A little local flavour for you. I even spelled that with a u just so you’d know I was down under. Last weekend I went to Noosa for the annual Food and Wine Festival and I had a terrific time. Australians love food and wine.
Noosa is at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, about 30 minutes from where I live. For Americans, Noosa would be the equivalent of Palm Beach except that in Australia you go north to get hot. According to some locals if you don’t drive a Rolls, Mercedes or something equally luxurious, stay out of Noosa. It’s not quite that snobby, honestly. Recently John and I were up there and we stopped for fish and chips to take to the beach and in the parking lot next to our car was a Rolls, and then there was a BMW and then two Porsches and a Mercedes. So maybe there IS something to it. 🙂
It’s a beautiful spot and if you have a chance to visit Australia, Noosa should be on the list of stops. This is a photo from summer and that would be a crowded beach.
We went on Saturday but the festival goes from Thursday to Sunday with every minute filled with some sort of food event. Next year I want to go all four days. I’m saving my coins now. On Thursday there was the Ruby Luncheon with chefs Stephanie Alexander and Nicky Riemer plus winemaker Jane Ferrari who talked about food, wine and their fantastic careers in food. Sorry I missed that one.
Thursday night saw the Gala Concert and Dinner where Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant cooked to the music of the Queensland Arts Orchestra. Cooking to music really intrigues me. There wasn’t much pre-show information – they wanted to keep it secret.
I haven’t heard how this went so I can’t report. It sounds like it would have been a real experience to be there.
On Friday there were lunches with Australian MasterChefs, Julie Goodwin, Adam Liaw and Kate Bracks who each demonstrated a course each to create a perfect lunch. If you didn’t choose that event, there was a French Country Picnic on the banks of the Noosa river with Jacques Reymond, Ben Batterbury, Ian Curley and Eric Pernoud. The picnic was supposed to transport everyone to provincial France.
Friday was a very busy day because there were several other choices like the Asian Food Trail, Seafood Afloat Trail and the Hinterland Food Trail where people got into buses or boats for an excellent afternoon of food and wine. Later it was party night in Noosa with more great food, wine and entertainment at Lions Park. Local band PocketLove started things off with ARIA star Anthony Callea following. The finale was the lovely and talented Jessica Mauboy.
After plonking down our $65 for each ticket, with our friends David and Jan we picked up our program and wine glasses and headed for foodie heaven, Sunshine Coast style. I might note for those of you enjoying summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This is winter Queensland style. Note that everyone is wearing footwear of some sort. That’s how you can tell it’s winter.
We walked through the main stage area and into grand marquee where food producers were showing off their produce and offering samples. I like food samples. It was early and we hadn’t had breakfast – saving room for all the food and wine.
Our first stop was the specialty food and wine wholesale, Fino. On offer were samples of Spanish jamon. I know this stuff is more expensive than gold but holy cow was it good. I know we don’t live close enough to Brisbane or Sydney where you’d expect to find this meat so I laughingly asked the guy slicing it where I could get it locally. “Be Fresh in Kawana,” he said. I nearly fell over. That’s almost close enough for me to walk. Now I just have to save my money so I can buy a small piece.
The hams are cured for a minimum of 24 months so it’s no wonder they’re so expensive. I had a taste of the back leg and John had the front leg. We both loved it but since we didn’t taste both I can’t tell you which was better.
Then we walked to two stalls from Victoria where John and I used to live. First was Gundowring Ice Cream which we used to buy when we lived down there. They say they’re the best ice cream in Australia and I think they might be right. They gave everyone who wanted one a small cone. I chose ironbark honey with almonds and toffee and John, reliable old John, had chocolate.
I was thinking he was really boring when there were all sorts of fancy flavors but I’d be wrong. The chocolate was made from dark, bitter Belgian couverture chocolate blended with creme anglaise. Gundowring milk their own cows so they control the quality of the milk. Why the name Gundowring? That’s the town the factory is located in.
Sorry, the photo is of someone else’s strawberry ice cream. We were too busy enjoying ours and I forgot to take a photo. argh.
The next stall was the Milawa Cheese Company. When we lived down south we would go to the Brown Brother’s Winery in Milawa and eat lunch at their Epicurean Center, visit the cellar door and then go down the street to Milawa Cheese for the best cheese in the region. They’re selling it up here now – guess where? Same place as the Spanish ham. Two wins in one day.
The kind folks at Milawa Cheese will tell you that cheese is milk’s leap into immortality. Sort of. John had Milawa Blue and I had Milawa Gold. Both delicious. I’ll admit that he gave me a taste of his but I ate all of mine. I feel guilty but only a little.
I could go on with all the stalls but I can share some of that information with you on another time.
It was time to see cooking demonstrations. Our first stop was Valli Little, food editor of Delicious magazine where she prepared Scallops with Asian Sauce Vierge and then Salmon with Spiced Carrot Sauce. They both looked fantastic. I was amazed to learn she made the sauce from carrot juice.
Not Quite Nigella did an interview with Valli Little a few years ago. You can check it out by clicking the link.
I did buy the cookbook with all the recipes that all of the chefs prepared over the two days of demonstrations. I have a lot of cooking to do. I missed a lot of the demos so I’m thankful that the book has lots of photos.
There were lots of chefs at the festival events. I loved every minute of it. Did you know that super dedicated foodies like us can volunteer to work with these chefs at events like this? With so much food to prepare and so few people to do it with, these food heros were looking for volunteers. NOW I hear about it. I’d love to do something like that.
The lunch we chose was by Matt Preston, an award winning food critic, food writer and one of the hosts/judges of Australia’s MasterChef series. Matt always wears a cravat and on his website there are photos of heaps of them and he’s given each one a name. There’s Long Michelle and Slutty Michelle (she doesn’t keep herself nice on the set) and Colonel Mustard for example. He’s a funny man.
The lamb was slow cooked with the most incredible salsa and green sauce I’ve ever eaten. The meat was too tough for me to eat but since childhood I’ve had a difficult time with tough meat. John has no trouble eating mine too. The salsa and the sauce were so good I didn’t miss the meat.
Just thinking now of that salsa with pomegranate seeds and coriander/cilantro makes me hungry.
While everyone else was sitting around relaxing in the sunshine with their glasses of wine, I saw Stephanie Alexander almost alone. I was able to have a lovely chat with her about her brand new autobiography, A Cook’s Life and her Kitchen Garden Foundation. She started a kitchen garden in one school because she was concerned that kids had no clue where their food came from. That was a while ago because she now has 269 schools and they’re increasing every day.
“With the growing influence of fast food, there are many children who have no idea what many vegetables are and even less information as to how to eat them,” she said. She wants to expand her program so that any school that wants a kitchen garden can have one as part of their curriculum. I think it’s a fantastic idea.
When I moved to Australia I came with some American cookbooks and no idea about some of the Australian ingredients. The first cookbook I bought here was Stephanie’s The Cook’s Companion. Later, I was given a second copy but I won’t part with either one. What if I slob on one? They’re not cheap and there are 1100 pages in the book. Stephanie Alexander is the Julia Child of Australia. So you see why I was thrilled to meet her.
Finally we saw Mark Best, chef and owner of Marque Restaurant in Surry Hills, Sydney. Marque has been named Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the year for 2012 and has received the Chef of the Year as well as 3 hats from the Sydney Morning Herald. He’s a pretty good cook.
Sadly, his recipes are not in the cookbook I bought. I have no idea why. It goes from David Thompson the king of Thai cooking to Ben Shewry from Attica, one of the top 100 restaurants in the world. I’ll have to check to see if Jan’s recipe book is missing Mark’s recipes too.
The last thing we did was to sit in on a panel discussion with all the top chefs including Fergus Henderson, Ben Shewry, Alvin Leung, Davide Scabin, David Thompson and Pat Nourse about the direction restaurant food will be taking over the next year or so. While everything they talked about was very interesting and often funny, nobody was telling anyone what they were going to do next and I don’t blame them.
I look forward to going back to Noosa next year! We have a spare room if you want to come with us.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Sounds like you had a fun time Maureen! I was looking forward to reading your round up! And thank you for the shout out too! 🙂
the crowd is so huge there! i bet there are just way a lot food to sample on 🙂
Maine Foodie says
Greetings from the frozen North! Actually, it is quite beautiful here, an early spring and much-appreciated warmth. Makes me want to yearn for fresh steamed lobster.
All that said, I knew Maureen when she was also a Maine-iac. She and I were best friends and we did not talk about cooking! Fascinating to read about her life in Australia and her knowledge of all things gastronomic.
An extra room sounds very inviting . . . Love you!
Holy Cow!!! You have no idea what it’s like to have your BFF from age 4 find your blog and leave a comment! We were practically inseperable from kindergarten to high school graduation. Seriously.
Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook says
What a fantastic time! I’d have loved a day there with all the chef’s, samples and beautiful weather. Winter?
Great post, thanks for taking the time to write it all up, amazing photos too!
(by the way, I’ve been trying to subscribe to your blog for a while, and the email confirming the link never arrives, it doesn’t go to my spam folder, nothing – I decided to let you know, just in case it’s a general problem and not just an anti-Sally sort of thing 😉
It is a rough life being a foodie with a food and recipe blog. Hard work, but we are up to the task!
Loved the little mini-ice cream cone. So cute.
Food looks delicious. Would write more but all of asudden I have hunger pains and must sate. Wonder how that appened.
Choc Chip Uru says
This sounds like so much fun!!! I have made a pact now, as a food blogger and only because of the blog, to go to more food festivals 😉
I visited Noosa a long time back and it is a beautiful place!
Thanks for sharing your experience my friend!
Choc Chip Uru
claudia lamascolo says
So jealous those fish dishes are mouth watering making me want to eat the screen… wow what a great post bravo to you!
Norma Chang says
What a fun and exciting festival see you had a wonderful time and the opportunity to chat with Stephanie Alexander, a special treat.
ea-the spicy rd says
Wow! Great weekend, and I’d love to join you next year 🙂 I’m reading this while waiting for my hubby to bring some Thai food home for dinner. He is late. I am hungry. Your post is making me even hungrier!!!
Alyssa (Everyday Maven) says
That sounds like a fun time! I want to plan a trip to just go to that food festival and explore!
Marina@Picnic at Marina says
It does sound as you’ve had a fabulous time! I love food samples too, who doesn’t?! 🙂
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
Wow – what a great event! I’ve been to Noosa once, as a child, and absolutely loved it. So beautiful and relaxed.
Like that busy place with everyone at the tables waiting in anticipation…..
It’s Saturday morning here, and a great start to the morning. All that food and gorgeous weather has made me hungry, and nostalgic….it reminds me of California! We lived in a wine country, and it was absolutely fab.
Look at the crowd….it’s huge!
Trevor Sis. Boom. says
I loved reading this! It reminded me of how much fine I have at similar events and how long it has been since I got to enjoy one. Lovely!
I hated the last food festival I went to because it was so crowded I missed most everything. There, I said it. I’m undertall and all I got to see was the back of the person in front of me. This was totally different and next year I’m going all 4 days. 🙂
“Note that everyone is wearing footwear of some sort. That’s how you can tell it’s winter.”
Haha, love it 😀
Sounds like you had quite the wonderful time Maureen. I got a bad confession to make… does it make me a bad person if I just can’t stand this jamon junk? I struggle to see the attraction, and it’s not just because I’ve only had “bad stuff”… I’ve tried all sorts 🙁
I completely understand because there are things I can’t get down my throat and people look at me like I’m nuts. I put off starting a blog because I didn’t enjoy everything.
What a fantastic food festival! So fun!
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Maureen, how awesome! Great roundup and makes we want to get there one day even more! These kinds of events around the country are on my bucket list for our retirement. Glad you had a lovely time… even happier that you shared it xox
Frugal in WV says
That looks like so much fun! I’m jealous, we don’t have anything that great around here 🙂 I bet the food was yummy!
The food I ate was yummy and the food I looked at was beautiful 🙂
What a brilliant event! I have usually shyed away from festivals because most of the time you have to pay for a ticket, but this sounds like a festival not to be missed.
Yes, Sophia, it isn’t cheap to attend one of these but you get up close and person with some of the top chefs in the world. Worth every penny I paid.
Baking Serendipity says
This looks totally worth the cost to me. Such fun! Australia is definitely a place on my travel bucket list 🙂
Malou | Skip to Malou says
I saw my brother’s pictures this morning on Facebook and I was so jealous because he is there right now in Australia bringing some chefs to compete… well he is in Hobart Tasmania so I don’t know geography to say that it’s somewhere near Noosa haha. But I guess my point is, here’s another event is Australia that sounds so exciting and fun… I always wanted to travel to Australia and maybe next year I’ll take your spare room haha.
have a great Sunday!
Hobart is in Tasmania, the small island below the eastern side of Australia. I’m in the north, more than 2,500 kilometres away. Pretty long walk. I’ve been to Hobart, it’s really lovely there but he’s gonna freeze his socks off down there.
I’ll have the bedroom tidied before you get here. 🙂
Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake says
You sound like you had such fun there! I’ve never been to Noosa…really really want to go, just don’t have the time!
Noosa is very pretty. I like all of the Sunshine Coast. It’s beautiful but it’s not filled with high rise hotels everywhere.
lovely snaps and nice reading about the festival!
Wow!! Foodie Heaven indeed! I am always so jealous whenever I read posts like this – I long to attend food festivals like this one but I never seem to here in France. This looks stupendous – as does all the food. Lucky, happy you!
wow, I would have thought there would be heaps of food festivals in the realm of fancy food you live in. That’s a real surprise.
Baker Street says
Nice! Good to know you had a fantastic time, Maureen! Everything looks so good!
I’ve been to NYC’s Food and WIne Festival a few times and it is always so much fun! This looks equally so!
This looks like a fun event, you should definitely do all four days next year:-) I love that the food editor of Delicious magazine used carrot juice in a sauce, I need to try that now! Thank you for sharing, Hugs, Terra
Wow awesome event so happy u had fun
how i wish such event is happening at my country too! 🙂
Latest: 100 Years Old Creation
The Festival sounds like a delicious good time! Gorgeous photos.
Kim Bee says
I’ll take the spare if you promise to make homemade cookies and treats while I’m there. I would love to attend and not only attend but with a fellow foodie. So jealous.
Sawsan (Chef in disguise) says
Looks like you had an amazing time Maureen.
Wouldn’t it be so much fun to volunteer with the chefs! I can’t wait for what you will do next year and to all the recipes you will cook up
SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says
Fun fun fun! Noosa is so beautiful. And to be there, surrounded by all that gorgeous food and those clever people… aren’t you lucky??
Interesting event!!! so many delicious food around 😀 😀
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I definitely didn’t know about Noosa and I’ll remember to stop by this place thanks to your recommendation. Wow, so many famous chefs and all the foodies must be so excited about this event! I’ve never attended any food event but I wish I had… it must be fun and great experience. Thanks for sharing your day with us!
Jennifer (Delicieux) says
I wonder if we crossed paths while we were there! I sat in on Valli’s cooking session too.
Other than that ice cream cone being way too small, it all looks fantastic!
Sounds like a great time. Anything food-related has my attention. And how can you resist buying cookbooks? That’s one of my downfalls – I’ve got them all over the place. I’ve never been to Australia – would love to go sometime. If nothing else, think of all the new cookbooks I’d be finding! Fun post – thanks.
Maureen, the group photo of the chefs was mind-boggling — so many chefs, so many styles, such a tough decision to make … which cuisine to enjoy? Glad you savored every bite! Looks like they sure know how to throw a party. 🙂 Congratulations on your recent awards, too!