With blue skies and pleasantly warm temperatures, May is the perfect time for food festivals throughout Queensland. Prepare your appetite and check out a trio of Down Under events with plenty of fare, drink and fun.
Noosa International Food & Wine Festival
The festival season begins May 16 to 19 with the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, which has an extraordinary lineup of chefs and producers. Festival director Jim Berardo says more than 200 of the world’s most prominent chefs, winemakers, food personalities and foodies such as Daniel Alps of Alps & Amici, longtime wine writer Max Allen, executive chef of Sydney and Melbourne’s Longrain restaurants Marty Boetz will gather in Noosa, a two-hour drive north of Brisbane for the program.
With food stalls, restaurant happenings, beachfront activities and cooking sessions, there’s plenty of festival fun to enjoy. Tonight, the Queensland Virtuosi Orchestra performs at the “Edible Music” concert at the Lookout, Noosa National Park, complete with chefs such as Ben Shewry and David Thompson synchronizing theatrical presentations of their food to the music. Friday showcases the World Class Cocktail Competition, an opportunity to soak in the sun and sip cocktails on Noosa’s Main Beach. Saturday includes a seafood feast lunch (also on Noosa’s Main Beach) and the afternoon debate “Food and Wine are Better Than Sex.” There’s also Noosa High Tea by the River with treats from dessert experts Adriano Zumbo, Eric Pernoud and Matt Major. On Sunday, put down the fork and take a seat for the panel and audience discussion of “Everyone is an Expert — blogs, public opinion websites, e-zines, mainstream press, the hand of the law.”
Hampton High Country Food and Arts Festival
This one-day festival is held just outside Toowoomba, about an hour west from Brisbane, on May 19. The tiny hamlet of Hampton is known for its cottages and diversity of fresh produce — it’s famous for avocados, persimmons, olive oils, stone fruit, kale, walnuts and rhubarb, and is also the home to one of the finest organic blueberry farms in the area. Enjoy Asian-inspired cooking demonstrations by celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow; sharpen your knife skills with a demonstration from Hessland Butchers; brew some java with the help of local specialty brand Two Moos Coffee and more. Visitors will be able to purchase local produce and chat with growers at the Festival Marketplace.
On May 25, it’s north Queensland’s turn with Taste of Paradise in Port Douglas, which is about an hour’s drive north of Cairns. A part of the bigger Port Douglas Carnivale, this event will showcase regional produce through cooking demonstrations and complimentary food, wine and beer tastings from local food producers such as Mungalli Creek, Daintree Estate Chocolates and Julatten Earth Food, as well as local restaurants Harrisons, Bucci, Salsa, The Tin Shed, Nunu and Ochre. Cooking demonstrations begin on the main stage at 10 a.m. with celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue of Surfing the Menu fame, who’ll be supported by local star chefs. Be on the lookout for 2012 contestants from the popular My Kitchen Rules show, too, as they’ll also be cooking at the event.
Photos courtesy of Noosa International Food And Wine Festival and Our Village Marketing