November has is the best time of year in Melbourne. Spring Racing Carnival stress has dissipated, the weather is reliably warmer and people seem to be more courteous on the roads (any one else notice that?). November in Melbourne is also a food-lover’s paradise. There are hundreds of events on if you include everything under the Good Food Month banner, but aside from the iconic foodie affairs, there are some exciting newcomers, too. If you don’t attend at least three of these six events, you’re just not that into food.
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE PROJECT BOTANICALS POP-UP
It seems that Melbourne is gin crazy at the moment – even more so now that summer is within reach. Bombay Sapphire is launching a three-week pop-up bar called Project Botanicals to celebrate ‘ginstronomy’. Wanky neologisms aside, I attended the media preview and was pleasantly surprised by the quality and complexity of cocktails such as the Cassia Blackberry Fix, complemented by some festive plates à la MasterChef Gary Mehigan. There are 10 cocktails and 10 dishes in all, each paying tribute to the botanicals in Bombay such as lemon peel, juniper berries and cassia. Tickets – which include two cocktails and two plates – are a steal at $35 (plus a $3.09 booking fee). It's worth noting that there are three, two-hour sittings: 6pm, 8pm and 10pm. It’s on Wednesday to Saturday at 64 Sutton Street, North Melbourne, from November 19 to December 6.
THE SOCIAL KITCHEN AT VIC MARKET
I do my shopping every week at Victoria Market and was surprised a little while ago when my tomato guy relocated further down the aisle. In his place was a mysterious building site, which I soon discovered was the beginnings of The Social Kitchen. Dubbed “a global roaming cooking experience”, the kitchen is basically a way for Fisher & Paykel to show people they do more than just fridges. But instead of being a boring old show room, it’s a temporary cooking school featuring some of Melbourne’s best chefs. At the centre of the 26-week program is the fresh produce from the market.
Hungry students collect their own produce and then prepare, cook and eat the loot under the guidance of Peter Rowland Catering. Those who like a touch of celebrity with their food should opt for the Chef’s Collective master classes, with Maha’s Shane Delia leading a prestigious pack that includes Scott Pickett (Estelle), Darren Purchese (Burch & Purchese) and Benjamin Cooper (Chin Chin, Kong). Participants can choose from a huge range of themed classes, from Americana to Vietnamese Street Food through to high tea and canapés. There’s also a goodie bag to take home once you’ve finished getting your hands dirty. Classes are limited to 24 people and are on three times a day, while special celebrity master classes sometimes take place in the evening.
GIVEAWAY – I’ll be giving away 4x passes to The Social Kitchen worth $135 on Instagram this week. Follow me at @fi_bird for your chance to win!
QUEEN VIC SUMMER NIGHT MARKET
If cooking’s not your thing, Queen Victoria’s famous night market started this month and is on until March. But if you want to avoid the school holiday crush it’s worth going earlier rather than later. Crowds of Melburnians and tourists alike do the rounds shopping at over 200 stalls before reviving themselves at 35 food vendors selling nosh from all over the world. Fancy Vietnamese? It’s there. How about Turkish, Ethiopian and Spanish? All there. Best enjoyed with a glass of regional vino near one of the two music stages showcasing local talent.
PARIS TO PROVENCE
One of the most peaceful food festivals Melbourne has to offer, the Paris to Provence French Festival is set in the stunning grounds of Como House. The weather always seems to turn it on for over 70 French producers and retailers selling everything from wine, cheese, macarons and crepes to clothing and home décor. There’s music, roving entertainment and the odd French bulldog. Bring a picnic rug and make a day of it. It’s on next week, November 22 to 24.
TASTE OF MELBOURNE
Taste of Melbourne is on again this year from today until November 16 on the verdant lawns of Albert Park. It’s a fun day out, but it can add up despite the relatively cheap $25 entry fee (should you wish to eat, you pay for food once you’re in). Regardless, there are a whole lot of renowned chefs and restaurants in the one spot, along with top producers and lots of taste testers. Expect to see the likes of Movida, Huxtaburger, Mamasita and Burch & Purchese. Even if you don’t fancy forking out on a cooking or photography class, you can sit back, relax and soak up the festivities.
THE AGE GOOD FOOD MONTH
Now that Yotam Ottolenghi has been and gone, the thought of Good Food Month may not be quite as exciting to some. But jump on the website and sift through the hundreds of events yet to take place and you’ll immediately see that’s not the case. Presented by Citi, Good Food Month covers all edible bases: brining in famous overseas chefs, putting on high-flying dinners, creating special meal deals that everyone can afford, and hosting free events for the whole family. The Night Noodle Market is set to be a highlight bursting with activity, but for a more in depth look at my Good Food Month picks, see this post.