Regional Flavours 2016 – the tastes of Queensland

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently experienced a gourmet’s ultimate weekend experience, heading to Brisbane for a 24 hour whirlwind trip of the city’s best food and then out west for another day and night to the Lockyer Valley to see where most of that food is produced.

As well as enjoying great food with exceptional company, I also faced that classic food blogger problem… my pants were too tight for me to try everything! So heed my warning if you’re planning to head to the Regional Flavours event on 16th and 17th July, elastic-waist trousers and loose dresses will be what those in the know are wearing!

My taste buds are already tingling as I start thinking about the delish fare which will be served up at Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands. The eighth annual festival aims to offer visitors a taste of the varied and quality produce Queensland has to offer, and educate consumers and home cooks on the benefits of eating food grown right here in the Sunshine State.

Celebrating our fertile soil and homegrown harvests isn’t exactly new,
this vintage tourism poster just screams ‘Eat our fruit’!
This year’s event will dish up a culinary delight, with the Parklands filled with cooking demonstrations by notable chefs, free tastings and stalls run by local food producers, restaurateurs and traders, food trucks, kid’s activities and live musical entertainment. Oh, and the whole weekend’s festivities are free too!

I’ll definitely be heading down for the weekend, and I’ve listed my favourite producers, providores and picks that I recommend you keep an eye out for!

A carnivore’s paradise, this family-owned butcher and delicatessen chain should be proud of its Plainland and new West End locations that follow the same formula for produce-to-plate philosophy – it’s worked for them for over 60 years! When I visited, my blogging companions and I were lucky enough to be given a tour of the premises by Alistair Macleod, well-known chef and tv host, and a proud ambassador for the Lockyer Valley. Offering a huge range that includes Yagaburne beef, Lockyer Valley veges and Granite Belt wines, Schulte’s is serious about quality and community.

Holmwood Produce

The trend towards locally sourced products doesn’t end with food, with many folks looking for regional herb and spice growers as well. I was fortunate enough to spend time at Holmwood Produce’s beautiful lavender and native food farm during my tour through the Lockyer Valley, and as well as having the friendliest donkey greeters, the fresh lavender and lemon myrtle used in the afternoon tea treats were so scrumptious that I fell in love with the property.

Bauer’s Organic Farm
Every now and then, you meet someone SO passionate about something that you can’t help but join them as an advocate. That someone was Rob Bauer, long-time Lockyer Valley farmer and convert to organic farming over 30 years ago, well before the current organic fad really took hold! Seated at a long table under the eucalypts and hearing Rob share stories about local farmers getting sick and dying from exposure to common chemicals used in farming, the entire table of guests began to think differently about the way we shop for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Bauer’s is a diverse property, supplying carrots, potatoes, corn, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin and beans, as well as numerous other smaller crops – all on one of Australia’s first certified organic farms.

The Charming Squire
Southbank’s own microbrewery is probably the perfect weekend venue for discerning Brisbanites, with something for everyone. The talents of their brewers, who are constantly creating new beers, and the constant communication between chef and brewer showcases beer and food pairing in a new (to me) and exciting way! The tasting plates that were offered were beyond amazing, featuring such tasty gems as Woodfired Corn Cobs with parmesan spiced crust, puffed quinoa and chipotle butter; and my favourite, the Slow cooked beef croquettes with Turkish almond & tahini dip. If you’re looking for BB and I at Regional Flavours, you’ll probably find us propping up the bar at the atmospheric and moody pop-up bistro and bar The Hunting Club, where we’ll be working my way through the Charming Squire drinks list! Hosted by The Charming Squire and Target 100, this venue will also host the likes of Paul West, Alistair Macleod and Hayden Quinn.

Having experienced a ‘cupping’ session at Australia’s largest independently owned and operated coffee roaster, Merlo Coffee on my recent food adventure of Brisbane, I now feel that I have earned the right to call myself a real coffee connoisseur. Tony and Frith led us through 

a short history of coffee, sampling their current blends, using our senses to differentiate between blends and getting expert advice on making the best coffee at home, at Merlo’s Fortitude Valley Torrefazione. Possibly the best way to start my day, really. Interested in kicking off your own food adventure of Brisbane with a decent cuppa? Merlo hold public coffee appreciation sessions at various Torrefaziones in Brisbane.

PopoloRiver Quay

Make sure you stroll all the way along the Parklands (you’ll probably need to, to digest all that food) to River Quay. This strip of fine dining establishments is home to Stokehouse Q, Aquitaine Brasserie, The Jetty, Cove Bar + Dining and my favourite, Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar. I’ve dined at Popolo before and it’s right up there in my list of favourite Brisbane restaurants.

The menu walks that perfectly fine line between too simple and overly extensive, the food is fresh with a lot of emphasis on showcasing local produce, and the whole place has that classic Italian ambience. It’s casual without lacking in service or quality of food, but at the same time classy without being pretentious and stuffy. I’m going to get specific now, and tell you exactly what I’ll eat at Regional Flavours from Popolo, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be stuffing these morsels in your mouth too. The crumbed Mozzarella with thyme-infused local honey is going to be the bee’s knees. (See what I did there?)

Could eat these all day, every day. The Bee One Third locally produced honey is also going to be available at Regional Flavours… my top tip is to get there early and try and snag your suburb, they sell out quickly!

Regional Flavours 2016 is a fantastic opportunity for local food producers, restaurateurs and traders to showcase their mouth-watering wares, and to show everyone that QLD is no longer the backwards banana-bending state of old. The event which is staged over two days at my favourite polace in Brisbane – Southbank Parklands – will definitely exceed expectations and appetites. I urge you all to put the dates in your diary and come along, as there will be something for everyone – whatever your personal tastes.

All the Regional Flavours stage presenters, stallholders, food trucks and vendors have been hand-selected and are definitely hungry-tummy-approved. Adriano Zumbo, Maggie Beer, Hayden Quinn, the Masterchef lads Gary, George and Matt, Miguel Maestre, Alistair Macleod, and River Cottage’s Paul West are just a few big names that will be hitting the stages, but check out the full program on the Regional Flavours website for more details. You’re going to want to start planning your eating agenda now.

I’m planning on being in Brisbane for the entire weekend, staying at Brisbane Marriott, so come hang with me. We can eat until our belts explode.

For stays between 14-18 July 2016, Brisbane Marriott Hotel is offering a special discounted rate of $199 a night if you book before July 1, 2016.

Will I see you at Regional Flavours 2016?

*I was a guest of Brisbane Marketing, the listed venues, and Brisbane Marriott for my recent foodie adventure through Southbank, Brisbane and the Lockyer Valley – they do great work showcasing this corner of the world, and I am incredibly happy to support them.

All images my own, or supplied by Brisbane Marketing

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