The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival might be one of the hottest culinary events around, but it’s not all lavish ten-course degustations and expensive masterclasses. This year’s program also has plenty of top-notch events that’ll have you treating your tastebuds for less than a pineapple. Indulge in some foodie worship, without breaking the bank, with these five budget-friendly MFWF events.
#1 Sweet Alley @ Signal – Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2
Part of MFWF’s River Graze festivities, Sweet Alley is a sugar-coated outing for which your sweet tooth will definitely thank you. Across three delicious days, gear up for the impending Easter period with the help of a decadent array of chocolates, pastries, desserts, fruity creations, artisan ice creams, and even soft serve-filled hot cross buns. Bliss out on chocolate treats from the maestros at Koko Black, grab a DIY gift box for that special someone, and learn all the best tips and tricks during cooking demos by the likes of Michael Wheldon (Masterchef runner-up 2011) and Darren Purchese (Burch & Purchese).
#2 Culinary Village @ Queensbridge Square – Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2
Fancy a mini foodie festival that’ll cost you zero in the way of entry fees? The Culinary Village is just one of the free events set to hit the banks of the Yarra as part of MFWF’s River Graze program this weekend, and it’s a veritable wonderland of eating and drinking. Feast on snacks from culinary favourites like Hoy Pinoy, N2 Extreme Gelato, and Blackstar Pastry (yep, the guys behind THAT strawberry & watermelon cake), or kick back in the Hawkers beer garden to enjoy some free live music. You can even soak up some know-how for your own kitchen pursuits, thanks to live cooking demos from the likes of Justine Schofield, Dani Venn, and Matt Sinclair.
#3 Coffee, Beer, and Prosciutto Celebration @ Craft & Co – Sunday, April 9
$33 each class, including snacks and tastings
If you’re keen to indulge a particular foodie passion and pick up some tricks of the trade, then book yourself in for one (or all) of The Craft & Co’s MFWF workshops, when the multifaceted Collingwood spot will celebrate three of its all-time favourite foodie topics. Learn all about the coffee-making process and develop your palate under the guidance of the in-house coffee roaster; discover the ins and outs of brewing beer and enjoy a tour of the on-site microbrewery; or let chef Dom Marzano and local producers walk you through the art of prosciutto-making. Tickets to each session are $33, and include snacks and tastings.
#4 Pig Pickin’ Picnic @ Big Boy BBQ – Tuesday, April 4
Few Melbourne chefs have mastered the “low and slow” US-style BBQ quite like cookbook author and pitmaster, Lance Rosen. So, expect a new level of meaty magnificence when the man himself hosts an Eastern Carolina-inspired picnic at Caufield South’s Big Boy BBQ. Rosen’s set to work his magic over a custom-made trailer pit, smoking a whole pig and matching it to classic sides, like corn bread, candied sweet potato, and hush puppies, along with some delectable desserts. The $38 ticket will sort you out with an epic, picnic-style feed.
#5 Pizzini Pop-Up Barrel Room @ Project 49 – Friday, April 7 – Sunday, April 9
At this festival, the wining side of things is just as important as the dining, and a tasting session’s the perfect way to get acquainted with some great local product, on the cheap. Across MFWF’s closing weekend, King Valley winemakers Pizzini will host the ultimate wine hangout at their Project 49 pop-up barrel room. Grab a tasting ticket for just $28, book into one of the three sessions, and dive right into the world of Pizzini, sampling a hefty range of its Italian-style creations. Think; Vin Santo, nebbiolo, and canaiolo, matched to just-sliced snacks from the prosciutto bar.
Image source: Broadsheet, Dani Venn, The Craft and Co, Big Boy BBQ, Ultimate Winery Experience, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.