Dream of Californication

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival: Californication @ Newmarket Hotel

34 Inkerman Street, St Kilda


She Says
The subject of this post dates back a couple weeks now because I have been hideously slack. Gerard dutifully wrote his section over a week ago, meanwhile, I’ve done nothing. I’d like to blame it on my ridiculously busy week at work, but even that would be a bit of a cop out, I could have written it the week before when I was just a little busy, not curled up in a corner crying busy. Anyway, let’s put my whinging to one side, accept this as my version of an apology for a late post and move on.

On a Sunday during the MFWF the Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda hosted two events  – one at lunch and one at dinner. Lunch was the event I actually really wanted to go to, a BBQ off between an American (Ed Mitchell) and an Australian (Paul Wilson). Competitive BBQing? Now that’s my kinda event. Sadly the lunch was sold out before I managed to buy tickets. Luckily, the hotel was also running a dinner event advertised as cal-mex street food featuring a whole hog. I read between the lines and assumed that ‘street food’ was actually code for ‘BBQ lunch left overs’. I was right. Deliciously right.

I know Gerard mentions it below, but I think it’s worth two mentions. Although the food was great, the organisation of the event was not. It was a large venue with a whole lot of people, pretty much all of whom spent a large chunk of time standing in line for the one buffet that food was being served from. All up I spent just over an hour in the one line to rule them all leading to the buffet. I normally wouldn’t mind so much but somehow my hunger turned into some serious anger about half way through the queue. When I finally got food it was good though, almost good enough to make up for the line.

Also, the event was advertised partly on the basis of tequila cocktails, hard to make when you run out of tequila by 10 past 6. I don’t drink so didn’t really care, I did think it was probably another sign that things could have been a little more organised though.


He Says
To continue our truly gluttonous long weekend of food, we headed out to the Californication event at the Newmarket Hotel. Promising Sizzling Beats and Sizzling Meats, the Melbourne Food and Wine event was subtitled as being a “wicked mix of cal-mex street food, tequila cocktails and sizzling music”. The $75 each was a bit on the pricey side, particularly because Marg doesn’t drink, and she’s certainly wasn’t planning on eating $75 of food, but a bunch of my colleagues were going so we decided to bite the bullet. If you see me turning tricks, it’s because of this dinner.

So on Sunday night we headed out nice and early to the Newmarket Hotel in St. Kilda. Accustomed to the dinginess of Melbourne pubs north of the Yarra, I was shocked at how nice the hotel was.  A beautiful mix of indoor and outdoor areas, with liberal application of polished concrete, wood and glass. People slowly poured into  the venue, and before long the place was buzzing. And then the food service started.

The buffet had been set up at the complete opposite end of the pub to where we were standing, opened, and a queue akin to a new iPad launchline quickly formed in front of it. To rub salt into the wound, the roaming food was being consumed well before reaching anyone in the line. We queued for a good hour before wet got to the front by which time I was seething with anger. Once we reached the front, the staff were incredibly apologetic and walked us through the various dishes on offer.

I ended up piling my food up into something that resembled Mount Vesuvius, and I really enjoyed the majority of it. Everyone commented on the deliciousness of the cornbread, and I must admit I had a cheeky second serving of the pulled pork. After the inner anger subsided and was replaced with a sleepiness only food can summon, the $75 outlay actually was surprisingly good value. We each received 5 drink vouchers, which conservatively would have equaled $30 of drinks, and there was definitely $45 of food going around.

If they’d tweaked the format a little, the event could have been fantastic, instead of merely good. If they run something similar next year, I’ll definitely be grabbing some tickets again, because I loved the concept and enjoyed the food.


We Eventually Ate

Roaming food included tacos, fried chicken and eggplant pizzas.



Buffet mains included cornbread, nachos, brisket, pulled pork, pork belly and more. Don’t mind our piles of food, we were sharing with people. I swear.




Desserts buffet (which had a miraculously shorter line) involved pavlova, tequila mousse and chocolate creme brulee.


Right Back Where We Started From
We spent more time queuing than eating, so was it worth it? For sure, the food was great and pretty good value (especially as far as MFWF events this year seemed to go), could definitely do with a bit more planning next time though.

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  • Von

    It’s a shame this event wasn’t better organised. We went to the afternoon BBQ with Ed Mitchell and it was AWESOME! The food was sensational and there was plenty. We were happy to accept seconds too. Ed’s ribs were so succulent and meaty. Drool. It looks like your plates featured some of the leftovers from the afternoon. I wouldn’t have minded some of the fried chicken.

    • twomunch

      The afternoon BBQ sounds amazing, I was just glad that there were some left overs going on at dinner. Fried chicken was pretty good, it had nothing on ribs though!