MARCS Laneway Festival

Melbourne Art Restaurant Cocktail Sound – an infusion of the human senses – was brought to Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival. MARCS laneway festival was a gateway into an alternative inspired culture. Independent tents and brands covered a range of hawker styled foods and crafts from various arts. Enclosed by walls of iconic Melbourne graffiti, passionate and rock inspired music too, fed the ambiance.

The wafting smell of spice and flavour attracted attention to Melbourne’s famous ACDC lane, with the added bonus of musical talent which led onto Duckboard place. Ceremoniously named in honour of the Australian rock band AD/DC in 2004, it was only appropriate to host an exotic and alternative styled festival within the walls of live street art murals blended with the crumbling evidence left from past graffiti.

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When first launching ACDC lane, Lord Mayor John said “As the song says, there is a highway to hell, but this is laneway heaven. Let us rock,” and that is how the festival commenced. Beers and cocktails in hand, crafted by the suave gentlemen behind bar stalls with perfectly trimmed beards and slicked back hair contributed to the artful charm oozing from the laneway.

Wandering through the lane between the smiling faces and hidden doors, Pastuso’s Peruvian grill was the day’s first stop, located between walls of bold coloured graffiti and torn posters. Staring at the menu, I couldn’t help but find that the Yuccas – cassava chips with rocoto mayo was eye catching.

Who knew a simple starchy root vegetable could be baked so beautifully? Golden, subtly sweet chip sticks with a course, gentle crunch on the outside still maintain their soft doughy centre. Sprinkled with delicate chilli flakes, the kick of spice provides a well-matched contrast to the wispy and creamy rocoto mayonnaise – a beautiful freshness with its delicate lime taste.

Yuccas – cassava chips with rocoto mayo

However, the thicker slices of chips, while doughy in the middle, made it tedious and difficult to chew. A simple meal done well, an alternative version to the standard ‘chips and dip,’ working well with the atmosphere of the festival.

Papa Goose’s tent was a couple of dollars extra with their menu being gourmet in style than typical street food. I chose their King prawn, Marie rose & brioche roll. The best part of the delicate burger was the bread: melt in the mouth with a soft, dewy inside, coated in a sleep caramelised golden colour.

Other components of the dish shone bright with their perfect textures – succulent and perfectly cooked prawns paired with the light velvety sauce. Yet that’s where the greatness stopped. The flavours lacked greatly – there was no fresh tanginess in the Marie rose sauce, or any thrill in flavour or seasoning on the prawns. The brioche became the star of the dish more than the prawns themselves.

King Prawn, Marie Rose & Brioche Roll
King Prawn, Marie Rose & Brioche Roll

Entertainment covered all corners. The festival’s rock vibe grew throughout the day with the graffiti artists showcasing their talents on once plain brick walls, beside the creators of crafts and clothing. Musical artists such as Kimba & The Wild Ones, with their great covers and a live presence you couldn’t sum up in a description, got the crowd taking their phones out to record as they shook to the beat. Lucky Moore covered the other side of the lane with his upbeat blues with his weathered suitcase seat, his music creating a wonderland of colour and sensation. For a more street styled and alternative event, the location was perfect, being the heart of rock culture. Food was simple, convenient, and in most cases, send my taste buds crazy with joy!

Kimba & The Wild Ones
Kimba & The Wild Ones
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