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Beat Eats: Melbourne's best antipasto

Too late for lunch, too early for dinner - a tale as old as time. Georgia Spanos has you covered with one word: antipasto.

There’s often an hour, between the late afternoon and early evening, when hunger pains kick in, but it’s still far too early to enjoy your last meal for the day. That’s where antipasto comes in; leave cured meats, stuffed olives, and warm breads can cradle you through to dinnertime.

The Melbourne Salami Festa is a great first stop when collecting supplies and crafting your platter. This year, the festival will be held at Welcome to Thornbury across two full days and evenings. From Saturday October 13 to Sunday October 14, the park will witness an Italian festival takeover, where families will yell –with love of course – mouths will be stuffed, and the quality of produce couldn’t be higher. There’ll be a market running both days – with salami masters behind every stall – as well as salami demonstrations and classes to be taken. With reputable Melbourne bands and DJs providing the soundtrack to your meal, the festival is a lovely stop to shop this October. Make sure to buy some ‘nduja’ for your platter. It’s a spicy and spreadable salumi from the south of Italy (Calabria specifically), and very difficult to find in Australia. The delicacy usually uses roasted peppers and chilli too. Trust me when I suggest jumping on an opportunity to take some home.

Now that you have plenty of salami, what about cheese and other cured meats? Let me point you in the direction of The Queen Victoria Market, and to their deli section, where you can find more cheese and meat than you thought possible. When you arrive, I’ll admit, the choices can be overwhelming – especially without a list handy or at least some knowledge on who does what best. So here, take my knowledge: Head to Dianne’s Delights for bocconcini cheese, roasted peppers, juicy mushrooms, and fresh pesto; Hellenic Deli for dips (the three dips for $10 deal here is pure value), stuffed vine leaves and octopus; and The Epicurean for all the cheese in the world. My platters will never be served without comté, provolone, and smoked gruyere.

Now what will you pair all of those delicious deli treats with? Bread and wine of course – two of the most ancient food pleasures known to life itself. Tivoli Road Bakery is at the top of my list because, why ignore it, they bake the best bread in town. Head in first thing and the olive bread should still be steaming. Order a coffee while you wait, and off you head to the closest wine store – Blackhearts & Sparrows in Richmond – for bottles of red (Nero D’Avola is gorgeous, and there are some particularly great varieties coming out this year).