Last night, I was fortunate enough to join the hundreds of Melbournians who descended on Albert Park’s Pelican Lawn for the opening night of the Taste Melbourne festival, to sample some of our city’s finest fare.
Platinum pass holders were treated to delicious canapés and flowing Paul Louis champagne as they partied to live music under sparkling champagnes in the VIP Tipi area, but the real action was happening outside the tent where more than 100 vendors were on display to show off why Melbourne regards itself as the foodie capital of Australia.

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All of my favourites were there – Mamasita, Pope Joan and Lucy Liu to name a few, and of course the culinary delights of Burch & Purchese are always enough to make this sweet-tooth salivate, but I decided to check out a few of the different stands that were in the mix to check out. Here’s my top 5:

1. I will always gravitate toward anybody that can give me a good piece of meat slapped between a brioche bun – and Huxtaburger is one of the best. Named after Cosby Show characters, their burgers are an absolute delight to the taste buds (but if you’re a food lover in Melbourne, you probably already know that by now)! In the interest of trying something new, I tried a ‘Sondra’ tofu burger, and although I was sceptical at first, I think it’s something even the most steadfast Carnivore could enjoy!

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2. If the hype surrounding American barbecue is to be believed, it is the biggest thing in food right now. The lines at Mamasita and Huxtaburger show that Mexican food and burgers are still having their moment, but it’s the slow cooked pulled pork and beautiful hanger steaks that the Yoder Smoker guys are cooking up that’s really got people talking. They’re passionate, they know their stuff and they can tell you all about the units they use, import & sell, right down to the welds. The equipment is impressive, but the amazing food it creates really speaks for itself!

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3. I had never heard of Dish’d before but their concept is one I love! They’re an online food store that give you the option of buying ingredients, ready to use or entire meals from their menu. It all comes frozen, but you wouldn’t know it from the taste. We got to sample the scallops, lamb back strap, vegetarian green curry and profiteroles from their Jacques Reymond menu and they were to die for.

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4. Gabriel from Chooh Lala is a genuine French Pralinier and a very charming one at that. Set up around the centre of the festival with his little nut cart, he is offering any number of delicious pralined nuts and they are to die for. I went a bit weak at the knees for the almonds he was offering as samples, and he’s based down at the Queen Victoria market, so easy to find if you become as addicted to these delights as I think you very easily could!

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5. There is a whole lot of alcohol on offer at Taste this year. The set up seems to be food around the outer edges and bars and alcohol through the centre. EDGE Brewing is a locally owned craft beer project from Adam Betts. His stand features a marble style bar in a converted shipping container and is partnered with his distributors, the Northdown Craft Beer Movement. There are a number of beers available from around the world, but the EDGE Cool Hops was a treat!

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