For lovers of food and wine it’s eat, drink and be Melbourne
MELBOURNE is the magic word this week. The annual Melbourne Food & Wine Festival kicked off yesterday with talk, tastes, tours and objets d’art, and will continue until March 8 when (for $45) mad hatters and others will be able to dress up and eat cucumber sandwiches and cupcakes at an Alice in Wonderland tea party at Madame Brussels in Bourke Street. www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au.
HIGHLIGHT of the festival will be the Langham Hotel’s program of masterclasses next weekend, March 1-2. There are still some places left but they won’t last. The festival’s PR chief Ellie Rowland tells Food Detective the number of participants depends on various room sizes; they can accommodate 70 to 200. Some classes, such as the Greek chefs and France’s Generation C chef Gilles Choukroun, which will be conducted in French, are booked out. But there still are enticing insider’s perspectives to be had. Detective hears that three-Michelin-starred Michel Roux will be revealing the secret science of the perfect souffle. Detective will be there and will report back. www.langhamhotelmelbourne.com.au.
JOIN the Grand Snail Trail and visit the farmers in Victoria’s northeastern valleys next weekend. There’ll be no molluscs involved but there will be zucchini flowers to taste and information on how they and other rustic produce are grown and cooked, organic wine tasting, slow Italian meals and petanque. The Slow Food feast is part of A Taste of Slow, a regional arm of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival; events can be booked separately or as a package. Anna-Kate Pizzini (03) 5729 8029; Gwenda Canty (03) 5729 7650; www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au.
KERVELLA biodynamic goat’s cheeses from Gabrielle Kervella and Alan Cockman’s final batch, auctioned on the dairy’s closing day earlier this month ( Detective , January 12-13), have found their way to Must Winebar in Perth’s Highgate, where locals will find them on the menu until Sunday and possibly beyond.
Must’s chef Russell Blaikie tells Detective the auction idea at Kervella’s Gidgegannup property was his and he approached Slow Food Perth, which organised it all. Blaikie was there for the sale and has bought a block of fresh goat’s cheese, which he says, on Kervella’s recommendation, ‘‘ freezes to perfection’’ because of its high water content. He also brought back a supply of rondolet, a surface-mould cheese similar to a camembert, which becomes more complex with ripening. This one could be a special at Must into next week, Blaikie says. If there’s any left, that is.
On the Kervella-focused menu are croutes of rondolet with roast capsicum and black olive; twice-baked goat blanc souffle with chive creme; tarte tatin of golden shallots and rondolet and a goat blanc and potato terrine. www.must.com.au.
GRAZE Around the Globe Spanish Fiesta will be in full swing tomorrow at Currency Creek Winery, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, with dishes such as tapas and paella matched with Currency Creek wines; live entertainment; and a wine auction. Sunday, 10am-4.30pm, Winery Road, Currency Creek, $65 ($5 goes to the Rotary Club at Goolwa). www.currencycreekwines.com.au.
KINGS CROSS, Sydney’s on-the-edge suburb (and not just the city’s edge), is showing fresh signs of style. Flower baskets have been affixed to light poles along Darlinghurst Road, a small and stylish footpath cafe, Bella Vita, has materialised at No. 67 and Springfield’s Restaurant and Bar is open at No. 23. Very slick and shiny, Springfield’s looks like heading off in an unexpected direction with mayor Clover Moore’s recent move to separate a glass of wine from a meal.
While Sydneysiders will soon be seeing accessible little bars across the city, Springfield’s is erasing the line between restaurant and bar over its three floors (upper level restaurant, main floor communal eatery and cocktail bar, lower level lounge bar). There’s food until the early hours and all drinks and dishes are available in every section. Socialise in the lounge bar and order from the main menu if you feel like it, or sit in the restaurant for a drink and an olive or two. www.springfieldsrestaurant.com.au.
SEVENHILL Cellars, in SA’s Clare Valley — the oldest existing winery in the valley, established by the Jesuits in 1851 and named Sevenhill in honour of the seven hills of Rome— is bypassing Shakespeare’s history plays to stage the romantic comedy TwelfthNight . Today is the last chance to see this year’s Shakespeare in the Vines, 5.30pm and 8pm. When Detective inquired, there were tickets available. (08) 8843 4382; www.sevenhill.com.au.
UNIVERSAL appeal: Chef Christine Manfield’s Darlinghurst restaurant, in inner Sydney, sets aside the last Thursday of every month (Lunar Nights) for a specially designed menu from elsewhere, sometimes with a guest chef. This month’s lunar luminary to share the kitchens with Manfield is Detective ’ s favourite Melbourne chef, Frank Camorra from MoVida, who is designing a menu of regional Spanish dishes. Spanish wines, sherries and beers will be at arm’s reach. Our Spanish Acquisition, March 27, $150, wine extra. www.universalrestaurant.com.
OBSERVATORY Hotel will be aiming for the stars by observing Sydney’s Earth Hour on March 29. It’ll be lights out and aircon off in the rooms between 8pm and 9pm (guests will have a choice but Detective knows they’ll want to play). Arrivals at the hotel restaurant, Galileo, will be offered a complimentary glass of champagne and a special Dine in the Dark menu has been drawn up; matching wines will be recommended for those who prefer to dine without their reading glasses.
Detective would be interested to know how many restaurants across the country will be reaching for the candles the night the glittering skylines of our cities dim for the best reasons. www.orient-express.com; www.earthhour.org.au.
OF all Easter celebrations, Detective thinks few could be higher on the list than a Greek feast. The founder of Sydney’s Greekalicious cooking school, Maria Benardis, will prepare the works on the Thursday and Saturday of the week before Easter: lamb, stuffed and roasted on the spit, red-dyed and decorated hard-boiled eggs, filo custard pie (galaktoboureko) and other Easter delights. Three-hour classes include a sit-down meal. March 13, 6.30pm; March 15, 10.30am; $120. www.greekalicious.com.au.
FIND of the week: Former local girl, now chef at Petersham Nurseries cafe in Richmond, Surrey, in Britain, Skye Gyngell, published her inspiring book of recipes and seasons, AYearinmyKitchen , in hardback in 2006; this month it’s available in paperback (Quadrille/Harvey Grant, $35). Like the cafe, the book has netted several impressive awards.
DETECTIVE loves: Peroni Nastro Azzurro. When did a beer last have such a classy name? It’s made to an original 1846 recipe, comes in a retro bottle and has become more widely available at retailers across the country, such as Vintage Cellars.
DETECTIVE loathes: Small market stalls denuded of exotica — such as cavalo nero — because they’ve been raided by restaurant buyers in the neighbourhood; and even local butchers unable to stock some items (such as calves’ liver) because restaurants have bought up the wholesalers’ supplies.