Re­gional flavours visit the big city

Eat, drink and be amazed by the pro­duce on Bris­bane’s doorstep

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - BY El­yse Wurm

RIP­PLING waves re­flected the golden light of the sun’s last rays as it ducked be­hind clouds inch­ing ever closer to the hori­zon.

Lush blades of green grass tick­led my an­kles as I sat on the per­fectly man­i­cured lawn of River Quay and gazed across the Bris­bane River to­wards the im­pos­ing build­ings of the city’s CBD.

Scents of rich tomato pasta and salty fresh fish hung in the air.

The chink­ing of glasses punc­tu­ated the chat­ter that flowed down to the fore­shore and dis­ap­peared across the wa­ter.

Soon a neat line of crisp white tents will be as­sem­bled along that very shore­line, act­ing as hubs of culi­nary pro­duc­tion to add an­other di­men­sion to the oasis.

On this evening, I got a small taste of what will be in store next month when the pop-up restau­rants fill the space for the Re­gional Flavours fes­ti­val.

The menu read clas­sics but th­ese beloved Aus­tralian dishes were given some un­ex­pected cre­ative flair.

A slider from The Jetty sand­wiched chipo­tle Dar­ling Downs beef brisket be­tween two fluffy, but­tery brioche buns.

There was just enough heat to leave my lips tin­gling, soothed by the fresh car­rot and cab­bage slaw that at­tempted to es­cape from each side.

Queens­land fish and chips from River Quay Fish was next to be passed around.

The smell of the turmeric and cumin-in­fused bat­ter hit my nose be­fore my taste­buds, mak­ing them yearn for more.

Turn­ing pop­u­lar recipes on their heads to show­case top qual­ity in­gre­di­ents in new lights is a theme that runs through­out the fes­ti­val.

A free two-day event, Re­gional Flavours started as a hum­ble street mar­ket and has grown to a foodie ex­trav­a­ganza fea­tur­ing celebrity chefs and the best of Queens­land’s re­gional pro­duce.

Over the com­ing days I weaved my way around the out­skirts and in­ner sanc­tum of Bris­bane, sam­pling the pro­duce to be cel­e­brated and be­ing con­sis­tently ex­cited by the way old flavours could be shown new tricks.

Ris­ing early from a lux­u­ri­ous night at the Bris­bane Mar­riott, we made our way to our first out-of-town des­ti­na­tion – the Lock­yer Val­ley.

About 45 min­utes after we left the CBD each side of the free­way boasted no­tice­ably more green­ery.

We were head­ing to­wards 9Dorf farm, an in­no­va­tive es­tab­lish­ment striv­ing to max­imise pro­duc­tion and min­imise en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

The hot sun bore down on us as we wan­dered through fields of clucky chick­ens us­ing car­a­vans as homes and lay­ing sta­tions.

Fol­low­ing a “be­yond or­ganic” mantra, the farm re­cy­cles wa­ter from fish tanks on fields and al­lows chick­ens to grow out­side in the fresh air and sun­shine.

Wild Ca­nary ex­ec­u­tive chef Glen Bar­ratt is the ad­vo­cate for the val­ley at the fes­ti­val.

Pay­ing a visit to the restau­rant after see­ing the beauty of the val­ley first­hand al­lowed me to taste the re­sults when pro­duce from the pad­dock hits the plate.

“We try to do as lit­tle as pos­si­ble to the veg­eta­bles,” Glen said.

“It’s such a shame when you see peo­ple peel­ing car­rots.” Car­rots, pota­toes, turnips, beets and pump­kin were served up to us roasted skins and all for lunch, in a close repli­ca­tion of the veg­e­tar­ian salad the chef will be pre­par­ing dur­ing Re­gional Flavours.

Si­lence fell as we gath­ered the veg­eta­bles on a fork and dragged them through a gen­er­ous smear of goat’s yo­gurt to tie all the sweet carameli­sa­tion to­gether.

Dessert was a mixed plate of sweet treats in­clud­ing a pana­cotta made with camel’s milk, Lock­yer Val­ley figs and a gen­er­ous scoop of ma­cadamia and gin­ger ice cream from Maleny.

Glen said sourc­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents costs about the same amount as if they were pur­chased from afar, so why go past high qual­ity pro­duce that’s right on your doorstep?

Of course, what is a great meal with­out some­thing to wash it down?

Later that evening we paid a visit to The Charm­ing Squire to meet Matt Kirkegaard, a man whose eyes light up when asked about ale.

“There’s a siege men­tal­ity among beer mak­ers that’s tak­ing it to a wider au­di­ence,” he said.

Matt will be pre­sent­ing beers from four lo­cal brew­ers and The Charm­ing Squire at The Hunt­ing Club over the fes­ti­val week­end, a space where craft beer lovers go on a quest to find new flavours. “Who’s a fan of dark beer?” Matt asked our group. When a few were a bit hes­i­tant to raise a hand he could see a chal­lenge was afoot.

A quick whis­per to a mate be­hind the bar and next thing we knew trays with two glasses were placed in front of us – one filled with stout and the other with a scoop of ice cream. “Stout af­fogato!” he said with glee.

Clearly two words none of us had heard to­gether be­fore. But lo and be­hold, it was a vi­sion.

The choco­late, cof­fee notes made a creamy con­coc­tion with the ice cream, a lit­tle like an adults-only ver­sion of a spi­der.

The ex­pe­ri­ence topped off an evening where we had tasted the new Ras­cals Rasp­berry wheat beer and the Oaked and Smoked oat­meal stout.

Hunt­ing wasn’t re­ally nec­es­sary to find those flavours, The Charm­ing Squire knows how to pack a punch.

After re­tir­ing to the Mar­riott with a full belly, I awoke with a spring in my step won­der­ing how my ideas of food would be chal­lenged on that day’s trip to More­ton Bay.

Scut­tling across the sand upon our ar­rival were minia­ture crabs, mak­ing it ap­pear as though they were crawl­ing right up the bank and onto our plates.

Ac­com­pa­ny­ing us on the jour­ney to Sand­stone Point Ho­tel was Paul West, a lov­able lar­rikin who will be the face of the bay at Re­gional Flavours.

A ban­quet of fresh seafood was laid be­fore us on a blue-tiled table that looked di­rectly out to the ocean.

We peeled prawns, cracked crab claws and scooped the flesh of the Bay’s fa­mous bugs di­rectly from their shells as we watched the waves lap gen­tly at the shore.

I had the feel­ing that my food ex­pe­ri­ence had come full cir­cle, start­ing by the wa­ter and end­ing there again.

If all roads lead back home then the wa­ter­ways must do too, which will en­sure re­gional pro­duc­ers are al­ways given di­rect pas­sage to the city.

Re­gional Flavours will give a taste of the glo­ri­ous goods on of­fer a stone’s throw from Bris­bane, hope­fully plant­ing the idea that fine lo­cal fare can be found not only dur­ing the fes­ti­val but at any time of year.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

◗ Six pop-up restau­rants will be set up along River Quay for the Re­gional Flavours fes­ti­val.

PHOTO: EL­YSE WURM

◗ Wild Ca­nary ex­ec­u­tive chef Glen Bar­ratt will be the Lock­yer Val­ley ad­vo­cate at Re­gional Flavours.

PHOTO: PETER CRONIN

◗ Matt Kirkegaard from BeerMatt at the New­stead Brew­ing Co.

PHOTO: EL­YSE WURM

◗ Wild Ca­nary dessert plat­ter of camel­cotta (pana­cotta made of camel's milk), Lock­yer Val­ley fig, raw cheese­cake and a gen­er­ous scoop of ma­cadamia and gin­ger ice cream.

PHOTO: EL­YSE WURM

◗ The chipo­tle braised Dar­ling Downs beef brisket slider will be served by The Jetty pop-up restau­rant at River Quay for Re­gional Flavours.

A glo­ri­ous day to en­joy a seafood lunch at More­ton Bay.

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