Exploring Festival 2014

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival was a complete whirlwind of culinary delight. From authentic Ethiopian to expertly prepared Mexican, intricately crafted dumplings to freshly shucked oysters, there was not a single meal that wasn’t memorable. The plethora of events and venues to visit made me feel like I had fallen down the rabbit hole into a land of mouth-watering adventure, with a different cuisine and experience around every corner. From The Gallery of Victoria to the waters of the Yarra River, each location had a quintessentially Melbourne feel and truly showcased the best the city has to offer. Having the chance to meet most of the chefs, producers, fishermen, bartenders and fine purveyors of the amazing dishes and concoctions we tasted, made me truly understand the passion that goes into each creation and what helps make the unique food and wine culture of Melbourne.

What did you love most about your time at Melbourne Food & Wine Festival?
It was so easy to get from one venue to another; with a swipe of a Myki card or meander down a lane, we were able to step into a bustling Ethiopian restaurant with dancing wait staff, a crayfish feast with a fisherman sharing tales of a day in his life or a number of other culinary adventures which seemed to be around every one of Melbourne’s hidden corners.

How easy was it to fly from Sydney for a whirlwind Festival experience?
Very easy! We were in the air for less than hour and at our hotel before we knew it. There are so many daily flights between the two cities that my morning work commute can often take longer!

Why should other people come to the Festival?
The Festival is a great way to experience both the humble hidden gems and well-known institutions Melbourne has to offer. During the Festival, there are so many events and unique experiences on offer with the opportunity to speak to the producers of the fine food and wine we have in Australia that it gives you a whole new appreciation of the amazing produce and dishes we sometimes take for granted. 

Tell us about your experience at The Immersery
Like stepping into a fairy tale world of lush hanging gardens and sparkling water, we were given a choice of eating on the floating pontoon, riverside balcony surrounded by greenery or the upper courtyard where we had a superb view of the city skyline. For a Sydney-sider like myself, The Immersey gave a truly unique perspective of Melbourne in such a central location that we couldn’t help but keep coming back!

Favourite dish:
Very tough choice. The Adriano Zumbo dessert at Melbourne Now was absolutely incredible. Layers of textured chocolate, mousse and freeze dried fruit was used to reflect the aftermath of a dinner party, one of the Hotham Street Ladies main art installations created entirely out of icing. The signature starter dish at Mamasita, ‘street style’ chargrilled corn with queso, chipotle mayo and lime, also hit the spot partnered with a shot of tequila!

Favourite drink:
Lily Black’s exclusive MFWF cocktail ‘Aquar Fresca Fizz’ was simply divine. I have never tasted a cocktail based on h20 that was so full of flavour! With Tromba Blanco, watermelon, lime, agave and salt served long with mineral water, it was like magically mixing the cause and cure of a hangover in one delicious concoction.

Any new hot spots discovered:
Konjo Café in Footscray is definitely a hidden gem that should be in every Melburnian’s little black book. We spent our entire Ethopian feast being serenaded by a small band and traditional dancers who served us the most authentic and mouth-watering food I’ve ever had. This restaurant will be a staple on our schedule each time we visit Melbourne. I have walked past The Duke of Wellington in my scurries from Flinders St Station many times before without realising what a classy and trendy establishment it is inside. We had an incredible crayfish feast, half a lobster and a crab, to be precise, matched with delicious wines on the rooftop courtyard which was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Will you be back in 2015?
Absolutely! My fiancé and I have always been very passionate about two things; food and exploring. The Festival moulds the two pastimes together perfectly and encourages you to try new things that venture to places you probably never would!


As winner of the Festival Explorer promotion, Jess attended an all-inclusive weekend at the 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as part of her prize.

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