spent in  whirl wind of gorging. The Beef Short Ribs from OSIA, our night cap for savouries. Sous vide to a seductively tender state, the earthiness of the chestnut cepes helped to accentuate the robustness of the meat while the acidity of the compressed apples refresh the palate with every single weighty nibble. 

If you're looking for something citrusy to enliven the jaded taste buds, look no further than the Lemon Posset from Midsummer House, UK (2 Michelin Stars). I was a tad put off by the overuse of liquid nitrogen, the toughened nodules of frozen berries in stark contrast to the heavenly smooth lemon pudding, a squirt of blueberry foam helping to bind the airy mixture. A work in progress for sure.

Last but not least, Park Bench Deli's most highly instagrammable Cornflake-crusted Fried Tripe Stacked Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich to go for the sick boy I'm harbouring at home. Despite having it in its cold state, the wildly comforting combination of peanut butter and jam coupled with the likes of golden cornflakes is magic in the mouth. Definitely one to have, especially with a scoop of coconut ice cream on the side.

On a whole, SAVOUR 2015 was a major success in my books. Despite the aggressive price tags (admission fees and food prices included), the wide range of dishes definitely abets the entire gourmet experience. I would have preferred to see a larger community of overseas contenders in the lineup... but baby steps! Best part of the entire experience is the new paperless payment system, only simple top-ups of the SAVOUR card at the top-up stations required. Visit for more details!

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