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|
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)
Sapa Hills, 112 Hopkins, Footscray 3011 (Ph 03 9687 5729)
Dong Que, 102 Hopkins street, Footscray 3011 (Ph 03 9689 4392)
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.
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.