If your taste buds have been rendered lethargic since the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in April, its time to rejoice. Grab the family and friends and head over to Geelong for the Taste of Central Geelong festival. It's 24 days of non-stop tasting, eating, drinking and learning about food.
Who says winter has to be a gastronomic bore with just stews and broths? With hundreds of activities on offer, you may want to consider staying the weekend or even a month. Here are the top things to do during the Tastes of Central Geelong that will surely resurrect your palate.
The festival offers self-guided and guided tastings around Central Geelong. The self-guided version is easy. Simply visit this website to purchase your preferred day from 10 to 28 July between 10am to 2pm. You'll receive a set of tour information, tour map and coupons to use at each participating business for a tasting at that venue. The cost is $20 per person including the tastings.
A highlight is the Afternoon Tea with Stephanie Alexander on 22 July at The Pier Geelong. Stephanie is one of the most highly acclaimed food authors in Australia and the founder of Kitchen Garden Foundation. This high tea event at $55 per person raises funds for St Mary's Primary School's Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden.
You will enjoy an afternoon of sweet treats and bubbles hosted by Kylie Oliver, the editor of GT from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. In addition to conversations with Stephanie Alexander, the event will also involve a cake decorating demonstration by Emily Ditcham of Cakesmith and prizes to giveaway. Visit this website to purchase your tickets.
There are also various fancy high teas and casual afternoon teas to choose from throughout the festival. Venues include the Empire Grill, James Street Bakery, Bear & Bean and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. Visit the website for more details and bookings.
A series of wine dinners, tasting menus, banquets and themed nights will feature during the festival. Below are some highlights. Visit the website for more details and bookings.
Mad Kitchen - Go on a culinary tour of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Korea and Japan at Mad Kitchen on 11 July from 5.30pm to 10pm. For $35, you can enjoy a 7-course tasting menu of Asian street food and a beer.
Empire Grill - Celebrate Bastille Day with a 4-course degustation of French cuisine with matching wines in the private dining room on 14 July. Priced at $100 per person and starts at 6.30pm.
Courthouse Youth Arts - Somebodys Daughter Theatre Co, Nobodys Food Theatre youth ensemble and Truffleduck catering are serving up a delicious theatre performance in the Old Courthouse building on 28 July. Priced at $50 per person and starts at 6.30pm.
Novotel Geelong - Geelong's top waterfront hotel will be hosting a 5-course dinner with matching wines from Oakdene Winery on 28 July. The winemaker will be in attendance to share notes about the vintages. Priced at $95 per person and starts at 6.30pm.
This is your chance to enter your best cake, slice, biscuit or dessert as the festival hunts for Geelong's best home baker. There are three categories to chose from and the winners of each category will received two tickets to the Afternoon Tea with Stephanie Alexander and a dinner for two at a VIP Degustation by David Veal at the Davidson Restaurant. The overall winner gets $350, the crown and a day with Emily Ditcham from Cakesmith. Visit this website for terms and entry.
There are loads of special food-themed activities and events during the festival, including beer and doughnut night, global tasting plates, pop-up bars, food trucks and many more. Below are some highlights. Visit the website for more details and bookings.
Official Launch - The official launch of the festival will take place on 7 July between 12pm to 2pm. Head on down to Little Malop Central for live music and a street food lunch from popular food trucks.
Davidson Restaurant Lunch - Enjoy a 2-course lunch prepared by young and talented cookery students from 11 to 14 and 17 to 20 July. Prices are fixed at $15 per person from 12pm to 2pm.
Caruggi Italian Restaurant - Take a culinary journey with 14 guests through Campania and Puglia in Southern Italy with 6 regional wines and traditional antipasti on 27 July. Price at $50 per person from 6.30pm.
Café Casse-Croûte - Celebrate Bastille Day with a 3-course degustation on 14 July. Enjoy French Onion Soup, Carbonade Flamande and Tarte Tatin at $32 person at 12.15pm or 1pm.
Photo courtesy of Jamie's Ministry of Food Australia
The Taste of Central Geelong coincides with the school holidays, allowing kids to enjoy a variety of festival-related activities and events including cooking classes, food craft and high tea. Below are some highlights. Visit the website for more details and bookings.
Jamie's Ministry of Food Geelong - four days of cooking lessons from 10 to 13 July using Jamie Oliver's recipes for 12 to 16 years and 17 and above years. Adults are also welcomed to join. Price from $140 per person for four days.
National Wool Museum - FREE activities for kids under 16 years accompanied by an adult on 10, 12 and 14 July.
Rook Sri Lankan Fusion - one hour of Sri Lankan cooking experience on 10 and 14 July at $10 per child. Kids between 8 to 12 years will learn to cook dhal, rice and hopper with recipes and curry pack to take home.
Ministry of Spin - Join a spin class for teens between 12 to 17 years with the latest radio hits and a morning tea after the exercise. Classes are on 10 and 12 July between 10.30am to 11.45am. You just need to wear exercise gear, shoes and bring a drink bottle. Price at $16 per person.
Armageddon Cake High Tea - eight-course banquet of sweet and savoury dessert with hot chocolate for kids on 15 July. Price at $40 per person.
Central Geelong Marketing has compiled a list of must try desserts. Simply vote for your favourite to win and go into the running for a chance to win lunch or dinner for 8 people (including yourself) at Pistol Pete's Food n Blues valued at $450. To cast your vote, simply visit facebook.com/centralgeelongmarketing between July 1 and July 31.
Food & Drink Classes
Photo courtesy of Little Green Corner
What's a food festival without classes and workshops on food and drinks led by practitioners and experts? Below are some highlights. Visit the website for more details and bookings.
Little Green Corner - This cafe will be hosting a hands-on session on Gnocchi on 25 July. You will master the art of making this dough dumpling with wine and dinner between 6pm to 8pm. Price at $70 per person.
Little Beast and Co - Head over to Coffee Cartel for a cocktail workshop on 18 July. From 5.30pm to 7.30pm, you will learn the techniques required to make tasty drinks and showing off with a little flair. Price at $60 per person including 3 cocktails and nibbles.
Students in Action - Westfield Geelong Centre will be the live kitchen for students of Gordon commercial cookery and patisserie from 18 to 20 July. You can visit and see them in action, learn from their instructors and sample some FREE treats between 9.30am to 1pm.
Geelong Literary & Heritage Centre - Enjoy a FREE talk with renowned chef and restaurateur Annie Smithers from Annie's Farmhouse Kitchen. She will be sharing her thoughts about French provincial-style food and her new book from 5.30pm to 8pm on 19 July.
This is the ultimate in progressive tastings where you will eat your way down Little Mallop Street West. You can enjoy a variety of dinner treats at eight venues from 5.30pm to 8.30pm for $60. The price includes all tastings and patrons must be 18 years and above to attend this tour. Visit this website to purchase your tickets for 13, 20 or 27 July.
There's no short supply of limited time offers during the festival days for everyone to enjoy. Kids can eat for free at The Geelong Hotel; there are half price main meals for workers at Tomi Lounge Bar Cafe; Geelong Performing Arts Centre is offering family tickets; 2 for 1 Burger Monday at Snagga's Healthy Sausage Experience; mid-week lunch deal at Mexican Republic and many more. Visit the website for updates on what's on special.