Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am that this week has finally rolled around. Of all the events currently happening in Melbourne, the one that I'm most looking forward to, and have had written in my diary for months (Editor's note: food festival groupie, much?), is Taste of Melbourne.
Held at the Pelican Lawn at Albert Park Lake, Taste of Melbourne is a food lover's paradise and brings together Melbourne's best chefs in a series of pop-up restaurants. This year, the restaurants include Saint Crispin, Huxtable, Chin Chin, Uncle and The Smith (amongst many others!), all offering a series of sample dishes so that patrons can quite literally get a taste of what each venue has on their menu. It's not only a brilliant day out with family and friends, but also a great way to try a little bit of this 'n' that from a lot of different restaurants (perfect for someone like me who JUST WANTS EVERYTHING and then some).
Now, one might feel overwhelmed at the thought of everything on offer and I hear you – pop-up restaurants from Melbourne's star chefs, cooking demonstrations, beer and wine tastings, cocktail making, the state's best food producers offering all sorts of gourmet goodies – the list goes on!
Like any major event, you need to have a plan of attack in order to get the most from your day – otherwise, the day will disappear, home time will come around and you'll be dragged from the grounds, screaming like a child "But I don't want to go home! I DON'T WANT TO!" (Sounds extreme, but this may very well happen).
In order to avoid such a commotion, here are our top tips for a successful Taste of Melbourne experience!
1) Buy your tickets and Crowns in advance – While you can buy tickets and Crowns (the official currency of the festival) at the gate, there will be crowds meaning you can't just rock up at opening time and expect to make your purchase straight away – there is no time to waste!
2) Get there early – On that note, get to the Pelican Lawn about 15 minutes before opening time. That way you can walk on in when the gates open and start feasting from the get go.
3) Study that menu card and map – Trust me, there are so many delectable dishes on offer, making choosing what to eat a tough, and potentially time-wasting, choice. You don't want to walk in and spend 20 minutes tossing up between the dishes you want to try, so devour that menu card beforehand (not literally, but I don't blame you for trying), figure out where exactly the pop-up restaurants are and start feasting!
Food freak confession – I have been known to print out the menu card in advance and highlight everything I'm interested in tasting. Although more often that not, the whole menu card ends up a neon pink mess. Slightly OCD? Yes. Worth it? Yes, indeed!
4) Pace yourself – Don't scoff everything in the first hour, otherwise, god forbid, you'll feel full and will be kicking yourself all the way home. Relax, you've got four hours.
5) Attend a cocktail class – You'll hear all kinds of interesting tips and tricks, get to make a delicious drink or two, and then down it afterwards. That is what you call a smart and efficient decision.
6) Dress appropriately – And I don't just mean wear sunscreen and flat shoes. For the love of all things good and holy, leave the skinny pants with the too-tight waistband at home – otherwise wear at your own peril. Just note, you WILL be eating everything in sight and your stomach WILL be expanding therefore you WILL need to be wearing something comfortable and forgiving. Don't make me say it again.
7) Leave your shopping until the end – With so many food producers and gourmet delights on offer, it can be tempting to buy, buy, buy as soon as you see something. Don't do it at the beginning – you don't want to be lugging around semi-heavy items all day! Instead, use your time to samples dishes and different products, before doing the rounds at the end and making your purchases. Oh, and don't leave without a bottle of wine (or two). Why? Why not?!?!
Taste of Melbourne | 14th – 17th November
Pelican Lawn (next to Carousel), Aughtie Drive in Albert Park
For session time, restaurants info and tickets, visit the website
Image Credit: Taste of Melbourne.