Dining differently on the Sunshine Coast

17 Jun 2019

One of the many wonderful things about the Sunshine Coast are the glorious winter days. Winter skies are clear and azure blue, while night skies are a shimmering canopy of distant stars prompting us to expand the boundaries of dining differently, and simply taking advantage of our fabulous produce and dining in the stunning great outdoors.

Sunshine Coast winters are crisp and alive.  Paddocks are green, winter crops abundant and diners are treated with options that inspire and take advantage of a growing ‘paddock-to-plate’ ethos, which embraces health, nutrition and sustainability, as well as a great support of local produce and its producers.

The Curated Plate Destination Series has seen Sunshine Coast chefs take this one step further, not only offering them the fresh quality produce that becomes the hero of each dish, but also an interactive experience that allows them to truly discover the source of their produce, in a way that only the Sunshine Coast knows how.

Earth meets sea, in a winter long table lunch

The first such journey begins at Frank and Lotti’s, The Long Winter Lunch – Earth and Sea, opposite Mooloolaba’s pristine main beach. Luke Searson, and wife, Candice Ford, alongside Chefs, Jacopo Marino, Jodie Zohl and Garth Bexon, combine to explore the finest of fresh local ingredients, drawing inspiration from both the earth, and the sea.

Frank and Lotti is a divine eclectic space on Mooloolaba’s esplanade that exudes an ambient wine bar charm reminiscent of romantic Italian bars and trattorias. In August, this wonderful space will be spilling out onto the street and closed off for the occasion to introduce a relaxed carnevale atmosphere with a long table that spans the street, on which to enjoy a beautifully crafted 3-course feast matched with a premium selection of fine wines.

Luke takes joy in sourcing local produce with which to excite the diner; snails of the sea (bugs), and snails of the earth (snails!) uniting as an introduction to an evening of dining decadence. Explore the region’s producers through a fabulous list of locally sourced ingredients, and the relationships with these producers that allow chefs to craft their magic.

After enjoying a sweet finale, sit back and enjoy the streetscape, blue skies overhead, the gentle thrashing of the ocean just metres away, and mark the memory with another wine!

Restaurant without Walls meets innovative farming technology and beer!

The next journey takes you to the source itself. Hosts, Elizabeth and Tony Craig-Holmes from People, Plates & Places have been delivering true paddock-to-plate experiences for some time, and the latest edition to ‘The Restaurant Without Walls’ series, takes you to North Arm on a journey of discovery, where technology and innovation meets farming and brewing in the most extraordinary way.

Enjoy a sensationally crafted 6-course degustation dinner, along with welcome canapés as you are introduced to the fascinating world of vertical farming.

Vertical Farm Systems is ground-breaking technology in which automated technology and agroscience has combined to create a multi-level indoor farming system that produces a range of leafy greens. You will be shown the facility and meet the amazing minds behind the venture that has been receiving world acclaim.

Then meet head brewer Brandt Bamford, and brewing accomplice, Torren Read, the duo behind the coast’s latest state-of-the-art microbrewery, Terella Brewing – or ‘little earth’ as it whimsically referred to (and ‘terella’s’ latin meaning). Drawing on years of knowledge, they have taken the brewery to the next level in developing a microbrewery that challenges modern systems and processes.

In short, the vertical farm next door produces leafy greens through a sustainable, nutrient delivering farming system.  From this, water reticulated from the climate cells is used to brew the beer, a cycle which continues with the CO2 emitted upon fermentation, being funnelled back to the growing booths to further nourish the plants, completing the cycle. Additionally, spent grain used in the brewing process is used to supplement the feed of the property’s cattle, thereby creating a symbiotic relationship between the vertical farm, the brewery and farmed animals on the property.

To add one final piece to the brewing cycle, a prototype hop growing device, designed by the vertical farming engineers, may see Terella Brewing overcome the difficulty of growing hops in our Queensland climate, and in turn produce a beer that is challenging brewing techniques and may eventually see some of its hops grown locally!

The farm is a fascinating visit for anyone who wants to know more about food production into the future (and the curious), while the guys from Terella are also more than happy to share their brewing journey and innovation they are embracing to create a sustainable brewery with a difference.

All the tech talk aside, there is also the food! The Restaurant Without Walls is an incredible dining experience that embraces the harvest of innovative farming methods. Quality fresh local produce, Black Angus beef cattle, and fabulous craft beers are woven together by Chef Sean Heyward, to create a stunning plate to paddock banquet amongst the natural beauty of the sprawling farm landscape absorbing the magic of dining differently in a restaurant that is truly without walls!

A progressive deguSTATION and journey of Mary Valley historical magic

From new technologies to old, we then revel in the joy of a ride on a steam locomotive, basking in the history of a C17 Class that has been timelessly restored to its early 1900s glory. 

I think we all have a little steam train enthusiast in us – billowing steam in the frosty night air adding an element of mystery and mystical hint of time gone by. All which makes the joy of the historic Mary Valley Rattler’s DegutSTATION Train, an incredible way to enter the evening.

Three stellar chefs unite on a train ride and dinner of a lifetime embarking at Amamoor Station. Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador to the Gympie region and Chef Matt Golinski, alongside Charlie’s Hotel’s James Barnden, and the Mary Valley Rattler Platform No.1’s own, Mark Johnson create a wonderful progressive DegutSTATION, that is enjoyed as the Rattler makes its way through the stunning Mary Valley, the home to much of the sensational produce grown in the region. Stopping at heritage stations, Dagun and Gympie to enjoy another installation to this delightful progressive menu, ending with the return trip back to Amamoor.

Canapés, wines, craft beers, a delicious series of dishes and a divine dessert, each chef skilfully starring ingredients grown by one of the many passionate local producers.

To add to the historical magic, volunteers share the wonderful stories of the Rattler and its abundant region, the ongoing restoration and preservation of the rail line and the locomotives, infusing their tales with passion and pride and which makes this an unforgettable experience to be enjoyed by all.

There is no shortage of fabulous and unique dining experiences to enjoy, whether it be aboard the historic Mary Valley Rattler, or sharing a long table in the middle of a paddock, or on Mooloolaba’s premium dining strip, you will be wowed by what the Sunshine Coast and its fabulous producers have to offer. Sharing food and a magical outdoor experience has never been more fun.