Feb 25 2018

Mornington Peninsula Food & Wine Festival 2018

Mornington Peninsula Food & Wine Festival 2018

This is the inaugural festival for this team of event organisers, the event had been widely advertised in multiple media formats.

 

 

We had asked several times for additional information on the format of the event, without really getting an understanding of the days format.

Upon arrival we chose Uber, as this is a food and wine event. The venue is The Point Nepean National Park, this is a wow place. We chose to travel along the bay which despite the windy conditions was a great choice for the scenic outlook. This is a great way to also scope out other options for other adventures along the Peninsula.

Upon arriving we weaved our way through the park, which would be a place for a walk or ride on another day. The car parking was what you expect, as we are being dropped we were able to go do the gate and hope out. Our Uber driver “Moustache Mark” made the tip quite insightful with his local knowledge.

The gate and security were what we expected, and the electronic ticket worked well, although they had only 2 staff with mobiles to process tickets (good thing the weather may have kept a few away) upon entry we got a glass, but no real insight to what the format was? Upon asking they had a process for you to purchase tokens to buy wares.

The layout was the typical square with all traders around the outer sides and a stage at one end. We had started the day off in shorts and light shirts, but Victorian weather had something else instore, but as locals we enjoyed the challenge. Our first stop was of course desert, Turkish delight to be exact. And wow this did not fail to please, the varieties of types are astounding (12 in all) the general theme is ones with nuts (pistachios) and ones without. I enjoyed all and ended up with a box containing the 4 with nuts.

Next, we found a lovely Russian vendor from the Preston Market who had Russian doughnuts with Apple filling, Cheese filling and Minced beef filling. Of course, we sampled all and they did not disappoint, so much that I forgot to take a picture. The beef came with a sour cream sauce and a sprig of dill. The beef lacked nothing, the sweet dough with the savoury well-seasoned beef was gorgeous, the addition of the cream sauce and dill matched well. This was a winner to start.

Next stop the main ridge team and their strawberries, packed with flavour and very clever chocolate coated freeze-dried berries (the Dark chocolate was my stand out), next they had macaroons beautifully presented with freeze dried strawberries sprinkled and encapsulated in the biscuit.

 They also did a twist on the glazed doughnut whit milk chocolate glaze with freeze-dried strawberries and sprinkle, next we had to try the white chocolate with raspberries freeze-dried and sprinkled OMG.

 

We really need to look at more than the deserts but really chocolate and strawberries are hard to resist.

We decided to recon the rest and sample a wine or so on the walk as the wind increased and the threat of rain kept up. We meandered around the paddock and noticed that there had been an idea to set up 100 plus tables across the paddock, but there was not a great deal of shelter options. For their first festival there are a few mistakes made, especially when the weather was forecasted to change from hot and windy to cold and windy (with likelihood of rain). Although we came for the food and wine there needs to be somewhere to site and enjoy the fare, or at least find respite from the weather?

But back to the food we go, and there was a reasonable variety, mainly food van style but most done well. Saw the scorched sticks, marinated lamb stick over a coal fire grill, Seafood Paella, Calzone and fish & chips are just a few to try.

 

Had some Gyoza Japanese half moon-shaped pork dumplings which had a wonderful fresh flavour, next okonomiyaki or Japanese pancake, they are served here almost as a flat style pancake, with the usual accompanying sauce as you expect but lacking the love that many would bring to a thick and flavoursome morsel.

Next up the Seafood Paella, well I went back 3 times as the Paella was not ready even at almost 2pm (the event opened at 11am) this was noticed with several of the vendors as well.  I had high hopes for the seafood Paella, the colours and aroma where spot on, the server generous and the seafood looked bountiful. But the rice was still crunchy in the middle the seafood in particular the fish and calamari beautifully completed soft and holding their flavour, but the mussels and prawns did not fare well. The prawns unfortunately where chalky to the mouth, likely overcooked or frozen and the mussels just to far and too few.

As for the wines and beers, well this was a mix of local and not so local vendors. Came as a bit of a surprise that we had Bellarine Peninsula and as far as Avoca presenting their fare for us to try was a little disappointing when you consider this is a Mornington Peninsula showcase and there seemed to be less representation that one would expect.

The Blue Pyrenees Estate did not fail their wines are well known to us and we enjoyed the sparkling Chardonnays and the Pinot. As I moved along I find the team from the Bass & Flinders Distillery with their wonderful array of Gin’s. This is a good timing for this team with the resurgence of Gin as a drink of choice for many.

And they offered a stating paddle of 3, which is hard to stop at. I initially thought the Gin 10, the Monsoon Gin and the Cheery Infused Cerise Gin looked the way to start. What a start, the Cherry infused was like an old friend sweet and too easy to consume, the Monsoon was refreshing and yet exotic the eastern twist of lemongrass and ginger with the lime garnish was well balanced. But the real winner is the Gin 10, and wow this gin carries a cardamom and citrus (orange) peppery finish. Tasting in its raw state over ice was refreshing, with tonic I fear I could easily complete a bottle. This is a real warm weather drink so refreshing but not at all bland, my companions also agreed that this was the outstanding Gin of the bunch we tried. Next stop for us will be a Gin Master-Class with the Bass team, perhaps a Munchbrother Signature Gin will be the result?

 

The Rosebud winery team had a wonderful Pinot, with that velvet finish, very quaffable anytime.

Did not get into the bears this time but there where at least 3 brewers to choose from.

Much like many markets there are local artisan breads, spreads and herbs to looks at. Additionally, the barrel timber platters, which looked great Pinot barrel sides made into cheese or serving platters and the top and bottom of the barrel into a lazy-Suzanne. There also strangely are candles and local pottery.

 

Only a single coffee stop amongst the vendors which was reasonable, not consistent unfortunately.

I managed to finish the day with some of the lamb sticks that where wonderfully seasoned and so well marinated and tender.

 

Next before we left I spoke with the Italian boys who had the wonderful Nutella Gnocchi served in waffle cone finished with Persian fairy floss. The boys modified a recipe from their home in Italy where a restaurant had served deep fried gnocchi with multiple caramel, chocolate and other sweet sauces. The boy’s interpretation was well suited to this type of event, food that can easily be eaten in one hand, the deep-fried gnocchi has a crispy shell with a fluffy pillow filling. The coating of Nutella is decadent, and the toping of the fairy floss a bit of fun.

This was a great way to finish the day, I however would hope the organisers learn from this event and come back next year with more local producers, more food and perhaps a lot more samples. The idea of buying tokens was really not a winner as quite a few of the food vendors did not accept them. I know the organisers made 30% off the tokens (as I asked) and that most accepted EFTPOS for payments.

 

This has the potential to become something wonderful for the Mornington Peninsula, a few more shade options, really live music was not necessary the times the CD was playing was just as good (so save yourself some costs and spend more on the amenities. All I all this could have been a food-truck event, many of the producers with wines mentioned they did not bring their premier product as they did not know how this would go. We have spent many trips to the Mornington Peninsula vineyards and restaurants over the years, many of the stalwarts are not being represented here, nor are some of the favourites.

 

All in all, we look forward to next year but please provide more information on the website, get more providers encouraged to attend, and think about the attendees they need to be comfortable as well.

 

 

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