By Leigh O'Connor.
Each year foodies from far and wide ‘sample’ the best food and beverages Northern New South Wales has to offer at Sample Food Festival, located at the Bangalow Showgrounds in the Byron Bay Hinterland.
The 8th annual boutique festival kicks off on Saturday September 1, when farmers, producers, Chefs and a wide range of creative individuals from all corners of the region gather to share wares, passion and knowledge.
As a festival sponsor, AGFG’s resident Chef Shawn Sheather will be on stage assisting with cooking demonstrations, creating an unforgettable experience for all your senses. The region’s top restaurants will also compete for the coveted Gold Fork awards and collaborate on a special luncheon.
Already sold out are premier events like the traditional Sample Lunch, by Shannon Bennett and the Vue de Monde team, and the Fab Ladies’ Wine Soiree; but don’t be disheartened there is still much more to see and do with a Food Photography/Styling Workshop and Eat Your Words food and wine writing workshop with Justin Bergman.
Be sure to check out the many stalls showcasing their produce and menus such as Salumi Australia with an award-winning range of delectable meats and cheese. Taking inspiration from European techniques to craft an impressive selection of goods, be prepared to enjoy the likes of nduja chilli infused salami, slices of peppercorn and juniper berry cured and aged pork and authentic dry Sardinian salami – all ideal for mouth-watering appetisers.
Focusing on the region’s fresh organic produce, much of it grown in the owners’ garden, Chef hatted Harvest restaurant has an impeccable reputation for historic country charm and urban sophistication at its pristine Byron Bay hinterland location.
From a menu spruiking innovative fare, Harvest delivers dishes such as kangaroo tartare, picone capers, finger lime, macadamia and pandanus vinaigrette; and Byron Bay pork jowl, beer, mustard and Davidson plum to the festival.
Inspired by age old artisan trades, local Bangalow legend, Butcher Baker will be pumping out savoury and sweet tasting plates all day, with their Hickory bacon banana custard doughnut sure to turn some heads, while stomachs will be satiated with pecan smoked chilli bean chicken wings on sticky rice.
Drop by Eltham Valley Pantry’s stall for contemporary plates such as an aromatic fish curry with Thai style vegetables and toasted coconut rice, along with ploughman’s platters of housemade relishes, pickles, artisan cheese, cured meat and marinated olives – served with toasted sourdough and a seasonal salad.
Set on a flourishing pecan orchard and landscaped cottage gardens in Eltham, the Pantry’s 100-year-old restored farmhouse is worth a visit, with dark floorboards, cosy cushioned nooks and corrugated iron counters, creating a rustic country chic vibe ideal for warming cups of coffee and leisurely lunches.
Supporting local producers and farmers, Shelter on Pacific Parade in Lennox Heads serves up a fresh and seasonal menu all year round. Using the best ingredients with sustainable and organic farming principals in mind, expect to be enticed by starters like Clarence River school prawns with chilli aioli, or local octopus, XO, squid ink and green chilli.
A home away from home for locals and visitors alike, diners seek shelter at this charming restaurant, where bifold windows open to provide ocean views and allow balmy breezes to waft indoors, while enjoying mains such as spatchcock with marrow and plum; before an indulgent dessert of chocolate, cumquat and hazelnut.
Perched in the heart of the Brook family’s 96-acre farm in the Byron Bay hinterland, Cape Byron Distillery rests against the macadamia orchard and rainforest, a direct result of the family’s passion for regeneration. Be sure to sample Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin at the festival – capturing all the unique flavours of the Northern Rivers rainforest.
This classic gin is a beautifully balanced combination of the finest botanicals, opening with citrus notes, led by aniseed and cinnamon myrtle, in harmony with a lively drift and finger and blood limes. After a few minutes of sipping, the flavour of native raspberries dusted with macadamias emerges – delicious however you want to drink it!
Byron Bay vegan eatery No Bones will also be in attendance, sharing their plant based recipes where all ingredients are made fresh inhouse, delve into the likes of crispy konjac 'calamari' strips with caper mayo, or if you're up for a really good time, their paella will knock your socks off.
For more festival information and events, click here.