Charlotte and Nick had kindly invited us to dinner at their place on Friday night along with Emma and Lucy and her fiancé Steve whom we hadn't met before. We soon warmed to him especially after the initial introductions we learnt Steve is a financial accountant, knows his football having worked in London and hates coffee. For those that know my Steve, you'll realise Lucy's Steve is like my Steve's long lost twin. Confused yet?
Dinner at Charlotte's was a lot of fun and we look forward to our turn to host although we have a much smaller dining table and perhaps not as much room... On the menu was a lovely beef and mushroom stew done in the slow cooker so very tender and tasty and perfect for the chill in the air. It was served with polenta and I must say that for a first time polenta maker, Charlotte did really well and none of the guests were any help having little polenta experience between us! Dessert was a boozy chocolate and orange pudding served in pretty martini glasses and topped with pretty orange zest that have been soaked in orange cognac. It was great going to our first Australian dinner party and it's another sign that we are making friends and making Melbourne into our home for the short term.
Rumour had it that Saturday and Sunday were going to be warm days. Not quite believable given the grey skies and chilly breeze on the Friday. However Saturday dawned bright and sunny. After a little lie in I convinced Steve that a nice lunch at Nobu would be just the ticket and it was. As usual the food was delicious and it was very enjoyable. Fuelled by a half bottle of wine, we headed to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre to go to the Cellar Door and Farm Gate event which was on as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Steve and I had made plans to meet up with one of Steve's colleagues and his wife; Andrew and Stacy who had come to Melbourne from St Albans just before Christmas. The event was very well run with 60 wine producers and other food folk each with their own little white tent set up on a grassy verge by the river. Buying a ticket meant wearing a green wristband and being given a plastic wine glass and then it was a case of going up to each little tent to taste the wine. There was a huge water tank and all the producers had mineral water to rinse the glasses and keep the winetasters hydrated! People could also walk through for free. There was a nice feel to the event with barrows of fruit and veg and hay bales to sit on adding to the decor. We saw a Chinese man take a carrot from one of the barrows, rinse it under the water tank and then proceed to munch on it! Free lunch I guess!
It was pretty busy but the number of producers meant that we never had to wait to get our glasses filled. There wasn't any uncivilised behaviour in spite of all the wine on offer. Some wine was very good but others not so but great to be able to try so much. We certainly got our $35 entry fee worth. One of the more popular tent was Rebello. They based their products around strawberries so always a winner. They had a strawberry and apple cider which was scrumptious. Also a strawbellini which is a strawberry moscato as well as a champagne made entirely from strawberries and some strawberry liquers. The strawberry champagne was called Charlotte which was great marketing for Charlotte who promptly bought some! We bought some cider and some liquer which I am looking forward to having with soda and some fresh lime; perfect if the weather stays sunny.
After the wine tasting we headed to our "local" ie the Belgian beer bar beneath Eureka Tower. We carried one enjoying the sunshine and our tastes moved from wine to beer and ciders. Dinner was at World Restaurant and as well as Andrew and Stacy, we were joined by Emma and also Matt and Kelly. Matt also works with Steve and the last time we'd seen them was when we had dinner with them at St Kilda when we had first arrived in Melbourne.
Lunch was at a great deli type place called Gas that we walked past. We usually eat from the South Melbourne Market food court and I like the Vietnamese sandwich followed by a dim sim and Steve usually goes for a Chinese but we departed from tradition and really enjoyed it.
Steve's hangover started to get worse - that post lunch lull was beginning to set in so we had a quick groceries shop before heading home and heading to the pool at Eureka Tower. There's a grassy terrace with loungers and seats so we spent the rest of the afternoon there soaking up the sunshine and relaxing with newspapers and magazines.
It's been a good weekend and next weekend is a long one as it's a public holiday on the Monday. And then my mummy arrives on the Tuesday night which is very exciting!