Fridays are usually a good day in the MP office. We celebrate the start of the weekend by guzzling coffees & cake in Citizen in the morning, and knock back espresso martinis & oysters in Melbourne Public in the afternoon. By the time the weekend rolls around, we are usually pretty full and satisfied (albeit high from all the caffeine).
But last Friday exceeded all of our usual Friday expectations, with a helicopter ride to the Mount Zero Olive Grove for the Regional World’s Longest Lunch.
This celebration of Grampians’ food and wine was part of the program of events run by Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, boasting a menu of local, seasonal dishes prepared by local chefs James Campbell (ex Movida) and Mary Clarke (Mason Clarke).
After taking off in our helicopter (courtesy of Microflite) from the helipad just outside Melbourne Public on the Yarra, we flew over the spectacular countryside that skirts Melbourne. On arriving at the Mount Zero Olive Grove (with quite the rockstar entrance) we were met by the beautiful owners; Jane & Neil, with their besotted dog Lily in tow.
Jane & Neil Seymour purchased their olive grove in 1993, in a state of disrepair. Consequently, their first commercially sold olives and olive oils were not produced until 1996. Their story is heart-warning and incredible - you can read more about it here.
After a tour of their stunning home and their Glamping pop-up by Under Sky, we enjoyed some delicious wine from local vigneron Viv Thomson (Bests) before sitting down to a long table lunch surrounded by Mount Zero’s bountiful biodynamic olive grove, over-looking the northern Grampians.
The table was laid out with olives, whole tomatoes, olive oil and warm bread. Once seated, we were instructed in the art of making Pan con Tomato - the rustic Spanish version of bruschetta. Also adorning the table were pieces of braised octopus from Robe and some Charcuterie from Salt Kitchen Charcuterie.
Throughout the rest of the meal we were treated to a carefully curated menu, featuring slow cooked and charred lamb shoulder from Wild Lamb, and Shaw River Buffalo Cheese in the salads and curd. Mount Zero Olives made an appearance in a variety of surprising ways, even in the ice-cream (!)
Our lunch was interspersed with local suppliers sharing their history and expertise on their produce, as well as hearing from Richard (Jane & Neil’s son, also a Mount Zero Olive owner) and James & Mary. The overall atmosphere was a humble and relaxed one, mixed with a certain graciousness for the opportunities that the Australian land provides.
Keen to try some of these delicious Mount Zero Olives out? Melbourne Public will be featuring them on our menu from May, or head to the Mount Zero Olive Grove before May 7 for lunch, light snacks and farmgate sales in their temporarily re-opened café.