Food and wine festival kicks off with a long lunch

March 16: As long lunches go, this was a pretty lengthy affair - 1500 people sat down at white-clothed tables round the perimeter of the Melbourne Telstra Dome. Billed as the "world's longest lunch," this was one of the first events of the 2007 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival presented by The Age.

With a glass of bubbly in hand to set us in the mood, we took our seats on the edge of the hallowed turf. Thanks to earlier showers, the roof of the stadium was closed so the lighting lent a surreal atmosphere to early proceedings.

The entrée was a confit of Central Victorian chicken with Blue Mystique (cheese) dressing on a watercress and hazelnut salad – a nice mix of textures and flavours and a satiny piece of chicken. This was served with Brown Brothers Pinot Grigio 2006.

Around main course time the roof was opened on a fine afternoon sky and we were served tender 21-day air-dried Gippsland high-country grain-fed beef fillet and a piping hot Asian mushroom pot pie with hand-picked baby bean salad and porcini crème. This was paired with Brown Brothers Tempranillo 2004.

Dessert was a nod to our surroundings – a Telstra Dome covered in rich chocolate ganache with a selection of berries and footy favourites in the form of sweet mini hamburgers, pies and little red footballs.

   

After a shot of caffeine and an impromptu streak by a cartwheeling reveller, many of the diners moved on to an after party in the Dome’s Medallion Club overlooking Victoria Harbour – and the stadium plaza where more than one tired, emotional and confused long luncher was seen teetering off on the long journey home.

Meanwhile 20 tables were also be set across the State of Victoria, each in its own unique location, serving locally produced food and wine created by local chefs and winemakers.

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