Happy Friday! The weekend weather is looking like it will hold up for Taste of Melbourne‘s new outdoor setting by the banks of Albert Park lake.

Thanks to Taste of Melbourne I attended the first night of festivities and here are some of my highlights to act as a guide for your visit…

For a savoury start I highly recommend the fresh-off-the- chargrill tender Moorish lamb skewers from MoVida (mop up the juices with the provided bread), though I was also mighty tempted by the large pan of Fideua Mejillones (braised pasta with mussels and calamari) presided over by Frank Comorra himself.

Draw up a chair and learn tips and tricks from chefs at the free Dilmah Chef’s Skillery. Nick Creswick from Libertine showed us how to bone a chicken while we sipped on cups of hot tea and tried a taste of his chicken, pistachio and orange terrine with pickled apple salad.

You’ll get to take home a copy of the latest Australian Gourmet Traveller and some Dilmah tea samples.

The winner of Best Dish at Taste this year was Albert St Food & Wine‘s ‘Minted Mermaid’ – a pea and mint soup garnished with smoked trout and apple. It’s a very evocative of Spring, with smooth and crunchy textures combining into a refreshing starter. When you’re there make sure you don’t miss dessert queen Philippa Sibley’s meyer lemon tart. A deservedly famous classic dessert comprising a beautifully set sweet/tart citrus filling within a delicate buttery casing. It’s quite large so share between two.

Sadly my appetite didn’t extend to sampling the first runner up for Best Dish at Taste was from Mamasita – the Cerdo en Nogada (mulato rubbed pork fillet, walnut sauce, soused raisins) nor the second runner up was the Yuzu cloud, coconut peral and guava sorbet dessert from The Botanical.

If you’re a dessert fan I also recommend the fancy-pants Eton mess from Mr.Hive Kitchen & Bar AND the warm chocolate mousse from Livingroom Restaurant with some hidden marshmallow gems nestled in the bottom of the cup. Oh and grab a box of their mince pies as well, generously filled with sweet and lightly spiced fruit mince ($20).

Burch and Purchese are selling sweet treats from their sweet studio plus what they’re claiming to be the ‘best ice cream you’ve ever had’. Decide for yourself – certainly my Chocolate Hazelnut brownie was worth my 8 crowns (the currency used at the festival that you have to pre-purchase) and beat a supermarket Magnum hands down.

If you’re overwhelmed as to what else to eat at the festival, you can always stick to each restaurant’s ‘Icon dish’ – each chef’s signature dish.

Finally, some further tips:

  • the closest public transport stop is Wright St on the #96 light rail tram – you’ll still need to walk about 10 minutes to the gate;
  • the outdoor waterside setting means that it can get cold when the breeze is blowing so bring a warm layer and wear closed toed shoes. And wear flats or wedges, heels will sink into the grass!
  • there may be patchy showers throughout the weekend so be prepared with an umbrella or raincoat.

Happy eating and drinking!

Taste of Melbourne, Pelican Lawn at Albert Park Lake, Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 November 2012

Tickets start at $25.00 from Ticketek on 132 849 or visiting www.tasteofmelbourne.com.au