food and wine festival

MFWF: Flavours of Asia at Caulfield Racecourse


Disclosure: I attended the previous courtesy of Melbourne Racing Club

March is almost upon us – and you know what that means – it’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival time! It officially kicks off on 27 February, and one of the first events happening is the Flavours of Asia Market Festival at the Sportingbet Blue Diamond Stakes Day at the Caulfield Racecourse.

On Thursday I attended a preview of the event. On the actual day, vendors will include Hammer & Tong, Hoy Pinoy, Wonderbao, Overdosa, Lankan Tucker, Uncle, Gogi and Eat the Chicken (menu at the bottom of this post) and a few of them were at the preview event to show us a sample of their food.


Prahran Market: Harvest the Sea and the Vine – MFWF


Disclosure: I attended courtesy of Prahran Market.

It’s that time of year again – yes, it’s March and the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is back.

I don’t have much planned for this year’s festival for some reason. I had a bit going on when the program was released last year and just never got around to organising anything. And I must admit that the allure of staying home and doing absolutely nothing is having a very strong pull on me at the moment!

But last weekend, I left the house temporarily to go to Prahran Market to attend their Harvest the Sea and the Vine event.


BBQ Festival Masterclass

Seasoning lamb racks

Disclosure: I attended the masterclass courtesy of the Redheads BBQ Festival and Gram.

Normally at 8:30am on a Sunday morning the very last thing you would find me doing is sitting by the beach in St Kilda. But one Sunday in March, there I was sipping a coffee and watching early morning fitness freaks run past. I definitely wasn’t down in St Kilda for fitness purposes, as I was about to take a BBQ masterclass and scoff meat for breakfast. Fitness be damned.

As part of the BBQ Festival, there were several master classes in barbequing. I attended a session hosted by Chris Girvin-Brown from Perth, who held a class about offset and direct heat barbequing in the super condensed time of two hours (normally they’re a full day).


Casa & Bottega: MFWF croquembouche class


Disclosure: I attended courtesy of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and Casa & Bottega.

Ahh croquembouche.

Apart from being a tall towering thing of beauty, it’s really fun to say.

I’ve always admired them before, but never made one. They just seemed *difficult* but you know what? It was actually much easier than I was expecting. See that bad boy up there? Yeah, I made that.

(Confession. It may have only been easy because I made it at a class at Casa and Bottega and I had guidance at every step.)


Matteo’s: MFWF express lunch

Well now it’s April, and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival seems like a distant memory. And thank *goodness* for that, because the few weeks of MFWF really stretched my eating pants. Metaphorically of course – those who know me personally know that I don’t wear trousers (because I’m mostly in dresses, in case you think I’m doing some weird Donald Duck thing and going bottomless). But back to MFWF – today I want to share the last express lunch I went to during the festival: Matteo’s.

That Saturday I became a third wheel and joined Hazzie and Gazman for lunch as Alastair was away that weekend. We were all early for lunch because we had been advised when booking that we only had the table for 1 hr 15 mins. This must’ve put the fear in us – we were all so early that I had enough time to join Haz and Gazman in their car for a quick instagram session before going into the restaurant (we are all addicts and we are not ashamed).


No35: MFWF express lunch

The decision to have an express lunch at No35 was the most annoying process ever. It started off innocently with an email from Thanh asking which restaurants we wanted to dine at during the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF). After several, several, SEVERAL emails back and forth, we finally settled on a few dates, one of which was the Labour Day public holiday. But could we decide on a restaurant on that day? Nope. It was worse than herding cats. For a group who like to eat and who are normally very decisive about where we want to go – we were hopeless. It got to the point where we were all a bit exasperated and it looked like we wouldn’t be eating anywhere.


Der Raum: MFWF Cocktails envelop the senses

It felt like I hadn’t seen my friend Maz in weeks. So when she suggested a MFWF event at Der Raum, it only took me a moment. Cocktails and a night out with one of my favourite people? I was definitely there.

So, Der Raum. It’s a cocktail bar in Richmond that’s famed for their innovative cocktails using high quality ingredients. They have stacks of awards. Despite everything I’d heard about the place, it was my first visit there. Mostly because 1: it’s in Richmond, and Richmond is a pain in the arse to get to from my house, and 2: I’m a granny and I like to do my drinking in the comfort of my own home. Alone. In the dark.

(Those last two sentences are a lie. I like to inflict my drunk self on others under bright lighting.)


Embrasse: MFWF express lunch (closed)

Wouldn’t it be good to be able to tap into a collective memory? Then you would always have access to important details, and it wouldn’t be a problem if your mind was crowded with useless things like the lyrics to “Deep deep trouble” even though you haven’t heard that song for 15 years. (Oh, is that just me? And yes, I do know the words. I can totally bust it out at any time. HELP I CAN’T FORGET IT.)

Fortunately, I have friends who help me remember things. When I eat out I sometimes can’t recall all the details and will message whoever I ate with: “Hey, do you remember what was in that dish?”

After our lunch at Embrasse, Thanh and I had the following conversation.

“What was the fish again?”
“Ummmm. I can’t remember.”
“It was silver something, wasn’t it?”
“Oh! It was silver dory!”

Food bloggers hive mind win. With our memories combined, we are… one normal person!


Campari House: a toast to Campari House roasts

As part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival June roast dinner series, the Boys and I headed to Campari House with Maria and Daz, where we were treated to five grazing courses accompanied by five wines.

Campari House

When we arrived, all the glasses had been lined up on the table, and we were advised that all the wines would be poured at once. This was so we could taste each one with the different courses and make our own mind up about the wine and food matching. Which was a great idea, with the only problem being that it was a school night… and the wine pours were VERY generous and our glasses were topped up whenever they were nearing empty.

The five wines were:

Blue Pyrenees NV Brut, Blue Pyrenees Savignon Blanc 2009, Sticks Chardonnay 2009, Red Claw Pinot Noir 2008, and Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz 2008.

I’m not hugely knowledgeable about wines so I won’t talk about them – except to say that the more I drank, the more I enjoyed them. Isn’t that always the way? Hah. (more…)

Royal Mail Hotel On Spencer: Melbourne Food & Wine Festival – Are you game?

Going back to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival for a moment – as well as the Hawkers’ Market, Bro and I also attended the “Are you game?” dinner at the Royal Mail Hotel on Spencer.

Also known as the “roadkill” dinner, it was an evening of dishes showcasing different Australian game meats. Apart from the yabbies, all the meat that evening was wild caught game. Drink wise, we started with a glass of Prosecco, and then over the course of the evening were served three glasses of wine from the wine label, Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch. Seriously, how perfect was that wine label for the evening. I’m not going to talk about the wine because I know sweet FA about wine, apart from the fact I like to drink it. On to the food!

There were TEN courses… when we saw the menu we thought that we might have to select from some of the options. But no, there were TEN COURSES! Oh my goodness. Let’s get stuck in.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

First up was a Yarra Valley yabby martini with lime aioli and spring onion cigar. The yabby meat was very delicately flavoured, and we found a bonus quail egg at the bottom of the glass. The aioli was nice and creamy, although I found the spring onion cigar rather sweet, which was disconcerting!

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

Next up we received a quail pithivier with wild rice and curly kale. The pithivier had light flakey pastry and I also noted that it was buttery – mhmmm so buttery – with hints of cinnamon. The wild rice was chewy and sweetish, and the kale was also buttery. It was a very enjoyable dish.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

The third course was a smoked Flinders Island mutton bird salad with Mount Buffalo organic hazelnuts and grapefruit dressing. This was one dish that had everyone divided. The mutton bird was interesting, and was unlike any other bird I had ever eaten before – it had a very strong, oily anchovy flavour. Yes, anchovy! Mutton bird tastes like fish! Amazing. I can’t say that mutton bird is a meat that I would seek out again, but it was interesting to try it.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

After the mutton bird, we received wild barramundi with “sand of the sea” and clam foam. The barramundi was BEAUTIFUL – it had fantastic flavour, was perfectly cooked and flaked away under my fork. The “sand” was finely ground breadcrumbs, and the “foam” was tapioca. Chives represented seaweed and thinly sliced potato on the fish represented scales. I was so impressed that the fish was perfectly cooked when the kitchen would have had to cook so many portions at the same time. This was the dish of the night for me. Seriously lovely.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

Following the barramundi was a duck liver parfait with apple and pear chutney and brioche. The duck liver parfait was very, very rich – to the point where it was almost bitter. It was nice though, very smooth, with the sweet, fruity chutney helping to cut through some of the richness, both from the parfait and the buttery (and heavily buttered!) brioche.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

Next was a Flinders Range kangaroo rogan josh curry served with a pappadam and a piece of nann. The curry had big bold flavours and the roo meat was made into a couple of large meatballs. I’ve had (and cooked) roo many times before, and because it’s so lean it’s not a meat that is nice when overcooked. So I’m not entirely sure about roo meatballs – while the roo meatballs weren’t too dry, they were noticeably drier than a beef meatball would be. It was a tasty curry though.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

After the curry there was a palate cleanser of crocodile ceviche with Yarra Valley salmon roe and limoncello. This was really interesting, it was like a lemon liqueur crocodile chewing gum!

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

Moving into the final courses, next up was herb crumbed Daylesford venison with mushrooms, kipfler potatoes and saffron cream. Maybe I was a bit delirious with food by this stage, but I wrote in my notes that the venison had a pate like flavour with a texture that made me think of boiled meat.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

And for our last savoury course, we received slow braised wild Redesdale rabbit with squid ink gnocchi. This was supposed to come with Flinders Island wallaby prosciutto, but they must have had a shortage because a small amount of the prosciutto was passed around the table (which didn’t get to us). The chewy and tough gnocchi was the only disappointment of the night. The rabbit, however, was good – tender and flavoursome, and in my notes, I wrote that it tasted like a savoury chicken pie! I think I was definitely delirious with food by this stage. The thing that was topped with a mushroom was a potato filled with rabbit liver.

"Are you game?" dinner at Royal Mail on Spencer

And finally, for dessert, we had duck egg crème brulee. This was SUPER rich, and very creamy. It was lovely, but oh my god it was SO RICH, particularly after ni
ne other courses! I enjoyed smelling the sprig of rosemary and lemon too.

I was mostly very impressed with the food that evening. Most of it was cooked really well, presented nicely and nothing was too strange (not that Bro and I mind strange, we did do offal last year). It was a very good event to attend and we went home two happy eaters.

Royal Mail Hotel on Spencer
519 Spencer St
West Melbourne
Phone: 03 9329 6955