Last-minute Christmas gift guide

Photo: Anna Vu (@goodfoodcrapdrawing)

Scratching your head about what to buy the food-lover in your life this Christmas? Let us help you out with this last-minute gift guide. From presents for Dad to gifts for the gin obsessive you know, we’ve got something for everyone. And all of them can be purchased from the comfort of home and delivered straight away, meaning gift shopping on Christmas Eve won’t necessarily end in disaster. You’re welcome.

The fail-proof gift

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival gift voucher
When you need something reliable and customisable, where there’s absolutely zero chance they’ve already got one, a Festival gift voucher is the answer to your prayers. With more than 200 events on the 2019 program, from intimate gatherings and interactive 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. Too easy.
Gift vouchers are available in $50, $75 and $100 denominations, or you can choose your own amount.

Gifts for Dad

The 5 Bs Great Long Lunch
Burgundy, Barolo, birds and more are on the menu at this indulgent lunch at Midnight Starling in Kyneton. Chef Steve Rogers will create a five-course menu using pigeon, duck, quail, partridge and guinea fowl, with each course matched to a heavy-hitting wine. Think Domaine D’Auvenay, Domaine Jacques Prieur, GD Vajra, La Spinetta and more, all selected by wine importer Patrick Walsh. An event for people that don’t do things by halves.
12:30PM-4:30PM, 17 March, Midnight Starling, $1003

Asado y Vino
That’s char-grilled meat and wine to you. The teams from Melbourne steakhouses San Telmo, Asado and Palermo will take over Clyde Park winery in Bannockburn for a full-blown Argentine barbecue that will keep even the most serious carnivores satisfied. Vineyard views are a bonus.
12:30PM, 17 March, Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro, from $123

Bush Tea: Geelong Gallery and Sidney Nolan’s Kelly Series
What better way to appreciate Sidney Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly paintings than with a bush-themed high tea? Touring all of Australia for the first time in 15 years, the Ned Kelly series will be on show at Geelong Gallery during the 2019 Festival. Make a day of it with a tour featuring locally grown and native Australian bush food canapés, sparkling wine and tea.
3:00PM-5:00PM, 17 March, Geelong Gallery, $82

Gifts for the millennial in your life

Pick Your Own Prosecco
After drinking bottles of the stuff, it only seems fitting that the 20-something in your life should closer look at how prosecco is made. And what better place to do it than Dal Zotto, one of the pioneering wineries making Australian prosecco. They’ll get to hand-pick grapes used to make prosecco before morning tea among the vines and, later, enjoy a sit-down Italian feast at the winery’s trattoria. Included in every ticket are a half-dozen bottles of the latest vintage of col fondo prosecco.
9:30AM, 16 March, Dal Zotto Wines, $198

Rosio Sanchez at Mamasita, part of Global Dining Series supported by Lavazza
If the word taco makes your favourite millennial’s eyes light up, then this might be their ultimate food fantasy. Rosio Sanchez of Hija de Sanchez fame is cooking at Mamasita for one day only. The American-born chef did time at Noma and WD-50 before opening a string of restaurants in Copenhagen that draw on her Mexican heritage. She helped René Redzepi set up the Noma pop-up in Mexico in 2016 and, earlier this year, she was featured in David Chang’s series Ugly Delicious, in which she wowed the chef with her tortillas. Need we say more?
12:00PM or 2:30PM, 10 March, Mamasita, from $128

Truly Madly Deeply Melbourne
Give the gift of stepping back in time with this event at the Plaza Ballroom, the only time during the year it opens its doors to the public. The Instagram-worthy moments will be many at this Melbourne Food & Wine Festival favourite, which includes a four-course dinner in the sumptuous surrounds of this grand old ballroom inside the Regent Theatre on Collins Street. 
6:30PM-10:30PM, 13 March, Plaza Ballroom, $170

Gifts for vegans and vegetarians

Down by the Meadow
Echuca’s plant-based eatery The Sweet Meadow is hosting a special dinner in collaboration with Junction Moama where plates will be flavour-filled and meat-free. With five courses of vegan dishes, plus matched wines, cocktails and kombucha, this one-off event is proof that indulgence takes many forms.
6:30PM-10:30PM, 15 March, Junction Moama, $113

Take Five
Eating your recommended serves of vegetables is no chore when you’re in the capable hands of Rob Dolan Wines. Everything but the cheese on this five-course vegetarian menu will be sourced from the 40-hectare property that’s houses the winery and The Farm Yarra Valley. With vegan-friendly options also available, this is a lunch for all-comers.
12:00PM-4:00PM, 11 March, Rob Dolan Wines & The Farm Yarra Valley, $123

Gifts for Mum

River Feast with Karen Martini
If Mum missed out on tickets to this year’s World’s Longest Lunch where Karen Martini is part of an all-women line-up, make her day with a seat at River Feast, a grazing-style lunch prepared by Martini and located on the banks of the Loddon River. Part of the inaugural Loddon Valley Food and Wine Expo, the lunch will showcase produce from the region. Afterward, you can go and chat to the producers themselves, taste wine and more.
11:30AM-3:00PM, 16 March, Newbridge Recreation Reserve, $123

Healesville Crawl, part of Crawl 'n' Bite supported by Victoria Harbour
The Yarra Valley is up there as one of the tastiest regions in Victoria, producing artisan cheese, pinot noir and more. Spend an afternoon exploring the Valley’s gateway town, Healesville, stopping in at Four Pillars Gin, Giant Steps cellar door and Graceburn Wine Room for tastings and more. Wine plus chocolate plus gin equals guaranteed good times.
2:00PM-5:00PM, 17 March, various locations, $98

Laneway Fiesta
Make the most of daylight savings with this evening event that celebrates the best of Spanish culture. Bendigo’s charming Chancery Lane will be transformed for a Saturday night fiesta featuring flamenco, sangria and tapas courtesy of laneway restaurant El Gordo. Tickets are the right price to get one for you and Mum (or for her and her best friend). Win-win.
7:00PM-10:30PM, 16 March, El Gordo, $68

Vintage Lunch with the Avenel Bunch
Celebrate women winemakers in the heritage surrounds of Harvest Home Hotel in Avenel, in Victoria’s north-east. The Avenel Bunch is a group of women winemakers in the region who will be pouring some of their drops at this three-course lunch. Featuring Maygars Hill, Box Grove, Pacha Mama, McPherson and more.
12:00PM-5:30PM, 16 March, Harvest Home Hotel, $138

Gifts for your BFF

The House of Food and Wine
The House of Food and Wine is back for 2019, and bigger than ever, encompassing Masterclass demonstrations, Theatre of Ideas, exclusive food and drink collaborations and more, all under one roof. Taking over the historic Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne, The House is an all-day and all-night affair, so why not explore it with great company? Our early-bird tickets are on sale through to 1 January, so you can pick up a Christmas present for your best friend and get your own ticket at the same time. The hardest part will be choosing which day to attend.
9-11 March, Coopers Malthouse Theatre. Early-bird pricing: $45 for general admission, $99 for VIP tickets

Barwon Heads Beach Bash
Beachside favourite At The Heads is putting on a Sunday afternoon beach party – and you and your pals are invited. Seafood, Bellarine Peninsula wines by Oakdene and locally made beer from Blackman’s Brewery in Torquay will be served to the backdrop of DJs and the sound of lapping waves. Don’t miss out.
12:00PM-3:00PM, 17 March, At The Heads, $118

Fromage a Trois Cheese Festival
Picnic blankets, bottles of wine and plenty of cheese, all in the picturesque grounds of Werribee Mansion – sounds like the perfect day out, doesn’t it? Insert yourself and your pals into this fantasy scenario and spend the day tasting your way through artisan cheeses as you chat to the makers and find out more about how each cheese is produced.
11:00AM-6:00PM, 24 March, Werribee Park, $37, children under 14 years free.

Gifts for your significant other

The Ultimate Wagyu Experience
If prime cuts are the way to your partner’s heart, look no further than this five-course dinner devoted entirely to Australian wagyu. Showcasing various cuts and ageing methods from benchmark producers including Sher Wagyu and Robbins Island Wagyu, the team at The Woodhouse will match all five courses with premium wines from the region.
7:00PM-10:30PM, 15 March, The Woodhouse, $253

Kings of Quebec supported by Destination Canada
What started as a tiny restaurant dreamed up by friends in Montreal has grown into one of the city’s most important and successful restaurant empires. Joe Beef and its siblings Mon Lapin, Vin Papillon, Liverpool House and McKiernan’s Luncheonette celebrate Quebec’s rich and richly diverse food culture. To eat at Joe Beef is to experience French tradition combined with myriad influences and a sense of fun. As the Joe Beef team make a rare appearance in Australia, don’t miss this stunning candlelit dinner served in the courtyard of the Malthouse Theatre.
7:00PM-10:00PM, 9 March, Coopers Malthouse Theatre, $185

Daniel Puskas at Laura, part of Global Dining Series supported by Lavazza
Daniel Puskas (Sixpenny) and Phil Wood (Pt Leo Estate) are among the most talented chefs cooking in Australia right now. Now, fresh off a standout year of awards for their respective restaurants, the two Tetsuya’s alumni will reunite for a one-off dinner. Make a weekend of it and plan an itinerary featuring the wineries, farmgates and beaches of the Mornington Peninsula – you’ll earn some serious brownie points.
12:30PM, 16 March, Laura, Pt Leo Estate, from $195


Gifts for gin-lovers

Made from Gin
What’s better than gin? Other things made with gin. And the Four Pillars team are all for it. Let them show you some of their most innovative products, from moonshine cheese to feed for their friend’s free-range pigs, as you taste and learn about the wide world of gin.
3:00PM-5:00PM, 16 March or 17 March, Four Pillars Gin, $78

A Spirited Peninsula
You know the Mornington Peninsula has a reputation for wine, but there’s a whole world of distilleries to be discovered in this picturesque region. Let the distillers come to you for an afternoon of tasting that covers gin, rum, whisky and more. With seven distilleries plus food trucks, music and cocktails also on offer, it’ll be a helluva party.
12:30PM-2:30PM, 17 March, Jimmy Rum Distillery, $58

Gin High Tea
Whoever thought to combine two of life’s most enjoyable things deserves a prize. Your gin-loving friend is sure to agree. High tea and cocktails will come together at this tea house in leafy Montrose, for an afternoon of scones,  savoury bites, Four Pillars gin and specialty teas. Vintage tea cups and views of the garden surrounding the café will complete the scene.
6:30PM, 15 March or 17 March, Montrose Tea House, $72