DO YOURSELF A FLAVOUR

TIT­IL­LATE YOUR TASTE­BUDS WITH END­LESS FOOD AND DRINK EX­PE­RI­ENCES TO SAM­PLE IN THE BOUN­TI­FUL BUND­ABERG RE­GION

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE - WORDS: ROBYN COURT­NEY The writer was a guest of Bund­aberg Tourism.

When I hear the name Bund­aberg, sugar cane, rum and ginger beer come to mind. Hav­ing lived in the city for a decade, I thought I had a good knowl­edge of what the large coun­try town and dis­trict had to of­fer but my al­ready high re­gard for the peo­ple and the place I called home dur­ing the ’90s was boosted – as was my waist­line – af­ter spend­ing a long week­end in the area for the Taste Bund­aberg Fes­ti­val, a cel­e­bra­tion of every­thing grown, caught, dis­tilled, brewed and nur­tured in the re­gion.

It’s prob­a­bly best known for its iconic Bund­aberg Rum – a spirit that has been bot­tled since 1888 – but there is so much more to this river city, as I was to dis­cover over three food and bev­er­age-fu­elled days.

Walk down the main street of this Queens­land coun­try town and you will see that a foodie cul­ture has well and truly es­tab­lished it­self. Nu­mer­ous cafes buzz with lunchtime crowds.

In­dulge is a good ex­am­ple of the con­nec­tions that lo­cal cafe own­ers and chefs are mak­ing with the lo­cal food pro­duc­ers. Mitchell White, of In­dulge, takes the fresh pro­duce from the dis­trict and makes award-win­ning food – a tasty start to an in­dul­gent week­end.

I have lost count of the num­ber of times I have driven north to Bund­aberg. I al­ways knew I was close when I hit the rolling hills of Childers, trav­el­ling along roads flecked with red soil, flanked by fields of sugar cane. But this time was dif­fer­ent. The land­scape had changed.

The rich ta­pes­try of fields sig­ni­fies the abun­dance of fruit and veg­eta­bles be­ing grown along­side cane crops.

Av­o­ca­dos, figs, macadamias, sweet pota­toes, zuc­chi­nis, toma­toes, chillies, pump­kins, limes and ginger are some of the lo­cally grown pro­duce for which the re­gion has be­come renowned.

And the chefs are em­brac­ing the year-round avail­abil­ity the pri­mary pro­duc­ers are pro­vid­ing by us­ing the top-qual­ity fruits and veg­eta­bles in their dishes.

Sit­ting down to a long lunch at the Wa­ter Street Kitchen – a five-course tast­ing menu matched with cock­tails and wine – high­lighted the won­der­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion that is go­ing on in the city be­tween pad­dock and plate.

Own­ers Alex and Jen’s so­phis­ti­cated el­e­gance in sub­ur­ban Bund­aberg re­flects what is good about the re­gion’s culi­nary op­tions. From the stuffed zuc­chini flow­ers to the ginger panna cotta, the menu show­cases what can be cre­ated from the fresh lo­cal pro­duce.

Bert’s (named af­ter the fa­mous Bund­aberg avi­a­tor Bert Hin­kler) and Bur­nett River­side’s H2O restau­rants also in­cor­po­rate in their menus what lo­cal farm­ers grow and what the sea­sons have to of­fer.

The best news is that whether you’re a lo­cal or a visi­tor, you can pick up lo­cally grown pro­duce from road­side stalls and mar­kets such as the Al­loway Farm Mar­ket and make your own culi­nary de­lights.

Com­bin­ing food and drink on a night out at Kalki Moon was an­other ul­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence.

The “pa­tron saint of gin”, Belinda Bow­man, was the spe­cial guest at the cock­tails and canapes even­ing. She cre­ated sen­sa­tional drinks by mix­ing Kalki Moon’s gin range with dif­fer­ent flavours.

Th­ese com­ple­mented the tasty morsels from Wa­ter Street Kitchen.

The event epit­o­mised what Taste Bund­aberg is all about. I was sated.

DRINKS THAT SAY CHEERS

It is no sur­prise that Bund­aberg pro­duces some of the best brewers and dis­tillers – Bund­aberg Rum has been around for 131

years. Along­side the award-win­ning spirit, there are sev­eral other tip­ples to taste.

The Bund­aberg Brewed Drinks fam­ily-owned com­pany has been brew­ing a non-al­co­holic range of pre­mium craft-brewed drinks for more than 40 years.

The dis­tinc­tive brand is prob­a­bly best known for its ginger beer but a trip to the Bar­rel shows not only the unique brew­ing process that cre­ates the dis­tinct flavour of their most pop­u­lar drink but gives you a taste of the range of other sparkling flavours.

Lo­cated in what I re­mem­ber as Sch­mei­der’s Cooper­age is an­other ex­cep­tional award-win­ning busi­ness cre­at­ing unique prod­ucts. Ohana cider house and trop­i­cal win­ery crafts a se­lec­tion of small batch ciders and boutique wines and liqueurs.

In a be­hind-the-scenes look at how they brew their range, own­ers Josh and Zoe typ­ify what’s good about the re­gion.

Their pos­i­tive no-non­sense ap­proach to cre­at­ing some­thing great from Queens­land pro­duce paints the pic­ture of what Taste Bund­aberg is all about. Cheers.

PHO­TOS: MIKE KNOTT (MAIN); PAUL BEUTEL

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