The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (MFWF) is always a highlight of the year for The Plus Ones. After all, what’s not to love about Melbourne’s world-class offerings of both of these delicious things. The program hosts a carefully crafted smorgasbord of experiences, and every now and then – something truly magnificent.
Truly Madly Deeply at The Plaza Ballroom is definitely an event on the indulgent side. TPO has been attending for a few years now, and the opulent experience just keeps on getting better. This year is Part 4 and my plus one and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us.
Truly Madly Deeply embodies the high-society life of Melbourne, and unsurprisingly sold out in quick time once again. The splendour of the evening is evident from the moment that you walk into the Plaza Ballroom on Collins Street. This exclusive venue is often used for private events, so it’s also a chance for the general public (the lucky ticket holders) to have a peek behind the curtain.
We were excited to try the four contemporary courses presented by the award-winning and hatted Executive Chef, David Ricardo, matched with fine wines from Montara Estate, which is based in the stunning Grampians region of Western Victoria. But first there was a surprise dance performance set to The Greatest Showman’s iconic main song.
Up first we got to try a very unique Amuse Bouche (literally translated as a mouth amuser) of scallop, passionfruit and avocado ceviche with fresh coriander which was served in an entire hollowed out passionfruit propped up on a nest of crystal white salt. We noticed our seating neighbour accidentally take a big bite of the salt before realising what it was – he laughed it off like a champion. As the chef in-charge of this dish explained, they had carefully timed our sitting so that the ceviche was served at absolutely the right moment before it had time to cure any further. This incredible looking, and tasting, dish set the bar high for what was to come.
Our entrée of kingfish with freeze dried kimchee, yuzu gel, native lime, cucumber and sea succulents was once again beautifully plated. Our lovely waiter explained that this dish was matched with a nice Montara Riesling which we juggled while finishing off a nice dry rose. Our wine match for the mains – a duck breast, Sichuan pickled green strawberries, pickled rhubarb and almond milk confit – was the 2017 Montara Grampians Pinot Noir which was one of our favourites of the night.
Not content with just one dessert, The Plaza Kitchens brought out a pre and post dessert! Can we please make having two desserts a thing now?! First up was the pre-dessert of caramelised meringue with raspberry and lemongrass gel, nitro-poached raspberry and honeycomb which came in a fluffy little orb. For the main event, a gold wrapped salted chocolate mousse was sitting on a bed of chocolate sponge and banana cream which was then encased in dramatically big swirls of chocolate. The chef proudly explained to the foodie crowd how it had taken their team three days to prepare this dessert! Taking a break from the wines, our waiter brought over old fashioned style milk bottles with a bright red Clarified Milk Tea cocktail of milk-washed berry and hibiscus tea was infused with rum, apera (basically Sherry) and lemon Myrtle. While this was a tad too sweet for us, our dining guests sitting opposite absolutely loved it.
As my plus one and I sipped on our delicious bourbon barrel aged stout Moo Brew watching the happy and very full crowd mingling and discussing the meal, we thought how great Melbourne is. If you too are Truly, Madly, Deeply in love with Melbourne’s excellent food and wine scene, then mark 2020 in the calendar as the year you give this once a year event a go.