Thursday, 27 September 2007

Australia, From Brisbane to Byron Bay

The view from Mt Tamborine

Mt Tamborine - Avocados and Cuckoo Clocks
The Pacific Highway runs through to the Gold Coast and then further across the border between Queensland and New South Wales. No border controls, just signs warning you not to bring in or out fruit or seeds, and more recently no horses (due to the horse flu).

The stretch of highway is pretty uneventful, so we took the exit to Mt Tamborine. The road stretches and winds its way up and up and up. Ensure you have more than a 1 litre engine as our Yaris hire car was struggling.

Our early September trip to Mt Tamborine came at the height of avocado season. As we followed the winding road uphill, the side of the road was dotted with stands of avocados. There is a trust that goes along with leaving the produce by the roadside for fruit and veg bargain hunters. Not really knowing what we were going to do with our very large bag of avocados, we stopped to sniff, touch and wow over their size.

We were spoilt by the amount of this ripe fruit available and my mind was on overdrive with recipe ideas....avocado and mango salad, avocado mousse dip. What about warm avocado and chorizo?

To put the mountain into geographical perspective, the plateau of Mt Tamborine faces west towards the Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast and its climate is described by the locals as being very similar to The Alps that run through Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France - hence the largest cuckoo clock shop I have seen outside of the Black Forest. The accommodation is referred to as chalets and there is a strong European community running cutesy cafes selling arts and crafts come galleries of carved wood.

There are cafes everywhere on the Mountain, and any of them have soya milk and will do something gluten wheat free even if it is a salad with dressing on the side, or a fluffy omlette. Everyone was pretty accommodating.

Watego Beach, Byron Bay

Wildbite - home of gluten free and wheat free cookies
You can find these along with WF and GF Byron Bay cookies in a lot of cafes in Australia.

The Wildbite home made biscotti is to die for, and there is no compromise on ingredients, taste or texture with this little gem. Finally a recipe that gets it right.

Wildbite sell direct to cafes, so keep this contact close if you are planning to go into the cafe business.

Naked Juice Bar
1/14 Bay Street, Byron Bay
A terrific range of juices with numerous amounts of daily boosters for health and wellbeing. The menu boasts a juice for every occasion - skin, eyes, a pick me up, a winter warmer, a summer hair treatment. So many juices, so little time.

So, I finally choose a very healthy juice which I think guarantees shiney, sleek hair and beautiful sparkling eyes, and then I blow it by choosing the biggest GF cake I can find. The gluten free menu is extensive, well thought about and all GF foods are prepared fresh every day at the cafe.

I highly recommend a visit to this little gem of a cafe not far from the beach front.

Naked Juice recently won an award for most outstanding fastfood/takeaway for the North Coast Business Awards. Jacky Mott and her husbane Jess set up Naked Juice. Together they have developed signature gluten free recipes and hope to see Naked Juice spread its wings across Australia. I recently interviewed Jacky about the the bare facts about Naked Juice's success.

(Article written for Around The World Without - 16th November 2007)