With Melbourne’s abundance of festivals it can be hard to stand out from the pack, but Melbourne Food and Wine Festival always makes its mark, having been a must-attend festival for the last 25 years. Each year it has us questioning whether there are enough meal-times throughout the 10 day event to eat everything we’re drooling over. So here are our picks for what to see, do and eat at this year’s #MFWF – and best of all they’re all free or value-packed.
The big coup for 2017 is that Melbourne will host the World’s Best 50 Restaurants awards, which have previously only been staged in London and New York. With the world’s finest chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and food critics arriving in town, this is a rare chance to join a Master Class from some of the most interesting chefs on the list. So you can taste food from the world’s top restaurants without leaving town.
One of our favourite events is River Graze, which, on the opening weekend of the festival, transforms more than a kilometre along the Yarra River banks into a culinary playground. Producers, winemakers, chefs and food trucks line the Yarra creating an amazing festival atmosphere, while floating activities spill the fun onto the water.
Free to enter and fun for all ages, this event also includes Crown Live with its live music, pizza-making master class with Gradi’s Johnny Di Francesco and wine-making workshops. Further along Southbank you can again indulge that interest in wine at City Cellar – a convergence of more than 30 of Victoria’s best wine producers. Relax with friends over a glass, enjoy a wine-friendly snack (such as cheese, charcuterie and seafood) or buy a bottle or two to stock up your home cellar.
There’s a new hub of food and wine this year, The House of Food and Wine – 361 Little Lonsdale Street in the CBD. It will be just like a real home with dining and lounge rooms and even a gallery. Expect sit-down dinners, wine tastings, a bar and block party at this festival foodie oasis.
If you’re lucky there might just be a few tickets left for Crawl n Bite. This event is a favourite – how else you could dine at three of the city’s finest restaurants in one evening without bursting! Essentially a progressive dinner, you’ll enjoy a signature dish and matched drink at each restaurant. Choose from different journeys including Laneways, Hawker-Style, For Goodness Sake or Late Night Bar Crawl.
Another annual favourite for its ability to delight the tastebuds without too much strain on the hip pocket is Restaurant Express. This lunchtime program, offered across more than 40 city restaurants, serves up two courses and a Victorian beverage for just $40. This means you can dine at some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, often for a fraction of the normal price.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from 31 March to 9 April.