The sun was shining, the smokers were hot, the wine was flowing and the chefs were all lined up for the very first Byron Bay Fine Food and Beverage Festival. The slight chill in the air ensured the delectable signature tasting plates sold out. And there were lots of eager gourmands and oenophiles eager to learn something new and something fun at the Plumm Beverage and Artisan Producer Master Classes.
You can grow just about anything in the Northern Rivers. The Producer marquee was home to over 25 local growers, producers and providores including delicious Byron Bay Cacao, spicy Blue Bay Gourmet Salumi, dreamy White Gold Creamery cheese and the juiciest berries from Blushing Blueberries. Twelve wineries from across the country kept the crowds happy with some damn fine Aussie wine.
For all the food and wine lovers who couldn’t make it we’ve compiled our highlights.
Mixing it with the Best
Some might say midday is a little early for straight gin but we took up the challenge for all our faithful readers. We were in the capable hands of two of the young guns of Australian distilling – Cape Byron Distillery’s Eddie Brook and Harriet Messenger from Husk Distillers.
We’ve recently told the story of Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin and the festival was the official launch of Brookie’s ‘Slow Gin’. Distilling with native botanicals and using local and organic ingredients drive both Eddie and Harriet. These gins are very different in the glass with Ink a deep blue from the infusion of pH sensitive butterfly flowers and Brookie’s Byron Dry a more traditional colourless tipple. Add tonic and Ink turns pink. http://www.capebyrondistillery.com/ www.huskdistillers.com.
Favourite Signature Plate
For us it was the BBQ Bangalow Sweet Pork and Tweed King Prawns with green papaya & snow pea salad by local hero Steven Snow of Fins Restaurant. www.fins.com.au/
Churn Some Butter with Pepe Saya
We fast learned the difference between supermarket milk and cream at this entertaining Master Class. Pierre ‘Pepe’ Issa took us through the butter-making process and took us back to when the milko delivered bottles topped with thick cream to our doorstep – daily.
‘Churning’ our own butter with just a mason jar, two marbles, some cream reminded us of that old KC & the Sunshine Band classic, but it sure did taste good. http://www.pepesaya.com.au/
Girt by Sea
Margaret River’s Voyager Estate and the Bellarine Peninsula’s Jack Rabbit Wines both cling to the coast. Their environment can create problems but nothing that great wine making can’t surmount. From Chardonnay to Rosé to Cabernet Sauvignon it was a wonderful introduction to some of these wines. And don’t forget the hash tag is #jackrabbitwines not simply #jackrabbit if you want to makes sure your social media isn’t NSFW.
Marvellous McLaren Vale
While McLaren Vale has long been known for outstanding Shiraz it also produces some exceptional Grenache.
Lost Buoy wines Anna Watson claims they’re the closest Australian winery to the sea hence the name. Anna showcased their Grenache credentials via the crowd-pleasing Pink Sky Rosé, the Cliff Block Grenache and Forgotten Ida. https://lostbuoywines.com.au
With two distinctly different sub-regions within McLaren Vale Penny’s Hill produce two very different and pleasing Shiraz: a more traditional spicy Cracking Black Shiraz and the rich, Footprint Shiraz from grapes sourced from the highest elevation plantings. http://www.pennyshill.com.au
It’s the time of year for food and wine extravaganzas but the inaugural Byron Bay Fine Food and Beverage Festival has made its mark. Offering something a little different just a stone’s throw from beautiful Belongil Beach.
TML were guests of the Byron Bay Fine Food & Beverage Festival.