Best of the Birdcage: Melbourne Cup Carnival

It’s Christmas time for grown ups again with the Melbourne Cup Carnival off and racing. I went along on Derby Day and was lucky enough to have a look inside two of the Birdcage’s most exclusive marquees: Emirates and Lavazza.

Bush tomato at Emirates
Spinach mint and pea tarts with bush tomato yoghurt at Emirates

Every year the Emirates marquee showcases a different country (and Emirates destination) and this year for its 20th year the theme is Australia. There’s beautiful Aboriginal art hung on the walls, native wildflowers displayed in vases and plush sofas and chairs which are the sort which sit on the verandah at grand old “Queenslander” house.

On the deck of the Emirates marquee
On the deck of the Emirates marquee

Emirates has the most space of any marquee, is the only place with plumbed in toilets and even has a beauty parlour where you can get hair and make up touch ups.  The menu is designed by Wolgan Valley One & Only executive chef Nancy Kinchella and celebrates the best of Australian cuisine from freshly shucked oysters to lamb cutlets cooked on the barbeque.  

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Oysterama at the Emirates marquee

Emirates really takes luxury to the next level especially when it comes to seafood with plenty of prawns and fresh sweet crayfish.

Pearl meat at Emirates, look at the amazing pearl shells the meat is served on.
Pearl meat at Emirates, look at the amazing pearl shells the meat is served on.

I also got to try pearl meat which is something I’ve never eaten before.  Most of this rare delicacy is exported to Asia.  It has a clean and delicate taste while still having a really meaty texture. 

Crays and prawns at Emirates
Crays and prawns at Emirates

Emirates has the best views of the track from its big deck overlooking the finishing straight.  It also attracts the A list celebrities and movers and shakers. Hello Julie Bishop, Carrie Bickmore and Michelle Payne.   

Super excited to get to chat to Michelle Payne at Emirates. I mainly babbled at her about how wonderful I think she is.
Super excited to get to chat to Michelle Payne at Emirates. I mainly babbled at her about how wonderful I think she is.

I also popped in to the Lavazza marquee where there was a very sporty crowd with plenty of footballers along with special guests Lleyton and Bec Hewitt.  Lavazza’s marquee this year pays homage to Milan’s galleria with a 360 degree photographic view of the galleria covering the walls in a fabulous optical illusion.  Chandeliers dripping with crystals and terracotta flooring added to the impact.  Keeping to the Italian theme there was prosecco instead of champagne and Birra Morretti was the beer of choice.

Prosecco time at Lavazza
Prosecco time at Lavazza

Acclaimed Coda and Tonka chef Adam D’Sylva was at the helm with the food.  I only got to sample a little at the end of the day of “the soak” but the Italian style roast potatoes scattered with sea sat and rosemary were incredibly moreish.  

Roast potatoes at Lavazza
Roast potatoes at Lavazza

Of course you can’t go to Lavazza and not have a coffee.  This was my saviour to balance out all that champagne and prosecco.  Smooth and creamy with just the right amount of caffeine to revive me – marquee life is tough! 

Coffee's up at Lavazza
Coffee’s up at Lavazza

Once again Emirates and Lavazza delivered such a glamorous glimpse of Spring racing carnival life.  These marquees really go all out to cater to their exclusive guests.  I felt very lucky to get to have a peek inside them.

Wildflowers and seafood at the Emirates marquee
Wildflowers and seafood at the Emirates marquee

Gourmet Chick was a guest of Emirates and Lavazza. 

Essentials
Details:  The Emirates and Lavazza marquees operate all week at the Spring Racing Carnival by invitation only.
Damage: Priceless. Money can’t buy this experience sadly! 
10/10 as always. 

Read more
Inside the James Boag marquee 2015 and Inside the Emirates marquee 2014

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