Among the meaty offering at this year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, you'll find a gem called Beats and Burgers, which will see wine writer Mike Bennie partner hands-down drinkable drops with Raph Rashid's food truck favourites.
April Smallwood

23 Feb 2015 - 12:40 PM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2015 - 11:26 AM

Mike Bennie, wine journalist and presenter

It's about time we paired tacos and vino. How'd it come about, Mike? The event came about with a discussion between myself, Matt Skinner and Raph Rashid from Beatbox Kitchen. So much of the wine world focuses on food and wine matching for fine dining. The bulk of the way people actually consume wine is probably with much more casual dining in mind. Lots of people like eating burgers and tacos. So you're not always seeking the wine industry's canons of balance and complexity and finesse, but looking for things you just wanna smash. So you're throwing tradition way out the window? When you go to a tasting, you usually start with the light white wines, you move onto the fuller-bodied whites, you end up with the rosé, then you go to the light-bodied reds, then full-bodied reds. When you eat a plate of food at a barbecue, you don't go from the salad, then hit the rice salad, then move your way up to the white-fleshed meat, then red-fleshed meat. You just eat like you want to eat. It's the same with the way I've arranged the wines. I've introduced sake into the tasting schedule as well, because natural rice sake is again super versatile, really palate-refreshing and a really clean beverage that'll cut through some of the fat and richness of burger and taco. Do you think it's true that most people love wine yet don't know squat about it? Yeah, I do. I think people know what they like, which is really important. But I don't think people know much about the way the wine's produced or where it comes from, or some of the elements that go into wine making that might not be simpatico to the way they source their other produce for their pantries. People who think about farmers' markets or buying or slaughtering from abbatoirs wouldn't think that wines have a similar motif, but there are some that do and that's probably the next little phase of education. What's a wine you're loving right now? At the moment, one of the producers I like is James Erskine and the wine is Jauma. It's from South Australia and he's got a series of wine I really like called Danby Blewitt, which is a grenache-syrah blend. It's the kind you want to put in the fridge 15 minutes before serving, the kind of wine you serve in tumblers; it's not profound or complex, it's just utterly delicious.

Raph Rashid, founder of Beatbox Kitchen, Taco Truck and All Day Donuts

Raph, what did you grow up eating? My father was Malay and my mother was Anglo-Australian, and rice went with everything. I grew up on rice every single night. Eventually, when I was four or five, I said that I didn't want rice every single night. My dad said, "That's what I cook." And I said, "We've gotta explore more," so we did. There's this saying, I think it's an Indonesian saying, that goes, "If you haven't eaten rice, you haven't eaten." Even nowadays, if my family has bolognese or meatballs, I'll have mine on rice. What did you make of the film Chef? I thought it was corny. [Laughs] It was fine, but I felt it was just too Hollywood. They made the food look really good, though. They nailed that part. Is the food truck biz looking healthy in Melbourne? In the last year, we went from, I wanna say 20 to over 120, or something like that. So the growth in the last year has been massive. I don't know how sustainable it is cause everyone's in it with a different mission. With a truck, potentially you're just open one day a week, unlike a shop. There's definitely a lot. Do you have hopes to increase to five trucks? Our growth has only been [so] because it was invited by our customer base. There have been a few times we could have done with an extra truck. We'll just wait till people want us more. The growth, especially in this time, should be organic and invited. It's not something we really think about. Are you a better business man or taco maker? Ah, I'm just a taco-buger guy. That's all I care to be doing. We've just got amazing staff here that've been really dedicated and have taken it upon themselves to make it amazing. So I'm just really grateful to them.


Beats and Burgers is on Feb 28, 1:30-2:30pm. Visit Melbourne Food and Wine Festival for tickets.