It is Saturday afternoon. The sky is cloudy, and it is starting feeling like autumn in Melbourne. Not gloomy, just colder than a few weeks ago. My partner and I are walking along the Yarra Promenade to see what is going on. It is the opening weekend of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and River Graze offers food, wine and entertainment for any taste. Cute little food trucks, flower decorated bars, and delighted, prattling people are filling the street proportions.
As we pass Crown, we see a big sign with the words “Italian Pizza Festival”. It does not take us long to agree on pizza is what we need. Not a hangover kind of need, but the thought of a real Italian pizza is just fantastic. The pizzas, we previously have tasted here in Melbourne, are pure crap, just like in America. Completely overfilled with all kinds of meat and wannabe cheese. But as we can see the many pizza bakers behind the mosaic decorated wood-fire ovens, we are convinced.
Crown is behind The Italian Pizza Festival in collaboration with the local wine company T’Gallant. As one of the biggest entertainment groups in Australia, it is not unknown to Crown to arrange an event like this, and this gets obvious as we enter the event.
All kinds of people are here. Children are playing around in the kitchen garden build for the occasion. People in suits and heals are standing with their fancy drinks chatting about work, and sneakers-wearing-people (like me) are laughing with friends or family. The vibe is relaxed and cheerful.
Two local musicians are playing their guitars in an acoustic medley of George Michael and Nelly Furtado. Weird, but it sounds real, and it is the perfect background music for eating pizza and drinking wine under the orange parasols and flags on wires in Italian colours.
We get our pizzas, and they look as desired, just a bit smaller than normal. However, for 15 dollars including a glass of wine, this is all we can ask for.
The base is real Italian. Durum flour makes it at once heavy and crispy, just like it should be, and the tomato sauce taste more like tomatoes than ketchup. Fresh mozzarella tops the pizza perfect accompanied by some few pieces of spicy salami.
As we a sitting there, enjoying our pizzas, listing to the musicians and chatting about the amazing location by the river, the sun breaks through the cloudy sky and makes us try another drink. This pizza fest was a great way spending our Saturday afternoon.