Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2016: Preview

MELBOURNE | Starting with a mere 12 events in 1993, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is about to enter its its 24th year in 2016, with over 200 events on offer between Friday 4 March and Sunday 13 March. In a time when it seems that there is always some kind of food festival happening in Melbourne we have always been impressed with the quality and variety of events available that cover the full spectrum of both cuisines and price range.

With so many events on offer there is almost too much choice (a good problem to have), and a number of the events are have limited numbers and some have already sold out some three months before the festival starts. To help you to sift through the vast array of options and allow you to make your choices early so as to not miss out on the more popular events, The City Lane is pleased to present our preview guide to the Food and Wine Festival where we set out some of our highlights of the 2016 program, and give you the opportunity to win 2 tickets to the Paul Cunningham Masterclass.

Signature Events

melbourne food and wine festival 2016

The so-called ‘Signature Events’ on the Food and Wine Festival program represent some of the best and/or most unique events available to attendees. Of these there were two in particular that caught out attention.

Luxembourg by Tram

Most of our readers will be familiar with, or at least aware of, the Colonial Tram Car Restaurant which enables diners to literally eat their meal whilst aboard a vintage Melbourne tram. On Monday 7 March the tram restaurant kitchen will be taken over by head chef Chris Watson and the crew from Luxembourg Bar and Bistro offering a three course lunch or dinner with matching wines. What better way to enhance a classic Melbourne experience than with food from one of St Kilda’s hottest restaurants?

Luxembourg by Tram
When: Monday 7 March 2016, 1:00pm (Lunch), 5:30pm (Early Dinner), 8:30pm (Late Dinner)
Cost: $120
Where: Starts at tram stop #125 on Normanby Road in South Melbourne, near the corner of Clarendon Street

Fitzroy’s History Through Cocktails

After opening in mid-2014, The Noble Experiment has become one of our favourite dining and drinking destinations in the increasingly loaded Smith Street precinct. On Thursday 10 March, The Noble Experiment will deliver a five course feast with matched cocktails whilst educating diners on the history of Fitzroy. This event offers a unique mixture of literature, gastronomy and mixology that should not be missed.

Fitzroy’s History Through Cocktails
When: Thursday 10 March 2016, 7:00pm
Entry: $128
Where: The Noble Experiment, 284 Smith Street Collingwood

Masterclasses

melbourne food and wine festival 2016

The Masterclass series brings some of the world’s best chefs to Melbourne’s Federation Square to provide you insights into their technique, style and philosophy of cooking. Unfortunately the hands-on sessions are all sold out but the samplings available at the eight MasterClass sessions are sure to please. The City Lane is also pleased to offer our readers the opportunity to win 2 passes to the Paul Cunningham Masterclass – see below for details of how to enter the draw.

Matt Preston

Famous both as a judge on the hit show MasterChef and also for his books, Matt Preston specialises in approachable and achievable food that can be created by everyday people using everyday equipment and instruments. This will be of interest to any home chef looking to improve their technique and results.

Masterclass – Matt Preston
When: Sunday 6 March 2016, 4:30
Cost: $29
Where: Deakin Edge, Federation Square

Paul Cunningham

Denmark is home to some of the world’s best restaurants and in this Masterclass Danish chef Paul Cunningham brings his take on Nordic cuisine to Melbourne using his talents as both an author and a photographer (in addition to his cooking skills of course!)

Masterclass – Paul Cunningham
When: Sunday 6 March 2016, 2:45
Cost: $29
Where: Deakin Edge, Federation Square

Restaurant Express

melbourne food and wine festival 2016

Geared towards both budding foodies and experienced diners alike, the Restaurant Express series provides a fantastic opportunities for you to try out some of Melbourne’s best restaurants at a bargain price, with a two-course lunch and a matched beverage available for $40.00 (most venues will also offer a third course at a discounted price). We recommend that you book in advance because places seats during the promotional period are limited and in high demand. Our top five picks from the restaurants that are running this promotion are:

Cafe Di Stasio
Cuisine: Italian
When: Monday to Sunday during the festival
Where: 31 Fitzroy Street St Kilda
Bookings

Merricote
Cuisine: Modern European
When: Thursday to Sunday during the festival
Where: 81 High Street Northcote
Bookings

Matteo’s
Cuisine: Modern Australian
When: Monday to Sunday during the festival
Where: 533 Brunswick Street Fitzroy North
Bookings

San Telmo
Cuisine: Argentinean
When: Monday to Sunday during the festival
Where: 14 Meyers Place Melbourne
Bookings

San Telmo
Cuisine: Peruvian
When: Monday to Friday during the festival
Where: 19 ACDC Lane Melbourne
Bookings

The full list of participating restaurants is available here.

Crawl ‘n’ Bites

melbourne food and wine festival 2016

This series of events takes you on a crawl through three different Melbourne venues with a particular theme on one night. At each venue you will be treated to one of the restaurant or bar’s signature dishes and a matching beverage. There are 11 themed crawls on the 2016 program and we’ve picked two that we think you will find quite interesting.

Northside Hip(Hop)

‘Dude’ food (i.e. greasy and/or fried meat) is one of those on-trend cuisines that has not lost its lustre which has resulted in a proliferation of burger, kebab and fried chicken places across Melbourne. In this event you will head town Gertrude and Smith Street to try out three of our personal favourites – Huxtaburger, Biggie Smalls and Belle’s Hot Chicken.

Northside Hip(Hop)
When: Tuesday 8 March 2016, 6:00pm (starting at Huxtaburger), 8:00pm (starting at Huxtaburger)
Cost: $73
Where: Huxtaburger, 106 Smith St Collingwood; Biggie Smalls, 86 Smith St Collingwood; Belle’s Hot Chicken, 150 Gertrude St Fitzroy

The Carlton Crawl

The Lygon Street precinct in Carlton has seen a gradual decline in the quality of food offerings as years of tourism have lead to a lack of innovation and overly generic Italian food offerings. However, the northern end of the Lygon Street strip and the parallel streets have been a significant uplift with some excellent restaurants opening in the area, including one of The City Lane’s favourites, The Town Mouse. In this event you will sample the offerings of three venues that expertly straddle the fuzzy line between restaurant and bar – The Town Mouse, The Roving Marrow and The Carlton Wine Room.

The Carlton Crawl
When: Tuesday 8 March 2016, 8:00pm (starting at The Town Mouse)
Cost: $73
Where: The Town Mouse, 312 Drummond St Carlton; The Roving Marrow at The Astor, 418 Lygon St Carlton; The Carlton Wine Room, 172-174 Faraday St Carlton

Thirst Quenchers

melbourne food and wine festival 2016

Just as Good Beer Week has evolved to focus as much on food as it does on craft beer, the convergence has also occurred in the opposite direction and the Food and Wine Festival program for 2016 contains over 60 events that are focused on the liquid part of one’s diet. These are three of the events in the ‘Thirst Quenchers’ series that really piqued our interest.

Whisky Bar Crawl

Along with craft beer, the whisky scene in Melbourne has really expanded in recent years with a number of bars, including Boilermaker House – The City Lane’s pick for the best new bar in Melbourne for 2015. This event takes you on a crawl around three of the best bars in Melbourne’s CBD which all also happen to have a strong whisky focus to both taste and learn about the many varieties of our favourite brown spirit.

Whisky Bar Crawl
When: Wednesday 9 March 2016, 6:00pm (starting at Boilermaker House)
Cost: $98
Where: Boilermaker House, 209-211 Lonsdale St Melbourne; Heartbreaker, 234A Russell St Melbourne; Whisky & Alement, 270 Russell St Melbourne

Fromage a Trois – Cheese & Cider Festival

Pairing cheese with a variety of beverages including wine, whisky and beer has become increasingly popular in recent years. In this event, set in the gardens at historic Werribee Park, local artisan cheese makers will join forces with boutique cider producers for what is sure to be a most enjoyable festival where you can both enjoy the product on offer and also learn about cheese and cider making.

Fromage a Trois – Cheese & Cider Festival
When: Saturday 6 March 2016, 10:30am
Cost: $35 pre-sale, $40 at the door
Where: Werribbee Park, K Road Werribee South

Latin American Street Food Fiesta

If you are into barbecued meats and Latin street food then you will not want to miss this event at the recently opened Lady Carolina in Brunswick East. On offer will be a mix of Mexican, Peruvian and Cuban street food as well as four different cocktails, as well as two wines and two beers from the Central/South American region.

Latin American Street Food Fiesta
When: Sunday 13 March 2016, 12:00pm and 6:00pm
Cost: $133
Where: Lady Carolina, 175/177 Lygon St Brunswick East

Thanks to Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, we’re offering readers the change to win 2 tickets to the Paul Cunningham Masterclass. To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to The City Lane’s weekly newsletter by entering your e-mail address into the subscribe box at the end of this post, and leave a comment telling us what you’d like to attend the class in the “Leave A Reply” section also at the end of this post. Existing subscribers can also enter.

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Jeff
Jeff
Jeff is an actuarial consultant whose almost 15 years in the financial industry have left him deprived of an outlet for his creative side. This said, Jeff’s day job has given him the opportunity to travel abroad regularly where his typically Malaysian “eat anything and everything” mentality means that he structures both his work and leisure time around proximity to new and interesting eating establishments. Over the course of time Jeff has developed an almost fanatic passion for craft beer, American BBQ and spicy food (his ideal meal involves consuming all three at the same time), all of which he offsets through long distance running which is his preferred method for exploring a new city. Jeff is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, where he is usually engaged in an off-topic extended monologue rather than talking about the beer in hand.

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