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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Mornington Peninsula goes gourmet in March

Calling kids, cooks, vegans and tea fanciers, real ale fans, wine buffs and chocoholics

Mornington Peninsula Harvest to Table Festival

Friday March 13 – Sunday March 22, 2009

There's something on the menu for everyone at the Mornington Peninsula's 2009 Harvest to Table Festival in March, with more than 20 events including a food and wine workshop for vegans and vegetarians, breadbaking for kids, real ale workshops, organic tea tastings and degustation menus featuring the best of Peninsula produce.

Organised by Mornington Peninsula Gourmet and running from Friday March 13 to Sunday March 22, the fifth annual festival also features a kitchen garden workshop at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, the Festival of Olives at Olio Zito and a 'Harvest on Horseback' package at Lindenderry of Red Hill which includes wine tastings on a horseback winery tour.

Gourmet getaways are also available at Max's at Red Hill Estate and the Big Blue Backyard retreat at exclusive St Andrew's Beach.

For more information and accommodation bookings:  Mornington Peninsula Visitor Information Centre,, 1800 804 009 or (03) 5987 3078.

Accommodation packages

'Harvest On Horseback', Lindenderry At Red Hill, check in Friday or Saturday.

Enjoy afternoon tea, horseback wine tasting at Red Hill's acclaimed vineyards, a day spa treatment, 3-course a la carte dinner in the Linden Tree Restaurant, one night's accommodation in a Courtyard room, full Lindenderry buffet breakfast and 11am check out. From $350.00 per person, twin share (subject to availability),  (03) 5989 2933.

Max's At Red Hill Estate, group getaway, Friday March 13 – Sunday March 22

Treat up to four couples to a night of luxury accommodation at Max's Retreat hidden in the hinterland of Red Hill.  Enjoy a 3 course lunch at Max's Restaurant matched to Red Hill Estate Pinots, including some rare vintages. $350 per couple with full gourmet breakfast provisions and transfers to Max's Restaurant), (03) 5989 3007.

Play and Stay at Big Blue Backyard, Wednesday March 18

Chef Paul Dempsey headed up the kitchens at a Greek seaside resort for two summers, and is now a masterful Mediterranean chef. Join him in the kitchen for a day as you prepare your autumnal harvest feast, then enjoy it by candlelight with matched wines in the dining room before retiring to your secluded hideaway at exclusive St Andrew's Beach. $495 per person, including breakfast, maximum of four people, (03)  5988 6011.

Complete event listings:

'Barmah Brew' Madhatter's Morning Tea Party, Friday March 13 & 20,

10am – noon.

'Brain Booster' and 'Wise Woman's Tea' are two of six certified organic herbal teas made by naturopath Sue Lyons under the Sue's Brew label. All have health benefits, and will be available for tasting (complete with tasting notes) at Barmah Park Vineyard Café, accompanied by house-made sweet and savoury delights. $30 per person, bookings required, (03) 5978 8049.

Fudgalicious Delights at Peninsula Fudge, Friday March 13 – Sunday March 22

First stop for chocoholics: a tasting bag filled with chocolate fudge sauce, fudge packs and other goodies. Peninsula Fudge and Café, (03) 5986 5904.   

Peninsula Degustation at La Petanque Restaurant, Friday March 13 – Sunday March 22, lunch and dinner

Lovers of the south of France should come and reminisce as restaurant owner Philippe Marquet presents the style of cuisine he used to serve at La Mirande in Avignon and Les Bories in Gordes. Chef de cuisine Simon Buckley's degustation menu is inspired by the flavours of Provence, with seasonal produce, traditional techniques and a twist of originality and modernity. Tasting menu from $55 per person (food only), bookings essential, (03) 5931 0155.  

The Ashcombe Lost Lunch, March 13 – 22, lunchtime

Discover your private table setting under the trees amid the spectacular 25 acre gardens of Ashcombe. A delicious Mazekeepers antipasto platter, local wine and scrumptious homemade dessert completes the romantic dining experience. $50 per person (includes admission and wine), bookings essential, (03) 5989 8387.  

Picnics at Point Nepean, March 13 - 22

Pick up the perfect picnic hamper from the chefs at Big Blue Backyard, then head to Point Nepean and find a peaceful spot to relish it all. $45 per person includes entry to the Point Nepean National Park. Hamper bookings essential,  (03)  5988 6011.

'Real Ale' Workshop, Saturday March 14 and 21, 9am to 4pm

Hickinbotham of Dromana vineyard now makes its own German pilsner, Vienna lager, American brown beer and Irish stout under the experienced eye of vineyard manager Cameron Turner, who is also an expert brewer. All beers are made to the German purity laws of 1516. Cameron and fellow master brewer Laurie Cahir will teach participants how to mash grain and commence the ferment on the first Saturday; on the second Saturday participants will rack the ferment and workshop beer tasting techniques. $240 including lunch both days, limited to 25 people, bookings essential, 03) 5981 0355.

The Chef and the Gardener, Saturday March 14, 11.30am

Join Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove's Chef de Cuisine Barry Davis and gardener/owner Wendy Mitchell in the estate's beautiful kitchen gardens, orchard and olive groves. See, taste and explore the source of the five-course degustation menu you'll enjoy for lunch, which showcases the abundance of Montalto. $85 per person (food only), bookings essential, (03) 5989 8412.  

Breadmaking with the baker, Saturday  March 14 and 21, 2:30 pm.

Red Hill baker Ray Johns has spent more than 40 years perfecting his craft, and will share it with children aged 5 to 12 years at his Flinders bakery. They'll be hands-on in the flour as they learn the whole breadmaking process, including making, kneading, moulding and baking dough. Limited to 15, no charge, bookings essential, (03) 5989 0067.

20km Platter at Darling Park, Saturday and Sunday, March 14/15 and 21/22

Enjoy a platter of authentic local produce from within a 20km radius of Darling Park winery. Red Hill Cheese, Baker Boys bread, olive oil from Main Ridge, Ellisfield preserved quince, Max's dukkah, Somerville pepper pastrami, and more. $25 for two, bookings preferred, (03) 5989 2324.

Morning Sun Vineyard, Thursdays – Sundays, 10am – 5pm

Overlook the vineyard at Morning Sun, and enjoy a flight of three vintages of Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir matched to gourmet plates created by Chef Jens Schroeder. $30 per person, bookings essential,  (03) 5989 6571.

Festival of Olives, Sunday  March 15, 10am –  4pm

Get the full story on olives - the olive grove, processing plant, cooking demonstrations, tastings of olive oils and olive products at Olio Zito. Learn how to make the most of extra virgin olive oil for a healthy life style. Free, no bookings required.

Lazy Lakeside Lunch Platters, Sunday March 15, noon - 4pm.

Relax on the terrace beside the tranquil lake at Stillwater at Crittenden, where the Mornington Peninsula meets the Mediterranean in an irresistible platter of local produce created by Chef Zac Poulier. Match it with a glass of fine Crittenden Estate wine (try the racy, zippy Spanish Albarino), and play bocce or cricket with the kids on the lawns. $30 for a platter for two, excluding beverages, bookings advisable, (03) 5981 9555.

Fish 'n' Chips with the Pelicans, Monday March 16  – Friday March 20, lunchtime

Pelican Pantry buys its just-caught fish from the Hastings Jetty Fish Shed right next door. Enjoy the catch that's come in that morning – perhaps sword fish, flat head or sea bream – beautifully prepared with a lemon and caper crumbing, or tempura or beer batter, and accompanied by a glass of wine. Then take the kids and feed the flock of pelicans which eagerly wait for scraps from the fish shed (you can buy scraps for $1 a bag). $24 per adult including a glass of wine, $12 per child including a soft drink, bookings preferred, 1300 850 297.

Seafood, Local & Live, Monday March 16 – Sunday March 22, dinner

A fabulous seafood feast created by The Rocks chefs who source direct from fishing boats moored on the restaurant's doorstep. Local abalone, sardines, scallops, mussels and sea urchins, along with vine tomatoes, soft cheese, asparagus and more in a four course degustation menu. Food only: $80, food and matched premium local wines $115, bookings advisable, (03) 5973 5599.   

Mornington Peninsula Gourmet Seasonal Table, Tuesday March 17,   7pm.
Celebrate your love of food with MP Gourmet, host Kleenmaid and canapés featuring fresh local produce complimented by Darling Park wines. Guest speakers in attendance. $30 for MPG members, $35 for non members (price includes a glass of wine), bookings essential, (03) 5989 4501.

Vegans, Vegetarians and Vino, Thursday March 19

Nazaaray Winery, known for its railway carriage 'tasting room', has invited a doctor along to discuss how vegans and vegetarians can balance the food pyramid and increase protein content.  You'll cook a three course meal, including hands-on use of pressure cookers, to increase your intake of pulses. Recipes for quick, simple and tasty meal ideas provided. Limited to 10, $190 per head, bookings essential, 0416 143 439.

Harvest To Tapas At Salix Restaurant, Friday March 20, 6:30pm onwards

A sumptuous tasting menu of beautiful Mornington Peninsula flavours, minimum 3 dishes, $16 per dish per person, bookings advisable,  (03) 5989 7640.

A Weekend of Seafood at the Tasting Station, Saturday March 21 & Sunday March 22

A weekend seafood extravaganza matched with local wines, with additional tastings of local chutneys, relishes, sauces, olive oils, dukkahs, olives and jams.  Bookings essential, (03) 5982 0522.

Laid Back Tasting With Tunes, Sunday March 22, midday

Sample a platter of the finest assortment of autumn fare matched with two tastings of Box Stallion's award winning wines, while enjoying live music and sweeping views of the vines. $28 for two, bookings essential, (03) 5989 7444.    

Peninsula Hot Springs Dine and Bathe Package, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm.

Gather some friends and soak up late summer stars in rich mineral waters that relax the body. Dinner is a set menu of four delicious options in the fully licensed café. $45 per person, bookings essential, (03) 5950 8777.

For more information and accommodation bookings:  Mornington Peninsula Visitor Information Centre,, 1800 804 009 or (03) 5987 3078.

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