Food-focused Valentine’s gifts

Photo: Anna Vu, Good Food Crap Drawing

Most of us don’t need more “stuff”. Our stack of cookbooks is just about ready to topple over, there’s enough cold-pressed olive oil in the cupboard to dress a thousand salads and don’t even get us started on gadgets. This Valentine’s Day, give your food-loving sweetheart the gift of experiencing a wine dinner with award-winning sommeliers, an all-vegan Ethiopian feast or perhaps a weekend away at the ultimate country food destination. After all, the memories will long outlast that bottle of hot sauce. Plus you might even get to enjoy the gift too. Here are our top Festival picks for that special someone.

The Village Feast Sleepover

Show your beloved just how special you think they are with a weekend spent glamping in a tiny town in Gippsland, where we’re putting on The Village Feast ($25). An homage to the Victorian country towns of old, the event features a series of pop-up eateries and stores along the main street of Jindivick, including The Green Grocer by Shannon Martinez and The Smokehouse by Trevor Perkins of Hogget Kitchen. And you can stay for the whole weekend in an Under Sky tent set up on a dairy farm just outside town. Did we mention it’s only an hour's drive from Melbourne?
15-17 March, Gippsland Jersey Dairy Farm, from $665

Transcendental Trio

We’re talking wine, cheese and chocolate – surely three of the most romantic foods on the planet. And while they’re heavenly in their own right, when these three are masterfully combined, they create a marriage of flavours and textures that can take your enjoyment to the next level. Discover how to balance acid, tannins and sweetness in this very tasty workshop.
7:00PM-9:30PM, 12 March, Hudsons Road Wine and Beer, $57

The House of Food and Wine

With three days of jam-packed programming featuring 50 of the most exciting names in food and wine, there’s something for just about every food-lover at The House of Food and Wine. If you and your significant other are fans of Lune Croissant or Joe Beef, Day 1 is perfect for you. Get along to Day 2 if sustainability, cooking over coals, New Nordic cuisine or the food of Adam Liaw float your boat. And if tacos, wine, heirloom vegetables or the pursuit of creativity are more your thing, Day 3 is just the ticket. Tickets for all three days are on sale now.
9-11 March, The Coopers Malthouse, from $65

An Ethiopian Vegan Feast

Do you enjoy adventures of the meat-free kind? Explore Ethiopian cuisine’s natural affinity with veganism via a buffet at Footscray’s beloved Konjo Cafe. A menu of vegan dishes ranging from mild to spicy will be complemented by homemade barley brew and spiced tea, with a traditional coffee ceremony and vegan dessert to finish.
7:30PM, 8 March, 9 March, 22 March, 23 March, Konjo Cafe, $51

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival gift voucher

When you need something reliable and customisable for your discerning beloved, a Festival gift voucher is the answer to your prayers. With more than 200 events on the 2019 program, from intimate gatherings and hands-on workshops to long-table lunches in stunning regional locations, there’s an event to suit every food-lover. Let them choose while you pick up the tab.
Gift vouchers are available in $50, $75 and $100 denominations, or you can choose your own amount.

The 5Bs Great Long Lunch

Cosy Kyneton restaurant Midnight Starling is hosting a lunch to end all lunches. Patrick Walsh of fine-wine importer Cellarhand will match Grand Cru wines to a game bird feast, featuring pigeon, duck, partridge and more. If your beau loves the wines of Domaine Leroy, Domaine D’Auvenay and more, or if they just love to splash out, this is the perfect gift.
12:30PM-4:00PM, 17 March, Midnight Starling, $1003

Aphrodisiac Night

Explore the sensual side of Chinese cuisine at RuYi. Across five courses, head chef Sheng Fang will display the powers of aphrodisiac herbs and medicines, mixing the traditional Chinese approach to food as medicine with his signature brand of modern Chinese dining. Matched wines and a pre-dinner cocktail will add to the atmosphere.
6:30PM, 11-13 Mar, RuYi Modern Chinese, from $72

The Somm Take Over

If your sweetheart is sweet on wine, spoil them with a dinner featuring not one, not two, but three star sommeliers at Carlton Wine Room. Gavin Cremming of Stokehouse fame and Jonathon Ross (Master Sommelier from Eleven Madison Park and currently at Rockpool Dining Group) will join Carlton Wine Room’s Travis Howe, the Good Food Guide’s current Sommelier of the Year. Set in the restaurant's intimate cellar dining room with its bluestone walls, this dinner featuring exceptional food and wine pairings ticks all the boxes.
6:30PM-10:30PM, 19 March, Carlton Wine Room, $235

Blue Fin Tuna Showcase

For a luxurious way to say I love you, you can’t go past this most prized of all tuna. At Kisumé, the in-house sushi masters will show you exactly why this particular species holds pride of place in Japanese cuisine, breaking down a whole blue fin tuna in front of you before preparing a lunch of sashimi, nigiri and maki featuring premium cuts.
1:00PM, 9 March or 23 March, Kisumé, $153