After a few massive weeks of fine wining and dining this week saw yet another successful Melbourne Food and Wine Festival draw to a close. With an extraordinarily big program on offer it was an applaudable effort from all involved, and while I personally could only manage a few outings I did have a thoroughly delightful time learning how to taste and enjoyed sharing a fabulous sweet feast with good friends. Across the program there was a strong focus on following food from farm to plate and there were some really enjoyable discussions highlighting the importance of being able to source quality, sustainable produce when it comes to bringing tasty and innovative new dishes to our tables. During the festival, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to listen to Ben Shewry, Rene Redzepi and Dan Hunter talk about their experiences in food, and while all three came across as genuinely charming and down-to-earth individuals with thoughtful and inspiring approaches to feeding the masses, what I found most refreshing was being able to hear from people who honestly give a damn about what they do. Not only are they committed to sharing their take on food in really exciting and engaging ways, they are also very passionate about the people who make what they do possible, and as Ben spoke of the likes of Melbourne City Rooftop Honey and Sea Bounty Mussels doing big things here in the city, Dan and his team took the time to show us around some of their main suppliers from Western Victoria.
We visited Elizabeth and Bruce at Grampians Pure Sheep Dairy, who are doing wonderful things with yoghurt,
and stopped in to see the Kumnick's and their delicious and devastatingly cute free-range rare breed pigs and piglets at Greenvale Farm.
Great food doesn't happen without great produce, and it was a real privilege to meet some of the wonderful, passionate people responsible for bringing such exceptional quality to our plates.
The same can be said for meal accompaniments, and so as we journeyed on we also managed a quick stop at Enigma Variations biodynamic winery,
before enjoying a superb lunch featuring some fine produce from the most stunning kitchen garden I've ever had the pleasure of envying.
Naturally, you don't travel all that way to one of Victoria's unique, award-winning establishments without staying for dinner, and so I may also have indulged in a ten-course omnivore feast of epic proportions, featuring dishes so texturally engaging I still get goosebumps just thinking about them.
It was an immense pleasure being able to share in the offerings of a team who are not only clearly very proud of what they produce, but have the ability to present you with course after course that conveys their passion and enjoyment in what it is that they do. If you're ever down Dunkeld way, do go. The dining experience alone will be memorable, and then there's always the morning view...
As for bake night, it was time to revisit some old friends in these fabulous little chocolate ding dongs filled with a lush caramel cream.
My adventures into gluten-free were continued with some delightful little apple olive oil teacakes with cinnamon maple glaze.
There was a classic orange polenta cake,
a fabulous coconut milk layer cake featuring the most luscious meringue buttercream imaginable,
and the impossible-to-go-past chocolate salted caramel tarts were joined by some of their deliciously bitter ginger grapefruit curd siblings.
There may also have been some dabbling into burnt honey and praline ice cream, but I think we'll save that for later.
Well, maybe just a taste...