Happening over 17 days, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival comprises some 200 feasting events and activities held over multiple venues both within Melbourne City itself as well as the Victoria region. Attracting about 300,000 guests annually, this annual culinary celebration covers a wide range of gastronomic experiences – from wine tasting, dessert sampling, and talks by celebrity Michelin star-studded chefs, to elaborate breakfasts, lunches, teas and dinners. In a city renowned for its fabulous festivals (I’ve been here three weeks and already experienced three different mega-events!), the Food & Wine is considered by many to be a must-eat experience for conoisseurs of any affiliation.
At the kind invitation of the nice folks from Tourism Victoria, I had the rare privilege of participating in the marquee event of the occasion called the World’s Longest Lunch. With an estimated 160 tables lined up along the Crown Riverside on the Yarra River, the lunch serving more than 1,200 guests was an eating (and drinking) extravaganza of epic proportions! Apparently, the three-hour Italian inspired dining event was fully booked many days before it occurred.
Here’s a pictorial account of my experience this afternoon. Buono appetito!f=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3351305900/” title=”P1040344 by coolinsights, on Flickr”>
Vertical banners like these flank the location of the lunch, pointing the way to the culinary experience.
Of course, some of them did have a little fun making music to enliven the atmosphere during the three-course meal.
For the entree, we had an antipasto plate with prosciutto, salami, baked roma tomatoes, char-grilled vegetables, asparagus, marsala melons and shaved parmesan. The prosciutto ham was especially tasty, and I liked the way the grilled vegetables were done.
For the main course, we had grilled beef tenderloin with Tuscan herb crust on field mushroom and almond broccolini with cannellini bean salad. The beef was tender and juicy, and the topping added a nice crunchy texture to it. I liked how the mushroom soaked in the juices of the marinade in a flavourful manner.
The final dish was the dessert of Zuppa Inglese with Alkermes liquer, candied fruit, glazed cherries and amaretto biscuit. Absolutely yummy although it may have been better if the tastes were slightly more distinct.
To wash it all down, you could have a combination of either champagne, white wine, red wine or premium beer.
Of course, those who are thirsty can reach for the mineral water available in either sparkling or still varieties.
Their music was so catchy and upbeat that a Japanese gentleman got up from his chair and danced along to the rhythm. Mama mia!