Melbourne Food & Wine Festival: What’s on

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival kicks off this Friday. Wondering where to begin? Dive in with Epicure’s weekly guide of festival events.

Taste Now: Feb 28-March 2, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; $75 per personAmid the thrill and the newness of the NGV’s popular Melbourne Now exhibition comes a dinner with a difference, matching dishes from some of Melbourne’s best chefs while regarding the artworks that inspired them. A unique and ever-so ”Melbourne” experience that combines a city’s love of cuisine, design, art and philosophy.

Devil’s Water: March 1-8, Campari House, Melbourne; $65 including cocktails, canapes, demonstrations and a take-home kitCampari House is going a little Scandi with a workshop combining two of our northern hemisphere neighbours’ greatest loves: fish curing and vodka (aka devil’s water). Learn how to marry vodka with a range of subtle seafood while mastering the art of cocktail- making. A take-home cocktail kit will allow exploration of your newest hobby.

Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience, Noble Rot, Liquid Gold: March 1, Arts Centre, Melbourne; $250It’s the name that will send any wine-lover into a frenzy: Chateau Y’quem, the best of sweet wines. Join an experienced group, including Tim Atkin MW, Aline Baly, Sophie Otton and Mark Protheroe, as they pour everything from the aforementioned Y’quem to Ontario’s rarest wine made from winter-harvested grapes.

Sailing, Feasting, Competing: March 2, The Point, Albert Park Lake; $165In the tradition of Venice’s San Pellegrino Cooking Cup, five Melbourne chefs will be pitting themselves against the clock to race the lake on sailboats, gathering crayfish, wagyu and caviar to cook up a dish for the spectators.

Eat Ocean Drink Succulent: March 2, Mamasita, Melbourne; $140 includes eight courses and unlimited drinks; $180 for a premium beverage packageEver wanted to eat at Mamasita without the queue? Now’s your chance – book at the usually unbookable Mamasita, then consider what’s on offer: an eight-course, street-style smorgasboard of food from the Mexican heartland with wine, beer, sangria, margaritas and tequila to match. Unlimited drinks and unstoppable fun.

Australian Artisan Cheese Fair: March 2, Northcote Town Hall, Northcote; $30 ($20 ASCA members)Long live the cheesemakers! Celebrate these incredible artisans and learn how moisture, humidity, temperature and living microbes come together to create the rich and varying cheeses we know and love. There will be cheese tastings and lessons on how to choose and store cheese, along with instruction on the best way to use cheese to complement produce and beverages.

Dinner at the Cinema: March 4, Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford; $75”Dinner and a show” takes on new meaning at Abbotsford Convent where film and food enthusiasts can eat a two-course seafood meal beneath the stars while watching a water-themed film. The night makes the most of the convent precinct, kicking off with canapes and drinks inside the Industrial School before moving outside for the evening’s double bill – a film and a feast, served in fine-dining style.

Inaugural Port Phillip Mussel Festival: March 8 and 9, South Melbourne Market, noon-11pm; free entryThe humble mussel is, well, muscling in on the South Melbourne Market for a weekend of cooking demonstrations, music and feasting as the humble bivalve takes centre-stage. Pop into Claypots Evening Star, Mexican restaurant Paco Y Lola, the Turkish surrounds of Koy, and Simply Spanish for tastings, while Iain Hewitson (fresh from the opening of the nearby Big Huey’s Diner) will be running cooking demonstrations in the market’s LG Kitchen. Entry is free and mussels will be available at $5 a bucket. Bring it on!

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