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Kate’s Week in Food: Maori fare in South Melbourne + a taste of Flinders Island in the Yarra Valley

WEST FEST

If Ross is right, and food is the new music … why not just combine the two? Flavour Fest does just that. Out west in Aintree, it’s a family-friendly music and food festival returning Saturday, March 21 and featuring live cooking demonstrations from chefs like Adam D’Sylva and Sarah Todd, and music from the likes of indie-rock legends, British India. Plus, food vendors will include smoky barbecue from BurnCity Smokers, iconic burgers from BeatBox Kitchen, fluffy Asian buns by Wonderbao and ice cream from Billy Van Creamy. Entry is free, more details at: flavourfest.com.au

HANGI’NG AROUND

Still plenty of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival events to get involved in, but one that looks particularly fun is the Urban Hangi at the iconic O’Connells Hotel in South Melbourne. So of course, usually, the traditional Maori hãngi involves slow-cooking food using heated rocks buried in an earth pit. But, given he’s in the middle of the city, head chef Tony Moss will create his urban hãngi in a skip! Expect a seafood course of Pickled Green Lipped Mussels with Australian Salt Bush and Smoked New Zealand Eel Pate with Davidson plum; Pork belly and Victorian duck in the hangi. It’s just $103 for a three course meal with matched wines and an All Press coffee.

ISLAND FARE

One for the diary – Chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett from Oakridge have quite an affinity with Flinders Island, having been involved in the Inaugural Cray festival down there. They’re bringing the island to the Yarra Valley for one night only, in a not-to-be-missed culinary celebration of produce and flavour on Saturday 23 May. Flinders Island boasts exquisite seafood like green lip abalone and wild, handcaught cray; lamb; wallaby and beef. On the day of the dinner, the freshest of produce will be picked/caught/selected and flown to Oakridge for the celebration. It’s not cheap at $220 for the multi-course menu and extra for drinks, but I am confident it’ll be a superb evening. To reserve, visit oakridgewines.com.au or call 03 9738 9900.

SNACK ATTACK

I popped by the brand new Maha Bar and can confirm officially that snacks rock. This is the type of menu that proves how much more fun it is to sit down and eat lots of fabulous little dishes. Top points to the “Hobz bil zejt”, a slice of baker bleu bread, with tomato paste & olive oil, anchovy, and grated gbejniet (a Maltese cheese); the spiced beef buns, with turmeric, coconut & harissa curry; and the divine 12 hour roast lamb with smoked eggplant, crispy croutons, makanek sausage, and date. Beware – the wine by the glass prices may cause a nosebleed. mahabar.com.au


TURNING ON THE TAPAS

And a great joint I’ve reviewed in Williamstown, Porters, is mixing it up a bit. They’ve just launched their new autumn menu, but they’ve also introducing a fun tapas counter, with a great assortment of cold and hot tapas available seven days a week at lunch at dinner. Plates are very reasonably priced at $5- $8, so don’t miss the lamb brisket ($6), the marinated octopus ($8), and the meatballs ($6). Look out for a new Monday Reef and Beef special too! porterswilliamstown.com

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