3 Course Menu with Recipes and Wine Pairings (Winter and Summer Variations)
Who doesn’t like a good dinner party? Today we feature our Melbourne dinner party from the best of our Melbourne-based recipes. As well we highlight the pleasures around two popular wine-growing regions on Melbourne’s doorstep, the Yarra Valley Region and the Mornington Peninsula Region.
This continues our series of featuring a dinner party from all of the regions or countries that we visit. Food and travel is a great combination for many people, so come along for our little sojourn around Melbourne and please make the recipes, you won’t be disappointed.
Dinner parties are still common in Melbourne but we have noticed a growing trend of friends and family groupings getting together at restaurants rather than hosting dinner parties. I have particularly observed this amongst younger groups. I think there are four reasons for this:
- Maybe there is more money in the community than in years gone by so there is a greater capacity to pay;
- Lots of people are time-poor keeping up with jobs and outside activities;
- I suspect younger people are taking more time to leave the family home. Although wage levels are high in Australia, so are property prices; and
- No mess to clean up (ok that is a big advantage to going out)
I must admit though to a strong preference for hosting or attending a dinner party at a home, especially if at night. I just think it is more comfortable, it is easier for children and you can go at your own pace and be as relaxed as you want without potentially offending other restaurant guests.
However, we still enjoy a restaurant meal that is for sure! But we find ourselves going out more often for breakfast than for dinner! As I mentioned in previous posts, Melbourne breakfasts are legendary, and it is that multi-cultural influence which is the main driver for that. It is also a cheaper exercise going out for breakfast as (usually) no alcohol is involved, only divine coffee instead! Plus, showing my age here, I don’t have to deal with night-time crowds if I go out for breakfast.
However, I digress. It is a dinner party we are featuring today and it is definitely not breakfast on the menu! Before we move onto the menu, let’s just talk about two of Melbourne’s nearby wine regions.
Yarra Valley Wine Region
The Yarra Valley Region is on the eastern and north eastern fringe of Melbourne. It is a very short day trip especially from the eastern suburbs. Wineries are just one of the many attractions here. The Yarra Valley is home to family farms producing great produce, lovely scenery, great hiking and cycling. It is just a pleasant place to visit and relax.
And many Melbournians do. The more than 80 wineries here are always open for tastings and most have excellent restaurants, cafes and outdoor areas for you to take in the beautiful scenery. Early-morning balloon rides are also very popular and something I would highly recommend. Drifting over wineries with the early morning mists rising from the valley with faraway views of the mountains is like being in some fantasy film. You just have to pinch yourself.
Apart from the scenery you have the opportunity to taste some sublime wines. Common varieties grown in the Yarra Valley include red varieties Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot, while the whites are dominated by Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The area also has a growing reputation for the production of high quality sparkling wines. The sparkling wines of the Yarra Valley rival those of Northern Tasmania for the role of the premier sparkling wine of Australia. Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay are also represented among the top wines for their classes.
If you are into organic food, wines, pleasant scenery and have a sense of adventure then you will love the Yarra Valley. It is a great place for overseas visitors. There is one well-known story here of a Canadian couple who arrived at Melbourne Airport, hired a car and had plans to slowly drive around the coast to Sydney over 10 days or so. Their first stop was the Yarra Valley but they enjoyed it so much that they never left the valley! It is just that sort of place.
Mornington Peninsula Wine Region
We do love the Yarra Valley, but if we were able to choose a nearby region to live it would be the Mornington Peninsula. Often dubbed Melbourne’s playground, the Mornington Peninsula has those rolling hills, great ocean (surfing) beaches as well as calm, bayside beaches fantastic for families. It also contains excellent hiking opportunities and is also home to many of Melbourne’s great golf courses.
Those rolling hills contain many, beautiful forests and those lucky enough to live in the hills have magical views over the water. There are quaint cafes dotted around the peninsula with vineyards nestled in the gentle hills. You can drive around here for days and never get sick of this place. It contains one of the best natural spas I have seen, Peninsula Hot Springs. I highly recommend the private baths (great for couples).
But if it is wine you are interested in then you will love “the peninsula”. Home to more than 50 cellar doors and 200 vineyards, it is a young region with vineyards first being established in the 1970’s. It produces world-renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Grigio and Shiraz are also popular from this region.
Melbourne Dinner Party
So to round off our month in Melbourne, remember November (late spring in Melbourne) is good food month (all around Australia), we are publishing our Melbourne Dinner Party, both the winter version as well as the summer version.
Before we move on to the Melbourne dinner party, if you want to read more about Melbourne and its food, then try here:
- Melbourne, world’s best for sport?
- Healthy avocado squash for breakfast
- 5 Insider Tips for Enjoying Fantastic Food in Melbourne
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup
- 11 of Melbourne’s best food shops and cooking classes
- Quality Gourmet Cheese Platter
- Guide to Fabulous Melbourne Markets
- Home-made Muesli with Yogurt, Rhubarb and Honey
- Insider Tips to Make the Most of your Melbourne Visit
- Traditional Roast Pork with Better Crackling
- How to Eat your Way Around the World in Melbourne
- Grilled Seafood Salad with Wild Rice