Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Longest Summer

With harsh hailstorms hitting Melbourne recently Summertime certainly seemed over, but thankfully the beautiful blue skies and golden sun has other ideas this week; prolonging those happy, warm days and balmy, light evenings for a little while longer. The arrival of this Autumn heatwave is timed perfectly for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2010, with over 250 events happening across the city and all of Victoria.
I took this opportunity to show my UK visitor a bit of the countryside and sample some delicious food and wine of the region, so I booked us on a festival event called the 'World's Longest Lunch' in Ballarat. Set in the gorgeous, green Botanical gardens in the historical gold-mining town of Ballarat we were greeted with a glass of Captain's Creek Organic Sparkling to toast the fortunate weather. Before settling down to our seats along the Prime Minister's Walk we sampled the first course of the day supplied by the Golden City Hotel:

First Course - Canapes
- Fresh Oysters with Chardonnay dressing and Salmon Roe
- Asparagus and Roast Capsicum Frittata
- Steak Tartare

The Oysters were beautiful and plump, pairing perfectly with the dry, fruity wine and refreshing bursts of roe. The soft, herby Steak Tartare was fabulous against the crunchy, toasted crispbread.
As we settled into our seats we were poured three glasses of Chardonnay to accompany our second course, produced by Cafe Lekker:

Second Course

Ceviche of Salmon on a summer salad of watercress, avocado, peas, watermelon and angel-hair pasta with a mango salsa

For such a glorious hot day we couldn't have asked for a more perfect course than this. Each element of the light dish matched perfectly together, with the sweet flavours of the fruit and contrasting textures of soft fleshy fish and fruit and crunchy vegetables. My favourite wine was the 2006 Bended Knee Chardonnay with its elegant melon aromas.
Our Third course was supplied by the Phoenix Brewery and was accompanied by three Pinot Noir wines. The chunky meat terrine was again a superb choice with its simple salad and cornichons. I found the 2007 Myola Pinot Noir a superb accompaniment.

Third Course
Duck and Pork Terrine with Plum Compote

To finish off The Turret Cafe supplied an utterly scrumptious dessert which combined delicate spicy flavours from the rich syrup with the creamy Vanilla Pannacotta and the crunchy Tuille.

Fourth Course - Dessert

Locally grown fresh figs, caramelised and served on an oatmeal Tuille, drizzled with spiced syrup and accompanied by Vanilla Pannacotta

As we savoured each course and chatted to our companions we wanted this Longest Lunch to carry on longer. Good job the festival is lasting all week... and judging by the forecast so is the weather. Make the most of it and check out all the events happening for the festival: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/

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