Seven Extraordinary Meals in Southern Qld & Northern NSW

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers-imp

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food and wine events in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. Within a couple of hours’ drive from Brisbane in any direction, we could be attending any one of a zillion special lunches and dinners, an indication of how blessed we are with fantastic produce, not to mention talented chefs. Here’s a selection we can look forward to in the coming weeks.

A carnival of flowers and food

During one flavour-filled evening on Thursday, September 19, in Toowoomba, six extraordinary courses will be served to 300 food lovers in a culinary collaboration between East Street Kitchen and Gabbinbar Homestead.  

The Qantas Gala Dinner celebrates the beauty and colours of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers and this year for the first time will be a six-course degustation featuring local flavours of the region.

The dinner, to be held in Toowoomba’s Civic Square, marks the 70th anniversary of the Carnival of Flowers. The menu will be created by the Darling Down’s largest off-premises caterer, East Street Kitchen, together with Gabbinbar Homestead, one of Australia’s most popular wedding destinations and winner of 2018 Queensland Caterer of the Year.

Tickets are on sale at

Gala Stay packages are available at the newly renovated Burke and Wills Hotel, directly opposite the venue.

Winter Woodlands at Salt Bar & Bistro

Salt Bar & Bistro Winter Woodlands-imp

Until the end of August, Salt Bar & Bistro is promising “an enchanting forest atmosphere and cosy winter menu of mulled wine, cider and delicacies from the land and sea”. The casual dining bar and entertainment venue at Kingscliff has taken on the atmosphere of a European winter, complete with plush lounges covered in white and grey furs that are perfect for snuggling under while soaking up the ocean views.

Fill the belly and warm the soul with the Winter Woodlands menu featuring heart-warming favourites such as roasted chestnuts, cheeseboards featuring Australian and international cheeses, antipasti platters, chilli con carne, baked camembert and Hervey Bay scallops.

Warm yourself under a canopy of branches twinkling with fairy lights and lanterns while sipping hot, mulled wine with the option to upgrade to something a little stronger for an extra $5.

Salt Bar & Bistro is in Salt Village, surrounded by resorts such as Mantra on Salt Beach, Peppers Balé Salt and Peppers Salt Resort and Spa.


It’s Fair Game

It's Fair Game Lunch at Tweed-imp

Slow down and savour the moment with wild venison cooked over an open fire at Mavis’s Kitchen, in northern NSW, on August 25. It’s Fair Game features award-winning chef, cookbook author and hunter, Dariush Lolaiy, who is a co-owner of highly regarded Auckland restaurant, Cazador.

This special lunch hosted by Destination Tweed 2050 Collective will also feature produce from Mavis’s Kitchen garden and drinks from Husk Distillery.

“The Tweed is now emerging as a hub for extraordinary bespoke food experiences,” says Kylie Ryan-Milroy, chair of Destination Tweed 2050 Collective. “Our high-quality produce is born from our pristine environment and artisan producers working alongside our community of creative chefs to serve up memorable and authentic culinary adventures.”

Lolaiy’s wilderness-to-fire approach to cooking takes into account time, place, purpose and environmental impact. “Wild venison is often thought of as a strongly flavoured slow cooking meat,” he says. “I can’t wait to show our guests the surprising delicate flavour of this lean, healthy, ethically-sourced protein.”

The $125 cost includes canapés and welcome cocktail, main course feast, dessert and live music. Book here.

Sunday lunch just like in Italy

Bucci Vacation Series

Take a romp around Italy with the Vacation Series of lunches at Bucci Restaurant & Bar in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. The series kicked off back in February and continues until November, with every month focusing on a different Italian region.

Sardinia features until August 21, with Liguria, Piedmont and Lombardy coming up over the next few months. The lunches represent great value with three courses for $36, two courses for $30 and $24 for a main.

In a nod to the Italian love of a Sunday lunch shared with family and friends, each new Vacation Series region is launched with a very Italian Sunday celebration of food, wine, music and adventure known as Bucci’s ‘Sunday Series’. Guests enjoy eight shared dishes and a glass of prosecco for $55. Liguria will be the theme for the next Sunday Series launch on August 25.

Bucci Restaurant & Bar is open for lunch, drinks and dinner daily except Tuesday.

More information:

Farewell to truffles

Truffle season finale

Celebrate the season finale of the 2019 Australian truffle season with a sumptuous truffle degustation dinner at Thyme2 Restaurant, at Sofitel Brisbane Central on Friday, August 23. The 4-course menu will be matched with Champagne Canard-Duchêne and has been specially crafted by executive chef Patrice Falantin.

Treats in store include Duck foie gras poele with truffle, Sunshine Coast seafood casserole with truffle, Black Onyx beef with truffle, and Vanilla mille feuille with berries and truffle.

The $199 price tag includes food, drinks and parking, with proceeds going to the AccorHotels Community Fund and its four founding partners: Kokoda Youth Foundation, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Lifeline and AIME Mentoring.

And one more treat: Each entry ticket goes into the draw for the chance to have executive chef Patrice Falantin and his team come to your place to cook breakfast of French Viennoiseries, seasonal fruit, traditional eggs benedict, and fruit Juice for 6 guests. All you have to do is make the coffee.

Book here.

Moreton Bay Harvest

Moreton Bay Harvest-imp

As residents of the Moreton Bay region, we’re loving the way that Moreton Bay is getting into the whole food caper, with food festivals, food trails and special dinners. One such dinner is Moreton Bay Harvest presented by much-loved Brisbane chef and TV personality, Alastair McLeod.

The September 21 Harvest dinner at Samford is sold out but there’s a great one on at Dayboro on Saturday, August 31. Guests are invited to share a table and enjoy a locally inspired meal at the Dayboro Showgrounds, where the farmers and growers whose produce features in the dinner will speak about their craft and ingredients.

From Mount Mee in the west, Samford in the south through to Bribie Island in the east and Woodford in the north, Moreton Bay is an incredibly diverse growing region. McLeod will use hand sourced, seasonal ingredients to show off the region’s finest.

Tickets are $90 + booking fee. Book here.

Duck & Pinot: a marriage made in heaven

Grape Therapy-imp

Earlier this year we had one of the best duck dishes we’ve ever tasted, courtesy of Salon de Co chef Andy Ashby, so you can imagine we were a wee bit excited when we learnt that Ashby will be cooking for the Duck & Pinot Long Lunch (& Dinner) at Grape Therapy, a great little bar and drinking den that we discovered recently in downtown Brisbane.

Run by Italian-born sommelier Freddy Dordoni and his winemaker wife Ashley Berini, the Duck & Pinot event on August 18 will feature wines from Dog Point (Marlborough), Shaw + Smith (Adelaide Hills) and even some treats from Burgundy. Ashby uses Maremma duck which is organic, free-range and dry-aged, and the product (as we can attest to) is superb.

Another event to keep an eye out for is the Piggs Peake Winery dinner at Grape Therapy on November 21.

More information:

Photos supplied and used with the permission of the relevant events and their PRs.

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