It would be an easy mistake to make to assume that The Taste is the be all and end all of Tasmanian food and wine festivals.
Far from it!
It would also be easy to proclaim Launceston’s Festivalé as The Taste of the north. Again, you’d be wrong. While the premise is similar, it’s in the detail where the important differences emerge.
Where The Taste is run by the Hobart City Council, Festivalé has a much greater community focus, with almost all activities planned and overseen by volunteers. Where The Taste is free (for now anyway), Festivalé has an entry fee (~$20pp per day, or $45 for a 3-day pass). And where The Taste runs for a full week, Festivalé spans only two and a half days.
Yes, The Taste may be bigger, but after having just returned from Festivalé I’m comfortable in declaring that it is far better. I feel a little bit bad for even trying to compare the two, because both are doing a fantastic job of promoting quality Tasmanian produce. However comparisons are not only inevitable, but also immensely useful to families and tourists in making a decision as to where they should spend their valuable time together.
Again, it was the little things that made all the difference for us.
Ample seating, of both the grassed and tabled types; natural shade across the whole venue provided by the broad boughs and green leaves of City Park’s old elm trees; and most importantly of all, a cross section of the community in attendance that weren’t there to simply get pissed and run amok (decent entry fees tend to have that effect)!!
In addition to general admission, Festivalé also offer a number of wine ‘Master Classes’ ($20pp) and cooking demonstrations. We signed ourselves up for two of the Master Classes, with the first one on Saturday run by Dr. Andrew Pirie (a legend in the Australian wine industry) and focusing on sparkling wines.
Rather than get too caught up in the words, here are some images from the first of our two days at Festivalé…
Dish No. 1 was actually a chicken empanada from Tio Rico, but it was so wet I didn’t get the camera out! While it tasted good, and actually picked up an award for Best Taste Plate at Festivalé, I was underwhelmed. In our travels through Argentina we tasted many empanadas and fell deeply in love with the fluffy baked casing and variety of meaty fillings on offer. However the Tio Rico version had been fried and used a corn tortilla-like casing that, while tasty enough, just wasn’t the same. A case of personal preference I guess.
Dish 9 was a chocolate cheesecake on a stick from Cheesecake Baculo. We were looking forward to this so much, but were extremely disappointed. Nice chunks of chocolate, but lacking in any traditional cheesecake flavours. We would have loved to see them roll the cheesecake in a crumb as well (like a Golden Gaytime).
A great day out! While there was still plenty of entertainment planned for the rest of the evening, we were absolutely wrecked, and decided to retire to our lodgings to recuperate and brace ourselves for another gruelling day of food and wine tasting…
Stay tuned for all the action from Day 2!
For more info, drop by the Festivalé website here – Festivalé
If you’re interested in the stalls that we visited on Day 1, here are some links to their respective websites: