There’s only two weeks until this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and once again there’s an impressive line-up of local and international chefs and winemakers. If you find the program a little overwhelming, or if you just haven’t found time yet to book your tickets, we’ve put together a list of our top picks of the remaining events to make your life that little bit easier.
CHEAP AND CHEERFUL
Food and film come together in this fun, open-air event. For five nights Caulfield Racecourse will be transformed into an outdoor cinema, and a top Melbourne restaurant will create a menu to match the movie. BYO picnic rug.
March 2 – Epocha presents The Grand Budapest Hotel
March 3 – Le Bon Ton presents The Big Lebowski
March 4 – Baby presents The Great Beauty
March 5 – Mamasita presents Chef
March 6 – The European presents Midnight In Paris
$19.50 (for entry and film. Food is extra)
This year’s Festival Hub is the Urban Dairy; a milk-and-cheese centric pop-up happening in Queensbridge Square on the banks of the Yarra. Come and try ice cream from New York’s star churners Big Gay Ice Cream, or bread from French baker Gontran Cherrier. There are also a number of organised events. Here are our picks:
Cheese man Anthony Femia from Prahran Market’s Maker & Monger is hosting Fromage 101. Taste your way through, and learn about, six different cheeses from one of the world’s top cheesemongers. The ticket price includes a drink on arrival.
If you missed out on tickets to Mission Chinese Food’s Attica takeover, but still want to meet the man behind this San Franciscan icon, Danny Bowien, together with Lucky Peach magazine’s editor Chris Ying, will be signing copies of their book, Mission Chinese Food. Victor Liong will provide food for the evening – including his own Chinizza, or fried pizza. Ticket price includes a drink on arrival, Chinizza and dessert.
Casey Wall from Rockwell and Sons goes up against Gregory Llewellyn from Sydney’s Hartsyard in this epic fried-chicken battle. The ticket price includes a drink on arrival, dinner and dessert. Llewellyn will also be selling and signing copies of his cookbook, Fried Chicken & Friends.
In this final, free event, Melbourne chefs gather to use up the remaining cheese at the Urban Dairy and show off their toastie-making skills.
Take a look inside one of the world’s best restaurants at a screening of Pierre Deschamp’s Noma, My Perfect Storm. Noma’s managing director, Peter Kreiner, will join with Gourmet Traveller restaurant critic and journalist Pat Nourse for a discussion about Noma after the screening.
If maple-bacon doughnuts with pork crackling, bacon-stuffed pork belly or bacon ice-cream is your thing, head to Brunswick’s the B.East for The Baconing. The menu is available from 12pm on the day, and DJs will be spinning from 1pm. The ticket price includes three bacon-themed courses and a tap beer or cider. Bacon-infused bourbon cocktails will be available for purchase, too.
BE TOP OF THE CLASS
No one loves a kitchen hack as much as Matt Preston, and who better to learn something genuinely useful from than everyone’s favourite MasterChef judge, restaurant critic and cookbook author. Hacks might include quick pickles, no-knead bread and scones made from melted vanilla ice cream.
French-born, London-based Pierre Koffmann is one of only a handful of chefs in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars. He has also trained Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and Marcus Wareing. If you want to see a top chef in action, Koffmann is it.
PUT THE WINE IN MFWF
Fried chicken and natural wine shouldn’t work well together, but somehow they do. Join Belle’s Hot Chicken chef and co-owner Morgan McGlone, and natural winemaker Patrick Sullivan as they share this perfect union with you.
The affable Duncan Welgemoed from Adelaide’s Africola gets together with James Erskine from McLaren Vale’s Jauma winery to pair charry, smoky South African food with top South Australian wines.
Join delicious. magazine’s drinks editor Mike Bennie for an extreme drinks tasting session. Think sour beers, funky wines, aged sakes and gnarly spirits. Challenge your preconceptions and your palate.
Rather than travelling to the Mornington Peninsula or the Yarra Valley, you can pop over to a Brunswick basement to see how wine’s made – Noisy Ritual is Melbourne’s first urban winery. A ticket gets you a tour of the space, six tastings and antipasto.
March 9 and 10
For the opening weekend of the festival (March 4–6), The Little Veggie Patch Co’s Pop Up Patch will host a bar at its Federation Square rooftop garden. There will be natural wines by local producers, made using unconventional methods; a mobile-bar service making cocktails that highlight the abundance of flora grown at the Patch; and beer by independent “gypsy brewers”, The Barrow Boys. Burn City Smokers will smoke brisket to go with your drinks.
Chef and author Jennifer McLagan is a champion of odd flavours and ingredients. Her most recent cookbook, Bitter, celebrates this delicious but dangerous flavour, including recipes for dishes such as beer soup, tobacco panna cotta and grapefruit tart, among many others. Join her and chef Nicky Riemer for dinner as they explore this misunderstood taste.
Spunky May Chow made a name for herself when she opened Little Bao in Hong Kong, an American-style diner “with an Asian twist”. She’ll join Daniel Wilson of Huxtable and Huxtaburger for a good-old-fashioned fast-food challenge. Two of the burger-baos Chow is famous for include organic beef with sesame mayo and shiso, and tamarind and palm-sugar glazed fish with pickled lemongrass and fennel salad. You won’t have tried anything like this before.
Everyone knows Box Hill is the place to go for authentic Asian food. But once you’re there, knowing where to go can be tricky. Find out by taking this guided tour of Box Hill Central.
March 5 and 6
Box Hill Central
GET OUT OF TOWN
This one’s a bit expensive, but worth it if you can justify the spend. Travel to stunning Oakridge Estate in the Yarra Valley for a butchery lesson with chef Matt Stone before a garden walk and a beautiful four-course lunch with matching wines.
March 8 and 10
Dumbo Feather is a quarterly magazine about extraordinary people. Join some of them for a moving feast at Mossy Willow Farm, the sister business to Dumbo Feather. Explore the beautiful property, starting with the farm HQ before moving on to the alpaca paddock and the creek. Each course will be held in a different location, but all will be full of inspiring conversation, positive storytelling and great food and wine.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from March 4 to 13.