If you needed even more proof that great food, wine and water scenery go together, then make sure you diarise Friday night 31 March through to Sunday 2 April, when the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2017 bursts into life with ‘River Graze’ along the city section of the Yarra.
Details are yet to be unwrapped, but we can give you – our dedicated followers – an initial heads-up of what to expect on this gourmands’ weekend.
There will be much to see on both banks between Fed Square and South Wharf, so let’s do this run-down in a systematic way, assuming that you’ll arrive by train to Flinders Street Station (parking will be a nightmare, so we strongly suggest public transport).
Get off at Flinders Street, but before heading across the river to Southbank, trip across St Kilda Road to Fed Square where they will be running ‘Fed in French’, showcasing fare from all regions of France – traditional dishes, fine wines and sweets to treat your Francophile tastebuds.
Then, head down to Fed Wharf, and walk along the river path, under Princes Bridge, to Arbory, where you can perch yourself overlooking the waterway, and build your plate of cheese, jamon (Iberian ham), tinned fish and paella, while enjoying Spanish style wines. It’s a Spanish market without the airfare!
Feeling like something sweet by this stage? Keep walking westward along the river on northbank to discover Sweet Alley, where some of the country’s best desert and pastry masters come together for the three days, with the addition of a Koko Black Chocolate Experience to complete the sugar overload.
Now, it’s time to head south. Look out for the River Graze information tents, to grab a copy of the River Graze map.
Cross the river on Queensbridge or Sandridge Bridge and you’ll be immediately engulfed by the Culinary Village in Queensbridge Square. You can sharpen your home cooking skills with your favourite Master Chef stars, then kick-back with live music in the evenings. Visit www.mfwf.com.au for the full entertainment line-up. There’s even activities to entertain those with ‘Little Foodies’ in tow.
From Queensbridge Square you have the choice of moving east or west. We’ll start with the west (ie towards Crown). The Crown Promenade will be jumping with the Crown Live Pizza Festival, featuring T’Gallant Wines. Pop-up bars, pizza making classes and fun activities for the kids promise to make Crown Esplanade a real family foodie affair. But, don’t stop your westward travels here, because just across Clarendon Street, on the big lawn in front of Jeff’s Shed, you’ll find the South Wharf Craft Beer Weekend. Now, this event will cost you $20 to get in, but what great value is offered – live music while sampling award-winning beers and ciders, with a gourmet range of food. Lush grass, shade, food, wine, music – what more could you ask for?
If you take a left turn at Queensbridge Square (ie towards Southgate), then immediately you will come across City Cellar, where you can experience Victoria’s wine regions without leaving the city. You can sample and then buy your favourite wines by the glass or bottle, and snack on cheeses, charcuterie and small plates. All this will only cost the $10 purchase of a festival wine glass.
Between Queensbridge and Southgate is a promenade full of Melbourne’s best and most interesting food truck offerings, handpicked by Beatbox Kitchen’s Ralph Rashid. Make sure you have a full stomach, because your last stop on this amazing gastronomic walk is the Southgate Cider Orchard. Once again, purchase a $10 festival glass and the rich, golden, spicy and complex range of Australian ciders is all yours to sample.
By this stage, you will be right back to where you started, so just stagger across the Yarra Footbridge to Flinders Street Station and blissfully sleep your way home on the train, with a belly full of Melbourne’s finest and most interesting food and wine.
Don’t miss River Graze – 31 March to 2 April – it’s Southbank at its very best, showcasing all that’s great about Melbourne food and wine.