It's that time of the year again when there are so many food festivals to check out that your tummy will explode. I know mine is right now. At this time of the year there will be NSW Food and Wine Festival, the newly launched ArgyleXchange Festival, Bars March, Taste of Sydney and March into Merivale. Can you feel your stomach going mad right now? This is of course about the March into Merivale launch which was the start of countless special deals and food events happening from 12 February to 11th April 2014.
The weather wasn't as great especially later in the evening but that didn't damper our spirits. There was so much good food and drinks to enjoy. As always, the festival was incredibly packed that it was hard to move around and the queues for some of the stands can be notoriously long and insane. Due to the lack of seating areas, you also had to stand up eating, which can be messy.
This year's theme is 'Born to Cook' featuring kiddie versions of Merivale chefs including the likes of Dan Hong, Jeremy Strode and Peter Doyle in the festival booklet (sooooo cute!!!). This theme is inspired by personal childhood foodie memories recounted by the Merivale chefs, which you can read about in the booklet.
At the launch night if you need to top up your tokens card, you pay $35 for 8 tokens or $15 for 3 tokens. One of the changes that I really loved at this year's launch was that most dishes this year only costed 1 token. There were a few larger dishes that were 2 tokens but most of them decreased to 1 token at the later hours of the night so keep an eye out for that next year.
This year, March into Merivale Launch Night has also seemed to incorporate Saturday night's Pacha club night into their live entertainment with dancers entertaining the crowd in the main room. There were also DJs and street musicians entertaining diners across the venue.
Of course there were heaps of delicious food to same throughout the evening. Most of them were really packed so it was a struggle taking photos in that crowd. Unfortunately many of the photos didn't turn out too well.
Ash Street Cellar
Chicken and beef empanada
The Beresford Hotel
Half Shell Scallops, Caper and Horseradish, Lemon Butter
Preparing the seared tuna
Seared Tuna, Brown Rice, Vegetable Salad
Gnocchi, Roast Lamb Shoulder Ragu, Parsley and Parmesan
House smoked Salmon, Melba Toast and Pepe Saya Creme Fraiche
Black Bean Queso Fresco and Huilacoche Quesadilla
Yellow Box Honey Mousse, Fresh Figs, Orange Caramel and Honeycomb
Herb-crusted Lamb Shoulder, Slow Cooked Tomato and Caramelised Onion - FAVE
The Fish Shop
Poached Salmon, Beetroot, Cos and Boiled Egg Salad
Fish n Chips
Margherita Pizza (San Marzano Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil)
Merivale Events and Desserts
8-Hour Smoked Pastrami
Scallops with Ginger and Shallot Dressing
Duck Spring Roll
Scallop and Prawn Shu Mai Dumpling
Salt and Pepper Lamb Cutlet
Mini Snow Crab Tostada with Green Papaya, Guacamole and Chilli and Lime Dressing - FAVE
Chicken and Avocado Salad, Pickled Cucumber, Watercress, Cashews and Chilli Oil
Sticky Lamb Rib, Grilled Tomato and Fennel Salad
Pumpkin, Pea and Parmesan Arancini with Aioli
Bert's Mini Beef Pie with House-made BBQ Sauce - FAVE
I didn't end up taking any pics of the food at the Papi Chulo stand but this newest Merivale restaurant from Manly delivered some delicious American-style food such as pulled pork shoulder and slaw roll and smoked hot wings.
Whole Yellow Fin Tuna - 3 Ways: Sashimi, Sushi Roll and Nigiri, Ceviche
Pork Belly Rolls
One of the most notoriously packed stands was Lorraine's Patisserie because seriously who doesn't love desserts? And yes they really were worth the wait and the messy queues.
Macademia and Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart - FAVE
Lime and Strawberry with White Chocolate Ice Cream (can't remember the actual name but CC really loved this!) - FAVE
With more than 60 events happening for March into Merivale 2014, you better book fast because they do sell out very quickly. Check out the $33 meal deals happening in the duration of the festival at all of their venues including the 3-star Est.
Here's some of my top picks for this year (in random order):
1. Just Desserts presented by Foxtel's Lifestyle Food - featuring dessert stations from Mr Wong, Ms G's, est and Lorraine's Patisserie. If you saw the crazy queues at Lorraine's Patisserie stand or you have tried the desserts at the other restaurants, you know how epic this will be.
2. European Laneway - twilight street festival held on Ash Street laneway. Similar to the launch event where you receive tokens to sample various dishes.
3. Things on Sticks - kid-friendly event for food on sticks. Also check out the menu for a Merivale favourite ;)
4. Hands on activities including the Taco Challenge (if you are up for a food eating competition), Mixology 101 (cocktail masterclass) and Mozza-making (learn how to make burrata and mozzarella)!
5. Generation Next with Gourmet Traveller - trying out the dishes made by upcoming chefs from across Australia. $10 per ticket goes to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.
6. Where There's Smoke - if you want to try Papi Chulo but Manly is a trek for you and you love your meat. In partnership with Palings, Papi Chulo is heading across the bridge to let you sample their renowned meat dishes.
7. Spanish Inquisition - exploring regional Spanish cuisine with Peter Doyle of Est
8. Fiesta El Loco - a fiesta event consisting of Mexican food, markets, live music, tequila and margaritas.
You better hurry before it ends on 11 April 2014. Happy wining and dining everyone!
Disclaimer: The Random Foodie attended March into Merivale 2014 as a guest of Merivale. Opinions remain personal.
For more info on March into Merivale events and special deals, go to http://merivale.com.au/