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Culinary extravaganza: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013

Elisa Scarton

Fri Feb 22 2013


FOODIES unite! The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is on again from March 1 and we’ve got the scoop on the best drool-worthy events.

A celebration of haute cuisine and sommelier-selected wines, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival has always seemed a little removed from the average student and their perchance for cheap eats. In the past, most of the festival has been held behind closed doors in fancy restaurants with world renowned chefs and pricey tickets better suited to city hipsters with an endless budget.

But not this year. Festival organisers are making a real effort to engage  those of us who appreciate good food that doesn’t cost next month’s rent. Over the three weekends from March 1 to 17, Melbourne will be abuzz with a slew of indulgent and free food themed events. We’ve chosen the best for our very own festival guide:

Friday, 1 March

The festivities kick off with Oodles of Noodles at River Lawn, Footscray Community Art Centre from 6:30pm. Movie lovers can come for the free dumplings and noodles and stay for a showing of Kung Fu Panda under the stars.

If movie and noodles aren’t your thing, head to The Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar in Queensbridge Square. A world-first installation that reinterprets a terraced coffee farm, this spot will be coffee central throughout the festival with a different award-winning barista making your coffee each day until March 17. While you’r enjoying your cup, you can wander through the 120 coffee plants that have been planted on the farm to give visitors a glimpse of the story of coffee from seedling to coffee cup.

Saturday, 2 March

Learn how to make your own vegetables while watching competitions and culinary demonstrations at the Country Woman’s Association State Fair. On in Toorak from 9am, this fair promises to be a celebration of great Australian home cooking.

For some music with your food, spend yo ur Saturday at Yarra’s edge where you can enjoy free jazz from some of Melbourne’s finest young musicians from 11am.

Sunday, 3 March

Probably the highlight of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the World Street Food Festival at Queen Victoria Market is an institution. The festival is a bit like a round the world culinary ticket where you can relive holiday tastes or try something new. Dishes are cheap so you can eat until you explode and dance it off with music from all over the globe.

If you’re worried about crowds, you can enjoy the same authentic food festival experience at Dandenong Market in Melbourne’s South East. Dandenong has a strong Afghan and Asian community, so you can expect some world class street food at this event.

Photo: Daniel Mahon

Photo: Daniel Mahon

Saturday 9 March- Monday 11 March

Crown is celebrating the Labour Day weekend by transforming their corner of Southbank into a mini festival with free entertainment, pop-up bars and culinary offerings from their best restaurants including The Merrywell, Number 8 and Mr Hive.

Thursday 14 March

Join broadcaster and author Indira Naidoo in conversation with Stephanie Alexander, Rohan Anderson and Max Allen as they discuss sustainable living and eating in Victoria. The event is called From Plot to Plate and is on at the Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library.

Saturday 16 March and Sunday 17 March

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival draws to a close with a handful of choice events that are outside the city boundaries, but if you don’t feel like a road trip, you can celebrate another year of good food and company with a very appealing $40 two-course lunch at 90 of Melbourne’s finest restaurants including Bistro Vue, Circa, The Prince, Red Spice Road and Grossi Florentino.

This special lunch is on at participating restaurants throughout the festival, so it’s a good excuse try all those restaurants that have always seemed prohibitively expensive.

For more information about any of the events at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, visit their festival website.