The Best Things in Life Are Free

Friday sees the start of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, a festival that spans from the 27th Feb to the 15th of March and includes over 300 different events both in Melbourne and in Regional Victoria. While there are amazing events which all provide brilliant value for money, I wanted to focus on some of the festivals, galas and masterclasses that don’t cost a thing. Alright, so you need to buy your food and drinks but all the entertainment and learnings that are happening? They’re free!

To start with, lets talk about the Open Kitchen, a huge event taking place on 28th Feb-1st March and runs from Birrarung Marr to South Wharf, playing host to 10 different events including Crowns Alfresco Kitchen where Crowns restaurants open their doors for you to sample some of their signature dishes,  MCEC Food Truck Jam where the Exhibition Centres lawn will be covered with some of Melbournes finest food trucks, South Wharf which will be transformed into a Hawker style market for a family friendly day of food, music and entertainment and Sweet Alley with treats from Lux Bites, Burch and Purchase, N2 Gelato and more.

If you’re looking to stay out of the city, Richmond’s Bridge Rd are hosting a Global Gathering on the 1st March. A great chance to check out some of the fabulous multicultural dining experiences from one end of the rd to the other. With tasting plates starting at only $5 plus masterclass, cooking demos, tuk-tuks and even dance classes. Don;t forget to get your passport stamped to go into the running to win a $3000 Smeg kitchen prize.

South Melbourne Market are once again playing host to the Port Phillip Mussel Festival, a fabulous seafood themed street party running the weekend of the 7th-8th March. There will more mussels than your muscles can carry, mussel paella, drunken mussels, plus an array of sangria and craft beer, artisanal ice cream and fun for the kids.

Out west, you can head to the Seddon Festival on the 7th March, with entertainment spread over three stages, food, wine and beer tastings and the infamous waiters’ race the day promises great fun for locals and visitors.

Head back into the CBD on the 8th March as the laneways of Duckboard Place and AC/DC Lane open up into a mix of music, art and food for the MARCS festival. With food stalls from Terra Rossa, Pastuso and Papa Goose, music from Cherry Bar and drinks from Mary Fortune and Eau de Vie it’s the place to be.

Speaking of amazingly fun free things to do, a reminder that Saturday 28th February is Craft Beer Rising Day, a day to celebrate all things craft beer. With over 25 events taking happening all over Victoria, its a great chance to meet the brewers, the enthusiasts, learn more about the burgeoning craft beer scene and make new drinking buddies.

What’s happening this week

Don’t forget there is still so much going on this week heading up to the Food and Wine Festival. I’m personally checking out Slipsmith Gin at the Everleigh with the Gin Queen in what will be Slipsmiths only consumer tasting in Melbourne. I’m also heading to the Windsor to find out more about my newest love, Italian wine at Gambero Rosso. This event will showcase Italian wine, some of which have not been seen in Melbourne before. Staying with the wine, I’ll also be attending (and by attending I mean working) at Return to Terroir, a Biodynamic wine showcase happening on the 28th Feb and 1st March at the Town Hall with more than 50 wines on show from some of the worlds leading Biodynamic wine experts.

Fat Tuesday, Lunar New Year and a Tomato Festival

By now we should all have left those Valentine’s shenanigans behind us so we can now all comfortably get on with what’s left of our February. Fortunately, even though we are half way through the month, there is still plenty to keep us interested.

This Tuesday is Mardi Gras or at Tuesday and there are a couple of things going on. If you head over to Hardy Reserve you’ll find yourself set among the Fat Tuesday, Southern Food and Music Festival. There promises to be a massive amount of food bought to you by the likes of Gumbo Kitchen, The Girl with the Gris Gris and Bluebonnet BBQ. Along with a heap of music, this promises to be a fantastic night for the whole family. If you were looking for something a bit more formal (but not really) Burger Mary and Fancy Hanks are putting on a Mardi Gras Dinner at Fancy Hanks. For just $50 a head, it offers you tunes, BBQ and King cake.

Also happening this week is the Lunar New Year and while this occurs on the 19th, their are all different events happening around town for the next two weeks. While I have a few on off dinners happening around town on the events calender, there is a lot more happening that isn’t on there. One project that caught my eye was the Lumen Laneways Project. An art project that is using light instillation’s to highlight hidden bars in some of Melbourne’s best know Chinatown laneways. For more information on what’s on during the Lunar New Year in Melbourne, have a look here.

Heading out of February, we find the inaugural Melbourne Tomato Festival. The festival is being held in South Morang on a farm and will be a celebration of all things tomato related. You’ll meet local farmers selling their produce, chefs putting on masterclasses, agriculturalists discussing how best to grow your tomatoes, passata making classes, Italian food, workshops and entertainment. If you can’t wait till the 1st March for your tomato fix, you can join Merchant Osteria Ventia for the Tomato Festival Gala Dinner on the 27th Feb.

Don’t forget that there is heaps more on, make you check back to the events calender as it’s constantly being updated.





Valentines for all!

Hi all,

It is that time of year where our thoughts turn to love (or to tequila which if you drink enough is kind of like love). This year as Valentine’s day is on a Saturday, there is no end to the amazing food deals in restaurants as everyone is getting in on the act. It’s a great excuse to try out a new place, my ever growing list of where to go for V day is here.  Don’t worry if you’re not a couple (says the eternity single person so I know what I am talking about here) there are options out there for singles as well. Nieuw Amsterdam is holding a tinder party, show them your profile and you get a free cocktail. Both Ladro in Prahran and Fitzroy have tables for singles where for $50 you can stuff your face and also meet the love of your life. You can also meander down to Bang Pop for their anti Valentines day with a bunch of specials and no share plates!

If you maybe are looking for something special to give the object of your affection, nothing says I think you’re hot like fried sticky goodness. Shortstop donuts are hand delivering boxes of donuts in the CBD and inner city, all beautifully gift wrapped for $45 for 6, more info here.

If the love of your life is more into Rosé than roses then maybe a mixed dozen from Taltarni is the way to win them over (also, you get to drink some to so it’s a gift that keeps giving). A selection of still and sparkling for $250 delivered. More info here.

If you want to get cheesy, Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder have a Valentines Day picnic pack. For just$29.50, you get a selection of cheese so all you need to do is grab some bubbles, a blanket and head to the Sydney Myer Music Bowl for a free concert performed by the MSO.

Moving on from hearts and flowers and on to what’s happening this week in Melbourne. As with last wek, we are all about the wine. On Tuesday, you can take your pick of where to go for your Riesling as 2 of my favourite spots, Harry and Frankie and Bar Nacional are having Riesling events. On Wednesday, The Tasting Table are having an Italian Wine night for just $40 a head which promises to be fascinating. Albert St Food and Wine are collaborating with Western Plains pork to bring you a 4 course dego for $100 a head on Thursday. For you beer aficionados, Stone brewing are launching their latest brew with a guest appearance by their head brew at Foresters Hall.

Remember to check back to the events page as it is constantly being updated!

February, Feb Fast or Wine Month?

Hi all

Before we get started I’ll preface this post by saying yes I know, all months are wine months but I can’t help but notice how many fantastic wine events are coming up in February (and some amazing beer things as well but I shall get to that later).  From dinners and tasting to masterclass and expos, it really is all happening. There is a massive emphasis on Riesling as you’d expect with Riesling Down Under getting under way in Melbourne. This wine event that occurs every second year and attracts Riesling makers from around the globe and is as much about educating as it is about tasting. I was reintroduced to Riesling a couple of years ago at a 4 the love of Riesling tasting and since then, it has become one of my favourite varieties (to be fair, my previous experience with this grape was out of a cask in the early 90’s so I think this excuses me from being away from the fold for so long). One of my other favourite varieties is Shiraz which is also well represented this month with a Shiraz and steak night at the Botanical, an amazing Shiraz dinner and masterclass at the stunning Brooks of Melbourne and a Shiraz tasting at Toorak Cellars.

What’s coming up

Monday the 2nd is Super Bowl and while I personally have absolutely no understanding of the game, I can fully appreciate any event that allows me to eat chicken wings and burgers at 8.30am.  If you are fortunate enough to have the day off and want to see what the fuss is about, you can find a list of venues hosting parties here.

February is the month for celebrating your relationships (or drowning your sorrows while talking to your cats, either/or) and as Valentines Day this year is on a Saturday, there are even more venues putting on great deals for you to get out and about. So grab your partner/best friend/casual acquaintance/fellow cat lover/whatever and spoil yourself.

For those who are maybe beer inclined rather than into the wine (personally I like both, why take sides?) There are more than a few beer events on for you starting with Waitangi day on the 6th Feb where the fabulous folk at the Terminus Hotel are having a New Zealand Beer Tap take over, food specials and giveaways.

Looking for something made a little more locally? Then you can’t go past GABF on the 21st of Feb, one of the biggest beer showcases in town, a cracker of a day out and easily accessible by public transport so winning all round.

For something a wee bit closer to town, join Miro the beer maestro at the Gertrude hotel on the 28th of Feb for a high country beer tasting as part of Craft Beer Rising a national day to celebrate all thing craft beer related. Learn more about the beers from the high country while sampling a few of Miro’s favourites.

Happy February all, will be back to talk all things Food and Wine Festival next week!

Sunny Sunday sessions

Hi all,

So we are a week in to 2015 and have survived our first bout of infernal weather for the year, yay us! To celebrate, I thought I’d tell you of a few Sunday spots that have come to my attention lately because playing loose and free on a school night is something we all need to do occasionally right? If your favourite spot not there, let me know via the comments or send your thoughts to  all feedback is appreciated and will be read while martinis are being consumed on a deck somewhere.

Sunday Sessions

St Kilda Pelican have a very tempting Sunday Special happening. Not only do they give you $10 cocktails but they have $2 oysters all day! Perfect after a stroll down the pier.

Fatto Bar & Cantina have once again opened up their courtyard area and turned it in to a fancy pop up bar overlooking the Yarra. Open from 4pm-11pm, you can grab yourself an Aperol Spritz, play some Bocce, snake on some Italian treats or just sit back and chat while a DJ plays you some fabulous tunes.

The Adelphi Hotel are opening  their magnificent rooftop each Sunday for a summer long, pool party spectacular. Have a dip in their famous pool then sit back with a fabulous cocktail or 3. Bring your towel and let them sort the rest. More info here.

Heading out of town then consider a Sunday at The Portsea Hotel. On the 4th, 11th and 16th January, they are hosting Good Life Sundays. DJ’s, paella, an all day BBQ and $5 Coronas all set against the gorgeous Portsea coast, may as well stay for a week.

If you’re over in the east, The Collection Bar in Richmond have some fabulous specials with $1 chicken wings, $5 cans of beer and $9 bloody marys. Perfect for a recovery session as well as a Sunday session.

Also in Richmond is The Royal Saxon, with DJ’s and drink specials all day not to mention a stunning beer garden. Grab a $10 roast pork panini, a $10 Aperol Spritz or one of their amazing beer/wine specials, get a spot under their big tree, sit back, relax, done.

What’s coming up

It soon to be tennis season and before the Australian Open starts, you can get in the mood by hanging out at the Kooyong Classic. If you are so inclined, you can not just watch the tennis but also stay around after for drinks, tunes and snacks at the Kooyong Garden Party.

The first big food dinner of the year goes to Hammer & Tong with the first of their Meet the Maker dinners this time with 4 course and 4 different wine makers there to talk you through their selection. I’ve been to a couple of Hammer and Tongs dinners, once by myself and once with a group, both times were just brilliant. More info here.

With Australia Day coming up (more info on whats on then in a week or so) it’s time to cast your votes. Not just for the music hottest 100 but also for craft beers hottest 100. Vote for your top 5 Australian beers and go in the running for a slab of the top 5 beers. Voting closes 8th Jan so best be quick! Place your votes here.

Every Friday night in February, experience an evening of summer delights with bar and food pop–up stalls in the Immigration museum’s courtyard. Explore a delicious wonderland with the sounds and smells of summer in the city, and taste your way around the world with Argentinean BBQ, Korean street food, Jamaican cuisine and a whole lot more! More info here.

Melbourne Latin Summer Festival is happening on the 10th Jan at Fed Square. It is a free event with that is in it’s 3rd year that is commitment to bring you the best of the Latin American culture including all categories of art, culture & entertainment from Latin America. For more info on whats happening, check out their Facebook page here.