Rickshaw run and afternoon tea: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013

It’s the last week of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival so I have been trying to cram in as many events as possible.  I’ve been to three brilliant events in the past week which have all been pretty different.  I’ve raced around Footscray in a rickshaw, sipped champagne at a fantastical afternoon tea at the National Gallery of Victoria and listened to some thought provoking ideas at the festival’s Theatre of Ideas.

Snacking on beef in betel leaves on the Rickshaw Run at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Rickshaw Run
My festival highlight so far has to be the Rickshaw Run through Footscray’s streets.  So much fun! I was pulled around in a rickshaw starting with beers and oysters at D and K Live Seafoods surrounded by tanks filled with live fish.  You don’t get much fresher than that.  Next was a stroll through the Footscray market where I discovered a new favourite fruit – the achacha.  A little like a lychee it is super refreshing and I stocked up big time.

The rickshaws, achacha at the Footscray Market and making rice paper rolls at Sen

At Sen restaurant we made our own rice paper rolls which were fabulously fresh and then at To’s we ate the most smoky beef in betel leaves cooked over charcoal while listening to the Wasabi sisters and getting neck massages – bliss.  The final stops were for the truly delicious and addictive bun cha hanoi at Sapa Hills, a North Vietnamese dish of grilled pork balls with noodles, salad and a salty dipping sauce.  Finally, crisp and crunchy deep fried spring rolls at Dong Que.  I loved the Rickshaw Run so much as I was able to discover some new restaurants and a new part of the city.  I’ll be back and bringing friends next year as long as I can get in quick enough to get a ticket.

Spring rolls at Dong Que

Details: Rickshaw Run, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Sen Restaurant, 74 Nicholson street, Footscray 3011 (Ph 03 9687 4450)Sen on Urbanspoon
Sapa Hills, 112 Hopkins, Footscray 3011 (Ph 03 9687 5729)  Sapa Hills on Urbanspoon
Dong Que, 102 Hopkins street, Footscray 3011 (Ph 03 9689 4392)  Dong Que on Urbanspoon
Damage: On this occasion I did not pay.

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La Terre Sucrée High Tea
The National Gallery of Victoria always offers an afternoon tea but as a special for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival it is running a special called La Terre Sucrée High Tea.  I was invited along with some other bloggers to try out the afternoon tea and we attracted a steady stream of people commenting on the food it was so spectacular.  The first savoury tier included a brilliant little oxtail and parsnip pie made with buttery pastry and a clever mushroom pastry shaped to look like a snail.  A poached chicken open sandwich with a slick of creamed corn was moist and juicy but the rye bread it was served on was a little dry.

What an afternoon tea at the National Gallery of Victoria for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Importantly the tier of savoury and sweet scones was spot on with fluffy scones and good quality jam and cream.  But the highlight was the top dessert tier which was made to look like a garden sprouting from chocolate earth covered with popping candy.  Growing out of the earth were tiny mushroom meringues and cake pops flavoured with rosewater and raspberry.  The afternoon tea also includes a glass of sparkling and a decent selection of tea.   Get in quick as  La Terre Sucrée High Tea is only running during the festival.  It’s a high tea like no other where food is art and art is food.

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Scones with jam and cream, the top tier of a chocolate garden and the savoury tier 

Details: Tea Room, National Gallery of Victoria, St Kilda Road, Southbank 3006.  Bookings advised. (Ph 03 8620 2431)
Damage: Pricey.  $55.  On this occasion I did not pay.  
The Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Theatre of Ideas
It may be hard to believe, but the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is not just all about eating and drinking. The Theatre of Ideas is the intellectual side of the festival where Canadian chef Michael Stadtlander of Eigensinn Farm, Matthew Evans of “Gourmet Farmer” fame and Swedish rockstar chef Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant all talked about their ideas about food.  I left the discussion really inspired to get my vegie patch at my new house cranking and to make more conscious decisions about the food I eat.  As Nilsson said: “My wish is that more of us would make a choice instead of just consuming”.

Matthew Evans, Michael Stadtlander and some heirloom tomatoes at the Collingwood Farmers Market

Details: Theatre of Ideas, Hamer Hall, Melbourne Arts Centre.
Damage: $50 a ticket.  On this occasion I did not pay.

Gourmet Chick was a guest of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and Peter Rowland Catering for the afternoon tea. 


  1. The Rickshaw Run looks interesting, looks much better from your POV 😛 as I worked at that event.

  2. I am very intrigued by the rickshaw run! And food served on tiered platters always grabs me – when the top one is like your afternoon tea selection, I am completely drawn in 🙂

  3. The rickshaw run sounds like so much – would never work here. Two words: weather, traffic. Always wanted to visit the festival, gets some great chefs and speakers.

  4. Anastasia – Thanks for your hard work – the lovely volunteers really helped make it such a great night!

    Kari – It was a real highlight of the festival for me – brilliant

    Katy – Yes I can’t quite imagine it in London – although you do have the rickshaws in Soho already! Melb food and wine festival is well worth a visit at some stage, I have not come across an equivalent anywhere for calibre of chefs involved and amount of events. Only problem is the $$$.

  5. The springrolls from Dong Que are making my mouth water! Need to get out to that side of town sometime! Will keep an eye out for the rickshaw run next year!

  6. Ashley – Yes I highly recommend it – the spring rolls were a real high point.

  7. aaaaahhhh this looks amazing! gotta tell my girls about this and then check it out 🙂

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