I have been going to the races for as long as I can remember. My Dad tells a story about me lining up at the bookies when I was about six to put my 50c bet on while my sister spent her cash on ice-cream. Probably illegal now but I think you get the picture. So as a huge races fan I was so excited to be invited to check out the Emirates Marquee at the Melbourne Cup.
There is a whole other world at the Spring Racing Carnival called the Birdcage where these fantastic temporary structures are built to entertain the great and the good alongside the odd lucky journalist and blogger. As the main sponsor of the Melbourne Cup, the Emirates marquee is the most impressive of all. Each year the marquee is themed according to a destination that Emirates flies to and this year it is Germany.
The entire marquee looked like a fairytale German castle complete with flags and turrets. Inside is even more opulent. You walk up the stairs into a huge room with plush velvet furniture and baroque decorations. There’s a sit down restaurant, a bar, betting facilities, a makeup touch up and massage room and actual plumbed toilets. The toilets are probably the most impressive part – so luxurious at the races which is generally the home of the portaloo!
The food and wine served was all German themed as well although I must admit I stuck to drinking the champagne of the carnival – Mumm. Emirate serves up 6,000 flutes of this French champagne over the course of the carnival.
I was lucky enough to have a preview of some of the food which was going to be on offer earlier this year so it was really interesting to see what was popular with the guests at the Marquee. I also had a particular appreciation of all the research and work which had gone into making every dish perfect. Head chef Tony Cimmino spends three months planning and researching the menu each year. Every detail is thought of including the perfect timing for the food – I love how Emirates brings around some hearty food towards the end of the day, known as “the soak” to try to compensate for all that free flowing champagne.
Gourmet highlights included the fried lamb cutlets with mint dipping sauce (MTV had three he loved them so much) and the tiny deconstructed riff on Black Forest gateaux. I also loved the huge sweet pretzels which were served with a chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauce.
The balcony at the Emirates marquee must be one of the best places on the track to see the big race from. I loved spotting all the celebrities almost as much as watching the horses. Although I still can’t believe I didn’t back Protectionist (the eventual winner) given it is a German horse. Clearly I should have spent more time studying the form guide as a six year old.
Big thanks to Emirates for having me as a guest.
Details: Emirates Melbourne Cup Marquee, Flemington. The carnival runs until Saturday 8 November.
Damage: Priceless. Money cannot buy this experience – it was amazing.