In Food + Drink

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Must-See Events

Including a historical cocktail journey at Dinner by Heston

There’s nothing Melbournians like better than a festival. And as a city that prides itself on the quality and variety of its food and wine experiences, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is the ideal way to sample the best of what the city (and beyond) has to offer.

Running from 16 – 25 March, Melbourne’s bustling labyrinthine laneways and restaurants take it up a notch as they host tastings, panel discussions and one-off events. For those keen to escape the city walls, the festival ventures further afield to discover the bounty of regional Victoria. With over 200 events to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are our top picks from the festival that will feed both your body and mind.

Country vibes

Chef Phil Wood Photo: Adrian Lander

Throughout the festival, the kitchens at Hotel Lindrum will be handed over to Matt Stone and Jo Barrett (the co-executive chefs at Oakridge wines) and a group of local and international chefs as part of the House of Food and Wine Hotel. No one does destination dining better than Victoria, and the best way to experience what the state has to offer without leaving the city, is the regional stars evening at Dinner at Our House. The dream team in the kitchen includes Damien Neylon from Brae in Birregurra, Phil Wood from Point Leo Estate in Merricks and Matt Germanchis from Captain Moonlite in Anglesea.

Shake it up

Dinner by Heston

Cocktails aren’t just delicious; many of them also have fascinating histories; especially those created by drinks expert Tony Conigliaro and chef Ashley-Palmer Watts at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. During a historic cocktail journey, you’ll sample the distillations and infusions of the spectacular and innovative drinks list at Dinner accompanied by snacks from the kitchen.

Wine time

Winemakers of Rutherglen have joined with nearby Project Forty Nine Beechworth to share why their Durif – a spicy, full-flavoured red wine – is a great alternative to Shiraz. Four courses made with seasonal produce from the high country are on offer to showcase the versatility and depth of Durif.

Brain food

Matthew Evans

To get the low-down on how and why microbes are so good for you, book a spot at Regenerating Communities; a panel discussion featuring the Gourmet Farmer, chef, restaurateur and sustainable food expert, Matthew Evans. Author and re-generative farmer Charles Massy, award-winning fermenter Sharon Flynn and lecturer in Gastronomy at William Angliss Institute Dr Kelly Donati will join Evans. Enjoy a tipple and nibble before the panel, before delving into the big question on how to restore our bodies and the soil to full health.

Into the fire

Food and art are often inextricably linked and in what promises to be one of the more unusual offerings of the festival, local Hastings artist Leisa Wharington has opened up the co-creative space she directs for a feast of the mind, body and senses. Canapes, a shared feast, desserts and locally paired wines will be shared on tableware that has been custom made for the event. But perhaps the pièce de résistance will be the tuna seared on freshly blown glass cooked before guests.

Japan calling

World-renowned chef Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa is jetting into Melbourne to present a three course set menu with his trademark flourishes – umami-rich fusion cuisine that redefines Japanese food. But be quick as only one date is available.

Blessed are the cheese makers

Legendary Tasmanian cheese maker, Nick Haddow is bringing a selection of the best Bruny Island cheeses, oysters and beers for river-goers to sample while cruising past the historic port of Echuca on the Murray River. Haddow’s passion and knowledge for cheese is second-to-none, and the limited number of passengers means being able to have a conversation with one of the best cheese makers in the country.

A room of one’s own

Part of the MFWF’s classic Crawl ‘n’ Bite series is the opportunity to discover three private dining spaces in Melbourne, each of which has its own unique atmosphere and design. Choose a session (6-8pm or 8.30-10.30pm) and where you would like to begin. You can start with modern French flavours at Philippe with its tan banquettes and white tablecloths, before moving onto the sleek Sezar, where fragrant spices are at the forefront of the Armenian offerings. For your final stop, drop in for a nightcap and a nibble of Spanish-Iberian dishes at Bar Lourinhã.

Published 21 February, 2018