Seared Scallops & Chorizo sausage with sweet Carrot Puree

Recipe by Leon Walker, Chef / Owner - Wink II Restaurant and Wine Bar at Cocoa Amour on the Esplanade; Cairns.

serves 4


8 medium size scallops
2 chorizo sausages
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large carrot
100 g white vinegar
50 g caster sugar
salt & pepper for seasoning
mesculin salad for garnish or mix bean spreads
Herb oil for garnish


Slice scallops in half slice chorizo length ways in to 8 long strips
Place scallops on bamboo skewer with chorizo sausage
Heat medium size pan season scallop & chorizo with pepper of pinch of salt.
Leave for 1 min on hot pan & turn over for 10 sec
Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon into the pan remove scallop from the pan to rest
Get 1/2 size pan medium heat peel & chop carrot small place into the pan with 3 tbsp white vinegar & 2 tbsp caster sugar cover carrot with water cook 10 min till soft.
Place in blender to puree for 2 min
Then add 2 tbsp of olive extra virgin oil salt & pepper for seasoning
place on the plate with scallops puree & garnish with salad or bean spreads
finish off with herb oil.

Hot smoked red emperor and pink pomelo miang with chilli, green papaya relish and salmon pearls

Recipe by Nick Holloway, NuNu Restaurant, Palm Cove

Serves 4


12 betel leaves (also known as wild pepper leaves)
120gm picked, hot smoked red emperor wings
4Tbsp green papaya, shredded into fine threads
2 small green chillies (scuds), sliced into fine rounds
2 long red chillies, sliced into fine threads
12 tsp pink pomelo flesh
24 coriander leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced
2 limes
6 Tbsp miang paste
12 tsp crispy fried shallots
12 slices of crispy fried garlic
1 tsp thai basil flowers
4 tsp yarra valley salmon caviar

Miang paste
200ml water
500gm pale palm sugar
30gm shelled peanuts
10gm galangal, peeled and grated
15gm hot smoked red emperor
60gm dry roasted coconut
3 small green chillies
2 cloves garlic
3-4 Tbsp fish sauce
3-4 Tbsp tamarind water (about ¼ of a packet massaged with the same volume of water and strained)


Slowly melt the palm sugar and water together in a pot with the lid on.
Roast the peanuts, galangal, and red emperor until fragrant at about 160C.
With a mortar and pestle pound the garlic, chillies with a little salt until smooth.
Add the roasted ingredients and continue to pound until a fine paste is achieved.
Introduce this paste to the hot palm sugar with the fish sauce and simmer until rich, thick and highly perfumed.
Once the caramel has a lustrous dark shine to it remove from the heat and stir in the tamarind water. Taste for seasoning.
The miang paste should taste decadent and balanced. Too sweet. Too salty. Too sour. And yet just right. Add more fish sauce, tamarind or sugar as your personal tastes dictate.
In a bow Add the green papaya and chillies and gently toss together.
Add the pomelo, coriander and kaffir lime leaf and massage lightly with your fingertips.
Squeeze in half of the lime juice and taste for seasoning. It should taste spicy, sweet, salty and sour all at once. Add more lime juice or extra chillies if desired.
Spread the betel leaves out across your work surface and top each with an elegant pile of salad. Sprinkle over the crispy fried shallots, caviar, garlic chips and finally the thai basil flowers and serve immediately.
Eat with your hands by wrapping the leaf around the salad and offer finger bowls with a slice of lemon in each to refresh between bites.

Blue Swimmer Crab and Avocado with Sweet corn Gazpacho

Recipe by Lewis Taylor, The Sebel Cairns

Serves 4


Sweetcorn Gazpacho-Corn Kernels (300gm Tin)
2 Yellow Peppers (Roasted, de-seeded & Skinned)
1 Brown Onions (Diced)
100ml Champagne Vinegar
250ml Fish Stock ‘Campbell’s’
2 Garlic Clove Sliced
Crab Mix-Blue Swimmer Crab Meat
200ml Mayonnaise (Thomy)
1pc Lime Juice
1pc Lemon Zest (Grated)
2each Avocado Puree (Seasoned)
1/2 Cucumber (Sliced into Discs/Rounds)
pinch Cayenne Pepper
3 Tbsp Chopped Chives & Coriander

Sweetcorn Gazpacho

Sweat Onions & Garlic in little butter until transparent
De-glaze with Vinegar & reduce till dry
Add Corn Kernels with juice & Yellow Peppers & simmer for 10min’s
Add Fish Stock and reduce by 1/3
Puree in a blender & pass through a fine sieve
Add seasoning, a pinch of Cayenne Pepper & a squeeze of Lemon juice to taste
Chill immediately & keep cold till required

Crab Mix
Squeeze out excess moisture from Blue Swimmer crab meat.
Place Blue Swimmer Crab meat in a cold bowl. Add Cayenne Pepper, Onion chives, Coriander, Salt & Pepper, Lime Juice, Lemon Zest and a spoon of Mayonnaise. Fold to incorporate. Should not be too soggy. Correct Seasoning to taste

To Assemble
Using a round mould/cutter (approx 50mm diameter). Place in centre of service bowl/plate, place a Cucumber disc on bottom & Spoon some Avocado Puree into mould to accommodate approx 1/3 of volume.
Next place another Cucumber disc on top of puree & lightly press down to make surface flat. No need to push too hard.
Spoon Crab mixture in next to fill.
Next, sauce with chilled Sweetcorn Gazpacho, garnish with Cucumber ribbons and serve immediately.

Harmonious Meal

Published: 13 March 2010

Food has historically been the catalyst for celebration; it has always been the time when family and friends come together in peace and harmony; for who would ever bring a foe at their table. Just the thought of sharing a meal with aggression extinguishes the appetite.

A clever and compassionate Mia Northrop from Melbourne was disturbed by the recent attacks around Australia against Indians. So she came up with the ''Vindaloo Against Violence'' day in February and was amazed how people from all over the world gave their support. On this day she enticed people to dine in an Indian Restaurant or make a curry for friends at home and get to know the people better.

Next week is Harmony Day which celebrates the cohesive and inclusive nature of our nation and promotes the benefits of cultural diversity with a message ‘Everyone Belongs’. It's about community participation, inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

We often work in a socially diverse environment and can sit in the same lunch room for years without really knowing the people from other countries because they tend to group together. Yet it can be surprising and extremely interesting to find out more about their culture and lives.

Start Harmony this week in your workplace or schools by inviting the people of different culture to prepare an ethnic lunch for a day. Sitting around a table sharing food and conversing is the most convivial way to learn more about people.

Get involved with

Mangrove Jack with Lemon Beurre Blanc

Recipe by 2 Fish Restaurant, Port Douglas

2 x 180 gm Fresh Mangrove Jack
50 gsm Kipfler Potatoes
50 g Snow Peas
50 g Green Beans
50 g Asapargus
1 Portion lemon Beurre Blanc sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste


Heat a small pan and cook fish finishing in oven. Slice in half and fry off kipfler potatoes in deep fryer until crisp (2-3 mins) Blanche vegetables in hot water, strain and season
Place deep fried Kipflers and Blanced vegetables into centre of plate. Place fish on top and spoon over heated lemon beurre blanc sauce.

Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce

50 ml lemon juice
200 ml white wine
100 ml thickened cream
500 ml butter unsalted
Salt and Pepper to taste

(Used on seafood plate)
Bring white wine, lemon juice & Cream to boil
Reduce by 50% and turn to very low heat
Slowly whisk in diced butter until emulsified
Add salt and pepper to taste

Coconut & kaffir lime panna cotta

Recipe by Kurt Goodban, Executive Chef, Elandra Resort, Mission Beach

Serves 6

2 x kaffir lime leaves
1 tin coconut milk 400ml
350ml milk
125gr sugar white
3 1/2 x gelatin sheets

Pineapple soup
2 pineapples
Star anise x 3
500 ml water
350gr sugar


Put your milk, coconut milk, lime leaves & sugar all together bring to a light simmer. While that’s on put your gelatin sheets in to some ice water just to soften them. Once they are soft squeeze off any extra water then place them in your pot let them dissolve. Remove from the heat and strain it through a fine strainer, once that is done you just pour your mix into 8 x 100ml dariole moulds. Then place in fridge for 5 hrs to set.

Put the whole pineapples in the oven on 170 degrease for about 35 – 45 mins until soft to touch. Then pull them out let cool for 15 mins, peel & cut up pineapple into chunky pieces and put through a juicer .once you have all the juice and little pulp again strain that through a coffee filter so it is nice and clear. This will take about 1.5 – 2.5 hrs to strain.

Sugar syrup
Put sugar, water & star anise in a pot put on the stove bring it to the boil, remove from the heat let cool then add this to your pineapple soup.

To serve
Place panna cotta in a bowl pour chilled soup around it garnish with fresh strawberries or thinly shaved and toasted coconut & mint or a piece of star anise . But star anise not really edible

Garlic fried prawns on table lands golden scallop potato with spring onions, seedless lime dressing and tempura oyster

Recipe by Ajay Zalte Executive Chef Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns

4 Entrée portions


3 Medium sized potatoes
12 Prawns with tail on
40 gm Crushed fresh garlic
1 Bunch Spring onions
1 Large Lime
200ml Canola/vegetable oil
3Tbsp honey
4 Rock oyster
1 Medium size onions

Batter Tempura
75gm Corn flour
75gm Plain flour
Soda water as required to make a dipping tempura batter
Salt as per taste
Pepper as per taste
Oil for deep frying tempura oysters


Peel and slice the potatoes and onion thinly.
Slice spring onions thinly.
Heat 60ml (four tablespoons) oil in a pan. Place potatoes,, onions, add salt, pepper and fry carefully till lightly brown without burning on high heat.
Lower the heat and cover and cook on a low heat till soft and cooked
Add spring onions to the potatoes and mix carefully to avoid breaking of the potatoes. Keep hot
Squeeze the juice of lime in a bowl, add salt, honey and mix thoroughly
Add in 100ml oil slowly, whisking through all the way till a dressing is formed.
Make a tempura batter by mixing through the ingredients listed above for the batter.
Dip the oysters in tempura batter.
Fry the oysters till crispy. Drain and season with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining oil in another pan; add garlic, prawns, salt, pepper and fry till cooked through.
Arrange scallop potatoes in the centre of a plate, place three prawns on top and one oyster on top of the prawn, garnish with spring of coriander or parsley
Drizzle lime dressing around and serve hot.

Chilli Salt

Served with prawns or other seafood


2 teaspoon chilli flakes or to taste
2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest

Heat a small fry pan and cook chilli flakes and salt for 2 Minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer into a stainless steel bowl, add remaining ingredients and press with a heavy spoon and mallet until a grain like texture is formed.

Vietnamese Style Dipping Sauce


1 stalk lemon grass, chopped
2 large cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon (1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 dessert spoon sugar
1 chilli sliced
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
1 lime


Place first part of ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer for 8 minutes. Cool and strain. Add 1 sliced red chilli, 1 tablespoon coriander leaves, coarsely chopped and grated zest of 1 lime and serve.

Serve with prawns or other seafood

Get Ready for the Prawn Season

Published: 6 March 2010

I am not sure locals realise just how envious our southern cousins are of our fabulous seafood. Often their idea of a holiday in Tropical North Queensland is sitting on a palm fringed beach eating fresh prawns.
March heralds the opening of the prawn season along the East Coast and the Torres Strait and the fishermen have ventured out to sea to bring back their bounty in the next few weeks. Trawl fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria will open mid April and the flow of new season Kings, Tigers, Bananas and Endeavour Prawns will be in full swing, along with Moreton Bay bugs, swimmer crabs and scallops.

Season closures ensure sustainability of the species and the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery is a world leader with one of the most advanced fisheries management plans. It is the first of its kind in Australia to receive such a high level of recognition from the Commonwealth Government.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has formally accredited the Queensland East Coast Trawl fishery’s management plan as “ecologically sustainable” for this region of the Great Barrier Reef and all trawl fishing nets have been fitted with devices to reduce by-catch and exclude turtles.

Look out for the new season small but sweet juicy Tiger and large Kings Prawns at good prices at your favourite seafood retailer. But remember to ask ‘Is it local, and insist on Queensland Catch.

Finger Lime Guacamole

From Sue Pyke of Sunset Ridge in Atherton who grows Finger Limes, Davidson plum, Aquiums and other indigenous fruits.

4 tomatoes
4 ripe Shepard avocados
Juice of one lime
½ small red onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
Chillies to own taste(fresh)
Chopped coriander to taste
Pulp of 2 or 3 finger limes


Chop up tomatoes
Cut avocados in half, remove stone, scrape out flesh, blend flesh until almost smooth
Stir in lime juice
Finely chop onion and add to avocado
Stir in garlic, coriander and deseeded finely chopped chillies
Stir in finger lime pulp
Taste and add salt if required Cover closely with plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Serve with corn chips or breadsticks to dip.

Shepherd Avocado

Shepard Avocados have just come into season and will continue through to mid May. They are easily identified for their green skin and elongated shape. Shepard avocados won’t go brown once cut so there is no need for lemon or plastic wrap so they are ideal for salads and even in pasta dishes. Their buttery flavour and consistency make them perfect for dips or spreading on toast and sandwiches.

Contrary to popular belief, Shepard avocados do not contain any cholesterol. Avocados are the most energy dense and nutrient rich fruit per calorie - making them an ideal part of any meal. Shepard avocados are described as a whole food, which means that each piece of fruit contains the vitamins and minerals that are essential for infant development. These nutritional qualities and smooth consistency make pureed avocados one of the first fresh fruits a baby can enjoy.

To select a ripe avocado, gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. A ripe Shepard will yield slightly to your touch. Store ripe Shepards in the fridge - better still, eat them straight away!
Fruit for later use should be firm to touch and stored at room temperature until ripe and ready to eat.

Shepard avocados are grown in on the Atherton Tableland and in Bundaberg, Queensland - the only places Shepards are grown in the world!

Regional Food Branding

Published: 27 February 2010

Next month a well known branding guru from Melbourne will be coming to Tropical North Queensland to run a series of workshops with the food and agri-food tourism industry to develop a regional food brand. It is something that has been talked about for a several years and now the time has come.

When you think of areas such as Barossa, Margaret River and Yarra Valley, you immediately think of an indulgence of fresh regional gourmet food and luscious wine. How did that happen? The people of the regions worked together to share a mindset of values and behaviour that created a language to clearly describe their region and its produce, and defines its point of difference. They have persisted over the years and have successfully marketed their regional brand nationally and even internationally.

So what does this region have that is unique and sets us apart from all the others? Everything! Whereas other regional brands tend to revolve around wine, olives and cheese, our region has a very diverse range of unique fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, seafood, coffee and nuts; the list goes on! With the contribution of regional food and tourism champions at workshops held in Cairns, the Tablelands, Cassowary Coast and Mossman where the uniqueness of each area will be identified, a very different regional branding is set to emerge.

Support Your Restaurants

Published: 20 February 2010

When the airline dispute occurred in the early nineties, we saw the first downturn in our then emerging tourism industry. It was devastating for the hospitality industry and small owner operator restaurants suffered the most. Working in a major hotel at the time, enduring an occupancy an all time low and empty restaurants, we were about to make a decision to shed a sizable portion of our staff as other hotels in the region had done.
These were our loyal employees with families and commitments, and who we had spent time and effort on training and development of their skills and esprit de corp. It was a decision we didn’t want to make. So we decided to ‘go for broke’ and declared an entire hotel 50% sale for a week. It was so popular we were able to extend it for three week; and these three weeks of a busy hotel got us over the hump. There was no profit but we saved our staff. It showed that people in town were still willing to spend; albeit for a bargain price.

What I am saying here is that the hospitality industry is currently in another of these slumps and needs your support. At present there is an abundance of bargains available for diners of the restaurants in Port Douglas, the Beaches and Cairns. The restaurants are certainly not making any money from these low price super specials but hoping to lure customers and to keep their good staff. If they can just get some turnover for the next three months, there is light at the end of the tunnel when the high season kicks in.

We have a good restaurant industry in the region and especially for those who support local food, they deserve your support. So Bon Appétit!

Lime and Gin Mousse

Courtesy of Georgie Knight of Bingil Bay


4 eggs, separated
½ cup castor sugar
1 tsp grated lime rind
2 tsp gelatine
1/3 cup lime juice
1 tbl gin
1 tbl sugar, extra
2/3 cup thickened cream

What to do:

Beat egg yolks, sugar and lime rind in a small basin with electric mixer until thick.
Sprinkle gelatine over combined lime juice and gin, dissolve over hot water, cool to room temp.
Gradually beat gelatine mixture into egg mixture. Transfer mixture to large basin. Beat cream until soft peaks form, fold lightly into mousse mixture.
Beat whites until soft peaks form, beat in extra sugar until dissolved.
Fold lightly into mousse mixture in two batches.
Pour into 6 individual glasses and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Serves 6.

Wild Barra Season Opens

Published: 6th February, 2010

Whilst there maybe controversy of how a fish was named Barramundi; most commonly thought to be an aboriginal name for fish with big scales, the fact still remains it’s an Australian name for a fish inhabitant in Australia. So it’s highly questionable when you see an Asian Lates Calcarifer species imported into Australia and advertised and named on menus as ‘Wild Barramundi’.

Retailers in Queensland must declare the country of origin of all seafood in their refrigerated display. However just last year the Northern Territory bought in a new rule that restaurant must now declare the same on their menu which has sparked a movement to have this regulation widened to the whole of Australia to enable consumers to make informative buying decisions.

A pilot program was initiated in the Cairns regions in 2008 by the Queensland Seafood Industry Association to brand our seafood and urge the consumer to ask ‘Is it Local’ and insist in ‘Queensland Catch’. This campaign is about to be further launched throughout the state to bring awareness to our local wild caught seafood.

February marks the opening of the season of wild caught Barramundi and a good wet season has expedited their journey early down the rivers and into the estuaries along with a number of other very good quality fish. One such fish is the underrated Threadfin which is otherwise (and redundantly) known as Blue and King Salmon. These fish make excellent and economic eating. So you should now start to see in the marketplace, some fabulous fresh local wild caught Barramundi and their mates.


A rhizome spice that is related to the ginger family and originates from tropical Asia. It’s vibrant yellow-orange colour and strong fragrance enhances many dishes in Asian and Middle-Eastern cuisines. In Europe it has been used as a cheaper substitute for saffron. Can be purchased as a powder or buy fresh and grate or chop rhizome as you would ginger. Fresh leaves can also be used in curries or for wrapping parcels of food, and it is said to impart medicinal quality. Ayurvedic practices use it medicinally and now there have been several recent studies on Turmeric with glowing health benefits that are worth investigating. So this is really the spice of life!

Aphrodisiac Food Region

Published: 13th February, 2010

You’re in the right place for Valentine’s Day! It’s all here; all the Lustful food your heart desires is grown in this region.

Vanilla; according to an old Mexican folklore, was the plant that the young daughter of the fertility goddess transformed herself into, so she could provide pleasure and happiness to her earthly lover.

Pure chocolate contains a number of "love and feel-good chemicals" which releases dopamine in the pleasure centres of the brain. The Aztecs referred to chocolate as ‘nourishment of the Gods’ for its serotonin; known to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.

The Aztecs also identified the aphrodisiac quality of the fruit hanging in pairs on the avocado tree and called it "Ahuacuatl “ which translates to something that resembles the male anatomy, but enjoyed for its sensual texture of the avocado.

A ‘honeymoon’ was named for the first month of a marriage where people would give the couple enough mead (honey wine) to last a month and ensure happiness and fertility and sweeten their union. Honey was also used in Egyptian medicine as a cure for sterility. Similarly Coriander was mentioned in the 1000 year old Book of The Arabian nights, as an ingredient in a fertility concoction to cure a childless couple of 40 years.

Coffee is a well know stimulant of the body and the mind, and chilli, turmeric, and ginger stirs the circulation to add a bit of spice to your life.

Popular aphrodisiac fruits are bananas, strawberries, and pineapples, for their richness in potassium and vitamins. But shellfish and in particular oysters are probably the food most associated with being an aphrodisiac, because of their high zinc content and omega 3 qualities.

…and to think! We have all these luscious sexy foods right here in the tropics for Valentine’s Day.

Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

I first experienced dragon fruit in a market in Vung Tau in southern Vietnam in 1995. What a stunning fruit; waxy pink skin with crisp white or bright red flesh and edible seeds. Easy to peel and wonderful decorative qualities.

I just wanted to bring one back to Australia and plant the seeds here. I did finally think better of my idea to eat one just before flying out and ... well you know what I mean? So it was several years later that they made it to tropical Australia and I am pleased to see there is quite a pitayta industry now.

Pitaya is the fruit of a cactus that originates from Central and South America. The fruits are brightly coloured and have a pink and green skin, which is unique in appearance. The pulp is white or a vivid red and contains many small black edible seeds, which add an appealing crunch. The flesh is sweet and refreshing with a slightly acidic melon-like flavour. A pitaya should give a little when gently squeezed. The fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Cut in half lengthways then scoop out flesh. May be cut to suit needs. Best eaten chilled and sprinkled with lemon or lime juice to enhance the flavour. Blend with milk and yoghurt for a vivid milkshake.

Pitaya is rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants, dietary fibre and said to help lower blood glucose levels.

Back to School Lunchbox

Published: 30th January 2010

We are all time poor these days and mornings are the worst when kids are back at school. An easy way to plan for the school week lunchbox is to prepare in advance. Using five snap-lock bags (one for each day) per child; fill them with fruit, health bars, yoghurt and pro-biotic milk and place in the fridge. Each morning, just simply make a healthy sandwich; grab a bottle of iced water and with the bag of snacks, into the lunchbox they go.

Variation of flavour and new tastes are essential to developing a child’s interest in food and nutrition. Kids may prefer white bread but if you have their health in mind, whole-grain seed bread is more nutritious. To keep it interesting, vary between sandwiches, rolls, pita bread and flat breads. Instead of butter or margarine, try spreadable cream cheese or avocado. Add plenty of salad items to the sandwich, and to avoid sogginess, drain watery items (sliced tomatoes) first on absorbent paper before adding. Kids need a serve of protein at lunchtime so ensure you include lean meat, egg, peanut butter, chickpeas. Add some brain food of high omega fish such as tuna at least one day a week.

Small snack items are popular so consider a pot of low-fat, low-sugar yoghurt, cheese, nuts, or pro-biotic milk. Use small containers for dips with vegetable sticks (celery, carrot, cucumber). Try frozen Edaname (soya beans in pods) for a highly nutritious snack. Fruit can be varied each day with our local rambutans, lychees, jaboticaba, longons, or half a diamond scored mango wrapped in plastic. On the weekend, get the kids to make their own snack bars and biscuits that are healthier and less expensive than those in the shops.

Juice is high in sugar so instead, add an iced bottle of water that will last throughout the day and keep the lunchbox chilled. On these hot days, kids will not miss the sugary drinks.

Locavore Carnivore

Published: 23rd January 2010
It’s that time of year when our Lambassador, Sam Kekovich, is at it again, this time on a global scale, by proposing that the United Nations declare 26 January ‘International Australia Day’. Well Sam! lamb in this region creates food miles, so our tropical barbecues will be sizzling with local prawns, beef and pork on Australia Day.

With a long history of cattle and pig breeding in this region we have a number of producers offering outstanding cuts of meat.

Morganbury Meats at Walkamin supply butchers in Cairns with quality pork and beef. For years I have raved about their lean and sweet juicy flavoured pork that deserves cooking a little underdone.

On a boutique scale Marsh’s Specialist Butcher in Stratford breeds his own Hereford cattle on the family farm at Malanda where permaculture soil practices are used. Tucked away in the tiny hamlet of South Johnstone is the artisan work of a German butcher who creates an assortment of traditional continental smallgoods. Now also at Wongaling Beach, Northern Smallgoods is worthy of a visit when in either neighbourhood.

The emergence of organic bred meat into the local marketplace has come with Jervois Organic beef and Happy Beef – Happy Hog, whilst Neef Beef breeds (Natural, Ethical & Environmentally Friendly) Wagyu and Angus meats. These well nurtured animals run free in lush green pastures and look to be truly happy.

So on Australia Day don’t be un-Australian, ask for local grown meat for your barbecue.

To Market To Market

Published: 16th January, 2010
Weaving through a crowded Hawkers Market is a favourite pastime of mine when travelling. It’s a great insight to the characters and culture of a country; awakening all the senses with a barrage of provocative sights, sound of clashing woks, the drift of spicy aromas, and stimulating taste of new and different foods.

Just recently I visited Darwin’s Parap Market for a fabulous display of Australia’s flourishing multiculturalism. You realize just how close this part of Australia is to Asia. I was excited with the delicious food that was being prepared from purpose built ‘kitchen on wheels’ trailers, and how well they improvised with less stricter rules and regulations of the health department in ours and other states. It’s difficult to make judgement but it was this element that made it exciting; gave authenticity to the cuisine and made the price acceptable.

Freshly prepared and cooked in front of you, the popular Green Papaya Salad, seafood Laksa and Indonesian satays were being dished out to the queues of eager diners at a rate that nothing was held long enough in the ‘danger zone’ of temperatures. Like their Mindil Beach Market in the dry season, the Parap market appeals to a throng of locals and tourists alike.

I am pleased to see authentic multicultural food starting to permeate into our fantastic local markets. I can only hope that others will follow and Cairns will one day have a true Multicultural Hawkers Market.

Lime and Ginger Sauce

This sauce goes great with chicken or crumbed or beer battered fish pieces


¼ cup lime juice
1 cup water
2 chicken stock cubes
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons honey
Pulp of 2 or 3 finger limes


Place corn flour in pot add a little of the water to make a paste. Add stock cubes, ginger, honey, lime juice and the rest of the water. Place on stove and bring to the boil, stirring continually until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and add finger lime pulp.

I use fresh mackerel pieces. wet the fish and then crumb . Crumb mix has Italian herbs and shredded coconut added to crumbs

From Sue Pyke of Sunset Ridge in Atherton who grows Finger Limes, Davidson plum, Aquiums and other indigenous fruits.

Finger Limes (Citrus australasica)

Finger lime is a rare Australian rainforest tree originally found along the eastern coast. Named for their size and shape of a finger but otherwise called ‘Citrus Caviar’. When broken open and squeezed; out pour little (green, white or pink) balls of citrus juice that resemble caviar.
Once crunched in the mouth, there is an explosion of citrus flavour that makes them ideal to decorate and accompany any seafood, Asian dishes, salads, dressings, and desserts. Fabulous in cocktails and drinks.

Food & Restaurant Trends for 2010

Published: 26th December 2009

With the end of year drawing to a close, prophesies of new trends in foods and restaurants for 2010 start to emerge from around the world. Here are some collective trends that may or may not emerge in our region.

1. Online Food. The digital era has provided a new way of purchasing food and new opportunities for the small food manufacturers and distributors. Home deliveries of all foods are now possible as well as a growing trend in organic food baskets from community gardens. Online recipes are taking over from glossy culinary magazines.

2. Informality of Dining. Street dining, food markets and food vans. Some of the most authentic ethnic cuisines are available from these sources. In the USA underground restaurants are popping up illegally in houses.

3. Comfort Food. Seems to be a perennial favourite that has validity in the global economic downturn. A return to the prosperous ‘sixties’ lends comfort to the baby boomers with updated iconic menu items for more flavour (Prawn Cocktails never tasted so good).

4. Local Regional Foods. For reasons of freshness, minimal transportation, and supporting local communities and businesses, chefs are looking for relationships with producers, a story to tell, and a history of the regional foods on their menu. A menu that happily changes with the seasons, rather that sourcing food from afar for year round continuity.

5. Conscious Food. Ethical foods, sustainable foods, free trade products, organics and bio-dynamic and free-range produce. People also want to know where their foods come from, and with Country of Origin Labelling, consumers can make valued buying decisions.

6. Drinking Trends. Local produced micro-beers and spirits, artisan cocktails, relaxing drinks in place of hi-energy beverages. Savoury/culinary cocktails are becoming popular with concoctions that are more like a meal than a drink using vegetables, herbs & spices. Specialty teas and organic coffee.

7. Less is More. Joining the ‘cup cake’ revolution are mini desserts, mini burgers, amuse bouché, smaller quality snack and tapas style grazing food for healthier portion size and price. Also deconstructed, simple, minimal ingredient dishes cooked well .

8. Health Foods. Gluten-free/food-allergy conscious meals, anti-oxidant rich foods, away from hi-energy drinks "relaxation" beverages with herbs and other ingredients designed to actually relax you, with a resurgence of calming after dinner drinks.

9. New Ethnic Direction. Cuisines of Spain, Scandinavia and South America are following on from the trends of Africa, Middle East and Korea as well as the comeback of a simple French bistro.

10. Home Cooking with Flair. Expressing your inner chef. Experimenting with new and interesting ingredients. A strong trend for barbeques makes casual gourmet home dining easy and economical.

SOURSOP Annona muricata

Other names: Guanabana.

Intro: Originated in the West Indies and the Americas. A member of the custard apple family. It’s characterised by a strong tangy flavour. Superb dessert fruit. Soursop leaves are regarded as having sedative properties. In the Netherlands, the leaves are put into pillowslips or strewn on the bed to promote a good night’s sleep.

Weight/size: Typically ranges from 10-30cm long and up to 15cm in width, and the weigh between 1kg - 6kg.

Colour: Green soft spiky skin with white flesh.

The taste, as the name applies, is sweet acid.

Buying/storage: The tips break off easily when the fruit is fully ripe. The skin is dark-green in the immature fruit, becoming slightly yellowish-green before the mature fruit becomes soft to the touch. Sounds hollow on tapping when fully ripe.

Preparing/serving: Best eaten fresh. Pulp freezes well. Very juicy, and produces a rich creamy juice which is very refreshing. The seeded pulp may be torn or cut into bits and added to fruit cups or salads, or chilled and served as dessert with sugar and a little milk or cream. Soursop pulp dries very well and makes a good base when mixed with other fruits for fruit roll-ups. Immature soursops can be cooked as vegetables or used in soup.
In Season: Soursop can be available nearly all year.

Guanabana Dacquiri

100gm Guanabana (Soursop) puree
30mls White (Mt Uncle Platinum) Rum
30mls sugar syrup (30gms sugar in 30mls water)
1 tblspn fresh lemon or lime juice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with a sliced rambutans or other colourful tropical fruit.


Published: 19th December 2009

So we don’t have a grape wine industry! That hasn’t prevented some local enthusiasts from making wine from our luscious tropical fruits such as Lychee, mango, passionfruit, papaya and jaboticaba; to name a few. So much so, that this is the largest commercial fruit wine industry region in Australia.

What is interesting is that when you taste a grape wine such as Sauvignon Blanc; you can often taste the characteristic tropical flavours of pineapple, guava and passionfruit. When tasting fruit wine it’s a whole new adventure where these flavours are predominant rather than secondary, yet they still provide the same complexities of grapes. The challenge is to experiment. So go ahead and give our local fruit wines a try. Delicious by themselves - refreshing as a summer sprizter.

From fruit wine there has been an emergence of fruit liqueurs which are proving very popular. Where the big beverage companies produce melon, lychee, passion and mango liqueurs, we have the authentic product. Liqueurs taste great simply with ice, with mixer (soda) or as part of a cocktail ingredient. Try the De bruey’s Boutique Wineries Tropical Temptation (reminiscent of an Irish cream), that took out this years trophy for Best Liqueur at the Australian Fruit Wine Awards, or their Coffee Elixir or Strawberry Temptation. Mt Uncle has their Elixier de Muse Banana, Sanguis Mulberry and Davidson Plum Liqueur as well as Lemon & Lime Cello’s and Sexy Cat Marshmallow.

All these fruit wines and liqueurs make great Christmas gifts if you don’t drink them yourself.


Intro: Originated from Southeast Asia. Known as the “Queen of Tropical Fruits”. Despite their name they have nothing to do with mangoes. Care should be taken when eating fruit as the skin pigment can stain.

Weight/size: The fruit is ranges from about 4 to 8cm in diameter

Colour: Leathery skin that is deep purple when ripe. The flesh is pearly white and divided into five to seven segments.

Taste: Subtle delicate sweet acid taste that melts in the mouth.

Buying/storage: Mangosteens do not ripen further once harvested. Choose fruits that have no skin imperfections or major discolouration. Fresh green stem indicates good quality fruit. Avoid if fruit is very hard. Fruit should yield when pressed gently. It will keep for a few days without refrigeration. Storage at 10ºC is ideal and extends shelf life to about 20 days. Refrigeration causes cold damage. To minimise this wrap fruit in newspaper and store it in the upper part of the refrigerator.

Preparing/serving: Mangosteens are best eaten fresh. Eat them just as they are or add to fruit salads. To open, the simplest method is to place the mangosteen in the palm of your hand with the stem on top, and use your fingers to exert gentle pressure on the upper half until the shell opens. Another option is to cut through the diameter of the shell all the way around, and then simply lift off the top and spoon out the flesh of the fruit. This gives a very attractive presentation, ideal for desserts etc. Just remember not to cut through the segments. They are an exotic addition to champagne or sparkling wine. High in calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin B and C.
In Season: early as January through to April in Tropical North Queensland

Mangosteen Sorbet


1 cup of chopped mangosteen segments
1 cup of dry champagne
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons of sugar
6 lime slices


Peel the mangosteen and chop the fruit, then push the flesh through a fine sieve to extract the puree. Stir the champagne into the puree. Whip the egg whites, mix in the sugar, and then fold the mixture into the fruit puree and freeze. After 2 hours, fork through the mixture. Decorate with lime slices before serving.

Recipe by Alison & Digby Gotts of Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm,

Christmas Light

Published: 12th December 2009

Memories of my childhood Christmas’ were that it was always hot; with the soaring summer temperature boosted by the humble oven, heating the house to an unbearable degree. Only the aroma of turkey and ham, wafting from the kitchen could lend logic to the insanity of this tradition. Hours of sweltering until the Christmas faire arrived at the already heavily laden table and a feeding frenzy would follow, before retirement for an afternoon nap.

Now with more emphasis on gourmet food and cooking, the family and friends festive soirees have taken on the simpler, more casual (and cooler) format of the oven barbecue.

Smaller flavoursome birds such as marinated duck and stuffed quail are now on the menu, with barbecue pork loin, and plenty of seafood making a stronger presence. Whole red throated emperor or ruby snapper stuffed with Asian herbs and limes and bound in banana leaves, bakes magnificently in a BBQ oven. Simply throwing some skewered prawns or scallops on the ‘Barbie’ makes for a good starter.

That heavy traditional Christmas ‘Pud’ is now being replaced by lighter and cooler delicacies such as creamed mango or plum pudding ice cream and lots of fresh berries and tropical fruits and nuts. Christmas may have gone gourmet but certainly more casual.

PINEAPPLE Annas Comosus

Intro: Introduced into Far North Queensland in the Bloomfield area, near Cooktown, over 100 years ago. The pineapple plant is a member of the Bromeliad family. Pineapple juice can be used as a gargle to relieve a sore throat and as an antidote for seasickness.

History: Originates from Brazil.

Colour: Range from green to gold.

Taste: Sweet and juicy.

Buying/storage: When choosing a fruit, look for a clean stem break at the base of the fruit. Does not continue to ripen once picked.

Preparing/serving: Best eaten fresh. Simply cut off the top and bottom and slice into wedges, then eat the flesh away from the skin. Alternatively, the whole fruit may be peeled and then cut. The flesh can be juiced, frozen or dried. The hollowed out
fruit makes an excellent cocktail holder. Pineapple is a great tenderiser for meat.

Varieties: Smooth and rough leaf. Look for ‘Mareeba Gold’ pineapple; high in sweetness while being low in acid.

Christmas Treats & Gifts

Published: 5th December 2009

Take a jar of Gagarra honey and Rainforest Bounty’s native fruit preserve; throw in a Spicez Curry Kit. Add a pack of Nucifora tea, Mareeba coffee, some exquisite Chocolate Sensation chocolates and a bottle of De bruey’s boutique fruit wine. Pack them into a recycled gift box with some tinsel and pretty tissue paper, wrap in cellophane and tie with a ribbon. Voila! You have a great Christmas present for family and your ‘foodie’ friends.

Depending whether your budget is big or small, you can wrap up a simple gift pack of 2-3 items or an overflowing hamper of all things ‘delicious’.

So where do you find these treasures? Take a stroll around the Farmgate Markets at he Pier for the best range of local flavours; from conserves, pickles and sauces, dukkahs, rubs and herbal tea infusions to panaforte, brandy fruit cake and gingerbread houses, to name a few. All of which can be gift wrapped at the market. If you’re not that crafty or time is of the
essence, seek out Jill at Simply Hampers. She has a wonderful selection of foods, beautifully gift wrapped and can rrange for delivery anywhere in the world.

At The Edge Gourmet Deli in Edge hill, Loren has an extensive range of gift wrapped Australian and local gourmet foods and will package a hamper to your order. Here you will find plum puddings, shortbread, gingerbreads, confectionary and all things
Christmassy. Happy hunting & gathering!

Fish Pondering

Published: 28th November 2009

Some will argue that aquaculture may well be the future of the seafood industry in Australia. Its
cost effective production enables a quality product grown to a high standard of uniform size, colour and continuity of supply. Others will argue the taste is not the same but that's a personal choice. The most popular aquaculture product in Australia is of course, Atlantic Salmon from Tasmania which graces most restaurant menu in some form.

But try something different and something local. Here in this region, we have exceptional aquaculture products in prawns, barramundi,
redclaw, jade perch and eels. Prawn farming has become highly competitive and quality is paramount. In some cases prawns are farmed in pens at sea which enhances a ‘salty’ taste. A good grower of barramundi controls the process to ensure the firmness and cooking characteristics of the fish to be similar to the wild product. These plate-sized ‘barra’ are great for baking or barbecue.

If you are health conscious for Omega-3; Jade Perch is an outstanding cholesterol free table fish. It has been found by CSIRO scientists to have extremely high omega-3 fatty acid content, said to be approximately 6 times higher than that of Atlantic salmon. It also boasts an exceptional recovery rate of white flesh to body weight making it value for money.

Eels that swim up and down the eastern seaboard find their way into estuaries and on to freshwater creeks and ponds and are now farmed in this region. Popular with the Asian market, it is a worthy consideration for a special treat.

Redclaw is our own freshwater crayfish and makes a wonderful alternative to seafood. It’s light and sweet flavours enhance a many number of dishes from salads to pasta and risotto.

So think outside the normal shopping basket and try some of our regions great aquaculture products.

PAPAYA / PAW PAW Carica papaya

Mother Nature’s treasure chest. Very high in nutrients. The skin and flesh of unripe papaya can be used to tenderise cheaper cuts of meat. The smooth skin is inedible. Young leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach. Hawaiian Solo has a long shape and proving to be the more popular sweeter flavour.

Colour: Green when unripe and turns deep yellow or orange when ripe. Fruit has yellow or orange flesh, depending on variety, which is firm in texture. There is an abundance of edible black seeds.

Taste: Soft, juicy, and sweet tasting.

Buying/storage: Papayas bruise easily, so do not buy if the skin is damaged. Unripe fruit should be left at room temperature to ripen. Ripe fruit can be kept in refrigerator for five to seven days.

Preparing/serving: To eat, fresh simply cut the fruit in half lengthwise and scoop out the seed. Can be added to fruit salads, made into ice cream and sorbets. It also goes well with cured meats and savoury dishes, like curries. Green unripe papaya can
be used as a vegetable, cooked similarly to zucchini. Grated green papaya is great in salads. Can also be juiced.

Variety: Hawaiian solo, PNG Red, Yellow - 11B, 1B and other selections.

Acknowledging Local Chefs

Published: 21st November, 2009

Over the years we have seen a number of celebrity chefs grace our region with special cooking classes, luncheons, lavish dinners and demonstrations. …and it’s wonderful to engage and an honour to taste the stunning foods they prepare.

Whilst we welcome these chefs as highly professional artisans who bring fresh ideas and skills that flow onto local foodies and chefs, it is worth acknowledging that we also have some very good chefs in this region. Some who if they were in a major city could be labelled ‘celebrity’ given the right promotional break?

For instance, in Cairns notably Craig Squire of Ochre Restaurant who was asked to audition for the position as a MasterChef judge. From Palm Cove two brilliant chefs are Nick Holloway of NuNu and Philip Mitchell of Sebel Reef House, and at Port Douglas there is Bill Conway at Salsa Bar & Grill and Patrick Spencer of Harrisons Restaurant. The Tablelands is fortunate to have Jason Chuck at Eden House Restaurant at Yungaburra and new kids in the kitchen in Cairns are Leon Walker at Wink and Richard Falkiner at North Food & Wine.

All outstanding chefs who have in common, their passion for all things local and fresh and their creative culinary skills to produce innovative menus that showcase our regional food and offer tourists a true tropical food experience.

Tis the Season

Published: 14th November, 2009

We are truly blessed to have such a diverse range of tropical fruits grown in Tropical North Queensland, and with the imminent ‘wet’ upon us; November signifies the start of the exotic fruit season. Already local lychees, star apples, sapodillas, rollinas, and pomelos are making their entrance into the markets.

The mangoes you see at present are from the Northern Territory; as their season commenced in October. Traditionally at the Brisbane Markets, the first tray of mangoes is auctioned for charity, and this year a tray of 12 mangoes sold for $45,000. But have not fear, wait a week or two and you’ll see our local mangoes start to appear in our shops, on the side of the road and in our markets, at a lot cheaper price!

Nearly four years has passed since Cyclone Larry swept through and destroyed many of the fruit trees in its path. The good news is that farmers are reporting heavy flowering at present and an expected early crop and ‘bumper’ season for rambutans, mangosteens and other exotics. Already small amounts of these fruits are trickling into the market from Cooktown and Mossman and as the season moves in a southerly trend, there should be an abundance of fruit following over the next month or two.