A sold-out World's Longest Lunch (Fri 4 March) kicks off the Festival in the garden surrounds of the Royal Exhibition Building, but with more than 250 events, including 50 for under $50, there is still a plethora of tickets up for grabs. Book now to take a seat at one of 25 Regional World's Longest Lunches in spectacular locations across Victoria, then stay for the weekend to feast on more than 50 other regional events, from family festivals to alfresco lunches and dinners celebrating the state's bountiful produce and local wine.
On the first weekend, take your pick from alfresco events for every palate. Taste your way around Victoria's wine regions at Melbourne's original boutique wine market Cellar Door & Farm Gate (South Wharf Precinct, Sat 5 & Sun 6 March) in a new grassy riverside location, or celebrate multicultural cuisine, music and dancing at the SBS Food Journey Festival (Royal Exhibition Building, Fri 4 - Sun 6 March).
On your way there, pass through the CBD and drop into Metlink Edible Garden (City Square, 4 - 13 March) and watch free cooking and gardening demos as top chefs and gardeners revive the lost arts of pickling, preserving, baking and stewing. Sunday 6 March is officially Foodie Family Day presented by City of Melbourne (Federation Square Plaza) with hands-on fun and learning, spud-hunting, taste testing in the mini-market and foodie family favourites on the big screen.
Fill your week with after-work quick sips, longer feasts and satiating classes, or drop into Fed Square to catch free food-flavoured cinema and dish demos at HOSTPLUS Foodie Films (Mon 7 - Fri 11 March).
The Festival's second weekend has every level of wine enthusiast covered, with events ranging from global benchmark tastings at Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience for the wine obsessed to new all-round pleaser Perfect Match replete with food tastings, wine and tipple pairings, and sound advice from cupid (both at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sat 12 & Sun 13 March); and an unmissable tasting of some of the purest wines on the planet presented by revered biodynamic winemakers including Spain's Telmo Rodriguez at Australian exclusive Return to Terroir (ZINC at Fed Square, Mon 14 March).
Food lovers can still catch 100 of the world's biggest and brightest food and wine personalities at Langham Melbourne MasterClass, with select tickets available including Spain's Elena Arzak, New York's Zakary Pelaccio and Bordeaux's Jean-Guillaume Prats.
Spice takes centre stage at the Festival's night of extravagance, Stars of Spice - The Gala Dinner (North Melbourne, Sat 12 March) with fragrant and heady global flavours from stars including the UK's Atul Kochhar, Bali's Chris Salans and Peru's Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. These and other international stars will also showcase their spice-laden cuisines at amazing gastronomic dinners at Crown restaurants and Star Cooking Classes at Culinarium during the Festival.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, 4 - 14 March 2011, more than 250 events online: www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au
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