La Zuppa’s The Flavour Judging Event @ The Botanical, South Yarra VIC

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the La Zuppa’s The Flavour event and be on the judging panel for a new flavour of soup. La Zuppa recently organised a competition for people to submit ideas for a new soup flavour to add to their range of exciting soup products. From over 2,000+ entries the Top 5 were selected and we got to taste them all and vote for our favourite!
The event was attended by 6 food bloggers aka Aussie “foodies” such as myself, and the rest were pretty much expert marketers of food products who gave their two cents on the marketability of each finalist and the appeal it should have to the public. This judging event was no joke! Although with that said, it was a very light-hearted and fun afternoon, we were all treated to an amazing 6-course degustation menu and all felt very spoilt thanks to La Zuppa.
The event was held at the iconic Botanical restaurant in South Yarra. The weather was perfect that day, and the dining room in which we were seated had beautiful natural light for all our photos (yay!). When we arrived, we got to mingle and chat to each other over a cocktail, and basically got to familiarise ourselves with who everyone else were and what they do.
Just before lunch was served, Luke Brabin, Executive Chef of The Botanical and the person responsible for coming up with our amazing menu for the day popped in for a chat. He gave us a brief introduction of himself and his work experience, as well as a run down of the food we were about to tuck into! The cameras were going off everywhere, thanks to the bloggers, and I was sure Luke has never been “papped” (we were probably worse than paparazzi!) as much as he did within those few minutes he was there with us!

At this point I should note two things:

  1. The bread came out and it was probably one of the most delicious in-house restaurant bread I have ever tasted. The crust was so crispy and the bread itself was so light and fluffy. It was hard not to make a mess while eating it, because bits crumbled all over the place, but it was very good bread. I don’t usually write a long “review” for bread, but it was very good bread haha!
  2. There was going to be a wine accompaniment for each course, which meant not only have I had a glass of delicious Limoncello before we got settled in, there was going to be 6 different wines served to me within the next few hours. I had to pace myself and only have a sip of each! (Breastfeeding mum + haven’t had drinks in a while so quite a cheap drunk + driving = go easy with the alcohol BOO…..)

Finally, our official judging event begins!

1st Course: Mexican Corn Soup
Accompanied by Chipotle prawn, watermelon, chilli and corn salsa.
Wine: 2010 Shelmerdine Sauvignon Blanc, Yarra Valley VIC.

I started by tasting the soup first, and BAM! My mouth instantly was filled with a massive kick of flavour, flavour and lots of flavour. The amount of spices used in this soup was ridiculous. It was quite full on for a humble soup, but you know what? I LOVED IT. It was my kind of soup – spicy, flavoursome and creamy. The watermelon gave it a really nice soothing touch and gave it a nice difference in texture too.

The prawn salad accompaniment was almost necessary to “cool down” the heat from the soup, although I didn’t find the soup too spicy at all because I am used to spicy food, some others sure did and broke a little sweat, lol.

2nd Course: Carrot, Ginger and Coriander Soup
Accompanied by white cooked chicken, sesame, chilli and soy.
Wine: 2010 Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Hawks Bay NZ.

The second course was a very Asian inspired combination and again, I was absolutely loving it! I am a huge fan of ginger and coriander, so to taste such dominance of those flavours in the carrot soup was a delight. Others probably felt there wasn’t enough carrot flavour and the ginger and coriander were almost overpowering, but I didn’t mind!

The poached chicken reminded me a lot of Hainanese Chicken so of course I was a big fan. Not biased at all, hehe. It was cooked perfectly and the chicken was very soft and tender.

3rd Course: Chicken, Sweet Potato and Corn Soup
Accompanied by Steamed Hapuka, corn and coriander salsa
Wine: 2010 Curlewis ‘Bel Sel’ Chardonnay, Geelong VIC.

Well this soup is basically the traditional Chicken and Corn soup on steroids. The addition of sweet potato actually compliments the soup and made it even better. It was a very comforting, hearty soup and it tasted like something my mum would make when we are sick. The broth was full of chicken flavour (the way we all like it!) and you know you can just tuck into a big bowl of this soup on a cold night and be fully content.

As for the accompaniment, what can I say? Feeling very spoilt at this point. The fish was cooked perfectly, it was very tender and melts in your mouth. I really dislike overcooked fish, so to have such beautifully cooked fish was incredible. People need to have respect for fish, especially steamed fish, and this fish was cooked with so much love and respect. Almost as good as my mum’s steamed fish, almost. Amazing.

4th Course: Tuscan Vegetable and Bean Soup
Accompanied by Pork Cotoletta, Italian Coleslaw.
Wine: 2011 Red Claw Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula VIC.

This soup was very similar to the classic Minestrone soup, it is tomato based and had lots of chopped vegetables, potatoes and beans in it. Very hearty, but not my type of soup. It was a good soup on its own, but compared to the previous three soups I have just tasted it just wasn’t as good.

As for the pork, oh you all know I love my porkies! SO tasty and yummy (for lack of “foodie vocabulary” to describe it). The pork was very juicy inside that deliciously flavoured crumb. I’m usually not a fan of crumbed meat, but I loved this crumb. The coleslaw was flavoursome and refreshing, which definitely compliments the pork.

5th Course: Curried Pumpkin Soup
Accompanied by Lamb Rogan Josh, Raita
Wine: 2010 Giant Steps ‘Sexton Vineyard’ Merlot, Yarra Valley VIC.

Finally, our last official “tasting” for the day and a very interesting twist to the traditional classic pumpkin soup. Someone has decided adding curry would be awesome! Well, it was actually pretty good – and I might actually steal the idea and add a bit of curry the next time I make my own pumpkin soup.

The lamb rogan josh was delicious too, you can tell it’s been slow cooked to perfect tenderness, and the lamb flavour is all over it. Love it. Just perfect amount of heat, not too spicy, but for those who did think it was spicy that’s what the raita yoghurt is there for! What a great finish to what has been an excellent lunch and flavour judging experience.

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to reveal the winning soup flavour but do follow La Zuppa on their Facebook page and look out for their announcement!

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse Gateau with Citrus, Cointreau Bavarois, Citrus Terrine
Wine: 2010 Mitchell Noble Semillon, Clare Valley, South Australia.

Oh wait, just because the “official stuff” is over does not mean the food stops coming! Of course we have to have dessert, and what a lovely treat my dessert was! I loved the chocolate mousse, it was so soft and full of chocolatey flavour in all its various textures and layers. The citrus sorbet (those little cubes) added an amazing fresh and tangy taste to my mouth, and those little mandarin things – delightful. Overall a very textural dessert with all the right flavour combinations.

Of course, we all had to finish with a good cup of coffee and some macarons. See, how spoilt were we? I had a delicious cappuccino (I believe Botanical uses Dukes Coffee) and the coffee flavoured macarons were a delightful sweet treat to completely, really, finish our day of feasting. Probably not the best macarons in town, but hey I’m not here to review macarons! Just happy to finish with macarons, full stop.

GIVEAWAY: After salivating in jealousy and probably hating me after reading this post, the wonderful people from La Zuppa has kindly offered to give one lucky reader a $200 voucher for The Botanical in South Yarra! Now you get the chance to go in a draw to win this voucher and enjoy all the amazing food yourself!

To enter, all you have to do:

Step 1: Like my Facebook Page –

Step 2: Leave a comment on this post telling me you have done Step 1.

Step 3: Cross your fingers and toes and hope you win!

The lucky winner will be drawn randomly and announced on the 7th of September 2012. Please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you in your comment e.g. Facebook / Twitter / Email Address. Obviously, the restaurant is in Melbourne so please only enter this giveaway if you are in Melbourne, or plan to visit Melbourne soon, or have a way of using the voucher (perhaps as a gift) sometime in the near future.

22 thoughts on “La Zuppa’s The Flavour Judging Event @ The Botanical, South Yarra VIC

  1. Wow, what an aaamaazing looking meal! I am particularly frothing at the mouth over that chocolate mousse dessert…although all the soups sound so delightful as well! Would be great in this weather :)I've liked your facebook page, so I'm now sitting here with all my fingers and toes crossed! 😀


  2. Yummm! You have such a way with words when describing food, I'm sitting here salivating lol! I have already liked your facebook page 🙂 Fingers crossed I win so I can have my first dinner out with my husband in over 5 years!


  3. Sounds amazing, what an awesome job you have ! Have liked your facebook page. Would love to win the voucher to treat my husband and myself to dinner before our bub arrives and we have no social life left in us 🙂


  4. Oh Kimmy soooo jealous!! That sounds absolutly amazing. You had me at soup 1 let alone the other 4 and THEN desert, coffee and macaroons. YUMMOOh an I have already liked your FB page 🙂


  5. Your pictures are really pretty and the way you tell the story… OMG WANTS WANTS WANTS!!! Can I haz some zuppa soup now?!!Heh, I've liked your FB page.*10 fingers crossed**10 toes crossed**borrowing my teddy's feet to cross too!*


  6. oohh yeaahhh…. Your photos and the details make me salivating….!! Actually, I am not a big fan of pumpkin soup but this one looks different and I want to TRYYYY….!!!Especially number 5.Slow cook lamb+soup+not too spicy+yoghurt+free = PERFECTO..!!!! (!' ˆ▾ˆ){н̲̅a̲̅н̲̅a̲̅н̲̅a̲̅н̲̅a̲̅н̲̅a̲̅н̲̅a̲̅]~(˘▽˘~)(~˘▽˘)~ choose me choose me choose me!!!


  7. This meal looks awesome! Too bad I will have visited Melbourne and left before then, but I do know someone there so I could be entered as a gift for them…or maybe I'll just have to go back. I already “like” you on FB. I will look into this restaurant too. Sounds yummy. I am headed to Melbourne very soon! Can't wait.


  8. Hi Kim, I'm with you, the Mexican corn soup and the carrot, ginger and coriander sound delicious! I don't just like your Facebook page, I love it, especially the Peranakan food! Ok, so the Botanical doesn't do Peranakan, but I'm sure it'll be just fine.


  9. That dinner looked wonderful. What a great idea to have soup with each course.I've liked your FB and would love to win your giveaway.@RossS12


  10. Great response! Thank you and good luck everyone! I know this goes against bettering your chances… but if you don't mind, please share this competition with your friends (after all you can always get them to take you to the restaurant if they win, lol).And don't forget I have another giveaway in my previous blog post where you can win a set of espresso cups and/or a COFFEE MACHINE! Get on it people! xoxxo


  11. FB page liked. Great work on the photos, looked like a sensational day! Know what you mean about the bread, sometimes good restaurant bread can be so perfect!Looking forward to trying the new La Zuppa flavour!Tim x


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