Every year, gourmands from around Australia (and the world) flock to Noosa for the annual International Food & Wine Festival.
Held over four days in May, it’s an opportunity to taste your way through some of the best produce and dishes you could ever hope to find. And for those whose interest in food only extends to one half of a couple, all is not lost.
There is plenty for everyone at this sunny little corner of coastal Queensland.
The festival is situated at the Lion’s Park, and nearly everything is only a short stroll away. You can reach the beach in less than five minutes, or check out the shops, cafés and bars along the beach-front strip, Hastings St.
A picturesque National Park borders Noosa village and is the perfect place to take a leisurely walk or jog, before starting your day of eating and drinking.
Eating, of course, is what the festival is all about. Within the grounds is a plethora of stalls selling delicious small plates, run by both local restaurants and celebrity chefs, including Matt Preston.
You are certainly spoiled for choice with dishes; from the famous local spanner crab and a delicious jungle curry in a halved pineapple, to Byron Bay pork belly with apple slaw and Thai prawn-cake sliders.
Food and wine are purchased with tickets, and you have the choice whether to book gold or platinum entry, for access to quiet lounges within the festival.
Noosa Food & Wine has the biggest and tastiest prawns I’ve ever seen, and it amuses me that our very own Martin Bosley is preparing them – a Kiwi cooking prawns on the barbie. The prawns are part of a seafood lunch in a marquee on the beach, just one of the events that runs as part of the festival, but outside the park.
Another event not to be missed is the Asian Food Trail, set amongst tranquil gardens where spices such as galangal, chillies, ginger, turmeric, allspice and lemongrass are grown for restaurant and market supply.
After wandering the gardens with a refreshing cocktail in hand, lunch is served in a large marquee, and we are lucky enough to have ours cooked by David Thompson, Martin Boetz and Christine Manfield, the stars of Asian cuisine in Australia.
The chef line-up throughout the festival is star-studded. In fact, 12 of the chefs feature in the world’s top 50 restaurant list, including New Zealander Ben Shewry of Attica, Melbourne.
Artisan cheeses, cured meats, fish, chutneys, cookbooks and, my favourite, truffle-infused salt are all displayed as if at a world-class farmers’ market.
At the end of each day, musicians take their place on the stage where the chefs have cooked, and you can relax into the evening with a continuous flow of wine and canapés.
With so much to see and do, the four days feel like a week. This is my first, but not my last, visit to Noosa Food & Wine.
Next time, I will definitely have the other half with me, as I can just see him and his newspaper reclining in a bean bag, wine in hand, while I plot and plan my way around the festival.
Written by Helen Jackson