Foodies climb stairway to heaven
THERE is something delightfully organic about knowing your delicious, juicy steak came from your chef's sixth cow.
That Peter Brettell sources his beef locally, from Eumundi's Fortune 8 grass and sprout-fed stock, gets his milk, cream and yogurt from Maleny Dairies, and grows many of his own vegetables and herbs adds to the experience at Wild Rocket @ Mistys.
The father-of-three is passionate about using seasonal local produce and making everything from scratch on site at his Montville restaurant.
The steak of the day changes from week to week as he processes different parts of the cow he has most recently purchased - a challenge becoming easier with each rump under his knife.
Peter is the kind of foodie organisers of the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival hope visitors will embrace during the four-day event from May 17.
This year's food and wine program aims to delight amateur cooks, serious foodies, industry professionals and families alike.
Some of the world's best chefs, celebrity chefs and Australia's best winemakers will descend on Noosa.
But the festival also showcases the myriad talent people in the Sunshine Coast's own backyard.
A day trip to the hinterland often involves taking the interstate tourists from Colin James Fine Foods for ice- cream or gourmet cheese to Geordie Lane Antiques for scones and then to the fudge and candy shops in Montville.
But there are many more places worth discovering if you have a little more time to explore.
Unwind at the soul-rejuvenating Spicers Tamarind Retreat by taking a stroll to nearby Gardners Falls, swinging in a pod hanging from one of the majestic trees or indulging in a vicarious tour of Thailand through speciality cooking classes.
Or leave the world behind and take time to get back to nature at Freestyle Escape at Towen Mountain.
The intimate cooking classes remind visitors where their food comes from.
Picture picking luscious lychees, longans, cumquats, pomegranates and grapes from the tree or vine instead of from a box at the supermarket.
Then summon up images of selecting cloves, cinnamon, bay and kaffir lime leaves - all terraced on a slope with ocean and rainforest views.
As well as harvesting your own ingredients from the orchard and herb garden, you can bake your meals on-site in a wood-fired oven in a fully operational outdoor kitchen and then indulge with friends at a rustic wooden table.
Freestyle Escape also has accommodation and invites award-winning chefs to whip up culinary delights during cooking demonstrations and long lunches about every month.
Gluten- and grain-free queen Tania Hubbard, who owns Husk and Honey Cafe in Nambour, will be asking people to indulge their inner Nigella or Jamie with a cooking class at the outdoor kitchen on May 13.
There is little doubt the Coast has undergone a gastronomical revolution since its sleepy coastal origins, with multitude cafes and stores now specialising in gluten-free, dairy-free, organic, fair-trade certifications on imported goods or simply using unique ingredients.
Louise Raven, from Cocoa Chocolat at Eumundi, uses family recipes to blend traditional chocolate-making with zesty modern flavours such as chilli, ginger, Sambuca or Bundaberg rum.
La Botiga is a cheery and stylish eatery in Mapleton, with shared tables to eat the superb sweet and savoury delights.
The walls are lined with bottled and packaged gourmet morsels.
The concept of sharing is also a key element of the menu at Embassy XO at Sunshine Beach - a short cab ride from the well-positioned Bella Casa Noosa apartments in Hastings St.
The stunning modern Asian decor, with majestic red and orange lights, looks out across the fig and pandanus trees lining the popular village area.
But it is the balance of flavours and
textures, use of unique Australasian ingredients and exciting spices that make dining here an Asian adventure.
Noosaville's Metal Tiger Tea Emporium on Gympie Tce offers another special Asian experience with yum cha ordered fresh from the vegan master Colin Fung in Sydney.
Not only are there plenty of vegetarian, and egg-, dairy- and gluten-free offerings on the menu, you can also order an accompanying organic, fair-trade certified organic tea and coffee guilt-free.
Whether from high-altitude forests in Bolivia, spring harvests in India or family-grown crops in China, more than 80 carefully sourced tea varieties each has a story to add to the experience.
Owners Marc King and Trudi Cauley say market research shows people are becoming more conscious of where their products come from.
The fair trade qualification, which means workers get a fair and just wage, profits go back into the local community and the product is organic - is important ethically to them and they hope their dedication will draw customers in the future.
For more grassroots, organic experiences, check out the Noosa Farmers' Market on a Sunday where the region's fresh produce is showcased or the Peregian Originals event on the first and third Sunday each month.
While the sausage sizzle at the Peregian Surf Club might not match the delights you've become accustomed to after an indulgent weekend on the Coast, the original live tunes are a celebration of all that is wholesome and quintessentially local.
For more information, visit queenslandholidays.com.au.
The writer was a guest of Tourism Queensland.
GOOD TO KNOW
What: Noosa International Food and Wine Festival
When: Thursday, May 17, to Sunday, May 20
Cost: $65 a day ($20 for children under 13) or a weekend gold pass for $315 per adult.
To see the full program and buy tickets, visit noosafoodand wine.com.au.