Well after the madness of Christmas, it’s time for our annual summer holiday and where nicer than Far North Queensland? The beauty of the tropics was just too appealing for us not to consider, so we booked into a stunning resort located directly on the beach looking out onto the Great Barrier Reef. The water of the Coral Sea was just the most amazing colour of blue, but sadly, at this time of year we could not venture in, as Summer is stinger season and they have some right little nasties up there that can do you a lot of harm, so we stuck to the stunning pools in our resort. On our first day we decided to go up to Cape Tribulation, which is reached by driving through the Daintree Rainforest, of course we had our hopes pinned on seeing an Australian classic a Cassawary. After hours of driving at 5kph and seemingly scouring ever bush, we eventually saw two together which really made our day, (we managed to photo one and you can see this below) especially as there are only 2000 estimated to be left in existence . After this exciting experience we headed to a restaurant, that had been recommended to us, called Whet. Since 2007 Whet Cafe, Bar & Restaurant has been the epicentre of dining and entertainment in the tourist village of Cape Tribulation. Set amongst beautiful and untouched tropical Daintree rainforest, Whet combines the natural wonder of the environment with its own unique and modern atmosphere. The outdoor deck area is the main focus of this dining experience. It brings the wonder of the rainforest right to your table and exudes an almost magical aura when lit by the natural light provided by the fire. The menu at Whet is dedicated to showcasing all that Tropical North Queensland has to offer, with a selection of ultra fresh local produce, meat and seafood, clean flavours with modern a la carte flair. Besides offering a visual ambience to delight your senses, Whet also maintain the importance of providing quality food. I went for the Whet house salad which was made up of juicy chicken grilled to perfection, with mixed leaves, goats cheese, apple, celery, walnuts and dressed in a delicious mint & a champagne vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was simply divine and is going to be part of my culinary repertoire moving forward. Here is a recipe for you to try and believe me you will love it ! Enjoy ;0)
Champagne and Mint Dressing 2 mint sprigs ground 1/3 cup champagne vinegar ( we sell a fantastic one from J. Leblanc). Just as Champagne is considered amongst the finest of wines, Champagne Vinegar is one of the finest white wine vinegars and may be used to make spectacular vinaigrette’s and marinades. Made from Pinot Gris and Meunière grapes grown in the Champagne region, the vinegar is unfiltered and has a natural crisp and smooth flavour. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 1 Lime Juiced 1 Tbs brown sugar
On the way back from our beautiful lunch we came across the Daintree Ice Cream Company. We entered through their huge orchard of fruit trees, with everything growing from Jack Fruit to Passion fruit and even some fruits I had never heard of, Chocolate pudding fruit ???!!!. We made our way to where the ice cream is made and was given a sample cup with flavours of Soursop mixed in with Passionfruit, Wattle Seed and Jackfruit. The flavours were amazing and somehow tasted better with the fact we were eating these delights in amongst where the fruit grows. Flavours are seasonal and will vary depending on what fruit is ripe at the time of your visit.
Grilled Chicken Salad with Champagne Mint Dressing – Whet Cape Tribulation
A few days later it was time to visit what I was looking forward to the most, Salsa Bar And Grill in Port Douglas. I had been told so much about this place and couldn’t wait to try some of the specialty dishes that had been recommended to me. The first course was Thai chicken spring rolls, mesclun leaves, banana ginger mayo and Oh My they were amazing the juicy Chicken with Thai flavours, accompanied by the incredibly delicious banana ginger mayo, worked perfectly!! I was told that the mayo was discovered by way of an accident, when years ago a kitchen assistant was going to throw away some over-ripe bananas and the chef decided to do something with them so as not to waste them and voila its been on the menu ever since. As soon as I had finished my meal, I jumped on the internet to see if I could find a similar recipe .
Duck Confit with Scollop Poppers Asian Slaw and Davidson Plum Jam Reduction This dish was a real winner; melt in the mouth duck served with a refreshing zingy Asian salad, sweet crunchy scollops deep fried in a crisp batter and all accompanied with a sweet tangy dressing of Davidsom Plum – real bush tucker ingredient and a rainforest native. The Davidson Plum (sour plum) can be found in tropical rainforests in Queensland . This beautiful palm shaped tree has graceful fronds with fine hairy stems and on the underside of leaves, it produces clusters of large dark blue to black plums 4-5cm in diameter. The dark red flesh contains two unusual flat seeds and has a wonderfully acidic plum flavour. The skin is thin but on the tougher, leathery side, and is covered with very fine hairs.
Reef Sushimi Plate – Salsa Bar And Grill Port Douglas
Delicious Braised Beef Ragu – Salsa Bar and Grill Port Douglas
Ice Cream Selection, Meringue, Raspberry Coulis – Salsa Bar and Grill Port Douglas
Celebrities and chefs endorse Salsa Bar and Grill by signing plates and there is one here from Bill Clinton , who dines here when he is in town!
Salsa Bar and Grill was our highlight of the Dining in the Daintree experience and from the pictures you can see, we ate here more than once. The chefs here really know how to fuse modern flavours with local ingredients. Everything is fresh and packed full of flavour and is delightful on the eye when it arrives at the table. Salsa Bar and Grill is a must if you are ever in Port Douglas
Salsa Bar & Grill 26 Wharf Street, Port Douglas QLD 4877
Ph: +61 7 4099 4922
Now its time for our visit to Cairns and OMG how it has changed over the past 9 years since we were there last ! Cairns is now full of high quality eateries and picturesque wharfs and cocktails bars abound, where empty shops once stood. We decided out first experience was to Tha Fish on wharf behind the casino Pier Point Road, choosing a fresh fish fillet sourced locally and from around the country on their daily catch and then matching it with one of their 6 unique cooking styles. Great setting on the modern wharf over looking the water. A meld of fresh fish, delicate flavours and bold sauces this place is a real winner. 1. Baked fish, coconut and candlenut crust, kipfler potatoes, sauteed spinach, pear and ginger chutney 2. Beer battered fish, chips, green apple, fennel, chilli cashews, rocket, chilli aioli 3. Pan seared fish, Sheldon’s curry spice, fried watermellon and snow pea salsa, crispy nori 4. Baked fish, lemon pepper beurre blanc, asparagus, broccolini, crispy kipfler potatoes 5. Pan seared fish, yabbies, feta, pumpkin risotto, grilled lemon, vincotto Apart from the above there is a great a la carte menu
Baked Salmon, Lemon Pepper Beurre Blanc, Asparagus, Broccolini, Crispy Kipfler Potatoes – Tha Fish Cairns
Wild Barramundi with Asian Salad and Sweet Potato Chips -Tha Fish Cairns Apart from the places we have featured there is a glut of other amazing places to eat below our some we visited and loved ! Tamarind 35 – 41 Wharf Street Cairns-Brisbane Times Good Food Guide – One Chefs Hat 2014, Australian Good Food Guide – One Chefs Hat 2014, Gourmet Wine Traveller, Wine List of the Year – One Goblet 2012, Restaurant and Catering Association – Awards for Excellence 2012, Harringtons 22 wharf Street Port Douglas –Harrisons has consistently held national accolades for its food & wine and has stood alone since 2011, as Port Douglas’ only Chef’s Hat rated restaurant in food bible, The Good Food Guide. Nautilus 17 Murphy Street, Port Douglas On The Inlet-3 Inlet Road, Port Douglas Salt House Cairns