It's started last week and is a complete indulgence for 11 days. Victoria welcomes the Melbourne Food and Wine festival with open mouths and minds. As always it’s a huge showcase of events, and with over 250 experiences staged right around the state.
We’ve waded through the program guide in depth on every foodie’s behalf (and, let’s be honest, for our own interests too!) to deliver the Broadsheet pick of what’s going down at this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. From the queen of food-porn herself (that’s Nigella) to the eccentric stylings of Jellymongers Bompas & Parr, you’ll never look at – or touch – food the same way again.
Now in its 19th year, the festival is 11 days of foodie love that are set to make this city drool. So loosen your belts and remember to pace yourself.
Langham Melbourne MasterClass: Theatre of Ideas with Nigella Lawson & Anna Gare
It’s been all the buzz in the lead-up to this year’s festival, and yes it’s true: the domestic goddess herself is in town causing a stir. Appearing for the Langham Melbourne MasterClass: Theatre of Ideas, Nigella Lawson is getting saucy in a double bill with Australia’s own Anna Gare. Talk about girl power.
Between the woman credited with making home cooking sexy and the chef who encouraged Australia’s youngest foodies in Junior MasterChef, get ready for one big food love-in. They’re sexy and they sure can cook. Need we say more?
Note: As the hottest ticket around, there have been cries to extend Nigella’s stay to give loyal fans a chance to see her in the flesh. In the meantime, get in while you can.
What: Langham Melbourne MasterClass: Theatre of Ideas – Nigella Lawson & Anna Gare
When: Saturday & Sunday March 12 & 13
Where: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf
More info: Cost: Full day $320pp, Weekend $595pp, single sessions SOLD OUT
Sweet Architextural – Jellymongers Bompas & Parr
Ever heard of a jelly architect? Meet jellymongers Sam Bompas and Harry Parr (Bompas & Parr), the food-as-installation darlings of the UK. They will team up with the British-born but Melbourne-based Ian Burch and Darren Purchese (Burch and Purchese) for a night of wobbly art-as-food.
While Bompas & Parr create their striking and quirky edible structures (watch out for Melbourne icons), pastry maestros Burch and Purchese will bring their own fun to the stage with their signature sweets. It promises to be a most interesting (read outrageous) evening. Leave your preconceived foodie ideas at the door.
What: Sweet Architextural
When: Thursday March 10, 7.30pm–10.30pm
Where: The Gershwin Room at The Esplanade Hotel, 11 The Esplanade, St. Kilda
More info: Cost $130pp (includes food, drinks & gift bag)
Stars of Spice – The Gala Dinner
With the added titillation of an ‘undiscovered location’ the Stars of Spice Gala Dinner has a definite bent for the mysterious and exotic. Promising allusions to the ancient spice roads and far-away lands, but giving it all a modern edge, the decadent menu comes from international chefs Atul Kochhar, Chris Salans, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Jun Yukimura, Liu Yun and Toshiro Konishi: a pantheon of the global stars of spice. Flavour inspiration is drawn from all over the world, taking us from Indonesia to Peru, and with four courses and matched wines, it’ll be hard not to be beguiled by the idea of a dinner based in spice.
What: Stars of Spice
When: Saturday March 12, 7pm–11.30pm
Where: 64 Sutton Street, North Melbourne (hidden in the back of a warehouse)
More info: Cost $195pp
For a truly unique way to see and taste Footscray, jump in a rickshaw and visit five of the area’s authentic culinary treasures in one night. Beginning with live oysters on the street, you’ll then be whisked off for a five-course gastro tour. It sure beats a pub crawl, and takes in everything from sashimi to seven-ways beef. It’s food and travel combined and we can’t wait to kick back and watch the streets roll by from the quirky comfort of a rickshaw.
What: Rickshaw Run
When: March 4–6 & 10–14, 6.30pm–8.30pm; March 5–6 & 12–14 12.30pm–2.30pm
Where: Various Venues
More info: $75
Hotham St Ladies Host Dinner
Unfolding high above the rabble of Collingwood, the Hotham Street Ladies Art Collective (a group of five crafty ladies accomplished in creating cake decorations, recipe books and street art) invites you to the ultimate share-house dinner party.
Influenced by the charms of the CWA but delivered with modern style, the three-course menu promises a reinterpretation of share-house classics. Intrigued? We’re even told that dinner is matched with wines that don’t come out of a cask!
We can only hope it will serve up the optimism of share-house days and that there’s more than two-minute noodles on the menu. But with Panama Dinning Room chef Dianne Kerry at the helm, we doubt it will be anything but spectacular.
Of course, all of this is just to point you in the right direction, and since we're halfway through already, you better make some room in your tummy and get involved. It’s a foodie fantasia this year, so check out the full program at melbournefoodandwine.com.au or download the iPhone app to keep yourself up-to-date on the go.