Feast­ing on lo­cal har­vest

Food­ies will be in­spired by the fab­u­lous va­ri­ety pro­duced in this fer­tile area of north­ern NSW, writes Fiona Donnelly

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - TASTY KINGSCLIFF -

YOU’D ex­pect a ho­tel called Pep­pers, lo­cated at a re­sort named Salt, to be food-fo­cused – es­pe­cially when the on-site res­tau­rant is called Sea­son.

Pep­pers at Salt Re­sort, Kingscliff, in north­ern NSW, doesn’t dis­ap­point.

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Reuben Radonich grew up locally and pi­o­neered an idea here that has stretched into a gourmet pro­gram now run­ning at 23 Pep­pers re­treats and re­sorts around Aus­tralia.

When he took over, Radonich, born in By­ron Bay, says his aim was sim­ply to sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses.

‘‘ I wanted to get as much lo­cal pro­duce as pos­si­ble on the menu,’’ he says. ‘‘ The food trail evolved from that.’’

Lo­cal pro­duc­ers now star on menus at all Pep­pers prop­er­ties in­volved in the com­pany’s gourmet food trail pro­gram. Events are on­go­ing and range from food-cen­tred week­ends to tast­ings, tours and more, de­pend­ing on lo­ca­tion.

Pep­pers at Salt is beach­side, tucked along­side the stun­ning dune-fringed South Kingscliff beach.

The sur­round­ing area, with its rolling hills and flat, rip­pling fields of su­gar cane, is a patch­work of fer­tile vol­canic soils and broad rivers.

It’s im­pos­si­ble for a food lover to ven­ture out and not come back in­spired.

Locally, you’ll find ev­ery­thing from ar­ti­san small­go­ods from ac­claimed maker Sa­lumi, to sus­tain­able seafood, award-win­ning beef and some of the world’s rarest fruits.

‘‘ You can’t help be­ing filled with en­thu­si­asm – be­cause it doesn’t get any fresher than be­ing able to buy from the pro­duc­ers,’’ Radonich says.

Our mini food trail starts at Tweed Marina on River Tce.

We’re not here for the crab­catch­ing cruise, which de­parts daily at 9am. The mud­dies are safe. We’re on a mis­sion to pick up prawns.

Radonich’s mother-in-law lives nearby and can spy the trawlers from her bal­cony as they re­turn to shore. Prices are keen – verg­ing on whole­sale – and the boats moored are Food Safer­eg­is­tered to sell to the pub­lic.

At $20-$25/kg for beau­ties – both cooked and green – that have been swim­ming just hours be­fore, it’s best to hit the dock early.

As we scope out the bas­kets that a crew mem­ber of Sun­down Ka­rina dis­plays, skip­per Kevin Sol­way catches us eye­ing the bream dart­ing about be­neath the boat.

‘‘ They are some of the best-fed fish on the coast – and used to dodg­ing hooks,’’ he laughs.

‘‘ Some of them would be 30 years old.’’

His crew is tri­alling new gear that in the fu­ture he hopes will en­able them to have zero by­catch.

The aim is to ditch flat­head and Eastern school whit­ing and spe­cialise in bugs and prawns.

‘‘ We’re giv­ing up a lot of in­come – but it’s the way we have to go to guar­an­tee the fu­ture,’’ Sol­way says.

The glossy pink cooked num­bers we peel and crunch be­side the boat are prime spec­i­mens – not too salty and sea-redo­lent.

Next stop is Jack Spratt’s Meats in Tweed Heads South.

From the out­side it looks like a reg­u­lar neigh­bour­hood butcher. Spend five min­utes chat­ting to owner Paul New­son, ex-op­er­a­tions man­ager for Vic’s Meats (Aus­tralia’s largest meat whole­saler) in Sydney and that no­tion is dis­pelled.

New­son made a sea change for fam­ily rea­sons and his shiny black and white shop is one of the few places you can pick up proper Ban­ga­low pork.

You’ll also find Gooralie free-range pork plus goat and spe­cialty pork from John Singh at By­ron Bay Pork. New­son spe­cialises in dry-age­ing beef and the col­d­room is stacked with hunks of meat at var­i­ous stages of mat­u­ra­tion.

‘‘ We like to dip our fin­gers into the best,’’ says New­son, who sup­plies restau­rants as well as lo­cals.

Each week­end you’ll find him host­ing a ‘‘ Satur­day mar­ket day’’, where he of­fers res­tau­rant-qual­ity meat at whole­sale prices.

New­son’s dry-aged rib fil­let, sliced from Oak­ley Ranch Casino Beef, reared in the North­ern Rivers, stars on Sea­son’s din­ner menu.

The beef is teamed with root veg­eta­bles from lo­cal grow­ers sourced through Tweed Fruit Ex­change at Mur­willum­bah, a high-street store run by Paul Pouloudis, who is a third­gen­er­a­tion green­gro­cer.

Lo­cal By­ron Bay pekin duck from spe­cial­ist sup­plier AJ – Alexan­der

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.