Australia On A Plate
Whether locally grown, seasonal or organic, Australia offers quality produce from the source and a plethora of ways to experience it
Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Margaret River, WA
Whether locally grown, seasonal or organic – Australia offers premium-quality produce from the source and a plethora of ways to experience it. From the city to the country, the paddock-to-plate movement is alive with chefs carefully selecting ingredients for restaurant and café menus, farmer’s markets and epicurean festivals connecting food-lovers with growers and producers from nearby areas, and hands-on tutorials at cooking schools.
Australian Capital Territory
With vineyards and farmer’s markets by the city centre, Canberra and its surrounds offer a range of food experiences that reflect the region. Visit the renowned Grazing restaurant for bistro-style regional cuisine in a 19th century converted pub. Find meats cured using traditional methods at Poacher’s Pantry country smokehouse. Pick up the likes of blackberries and handmade duck terrine at the Capital Region Farmer’s Market, while 3Seeds cooking school hosts demonstrations at Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets to showcase stallholders’ produce. During July the annual Canberra and Capital Region Truffle Festival celebrates local black truffles with special restaurant dinners across the area and through on-site tours of the truffieres at which they are grown.
New South Wales
Orange Food Week, Orange, NSW
Sydney boasts a diverse dining scene, with plenty of eateries celebrating regional produce. Visit Nomad for an urban cellar door experience with a curated Australian wine list of 20 white and 20 red varietals; Billy Kwong to try renowned chef Kylie Kwong’s unique Australian-Chinese fare using native ingredients like saltbush and samphire; and Rushcutters where fresh produce and goat’s milk is sourced directly from the nearby Hawkesbury region. Eveleigh Market’s local growers and producers in the heart of the city feature buffalo mozzarella, edible flowers and heirloom tomatoes, while the waterside Sydney Seafood School showcases local fish and seafood in interactive cooking classes. In Bowral, Biota boasts its own kitchen garden and a menu of the surrounding Southern Highlands’ produce. The Agrestic Grocer in Orange offers local produce and artisan goods by the on-site café, plus each April a series of epicurean events take place across the region as part of Orange F.O.O.D. Week.
Peruse Darwin’s Mindil Beach Markets tasting local goods like crocodile burgers and tropical passionfruit and dragonfruit sorbets. Slow Food Darwin runs tours exploring local food markets and farm experiences, and the city’s annual Taste Food and Wine Festival brings together 20 stallholders offerings local produce, craft beers and more. At Ayers Rock Resort, visit the nearby Uluṟu-Kata Tjuta National Park on a guided bush tucker tour, or enjoy a three-course meal made with native ingredients by campfire near Alice Springs thanks to RT Tours Australia.
In far north Queensland, the weekly Port Douglas Markets sells the likes of handmade chai tea, freshly cooked prawns and local pineapples. Further south on the Sunshine Coast, the Real Food Festival showcases Swiss-style cheese, chocolate-dipped strawberries and avocado oil alongside food growing workshops. Local Noosa produce is the focus on the menu at River Cottage Restaurant featuring dishes such as chargrilled prawns from nearby Mooloolaba with green paw paw, watermelon, mint and coriander salad. In the state’s capital, Mondo Organics’ cooking classes delve into local, sustainably produced ingredients, and dinner at Stokehouse Brisbane might feature Queensland spanner crab or Noosa red tomatoes.
With a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean, the McLaren Vale wine region features alternative wine varietals and a relaxed food-focused environment – try your hand at cooking classes at Chapel Hill winery, or experience the breadth of regional produce at the Bank SA Food and Wine Festival. In the Barossa Valley, restaurants like Vintners Bar & Grill and Appellation reflect the strength of the local food culture, while celebrated Australian chef Maggie Beer has her own farm shop to collect a picnic basket filled with edibles like duck, currant and muscat pâté. Once a flour mill, Petaluma’s Bridgewater Mill restaurant in the Adelaide Hills serves local ingredients such as venison from Hahndorf seared with glazed pear, black pudding, polenta and walnuts. In the centre of town, visit the Adelaide Farmers’ Market to enjoy the full spectrum of the state’s food and wine along with live cooking demonstrations.
Taste of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS
Known for its cool-climate wines and untouched natural environment, Tasmanian produce is premium. In Launceston, Brisbane Street Bistro dishes up local ingredients like wild-caught Australian tiger prawns with gazpacho and avocado mousse, plus goat’s curd from nearby Westhaven in a savoury cheesecake with orange marmalade and cucumber salad. In the same area, Harvest Market is a weekly collective of all-Tasmanian stallholders selling organic cider, marinated olives and cold-pressed walnut oil. In the capital, Hobart, Ethos restaurant is dedicated to serving the island’s produce in a 19th century former hotel and the annual summer event Taste of Tasmania welcomes 70 boutique food, wine, cider and beer stallholders to the city’s waterfront precinct.
Victoria's regions are renowned for their fresh, diverse and bountiful local produce. The Grape Grazing Festival marries the region’s varietals with superb local delicacies. In Melbourne, visit Pope Joan restaurant for local, sustainable dishes – think biodynamic rice salad with dried sweet fruits and feta – and its own produce store to take home the ingredients on the menu. At Saint Peter’s restaurant, dine on Italian fare using sustainable seafood and seasonal ingredients. The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld is a long-time advocate of ‘nature-based cuisine’, using a range of unique heirloom and organic vegetables grown at the resident kitchen garden alongside local and wild ingredients. A couple of hours inland to Daylesford, meet local producers at the monthly farmers markets at the town primary school, and visit Diana Marsland’s celebrated cooking school in a Victorian property surrounded by the Macedon Ranges.
Peppered with stunning surf beaches, the Margaret River region produces award-winning wines as well as quality produce. The cellar door restaurants at Voyager Estate and Vasse Felix wineries feature produce like the region’s own venison, Mount Barker free range chicken and Pemberton Marron. In the same area, Gourmet Escape is an annual food festival welcoming celebrated Australian and international chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Alex Atala to special events at local wineries and restaurants. Where black Perigord truffles are cultivated inland in Manjimup, the annual Truffle Kerfuffle takes place at the Southern Forest Food Festival, while Foragers Field Kitchen takes guests on foraging tours and offers demonstration cooking classes. If visiting the state’s southern coast, find rock lobster, goat cheese and preserves at the Albany Farmer’s Market every week. In Perth, head to Greenhouse for a complete sustainable dining experience – the restaurant fit-out was created using reclaimed materials, wheat used in baked goods is milled in-house and the menu uses Margaret River free range eggs and pork.