because I can't cook
Saturday, 3 March 2012
It was a rainy beginning for the opening weekend of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2012. The first destination was Federation Square, that sadly turned out to be empty and quiet (I think half of the people there were staff of Bank of Melbourne asking people to give them food tips!). Many of the events listed on the MFWF guide did not happen, but the open-air cinema showing food-related movies did happen which could have been excellent if only it was not raining…
But, hugely disappointed I was not since we were fed tacos in the middle of the rain, and they were delicious; fresh, green, meaty…. and free ;)
Since it did not seem like there was going to be much at Fed Square, we made our way to Southgate for their Tasting Plates where for about $10 each plate you got to try a variety of meals at participating restaurants and cafes. For each tasting plate you bought, you got 1 stamp on your passport, and once you collected 3 stamps, you got to join in the draw to win a private cinema screening for you and 20 friends. Not bad eh?
Arriving at Southgate, we were greeted by magician Luigi Zucchini. With his playful personality and wicked magic tricks, he certainly brightened up the gloomy day!
Our first tasting plate was from Miyako, which was an easy choice given my previous positively tasty dining experience there. On the tasting plate were a great combination of meats; crispy prawn, pan-fried gyoza, sashimi carpaccio, and beef skewers. Once again Miyako impressed me; the prawn covered in crispy vermicelli and the tender beef skewers were exceptional that I was that close to having another plate of those!
To speed things up, we decided to quickly drop by Salsa’s for their $2 taco deal with free Boost Juice (okay, so the juice was not really a part of it, just that Salsa’s was located close to Boost Juice and Boost Juice was handing out samples of their smoothies). Here’s hoping Salsa’s would make this sweet taco deal a sticky…
The third stamp we got from Trampoline, where for $6 you got to taste a pack of handmade mini choc dippers in 3 different flavours; chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. Cute and sweet, it was a great way to close our Southgate Tasting Plates.
And I thought I was full, but apparently not. On my way home, we walked past the Food Trucks on Northbank and decided to really celebrate MFWF by eating more. Despite the continuous massive rain, the entertainment did not stop; men dressed in diving suit playing musical instruments serenading the diners surely livened up the atmosphere.
The Massive Wiener truck, despite sounding like a cute idea, was pretty ordinary as their supposedly massive wiener was simply 2 regular-sized wieners (on a hot dog bun). It was just a plain ordinary soggy hot dog... But, lifting my mood again was gumbo. Spicy, rich, flavourful, chunky, filling gumbo from the Gumbo Kitchen truck that the next day when I could not find them in the area anymore, I was sooo disappointed...
And Gumbo concluded my foodie experience on that day!
Sunday, 4 March 2012
There was a lot of great entertainment of music and people in costumes around Southbank; people dressed as trees, musicians dressed in fork/knife/chef costumes, big ‘blown-up’ chefs….. That’s 5 out of 5 brownie points for entertainment! :)
Another uniquely themed event in the city was WTC Wharf’s Urban Picnic. Colorful picnic chairs, beautiful (fake) green grass, and live music performances transformed the plain area to a playful picnic ground where you could enjoy boxes of gourmet lunch from any of the WTC Wharf restaurants. Similar to the Southgate Tasting Plates, their meals cost $10 each (ie. 1 coupon) on average.
The sun was shining brightly, the view of the river was enchanting. The meals, however, were not too thrilling; the meal value was poor for what we got, the selection was rather uninviting, and we did not get to try as many meals as we wanted as they ran out of some meals!
For 3 coupons, we bought a lunch pack from Kobe Jones Riverside Teppanyaki containing crab salad, mixed sashimi, wafu oysters, and chicken and beef yakitori. The meals were pretty decent in quality though not outstanding, and whilst the presentation was fantastic, the meals (designed for 2 people) were hardly satisfying.
Another coupon went to the Wilsons Boathouse for their prawn with cocktail sauce. After what felt like half an hour, I finally managed to get my hands on the prawns, and when I did I was disenchanted. They came in a white plain box and inside was even plainer; unpeeled prawns, a lemon wedge, some sad greens, and dips. Given that I was never good at peeling prawns, when I finally finished peeling them all, I really did not feel like eating them anymore as that fishy aroma from the prawns (and my fingers!) started to get to me. So I gave up on them.
The Wharf Hotel seemed to have a nice menu of crispy roasted lamb and pig on a spit with apple relish. And both were sold out.
There was still a winner as it turned out, Byblo’s’ mouthwatering chicken wrap (with char-grilled marinated chicken breast, garlic aioli, and vegetables mmm…) saved the picnic. So much so that we bought 3!