By Michelle Tchea.
When it comes to food, Sydney or Melbourne spring to mind, right?
What if I told you there was a slice of paradise just 10 minutes from tourist-ridden Gold Coast and 30 minutes from Byron Bay. Don’t believe me?
Well, welcome to the Tweed!
Known affectionately to locals as the Green to the Gold!), the Tweed is home to some of Australia’s lesser known gems.
From Australia’s sweetest seafood to an award-winning gin distillery, the Tweed is a gastronomic hotspot for foodies.
Finger Limes. Photo: Mavis's Kitchen.
Native Bush Tucker
Buddha’s Hand, Finger Limes and Davidson Plums… are some of the exotic Australian bush tucker found in the Tweed region. Although Buddha’s Hand is native to India, the Finger Limes and Davidson Plums grown on Buck’s Barn in Chillingham is exclusive to grower, Gerard ‘Buck’ Buchanan. Spread out on more than 350 acres, book yourself a tour with Buck and explore his exotic playground – tasting and discovering native Aussie fruit used in Aboriginal food and medicine. With Australia’s highly-reputable restaurants like Tetsuya in Sydney and Wasabi in Noosa sourcing finger limes (caviar-like consistency) from Buck, you know you have the best in all of Australia. For a more general overview of tropical fruits, head to Tropical Fruit World and follow the giant avocado. The Murwillumbah Farmers’ Market is also a great spot to meet real farmers.
Pippies with semolina pasta at Paper Daisy.
Gourmet Restaurant in a Sun-beach Motel
Well… former motel. Halcyon House may have started off as a surf motel in the middle of nowhere but has grown into one of Australia’s most instagrammable hotels. The hype is thanks to eye-popping interiors (all unique and different in the 21 suites) with bold patterns and colours on the walls and floors of the once-run-down motel. The heart of the hotel is Paper Daisy, a delightfully surprising restaurant by young Chef Ben Devlin, who worked with Copenhagen’s great Chef Rene Redzepi. The menu offers a rotating 4-course degustation with local fish the star for true gourmands. Native vegetables are on show and grilled to perfection in squid, black garlic and glazed lamb two stellar dishes you should try. The desserts are playful and enjoyable in this 90-seat beachfront restaurant.
Pickled Prawns at Bombay Cricketer's Club.
Melting Pot of Cultures
The Bombay Cricketer’s Club is a great spot to eat with locals – on the menu is modern Indian cuisine in a simple yet atmospheric setting. Spices from across the sub-continent of India, Sri-Lanka and Pakistan are vibrant and earthy. Favourites include the pork belly, sorrel and candy radish, as well as the roasted pumpkin jalfrezi with seasonal vegetables – delicious!
For Spanish food, drive to the base of the majestic Mount Warning and explore the 25-acre former dairy farm before stopping in at Mavis’s Kitchen. The eco-friendly B&B is surrounded by world heritage rainforest with a menu focused on ingredients from the lush Tweed Valley. With a head Chef hailing from Spain, get lost in delicious cured meats, housemade chutneys and of course cheese. The pan-seared scallops with cauliflower pistachio and cured lardo and beetroot gnocchi with truffled pear puree are delicious, but be sure to save room for homemade cakes and dessert.
Spirit of Wollumbin, Mount Warning Tours. Photo: Dale Jennings.
Seafood lovers rejoice! With a bounty of seafood restaurants and eateries to choose from fish-lovers and oyster-enthusiasts do not have to look very far for fresh seafood caught off the coast of the Tweed. For a great experience with locals, the Mount Warning Tours Five Course Seafood Degustation Cruise is the only way to experience the Tweed.
If you like cruising, the three-hour tour takes you on a trip around the Tweed Valley on the Spirit of Wollumbin. As your local Tweed resident, Michael and his happy crew steer their way around the Valley, learn about the history of the Murwillumbah Heritage Trail while enjoying excellent seafood like large King prawns, smoked salmon and Morton Bay Bugs. If you love bird watching – this cruise is also for you.