Matt Golinski serves up a feast of foodie events that are sure to get the tastebuds tapping!
Winter on the Sunshine Coast is a bit of a joke really – it drops to 18 degrees and we all go rushing for our jumpers, beanies and scarves; retrieve the extra thick doona from the cupboard and dust off the ugg boots.
Restaurants notice a sudden decline in trade during the first hints of a change into the chilly months as locals get their heads around the idea of venturing out into the bitter cold. (Victorians, on the other hand, can be seen frolicking happily in the ocean in what to them feels tepid).
But after the first chill, the desire to dine, socialise and escape reality television overrides the fear of frostbite, and the wheels of the hospitality world start to turn once again.
Our mild winters with crisp, blue-sky days see the region’s agriculture burst to life – the perfect growing conditions for strawberries, citrus, tomatoes and brassicas – it’s a time of year that farmers aren’t battling against floods, hail, humidity and oppressive heat waves. Well, that’s historically been the case anyway.
It’s the perfect time of year to head out into the hinterland and explore the grassroots food scene, buy your ingredients direct from farmers at the authentic markets that happen across the coast every weekend, visit open-gate farms like Cooloola Berries and Lindols Macadamias, or search out one of the great (and often quirky) food festivals that are a nice country drive within an hour or two of the coastline.
The weekend of 18-19 June will see Petersen’s Farm in Woolooga, north-west of Gympie, hold its seventh annual Big Rosella Festival – a great opportunity to wander around a real working farm and see first-hand how things are done as well as stock up on the range of jams, chutneys and all things Rosella from CC’s Kitchen.
In July, a little further north, Childers comes alive with its much loved four-day Childers Festival; and in August Bundaberg celebrates its fertile region with a 10-day calendar of events.
For lovers of bacon, it’s worth the trip to Kingaroy on 20-21 August to experience BaconFest, and all the smoky, fatty, crispiness that it offers.
Make a weekend of it with plenty of great accommodation options out in the country – think cosy cabins with log fires, hampers full of local goodies, wildlife galore and clear, starry skies.
Heading into spring, meet the newest Slow Food Community, Cooloola Farmers, at the Cooloola Farm Trail when a group of passionate producers throw open the farm gates for you to meet the farmer, stock up on fresh produce and enjoy entertainment and educational activities. The trail is a self-drive annual event scheduled for 10-11 September.
A bit closer to home and just around the corner, The Curated (side) Plate, the Sunshine Coast’s premier foodie event makes a triumphant return at the end of July and into August.
With breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, workshops and more showcasing producers and restaurants across the entire region. From market tours, educational nose-to-tail demonstrations, to high end dinners, there’ll be something to please everyone during this ten-day culinary extravaganza. I’m working on a menu for Hello Sunshine Magazine Sunday Soireé that will be full of local produce and fulfil the brief of being ‘Savvy, Surprising and Spirited’; conducting personal tours of The Original Eumundi Markets; joining the crew at Fresh Meats Wises Road for a Butcher and Chef Night and joining some mates for Podcast, Pinot & Duck at Market Bistro where John Caruso will be interviewing a few of his pals from the “Everyone has a Story: Conversations from the Sunshine Coast & Noosa” podcast. It’ll be fun to have a chat with the fellow chef Tony Kelly, Powderfinger drummer Jon Coghill and rising Motorsport Champion Harri Jones. And I reckon the Pinot and duck will be alright too!
All this activity is a sure sign that organisers once again have the confidence to forge ahead with events, and a strong indication that the public have a stronger desire than ever to get out and support the people who work so hard to make sure we have good food.
The least we can do to support those willing to put their hand up and run these events is to open our hearts, mouths and wallets and indulge in the local flavours on offer.
See you on the trail!