Taste of Durban

This past weekend was a busy one for Durbs as it was the first year for Taste of Durban, and boy was it a grand opening! I (Kim) wasn't sure if I was going to go, but after I won tickets from Daniela's in her competition, I thought that was just the right sign that I definitely should be going - thanks again Daniela! I took some friends along yesterday afternoon, and after deciding to only eat breakfast before we went and make this event our 'lunch', I was literally salivating at every stand that we walked past. You know how they say you should never go shopping hungry? Well you should totally go hungry to an event like this!! It somehow made the experience much more delicious.

The blurb from the website tells us that it is the "is the ultimate culinary event of the year. Over three days, this unique international pop up restaurant festival will bring together the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, prestigious chefs and carefully selected premium exhibitors to attract Durban’s most dedicated and sophisticated foodies in an outdoor fine dining celebration. Added to the extraordinary line up of chefs presenting their signature dishes you’ll also have the opportunity to sip and sample an array of the very best of wine, beer, cocktails and delicious foodie produce Durban has to offer whilst you shop your way around the festival."

Entrance was R80 at the door (well maybe not the door - the event was outside Suncoast Casino so technically it would be 'at the gate'). As we started walking around choosing what we wanted to eat, we realised that to purchase anything you pay with crowns. One crown is R5 and you buy them in a book of 12 for R60 - its a super cool concept, making everything far easier than handling cash all day. And it was so awesome counting how many crowns you had left, and deciding which stall deserved your last four! Overall, Taste of Durban was a divine experience - perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. I took some pics of my favourite stalls and then below I reviewed all the plates we tried - enjoy!

Two stalls that we loved were Tasha's Fudge and Daniela's (of course!). The fudge came in so many different flavours, such as Bar One and Amarula, and even fudge on a stick covered in chocolate. As we got to Daniela's stand, we were ready to spend all our last crowns on some macaroons for a tea time treat - it seemed the salted caramel flavour was a huge hit with the Durbanites, and we were so disappointed there were none left for us! We bought every other flavour they had left though, and nibbled on those all the way home. One of the meals I ate was from Cafe 1999, and I must have been in a flurry of hunger because I don't seem to have a picture of it! But I thought it was worth a description anyway - Chicken and ginger wontons with sweet soy dipping sauce. What a delicious dish as a starter! What I wasn't expecting was the bite that the ginger gave it, but being a huge fan of ginger (I usually love eating it by itself), it did not ruin the meal at all.

Pressed lamb shank
Smoked garlic aioli, pea and radish salad, lamb jus
{9th Avenue Bistro}
9th Avenue Bistro was the first stall/restaurant we tried, and wow, was that a good choice! After trying this lamb dish, I couldn't decide which part I preferred, as the pea and radish salad was just as good as the pressed lamb. Just as we finished eating and started walking around, we heard on the loudspeaker that this won "Best Dish of Taste of Durban 2012" - I was so happy then that we'd tried it!
White chocolate & Amarula cheescake
Salted caramel, candied pecan nuts
{9th Avenue Bistro}
I shouldn't be saying this now (as you still have a few more dishes to see below), but 9th Avenue Bistro was by far my favourite vendor at the Taste of Durban. Both their dishes that I tried were just absolutely spot-on fantastic, and I cannot wait to go to their restaurant soon as I have never been before! The cheesecake was absolutely sublime. And for four crowns (which adds up to R20), it was so well worth it. The salted caramel gave the dish a slight tang, as it melted in your mouth with the creamy, chocolatey cheesecake. DELISH!!

  Pink peppercorn seared venison salad
with fresh beetroot, parmesan spoom, candied walnuts, 
chicken liver parfait & black lava salt
{Hartford House}
I had never heard of Hartford House before Taste of Durban, but now I'm so glad I did. It is a hotel situated near Giant's Castle in the Drakensberg mountains, and now I can see why they have five stars next to their name. I didn't try this meal myself but the two friends of mine who tried it said it was incredible. With beautifully healthy ingredients, including fresh beetroot, this dish seemed to be a winner all round.
Spicy lamb "Bunny Chow"
with sour cream, tomato bredie and fresh coriander
{Hartfold House}
In true Durban style, I just had to try this gourmet bunny chow as I was so curious as to how they would make it different to the standard one you can find at most local Durban restaurants. The lamb was beautifully tender, and I am such a fan of a good lamb curry! The tomato bredie topped it off so perfectly, and gave the dish a lovely sweet taste. The bread wasn't the normal type, but instead a sweetcorn-type bread that literally melted in your mouth - such a different take on the usual bunny chow!

Vanilla bean panna cotta
with popcorn brittle, caramel sauce and granadilla sorbet
{Hartfold House}
This was the third and final dish we tried from Hartford House, therefore managing to taste their whole menu! If you like panna cotta, you will adore this dessert. The creamy vanilla panna cotta fitted nicely with the slightly tangy granadilla sorbet, and the sweet caramel sauce with popcorn brittle. While this wouldn't be my top choice for dessert in a restaurant (I'm a chocolate girl through and through!), the two friends who were with me said they would have chosen this over 9th Avenue Bistro's cheesecake.

Strawberry Twist - strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blended with orange juice
Peach Heaven - peach, strawberry, banana mixed with apple juice
{Smoothies & Juices}  
Halfway through our walk around Taste of Durban, we found a smoothie shop and just had to try it out! They looked like health-in-a-glass, and we thought we could do with a bit of that :) I had the Strawberry Twist which was delicious, but slightly sour due to the amount of orange juice in it. The other one we tried was Peach Heaven, and that was by far the winner!!

All photographs taken by Ruby & the Swallow Design Collective.

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