Even in ‘mad March’, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) 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. Here are our picks for what to see, do and eat at this year’s #MFWF, and best of all, many are free or value-packed.
One of the festival’s busiest annual events, River Graze sees an entire kilometre of the Yarra river bank is transformed into a culinary playground. Producers, winemakers, chefs and food trucks line the riverside creating an buzzing festival atmosphere, while floating activities spill the fun out onto the water. Friday 16 – Sunday 18 March.
Take your wine appreciation up at notch at City Cellar, where some of Victoria’s best producers get together to share their wares. Relax with friends over a glass, enjoy a wine-friendly snack (such as cheese, charcuterie and seafood), listen to live music or stock up your home cellar. Friday 16 – Sunday 18 March, as part of River Graze.
River Graze takes over the banks of the Yarra | Image: Georgia Haynes
Melbourne Pizza Festival
One of Italy’s greatest exports will also have a dedicated festival this year, with the return of the Melbourne Pizza Festival to Crown Riverwalk from 16 to 18 March. Entry is free and you can see master dough-spinners at work before tucking into your very own little slice of Naples. Pizza’s best friends, pasta, gelato and wine, will be there too and there’s also plenty of live entertainment and activities for the kids.
Foodie Trails Indian Festival Melbourne
Queen Victoria Market is joining in the foodie fun as well, transforming into an Indian food utopia inspired by ‘Chandni Chowk’ – one of Delhi’s oldest and busiest markets. Running over the weekend of 24 – 25 March, the Foodie Trails Indian Festival Melbourne will also feature Bollywood beats, free yoga and other cultural activities.
Long Chim Bangkok Markets
If you want to venture further afield, why not take a step inside the bustling markets of Bangkok? Long Chim Bangkok Markets, a pop-up Thai style food market, is coming to Crown Riverwalk. A special event spear-headed by Chef David Thompson and the team at Long Chim, immerse yourself in market madness among floating lanterns, food stalls, bars and live entertainment. Friday 23 to Sunday 25 March.
$40 and under
Packed schedules can be a barrier to having a group meal out, but luckily MFWF has catered for all. Busy workers and the generally time poor can rejoice over two courses and a matched glass of wine or beer for $40, as part of the Restaurant Express series. Choose from over 80 venues including Annam, Grossi Florentino, Bar Lourinha and Pastuso, and indulge in all the festival has to offer without needing to clear your calendar.
Theatre of Ideas
If you’re hungry for knowledge, the Theatre of Ideas is serving two delicious talks on community and sustainability in the food industry. The sessions focus on how food is shaping our lives, exploring what this means for waste, personal relationships and more. Visit Deakin’s Edge at Federation Square to hear from leading experts like ex-punk Stephen Harris, writer Chris Ying and the USA’s own ‘Gangsta Gardener’ Ron Finley.
The House of Food and Wine is back this year, taking up residence on Flinders Street. Think kitchen takeovers by the world’s best restaurateurs, barside dining with professional sommeliers and an innovative bar menu devised by ethical food advocates, Matt Stone and Jo Barrett.
You can also visit the in-house festival concierge for the lowdown on events, restaurants and perks that only those in the know can let you in on.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival runs from Friday 16 March to Sunday 25 March.