This time of year sees one of our favourite food and wine festivals gearing up with a programme full of enticing workshops and presentations. The three-week-long Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (February 28 to March 16) is a goldmine of inspiration for foodies - the hardest part is figuring out what sessions to attend.
With the overarching theme of "water" this year (following fire and earth the last two years) we recommend you spend some time in the Immersery Festival Kitchen, Bar and Raingarden in Queensbridge Square where local star chefs like Daniel Wilson (Huxtable, Huxtaburger) and Florent Gerardin (Silo) will be in the kitchen. The Langham Masterclass weekend (March 8-9, AU$320 day pass, $595 weekend pass) is always a highlight.
This is where you'll find the intense culinary sessions featuring international super-chefs. Check out Damian D'Silva (Immigrants) as he cooks "Singaporean Soul Food", Luigi Tagliati from Italy with his session "Old School, New Guard" and "Wild West Coast" with Rodolfo Guzman from Santiago's highly rated Borago restaurant, which, with the current trend for South American food, will be popular.
The suburbs of Melbourne and regions of Victoria play an increasing role in the festival and this year we're picking the "Dancing with the Tides" dinners at Konjo Cafe & Restaurant in Footscray (February 28, March 1, 7, 8, AU$40) to transport you to exotic northeast Africa and celebrate the life-giving waters of Ethiopia.
Or head out of the city for "Picnic in the Truffle Patch", near the historic town of Ballarat, where you'll get to dig around a 1000-tree trufferie, hunting, cooking and tasting truffles before relaxing with a special picnic box of truffled products (March 16, AU$90).
• For full programme check out melbournefoodandwine.com.au.