What not to miss at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2016

Urban Dairy: Cowgirl Creamery

Urban Dairy: Cowgirl Creamery

Spoiler alert: there's a whole new section dedicated to cheese.

Say a big hello to autumn. In most parts of the world, it's a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. In Victoria it heralds the altogether less mellow excitement of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Ten days of thinking about food, talking about food and - the best part of all - eating food. And, when it comes to festival highlights, let's not forget the wine.

Fromage a Trois
In the case of Fromage a Trois, let's not forget the cider. In the lush grounds of Werribee Park Mansion, a mini cheese and wine festival features a whole bunch of boutique cider-producers getting together with artisan cheesemakers. Cider and cheese? Yes please. Plus, a whole spit-roasted pig glazed with apple cider makes perfect sense.
Tickets $35 pre-sale, $40 on event day, from 10.30am, Sunday 6 March, Werribee Park Mansion, K Road, Werribee South

The Tasting Room - Oregon vs Victoria Pinot Noir
The trilby-wearers of wine, Victoria's pinot noir producers, will be put through their paces by their Oregon counterparts in the Tasting Room. In this cool-climate smackdown, you'll be able to taste wine from America's burgeoning northwest region alongside Victorian heroes such as Bindi, Bass Phillip and Curly Flat. Competition will be fierce, but it's not all about a fight to the death: there will be plenty of stories about winemaking from both sides of the Pacific woven into the action. Better red than dead, we say.
Tickets, $45, from 12.15pm, Saturday 5 March, Glasshouse, Olympic Blv, Olympic Park

All the Snacks
This version of Perfect Match banishes Dexter the robot and welcomes Matt Skinner to adjudicate the sweet union of food and wine. The event will feature rising-star chef Analiese Gregory and irascible wine fellow and GT contributor Mike Bennie talking about - yes, you guessed it - snack and drink matching, all inspired by their recent trip to Japan.
Tickets $85, from 12.15pm, Sunday 6 March, Glasshouse, Olympic Blv, Olympic Park 

Duck: From Beak to Tail
The spirit of Fergus Henderson may very well be present at this event. Respect the whole quacker at a duck dégustation at Docklands restaurant Chiara, with matched wines from TarraWarra Estate.
Tickets $95, from 6.30pm, Wednesday 9 March, Chiara, 705 Collins St, Docklands

Big Gay Ice Cream
Last, but by no means least, get your lips around a Salty Pimp - a vanilla soft-serve topped with dulce de leche, sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chocolate. It's the signature offering of New York's cultish Big Gay Ice Cream, a food truck (now joined by three shops and a book) that first revved its engine in 2009. Big Gay Ice Cream's Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff will be the kings of the Ice Creamery at The Urban Dairy, this year's festival hub, which is an ode to the mammalian output that keeps us in milk, cheese and Salty Pimps. Just say moo.
Free admission, from 11am, 4-6 March, Queensbridge Sq, Southbank 

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, 4-13 March, melbournefoodandwine.com.au


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