Melbourne on a plate

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival brings a bounty of great-tasting events to the city’s laneways, rooftops and public spaces over 10 days in March.

The 2016 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) program includes an impressive 290 events held from March 4 to 13, including 17 family-friendly and 25 (and counting) free events. With a number of midday events on offer, the MFWF provides the perfect excuse to get out of the office and spend your lunch well.

One of the most popular and best bang-for-your-buck events, Restaurant Express, offers foodies the opportunity to experience good food and great dining at an even better price.

For $40 you can enjoy a two course express lunch and paired beverage. The menus are designed exclusively for the Festival and often include one-off specialty dishes. Highlights from the (long) list of participating venues include: Magic Mountain Saloon, Bar Lourinhã, Grossi Florentino Upstairs, The French Brasserie, Pei Modern, Bomba, Bistro Vue, Mamasita and Patuso. View the entire list and book ahead at www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au.

Celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8 with Gail Donovan, of Donovan’s Restaurant, interior architect and restaurant designer Pascale Gnomes-McNabb, and head chef at Pope Joan, Vanessa Mateus, at the Leading Ladies of the Food Industry event. Enjoy a meal with these influential women as they share stories and secrets of their success within the industry. Held at Zinc, Federation Square from 12pm.

Lucy Liu’s Michael Lambie and Zac Cribbers are hosting an eclectic Asian feast, transporting diners from Bangkok to Tokyo and everywhere in between during East to West, Australia’s Best. Courses are paired with wines from Howard Park in Margaret River and the Burch family from Burgundy’s Cote-d’Or. Experience East to West at Lucy Liu from March 7 to 9, from 12pm.

For a Chinese food fix, don’t miss The Duck Crawl. Explore Chinatown with Roy Moorfield and visit Bamboo House, Tea House and Shark Fin House for a series of traditional duck dishes, matched with Victorian pinot noir. The Duck Crawl starts at 12pm from Bamboo House on March 8 and 9.

The Urban Dairy at Queensbridge Square is home to the festival hub and celebrates the story of dairy in Victoria, from farmers to artisans. Open the length of the festival from morning till late, drop in for a dairy delight from a cast of resident butter, cheese and ice-cream makers, including New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream, Prahran Market’s Maker and Monger and Mornington Peninsula’s Boatshed Cheese.

Bringing together the best of the Victorian dining scene in an accessible and affordable fashion, the MFWF is an unmissable opportunity to tick off a few of those restaurants on your “must try” list.

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