For lovers of food and wine it’s eat, drink and be Melbourne

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

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.

Chris­tine Man­field

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