Stretchy pants are the order of the day now that Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is over for another year. This year I hit the festival hard as I was covering some events for The Guardian but there was also so much great stuff on that I wanted to get to. Here’s my take on the hits and (very occasional) misses for this events I attended this year:
Flemington’s Farm Gate to Cellar Door Trail
Super Saturday is one of the biggest race days in the year but it’s also now a great day to experience lots of interesting restaurants and wineries through the Farm Gate to Cellar Door trail. I’m such a fan of this event that I attended the event launch, a lunch by demonstrating chef Nicky Reimer for the Myer Autumn Winter fashion launch at Flemington and the day itself. Riemer cooked up a fabulous lunch of carrots slow roasted until they were sweet and sticky along with slivers of tender lamb tossed through fregola dotted with almond slivers and sprinkled with sumac. At Super Saturday Riemer was one of several chefs conducting cooking demonstrations on stage and the front lawn at Flemington was filled with tents housing different wineries, craft beer producers and food producers to chat to. My idea of heaven.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of the Victorian Racing Club at the Food Trail to Farm Gate launch and Myer Autumn Winter launch. She attended Super Saturday independently.
Details: Flemington Farm Gate To Cellar Door Trail, Flemington Racecourse, Flemington. The event was part of Super Saturday on Saturday 14 March 2015.
Damage: Entry was free with a Super Saturday raceday ticket for $25.
Langham Master Classes
One of the highlights of the festival each year are the Langham Master Classes where the festival’s top guest chefs demonstrate and take questions from the audience. I was invited to attend Ruth Rogers and Jeremy Charles’ master classes. Both chefs gave a great rundown on their ethos and inspirations. Rogers’ food was more accessible than Charles’ so I feel the classes provided a good balance to each other. I also loved that the audience was served a sample of each dish demonstrated so you could really understand how the dish tastes. Plus there’s nothing worse than sitting in a demonstration watching all this delicious food being cooked and not being able to eat a bite of it. The only downside to the Langham Master Classes is the expensive price but the addition of cheaper and shorter “Essentials” classes this year for $50 helps address this issue.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival for two Langham Master Classes.
Details: Langham Master Class, Southgate Centre, 1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank (Ph 03 8696 8888)
Damage: Pricey. Tickets cost $160 for half a day.
Express lunch at Stokehouse City
I do love an express lunch at the festival and this year I went to Stokehouse City with my sister. Disappointingly the express menu only covers the downstairs bar which is the more casual sibling to the more formal Stokehouse restaurants upstairs. Usually express lunches are a good way to try out more pricy restaurants which you wouldn’t usually be able to afford. But on the upside the food at the bar was all delicious. Mini beef wagyu rolls were the best example of the much maligned slider I’ve tasted. The meat was melt in the mouth while the sweet brioche roll had been toasted until it was warm. The pea and parma ham risotto was creamy with just the right amount of bite and saltiness. While I don’t think this was one of the best value express lunches out there it was certainly one of the most delicious.
Details: Stokehouse City, 7 Alfred Place, Melbourne (Ph 03 9525 5555)
Damage: $40 for two courses plus a glass of wine.
Table For One Warhol Style
This is one of the quirkier events I have attended at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival the concept being to recreate the “Andy Mat” diner envisaged by artist Andy Warhol as a fast food restaurant for lonely people. Warhol came up with the concept and even a menu for his dream restaurant and hoped diners would be able to eat dinner there from trays sitting alone watching a TV. In celebration of its current Andy Warhol exhibition Melbourne’s Jewish museum set out to create Warhol’s dream. It wasn’t quite a table for one as the tables were close enough to allow socialising but we did eat a beautifully presented Warhol-esque menu of tomato soup served in Campbell soup style tins, fish burgers and chips and a banana split to finish the meal off. The dinner included a tour of the exhibition and a talk by one of the exhibition’s curators. The food was more fun than fine dining but I loved the creativity behind this event.
Details: Table for One Warhol Style, Jewish Museum, 26 Alma Road, St Kilda (Ph 03 8534 3600)
Damage: Reasonable $75 a ticket including a three course meal, wine and exhibition entry.
Pop Up Picnic at the Abbotsford Convent
I squeezed in a final Melbourne Food & Wine Festival event on the final day of the festival at the Abbotsford Convent. The “pop up picnic” involved sprawling on the lawns of the convent listening to music with a box of picnic goodies. A perfect lazy solution for a Sunday afternoon. The picnic boxes contained mini chicken and chive sandwiches, tiny cups filled with quinoa and potato salads, slivers of ham and tangy pickled vegetables and plenty of sweet things in the form of scones, jam and cream, fudgy brownies and a wobbly custard tart. Admission also included a drink and a voucher for ice-cream but sadly the ice-cream cart packed up by 2pm even though the picnic went until 4pm so I missed out on my ice-cream. Devastating on a sunny day.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Bursaria at the Pop-Up Picnic
Details: Pop up Picnic, Hosted by Bursaria at the Abbotsford Convent, 1-16 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford (Ph 03 9415 3600).
Damage: Pricey $55 per person (one picnic box per person).
Finally, while I didn’t make it along to one this year I can highly recommend attending a Regional World’s Longest Lunch. Such a great way to experience a part of Victoria.