The way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, but I’m all for a little gender bending because the same rule applies to my travel plans. There’s no greater motivator to haul me behind the wheel than the promise of yet-undiscovered gastronomical treats, a new restaurant or that perfect grassy knoll begging to have a picnic laid upon it.
Gluttony (in moderation) is my ultimate weakness.
A weekend escape to the Sunshine Coast will keep your tummy happier than a laughing Buddha. You can’t argue with the thousands of gourmands who flock for the annual Noosa International Food & Wine Festival. They know they’re onto a good thing.
While the party rages on in Noosa this month as the festival celebrates 10 years of slicing, dicing, noshing and imbibing, wander along your own foodie trail with 48 hours to discover the coast’s epicurean secrets.
6pm: Food lover’s lane
If you’re lucky enough to live close by, drop in on a true local’s night at The Lane in Palmwoods. Under fairy lights and pretty floral bunting, you can stock up on local gourmet pantry staples, grab some farm-fresh fruit and veg and unwind with a Maleny cheese platter, Mexican street food or something sinful from the dessert bar.
8am: C is for Caloundra (and coffee)
The once-sleepy southern end of the coast is prising more eyes open every day, since some mighty fine baristas and trendy little digs have opened up. Take your pick (or go for a caffeine trifecta) from Pocket Espresso at Moffat Beach, Izba Espresso – who call a converted shipping container on the side of the Nicklin Way home, or Lamkin Lane, tucked behind the main street.
9:30am: Forage to feast
Time your visit with one of the regular cooking classes at Freestyle Escape in what has to be the coolest outdoor kitchen ever made, overlooking the Sunshine Coast hinterland. After fossicking through the hillside orchard and herb garden to gather ingredients for your menu, learn the skills of Thai cooking, artisan bread making, gluten and grain-free treats or construct a pizza that would put nonna to shame.
3:30pm: In the raw
In the war against sugar, the dessert section of your stomach needn’t feel neglected (hey, we all know there is legitimately always extra space for dessert). One taste of the organic, raw sweets and superfood smoothies whipped up at Ground in Buderim and you’ll be hooked on the natural high. If you’ve got time, return the next day for lunch. Remember what I said about the laughing Buddah? Yep, that’s Ground epitomised.
8pm: See food; eat it
Keeping the food miles down to almost zero, Fish on Parkyn in Mooloolaba is every seafood lover’s nirvana. With Moololaba prawns close to leaping straight off the trawlers onto your plate, muscling the Moreton Bay bugs, sweet sand crabs and local fish for space on the menu, the only thing you’ll be left wanting for is another glass of wine to wash it all down. If you prefer your fish a little less well, cooked, duck next door to Sakana for the freshest sashimi platters this side of Tokyo.
7am: To market
Those who rise early prosper on the Sunshine Coast – that uncrowded wave, the dozing koala in the treetops of Noosa National Park, and the plum pick of the freshest and tastiest local produce on offer at the Noosa Farmers Market. After you pick your way along the stalls of plump juicy heirloom tomatoes, glistening greens, gooey cheeses and zingy spices and olive oils, it would be blasphemous not to indulge in a pain au chocolat from French Sin chased with an espresso.
10am: Brunch on the beach
Noosa’s godfather of food knows nothing goes better with a perfectly poached egg or, if you’re daring, banana and macadamia pancakes, than a front-row seat on Noosa’s Main Beach. Noosa International Food and Wine Festival head honcho Jim Berardo’s baby, Berardo’s Bistro on the Beach, is the type of place that has you cursing the locals and planning a sea change with every mouthful.
2:30pm: Nice cream
If you’re craving a weekend sugar-cap and like a little theatre with your double scoop, check out Nitrogenie (on Noosa’s Hastings Street) who whip up fresh batches of dairy deliciousness with the aid of liquid nitrogen. Yes, really. Spooky and cool all at once.
What’s your favourite foodie indulgence on the Sunshine Coast? What would you add to this itinerary?