The Darebin Homemade Food and Wine Festival is back during the first week of June, with the diverse community of Melbourne’s northern suburbs ready to show off their culinary skills.
The festival will host an array of events in the homes of hosts or nearby community buildings. There’s a talk on cooking for the planet, food film screenings like The Lunchbox and Ratatouille, and a ‘Learn to make Baklava’ class.
For those who like an accolade or two, there are cooking competitions, alongside tours of local markets, gardens, and backyards. Highlighting the program are demonstrations from a few local legends on how to make their signature dishes and drinks.
Make sambusas with the “Somali chilli sauce queen”
One of these legends is Luul Aligas, who is behind Somali Sisters Catering and Zuhaira Somali Sauces. She’ll be hosting a ticketed workshop where attendees can learn to make her vegetarian sambusa – a deep-fried, stuffed pastry traditionally eaten on special occasions like Ramadan.
“You can fill them with meat, chicken, fish or vegetables. Australians really like the vegetarian ones so we’ll make those with beans, onions, garlic and greens,” Aligas says.
“Everybody knows samosas and sambusas. Every country has a way of making them, and my recipe is different too, with different spices.”
To accompany her sambusas, Aligas will serve the sauce that earned her the nickname “Somali chilli sauce queen”. Mid-way between a hot sauce and chutney, it contains green chillies, tomato, garlic, ginger, dates and a secret mix of spices. She says it goes especially well with the sambusas, but also with rice, meat, eggs and Somali-style spaghetti. Take-home jars of chilli sauce will be available to purchase at the event.
Become a raspberry winemaker
Danny Cappellani arrived in Australia decades ago, but is proud to say he’s “still very much Italian”.
“Because my family was involved in growing grapes and making wine where I was born, I probably have it in my blood,” he says.
Along with two other members of the Eltham & District Winemakers Guild, Cappellani will take visitors through the process of raspberry winemaking, from fermentation to bottling. Attendees will even leave the ticketed workshop with a mini raspberry winemaking kit to try at home.
“We will invite the people to contact us the following week and [let us know] how the fermentation is proceeding and if they need advice. They will also be invited to present a sample of the wine they’ve made at our wine show,” he says.
Take a tour or feed your competitive streak
The festival also includes guided food tours through the Preston Market, where stories will be shared by traders; a personal tour of Kat Levers’ permaculture garden, where she’ll offer tips on preserving fruits; and a peek into the garage of Vince Vincitorio, where he’s been making wine for over 55 years.
If you think you can match Vincitorio’s skills in the winery, or the kitchen, you can enter the festival’s cooking competition which is accepting submissions for passata, preserved olives, pickled vegetables, beer or wine.
If you’re more of a sweet tooth, enter your sponge cake, slice, biscuit or scone in the festival bake-off.
Winners are to be announced on 8 June at the Northcote Town Hall, which will be transformed into a marketplace filled with food, produce and music.
Darebin Homemade Food and Wine Festival
1 – 8 June, various locations in the City of Darebin, Victoria
This is a good way to use up any excess vegies you have in the fridge. The roasting, pickling and added oil ends up making a more antipasto style of pickle, like those you buy from the delicatessen. They’re perfect for picnics!
These are unbelievably quick and easy and keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.