Hiccups and hijinks

Where were the taste police, discerning palates and arbiters of what’s hot during the Noosa Food and Wine Festival? Deb Caruso and Helen Flanagan loosened their belts and went on the hunt.

by @JohnCaruso on Thursday, 22 Jun, 2017

Expectations were high. Foodies and wine aficionados were in a spin. Understandable with 70+ events, and 45 of Australia’s best chefs plus 2-Michelin-starred chefSat Bains strutting their stuff over four eventful days and nights in May. Oh and let’s not forget nearly 50 producers and winemakers in The Woods, tipis and an elegant marquee on either end of Noosa Main Beach; food trails in the Hinterland; and the Hasting Street long table lunch where King Valley Prosecco Road intersected with stunning local produce expertly prepared! The table was set for a comeback of Herculean proportions and Noosa restaurants and food providers stepped up to take on the challenge.

With Tourism Australia Research revealing in March that tourists spent more than $21 billion on food, wine and brewery experiences last year, the Noosa Food and Wine Festival seems to be catching the same wave of foodie travel popularity in Australia with an estimated 10,000 people sipping, feasting and sampling their way through the festival.

Our Festival Snapshots are enough to make your mouth water and whet your appetite for more! Noosa, take a bow! Looking forward to what you cook up in 2018!

The Woods

Despite a late cancellation on the Friday night due to rain, the sun came out for Saturday and Sunday and the so did the foodies! TheNoosa Woods was transformed into a wine and produce village during the day, and party central on Saturday night!IN Noosa Magazine introduced the EAT in Noosa app and teamed withSlow Food Noosa to provide the local flavour and showcase a plethora of the region’s clever producers from macadamia nuts to nitrate-free bacon; limes; strawberries, honey and artisan bread and spice rubs.


Kicking things off early was Slow Food Noosa’s Noosa Food Trail

On Makepeace Island Resort, Sir Richard Branson’s Australian hideaway, stakes were high. Leading the parade wereMatt Skinner from the Drinks List and UK’s Sat Bains, both good mates ofMatt Stone the executive chef of Oakridge Wines in the Yarra Valley, who with partner and sous chefJo Barrett presented a dish which was inspired by “awesome” Noosa: kangaroo, native greens ‘kim chi’ and sandlewood nuts.

At Noosa Waterfront, energy and excitement levels were palpable. And they didn’t abate for three days. The star line-up which includedAndrea Ravezzani at every event, kicked off with the Pork Stars – All Stars lunch with chefsPatrick Spencer and Buddha Lo. Saturday night was a huge Italian ‘family and Friends affair’ withTony Percuoco, Luca Cieno, Ray Capaldi and ‘King of Desserts’Adriano Zumbo making a surprise appearance, well for dinner guests as he was left off the program. Sunday finished on a high with ‘Italian stallions’Giovanni Pilu, Alessandro Pavoni and vino man Ignazio from Twelve Bottles Distribution serving outstanding dishes and wines. What about the white chocolate sphere with strawberry liquid centre, basil and olive cake, black olive crumb and basil powder with a glass of Collefrisio Vino Alle Amarene Sottosopra. Bellissimo.


Dal Zotto Pucino Prosecco

  • Baked gnocchi, gorgonzola, red grapes, candy walnuts, macro greens.
  • Sam MirandaPinot Grigio 2017

South Burnett pork, apple, fennel salad, salsa verde & crackle with pizziniwines Nonna Gisella Sangiovese 2015

Frangelico pears, vanilla cream, hazelnut & oat crumb, spiced pear sorbet. With Brown Brothers Prosecco NV

When it comes to style Wasabi Group’s dynamo Danielle Gjestland has it all. In theIbento Boutique Event Space three chefs hosted Chef's Table-style dinners. “Each chef prepared signature dishes for a maximum of 12 guests,” Danielle explained. “The guests were treated to the spectacle, a 'ring-side' seat in the kitchen where chefs prepared and plating up. First, Geoff Lindsay from Dandelion on Friday, 2-Michelin-starred chefSat Bains paired with Vanya Cullen on Saturday and on Sunday a co-lab dinner with our executive chefZeb Gilbert plus Federico Zanellato from LuMi in Sydney. Three unique and intimate events showing each chefs' personal style and what’s really involved prepping a plate of food for the pass.”

Clayton Donovan, Australia's only hatted indigenous chef put the fancy into bush tucker atStuart Webster’s Rock Salt. From oysters with finger lime and coconut water foam; and kangaroo loin smoked in lemon myrtle, beets, carrots, Warrigal green and dark chocolate jus; to a pepperberry and ginger panna cotta with rhubarb and Davidson plums, a truly memorable evening.

It was a bold and bountiful Beef & Reef Feast at the Noosa Boathouse with Nu Nu’sNick Holloway, and Austin’s Sunny Gilbert joiningShane Bailey, who for many years was heavily involved in Noosa food festivals. Seven dishes of caught-daily seafood and/or beef from Nolan’s private selection were complemented by Dal Zotto wines withMichael Dal Zotto naturally chuffed talking about the latest awards for Prosecco.

New Zealand executive chefs Chetan Pangam, from the Copthorne Hotel in Wellington andMarc Soper from Wharekauhau Country Estate in Featherston thought the Ora King salmon dish atThe Boathouse was outstanding and as brand ambassadors they know what they’re talking about. That was evident later that afternoon at the Salmon and Sunset at theSofitel. Marc’s poached Ora King salmon in smoked broth, foraged mushrooms, corn custard and wilted greens; and Chetan’s south Indian-spiced seared Ora King salmon, celeriac cumin puree, tomato shorba gel, whitlof, pickled cauliflower, fresh coconut, pomegranate, coriander, king salmon caviar, togarashi crisp salmon skin, were eagerly eaten.

Ian Curley, renowned Melbourne executive chef and consultant promised a fun, lively dinner matched with wines from Marlborough, on three nights under the elegant ‘big top’.

“I love Noosa,” he said “and really enjoyed working with Noosa’s First Class Functions who essentially did all the running around. “The highlight for me and my crew was definitely how great theFrench Saloon-styled tent looked on the beach and ultimately how well it came together in the end.

It’s always guaranteed to be a fabulous night when internationally renowned Luke Mangan comes to town to join good mate David Rayner behind the burners ofThomas Corner Eatery. Four courses featured a line-up of the best of Australian produce from locally smoked salmon, poached Mooloolaba prawns, saddle of Victorian lamb, and coconut panna cotta, all matched to perfection with New Zealand’s Dog Point wines.

Lucky guests at Peppers Noosa enjoyed a sell-out 4-course dinner called the Queensland Seafood Experience, with matched wines fromZilzie. Dishes were Hervey Bay scallops and Rhodavale Pork belly from executive chefAndy Wilcox; yellow fin tuna tartare with crushed Jerusalem artichokes and more fromBlackbird’s Jake Nicolson, miso-blackened local cobia fromBillykart’s Ben O'Donoghue, plus Elena Duggan, winner ofMasterchef 2016 who created a dessert with Sunshine Coast figs, chocolate, wattle seed and macadamia.

Many propped at Miss Moneypenny s pop-up bar to sip Aperol Spritzers or at theDal Zotto Noosa Boathouse Bar for scrumptious smoked fare with glasses of prosecco andCheese Therapy was everywhere!

Necia Wilden knows a lot more than most about food. The editor ofThe Australian’s Daily Life, and co-editor with John Lethlean of Hot 50, the national restaurant guide published annually inThe Weekend Australian magazine, is also a huge fan of Noosa food and wine festivals.

She agreed the individual events were great, and the restaurants themselves put their hearts and souls into it, such as the Seafaring Adventure atLocale. “A triumph,” she declared with the look of satisfaction. “The dining room had been cleared out to make way for a seafood feast like no other: an oyster station, a sashimi station and a real barbecue, manned byPaul West of River Cottage. Between that and the kitchen, there was more premium Queensland seafood at that event than you’d see in a month of dining out: Mooloolaba prawns, whole swordfish on the BBQ, mussels with hazelnuts and kale, BBQ octopus … plus serious wines from the likes of Cullen and Quartz Reef. A brilliant night, hosted, with his usual aplomb by Australia’s Mr Fish,John “Salty Dog” Susman.

“I also really enjoyed Smoke and Fire at Woodfire Grill for Saturday lunch, where guest chefsDuncan Welgemoed (Adelaide) and Matt Stone (Yarra Valley) sent out cured cobia and scorched salmon and the main event, a whole roasted rack of Boston Bay pork with positively obscene amounts of perfect crackling.

“Standout dish for the whole weekend: Icebergs at Rickys’ Raw Queensland scallop, pickled stracciatella, white radish and elderflower. Oh my. I want it now.”

Read more articles by @JohnCaruso

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