You know when Drake said that he was “running through the 6” with his woes. I kind of did the same, except I was running through a crowd to get the best 6 items at Sydney’s Spectrum Now Festival… OK not really the same thing.
Presented by the Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum Now Festival is in its second year and has revamped itself to be a bigger festival. Bringing together live music, drinks and great food; The Nosh Pit at the Spectrum Now Festival is where you will find some of Sydney’s best food establishment’s pumping out some of their iconic items off their respective menu and even introduce some limited options exclusive to the Festival.
There is certainly something for everyone and what is common here, is that these foods are what Rihanna’s 7th album was titled — ‘Unapologetic’. Whether its over-the-top burgers or beer battered fries deep-fried to a golden crisp that tickle your fancy, every option is full of flavour and sinfully indulgent. So without further ado, in no particular order, here we introduce to you our pick of the sinful 6 items you must try at the Spectrum Now Festival!
Porky the Pig – Burgers by Josh
Any burger lover in Sydney should know who Burgers by Josh is, The Burger project that takes over kitchens around Sydney. The burgers will leave you salivating for more, literally; if you miss the pop-up you never know when they’ll be back. The Porky the Pig is a burger piled with low and slow cooked pulled pork, dressed with a house Texas red BBQ sauce, South West slaw, Westmont pickles and fried shallots in a milk bun. They clearly don’t skimp on the customer here, with the pulled pork cascading over the bun. The pork with the BBQ sauce had hits of paprika, spice and smokiness which are flavours that all work together harmoniously. The pickles brought a good tang that contrasted the fluffy milk bun which when toasted just heightened the sweetness. Solely for the exclusivity, trying an item from Burgers by Josh here is your best chance at finally experiencing a new burger sensation that you never know when you will ever get a chance to try again. Make a wise decision; you’ll thank me later.
Beef Brisket Plate – Rangers Texas BBQ
Next up, is the smoked Texas style Beef Brisket served with Coleslaw, Dill Pickles, Rangers BBQ sauce and bread from Rangers Texas BBQ. The Beef brisket was smoked for up to 12 hours, which was what made this brisket so soft that melted in your mouth instantly. The marbled parts had great richness and moistness that contrasted the pickles with the crunchy yet firm texture with a sharp zing you would expect. Now, you don’t understand how thankful I am that after trying so many slaws in the past few months (it must be a ‘thing’ now) that I can restore faith in humanity that someone somewhere knows how to make a decent slaw. The slaw at Rangers Texas BBQ was not overpowered or drenched in the creamy dressing… you can actually taste the vegetables. Definitely one for all the meat lovers out there who love a good piece of meat that isn’t masked by spices or marinades but rather appreciate the natural sweetness and smokiness American style BBQ brings to the table.
Chichi Fries – Poklol
The Chichi Fries at Poklol would have to be some of the best fries I have ever tasted. Consisting of super crunchy beer battered fries with bulgogi beef, kimchi, cheese, fresh shallots, fried shallots, mayonnaise and a sweet Korean chilli sauce. That crunch. The crunch by itself had won me over. The rubbled crunchy exterior wasn’t overly thick but I feel that it was double fried solely at how crispy they were; reminiscent to the crunch you get from traditional Korean Fried Chicken. The Kimchi had the traditional fermented chilli taste that complimented the Bulgogi beef with it’s sweet and salty flavours mingling together. The Korean sweet chilli sauce was very similar to the vibrant red Yangnyeom sauce you get on Korean Fried Chicken –- it brought me back straight to Korea, which I remember so fondly.
The Asahi – One Tea Lounge
Here’s a life lesson — if anyone says you can’t have that other burger. Stop talking to them. You don’t need that negativity in your life. Showing that ‘bigger is better’, the Asahi from One Tea Lounge is an Asahi beer infused MB 9+ Wagyu patty with Suntory whisky & bulldog sauce, tasty cheddar, grilled gherkins, tomato, lettuce, shichmi maple bacon and Asahi battered onion rings. Visually, it looks like a mammoth task to tackle and you wonder “where do I start?”.
Starting off with the patty, the wagyu made for an extremely juicy burger that had a real meaty bite and firmness that didn’t just disintegrate upon biting. The asahi beer had a subtle solid taste with a good balance between bitter and sweet notes. I love maple syrup because there is more than a sugary hit in the flavour profile. The Maple brought both floral and a lightly roasted undertone to the salty bacon. When eaten together, all the flavours and textures just worked together in unison creating a symphonic flavourful experience. There really is no elegant way to eat a burger this size, as the meat juices runs down the side of your hand as you attempt at taking one full bite, but hey that’s all part of the experience you expect from enjoying a really good burger. If you say you’re a burger enthusiast, this just shows you really are and can tackle any burger and the meat sweats.
Twixed & Malt-Tease – Messina Milk Bar
So this technically would count as two items but really, who goes to Gelato Messina and only orders ONE item? Like really.
What I love about Messina is how multifaceted they are. They are known to tailor their offerings to suit the vibe of the event. Just as they did at last year’s Spectrum Now Festival, they are continuing their ‘Milk Bar’ menu by taking classic childhood chocolate bars and turning them into Gelato variations. Playing on experiences and textures once again, the two menu items we recommend are the Twixed and Malt-Tease. The Twixed consisted of a milk chocolate gelato and layers of shortcrust and caramel and covered in milk chocolate. As you take your first bite, the milk chocolate gelato had a nice creamy texture that wasn’t overly sweet and naturally just mixed with the caramel that was reminiscent of a dulce de leche that has a deep rich roasted sweet taste and you end with the crunch of the shortcrust.
The Malt-Tease is malt gelato with a malt crunch in the middle and covered in a milk chocolate shell ball. The Malt gelato brought a roasted caramel main flavour which paired well with the malt crunch that is very similar to the inside of malteasers with the dry yet crispy texture. Overall, Messina were able to go beyond the sensory facet and play on our memories by adding a nostalgic feeling to the experience of enjoying their gelato creations.
Cake Smash Gelato – N2 Gelato x Black Star Pastry
When you can’t decide between cake and gelato, the only option there is to do is put them together? Everyone knows that. Collaborations are great ways to bring in the crowds and N2 Gelato x Black Star Pastry are pretty much experts now at doing so. Taking Black Star Pastry’s iconic Strawberry Watermelon cake and folded through N2’s base vanilla gelato, served with whipped cream, rose petals, pistachios and a strawberry coulis pipette and cleverly named ‘Cake Smash Gelato’. I have been fortunate enough to try N2 Gelato x Black Star Pastry’s special collaboration items a few times now whether they are at the Night Noodle Markets or Sweet Street – they have always won me over. The flavour here is exactly what you think it would taste like. The strawberry and watermelon refreshing notes shone through the Vanilla creamy base and the pistachios and added texture while the rose petals added an aromatic layer to the Gelato and the strawberry sauce gave a sharp tang at the end. This absolutely is a great way to end your time at the festival with its refreshing, sweet and creamy flavours.
Overall, though you may go just for the food (because I know I did), the Festival was a great night out with live acts playing on different stages and the lights at night outlined a picturesque view of the city skyline. These little things just added to a memorable time out.
The Nosh Pit at the Spectrum Now Festival ends on Sunday, March 13 2016 so there is still time to have that guilty pleasure. Or all of them, I’m not judging.
The Nosh Pit @ The Domain
Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9231 8111