Some of our best little mini holidays are interest driven. Tell us about a foodie event within an hour or two’s drive of the Gold Coast and we’re there!
Sandwiched in on the Saturday night was the Wine Wars dinner at Season Restaurant, so a night’s stay at Mantra Salt was mandatory. The dinner at Season from Chef de Cuisine Daniel Watt and the team was exceptional: intriguing flavours and textures – food artistry on the plate; the wine games tons of fun, even for the uninitiated, the tasting matching wines from two iconic wineries: Rymill Coonawarra and Brokenwood.
Despite cool winds sweeping up from the beach, sunny skies bode well on Sunday for a great food and wine experience. There were street food stalls set up with paella, pizza, pide, gozleme, buckwheat galette pancakes, kebabs and more on offer.
Families gathered on the lawn to chat, eat and share a drink as they listened to live music on the sound stage, while food enthusiasts headed for the presentation tent where cooking demonstrations were taking place.
We’d missed local celebrity ‘hatted’ chef Steven Snow from Fins presenting seafood cookery on Saturday, however the Sunday cheese making class really took our fancy. Local cheese specialist Debra Allard, from Cheeses Loves You demonstrated how to make paneer, buttermilk and cultured butter. To be honest, Debra made the process look so easy that we’ll sign up for one of her weekend classes, held near Murwillumbah. Morning tea and lunch included, you make your cheese and bring it home…we’re in! ($140 for the day class.)
Graham Terrey from Ripples Café, Hastings Point, showed that simple food, such as chicken tacos, can be exciting if it’s fresh and beautifully presented. We learned how to bone a chicken, how to make your meat stretch further, the benefits of cooking sous vide, and how to make a great stock. Graham holds masterclasses on a regular basis at Ripples. ($45 for the class and lunch.)
The stars of the day were definitely the Singaporean guest presenters: Chef Shen Tan, who co-presented a session with Maureen Ow, food-blogger and television personality, co-organiser of the Singapore’s Hawker Food Festival.
Their demonstration of Chicken Rice (a dish we know here as Hainanese Chicken) showed us how great the cultural differences are between Australia and Singapore. Humorous, witty and frank, their presentation was ‘chillaxed’ and refreshing, the asides priceless!
(The best version of this dish we’ve tasted on the Gold Coast is at Ipoh Satay House, Mermaid Waters.)
When asked the difference between Hainanese chicken and Chicken rice, Shen claimed that the dish is in fact Singaporean; that if you go to Hainan (southern China) and ask for Hainanese chicken, they won’t know what you’re talking about! Country rivalry aside, Maureen said this is the first dish she ever learned to cook. While we might think that plain rice would have been their first dish, they’d both only ever cooked rice in a rice cooker!
Other interesting observations included the usefulness of fish sauce to draw umami flavour from most meat, the importance of balance between sweet, sour and savoury (hence the use of a little sugar in much Asian cooking), and the slow bathing (or dunking) of the chicken into the simmering liquid so the flesh remains tender.
There were several other presentations we were sorry to miss: Craig Scott from Tumby Sauce Co., and Tropical Fruit World fruit tasting, to name two, but there’s always next year.
This was one of the most relaxed festivals we’ve been to, the first of many, we hope. It’s a great way to promote local produce and artisan makers who need our support to make their businesses viable. It’s also an information sharing opportunity – a chance to find out which brands and food services are local.
We’ve decided that this will be the first of many visits we’ll have to the Salt Village area. With the many restaurants clustered in Salt Village (including Season, Fins, Bellini, Sea Salt, Mahsuri Thai), it’s a dining mecca.
Chicken Rice (Recipe by Shen Tan)
2kg chicken, organic free range if possible
1 tbs Chinese wine (Hsiao hsing wine) or cognac
10g ginger grated
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Chicken poaching liquid
6 stalks of spring onions
2 tsp salt
20g ginger, peeled and sliced lengthwise
Enough water to submerge the chicken
Mix the chicken marinade until well combined and apply to the exterior and cavity of the chicken. Leave it in the fridge to marinade for at least 8 hours. Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature before poaching.
Bring the poaching liquid to a boil.
Tie a loop with butcher’s twine under the chicken wings so that you may submerge and remove the chicken from the pot easily. Dip the chicken into the pot of boiling poaching liquid. Repeat the process 3 times, leaving the chicken in the liquid on the last time. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil and turn down heat to let it simmer gently. Cook the chicken in the simmering poaching liquid for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and cover the pot with a lid and let the chicken sit in the poaching liquid until it is cooked. This should take about 30 – 40 minutes.
Remove chicken from the pot and submerge in ice water for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from ice bath and pat dry, allow it to come to room temperature and then proceed to cut up chicken for serving.
(The ice bath stops the cooking process and gelatinises the fat. The old-fashioned method was to leave the chicken to air dry at room temperature for 45 hours, but both ladies commented that this carried a high risk of food poisoning. Cut chicken across the grain to serve. In Asia, thigh meat is the most prized part of the chicken.)
Chicken fat from the cavity of the chicken, about 40g
Chicken stock (from poaching the chicken) 1.2 litres
10 Asian shallots (eschallots), peeled and finely sliced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
50g ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 kg of Jasmine fragrant rice, washed and drained
½ tsp of salt
5 stalks of pandan leaves tied into a bunch
Render the chicken fat in a wok, or saucepan.
Fry the shallots and ginger in the chicken fat until golden/ coloured.
Add the garlic and fry until coloured.
Add your washed jasmine long grain rice and stir fry for 5 minutes.
Pour the rice and aromatics mixture into the rice cooker.
Add the pandan leaves and chicken stock.
Cook the rice. (Then fluff up the rice with a fork and leave it 10 minutes to finish cooking through.)
Chicken rice chilli
(Change this sauce to your will, Shen says. Add lime zest, lemon grass, or chopped kaffir lime leaves – “It’s not like making macarons!”)
160g big red chilli
10g chili padi
250ml chicken seasoning stock
20g rendered chicken fat
30ml lime juice
60ml fish sauce
Blend all of the above in a food processor.
Serve beside the chicken rice and chilli sauce. Decorate with slices of cucumber and sliced shallots.
Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast were guests of Tastes of Kingscliff and the Tweed Coast for the Wine Wars dinner. [email protected] was a free event.
1 – 25 Bells Boulevard, Kingscliff, NSW 2487