It’s always rather deflating to settle down to the routine of everyday life after a few days of feasting in the sun! But alas that is the predicament this week for many who were fortunate enough to revel in the delights of the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival over the weekend.
I’m embarrassed to confess this was my first visit to the festival, but having had a crazy corporate life for the past few years, indulging in time away from the office to eat and drink has been a luxury I have been reluctant to embrace. Thankfully, I can now partake guilt-free in such hedonistic activities, all in the name of research!
Whilst I wasn’t able to attend many of the vast array of events on offer, I did manage to attend a select few, while also soaking up the general ambience of the festival village. So, I’m just going to focus on the highlight event in the program for me – The Hinterland Trail – a truly paddock-to-plate journey.
Organised by the effervescent Martin Duncan, of Freestyle Escape fame, whose inimitable style and sense of fun never disappoints, it was new to the program this year, and hopefully will make a return in 2016. Whilst the festival is all about food and wine, Martin understands the importance of creating an holistic experience and this event ticked all the boxes. After the escorted bus ride from Noosa to the Mary River Valley, we emerged in the gorgeous surrounds of the Walker family farm near Kenilworth. Greeted with a glass of champagne, we were ushered into a marquee filled with local producers offering tastes of their delectable fare, such as assortment of cheeses, including a subtly delicious truffle brie from the Woombye Cheese Company; Feijoa jams and chutneys from Hinterland Feijoas; award-winning gelati from Colin James Fine Foods; dairy produce from Maleny Dairies and much more. To the strains of a string quartet we were encouraged to walk around the farm, admiring the healthy chooks and cows and chatting to the producers.
The Walker family, now headed by George and Kasey Walker, are third generation farmers specialising in pasture-raised nomadic chook eggs and chicken, beef and cow milk. Established over 70 years ago, Walker Farm Foods practices ethical animal care and regenerative landscape stewardship, essentially adopting farming principles practised by their forebears a century ago.
Lunch was a shared table affair, with the three courses provided by guest chefs Martin Boetz, former Executive Chef at Longrain in both Sydney and Melbourne, and founder of the Cooks Co-op in rural NSW; Alex Herbert, a renowned chef and now food consultant; and Cameron Matthews, Head Chef at Spicers Clovelly Estate’s Long Apron. We were presented with an entrée of Vitello Tonnato, tossed with lemons, parsley and capers, a main of organic chicken, accompanied by roasted organic vegetables; and a dessert of ‘Fox in the Hen House’ or, more aptly, a de-constructed Lemon Meringue Pie, all washed down with Seppelts wines. The producers rotated around the tables to chat with guests, and I was privileged to share some time with George Walker and Colin James.
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