Tweed Australia Culinary Getaway Part 1
TGIF peeps! I finally have time to take a breather and share about my trip to Tweed. The Tweed region in Northern NSW is a must-see destination for travellers who want to get off the beaten tourist track to discover the real Australia. Besides the world heritage listed rainforests, green farmland and unspoilt beaches, there are also many culinary adventures in the region. What’s the best? It’s only 15 minutes drive from Gold Coast Airport!
Adjoining Gold Coast, Tweed Heads provides a less crowded alternative to the glitz and glamour. And Kingscliff has become a popular dining destination with a string of restaurants and cafes lining the beachfront. You can choose from award-winning cafes and restaurants offering a taste of Japan, Thailand, Spain, Italy, Mexico, India, Nepal and Tibet. Australia’s favourite flavours are also well represented with great seafood, health food, exotic breakfasts all prepared from locally grown produce.
We begin our Tweed journey with Scoot, which is the only airlines that flies directly from Changi Airport to Gold Coast Airport. The flight is 7h 30m. We departed at 10.30pm and arrived at 7.50am. To be honest, this is my first time flying Scoot. I was pretty surprised by the spacious seats! We got the Scoot In Silence seats which gives you extra leg room as well as privacy.
Meals are not provided on board. But Scoot have expanded their inflight meal menu with a selection of premium meals, hot meals, light meals, snacks, and beverages to choose from. I had the Chicken Ciaccatore Pie with drink which is not bad, I like the buttery pie crust. While watching movie, you can purchase a Scoot Snack Pack to munch! (NOTE: Don’t forget to apply for VISA!)
Our Scoot flight landed in Gold Coast early on Saturday morning, about 8am. After clearing immigration, we were met by our friendly host Jayne of Aria Events & Entertainment and wanted to check in to our hotel – Peppers Salt Resort & Spa. Located 20 minutes south of the Gold Coast Airport, it is a great beach holiday accommodation! I woke up to a beautiful pool view every morning. Unfortunately, our schedules are too packed. If not, I won’t mind spending my whole afternoon in the pool.
As all of us were hungry people, Jayne brought us to her favourite cafe – Kettles On. This cafe is relatively new, but they have already established themselves as one of the best cafes in Kingscliff as they are rated number 1 of 40 restaurants in Kingscliff on Tripadvisor. Their focus is creating great food using fresh, locally sourced, organic produce where possible.
We ordered almost everything in the breakfast menu which includes eggs benedict with bacon and mushrooms, omelette with spanish onions, tomatoes and parmesan, roast pork belly with red cabbage slaw and braised lentils, avocado & fresh tomato with sourdough & pesto and more. The avocado here is so velvety and creamy!
Awesome cafe for breakfast with great service and friendly staff. My cappuccino was smooth and strong, with great balance of flavors! They have become such a draw card for the town.
Address: Shop 3, 78-80 Marina Parade Kingscliff NSW 2487 Australia
Opening hours: 6.30am to 4pm
After a good brunch, we visited Tropical Fruit World – the world’s largest variety of tropical fruit. This is a reat place to visit for a day trip or even just to pop in and buy some Chocolate Pudding Fruit and some beautiful avocadoes! Our guide Aymon presented us with such colourful plates of fruits. Some of the interesting fruits on the table included:
– Chocolate Fruit (the black fruit in the picture)
The black sapote is very similar to persimmon, and contains no fat, virtually no sugar, 4 times the Vitamin C of an orange and has a delicious fruit chocolate flavour. We basically mix it with yogurt or ice cream.
The Rollinia is native to the Amazone River Region and is also a member of the annona family, which also includes the delicious custard apple and soursop. This fruit is very delicious with a taste that is similar to sweet lemon meringue pie.
– Yellow Pitaya
More commonly known as yellow dragonfruit, it has a flavour similar to passionfruit. When you cut it into half and spoon it out, it has a sorbet-like flesh.
– Custard Apple
One of the most popular fruits during the colder months of April to September. The fruit when harvested will take approximately 5 days to ripen to a spongy softness. Cut in half to reveal a white, creamy textured flesh with delicious sweet tropical fruit custard flavour.
A member of the sapote family, canistel is very rich in flavour with orange/yellow flesh and skin. It has an exquisite sweet flavour which is slightly dry (feel like pumpkin to me) and can be eaten with ice-cream or blended into smoothie.
After tasting the fruits, we went on a guided tour to discover more than 500 varieties of the world’s weird and wonderful exotic fruits in their farm. Safaris and shows commence regularly throughout the day, I suggest you arrive before 2 pm and allocate 1/2 a day. You’ll discover rare exotic treats such as the Chocolate Pudding Fruit, Dragonfruit, Chewing Gum Tree and Lemonade Fruit.
The farm practice environmentally sustainable farming methods. They carefully select water management and soil conservation techniques together with growing, harvesting and packing methods to prevent any adverse impacts on the environment or harm to consumers. Water recycling and conservation is hugely important to Australian farmers, and they are completely self sufficient in managing their own water supply. Mulching, trickle irrigation, and management of natural springs and catchments are all used here.
The avocados here are VERY GOOD! Originated from Mexico, avocado is one of the world’s most nutritious fruit. The Tropical Fruit World grows 18 varieties of avocado and all are eaten when flesh has softened. Did you know that no avocados ripen on trees? It is actually the harvesting action that triggers the ripening process. To ripen an avocado, simply place the fruit in a brown paper bag and store at room temperature until ready to eat. It will usually take about 2 to 5 days. Include an apple or banana in the bag to accelerate the process as these fruits give off ethylene gas – a ripening agent.
Are you a nutcracker? It was great fun to crack macadamia nuts from their shells!
Hungry for more? Indulge your taste buds with exotic fruit ice creams in the Rainforest Cafe!
Entry to Plantation Pavilions is free. You can purchase their fresh tropical fruits and icecreams, drinks and mouth-watering lunches. Plus their famous natural skincare and gourmet products.
If you are bringing your kids, you can enjoy a billabong boat cruise to their fauna park where you’ll meet kangaroos, emus and farm animals. Explore Adventure Island playground – try out the train ride, flying fox and miniature putt-putt golf course. Enjoy great views of World Heritage listed Mt Warning and surrounds. All of these activities are included in your Park Admission ticket.
Tropical Fruit World is located just 10 minutes from the Gold Coast Airport. They are open daily from 10am until 4pm Eastern Standard Time, except Christmas Day. Who knew there were so many different types of fruit in the world? This is a great place to visit for a day trip or even just to pop in and buy some Chocolate Pudding Fruit and some beautiful avocadoes!
Tropical Fruit World
Address: 29 Duranbah Rd, Duranbah, NSW, 2487
Admission: $45 for Adults; $25 for children 4-16 years old and $35 concession
Murwillumbah is the commercial hub of the Tweed Valley and an ideal place from which to explore the villages and scenic countryside of the entire region. There are art deco shopfronts and historis Federation-style buildings that house a selection of cafes, restaurants, boutiques etc. The Modern Grocer is one of those where you can order a gourmet sandwich with generous quality fillings and have an excellent coffee in a friendly relaxed space. We wanted to do picnic after our trip to Tropical Fruit World. Unfortunately, it was drizzling and everyone was sleepy. So we picked up some items and ate along the way.
The products here are sourced both locally and internationally. If you are after a sandwich for lunch, it will be made with local bread and with local ingredients. They offer a good range of deli goods including cheeses, salami, ham, proscuitto and chorizo to shelf stock including Herbies spices, Joseph First Run Olive Oil to our locally roasted Botero coffee.
The Modern Grocer
Address: 1/3 Wollumbin Street, MURWILLUMBAH NSW 2484
After taking our power naps, we went out for dinner at FINS, one of the most popular restaurant in Kingscliff by celebrity chef Steven Snow. Chef Steven earned his status as one of Australia’s top chefs by transforming a deserted restaurant on the banks of the Brunswick River into a Two Chefs Hat restaurant, brimming with accolades and achievements. Later, he shifted to the Byron Bay Beach Hotel, picking up awards including Best Seafood Restaurant in Australia and Best Regional Restaurant.
In Australia, they use Chefs Hats which is equivalent of the Michelin Star system. And FINS Restaurant has earned every year since 1996. FINS’ menu specializes in contemporary Australian cuisine, including the freshest seafood from the local area as well as innovative produce sourced from across northern New South Wales. Chef’s cuisine is his interpretation of the best flavours and cooking methods discovered during his travels.
We had a 6 course degustation dinner which takes us through a journey of signature dishes with wine matching experience. Appetizers include yellow fin tuna sashimi in nori dust, avocado, finger lime herb salad and hot shallot oil, served with NV Dominique Portet Sparkling Rose. I like the king prawn and saffron bisque, as their seafood is so fresh!
Following that, we were served with seared scallops with char grilled rhubarb, smoked eggplant, ham hock and organic kale. In the shadow of Tweed’s famous volcano, Mount Warning, are some of the most fertile soils in the world. Exceptional produce is always ripe for the picking, while local meat and game are raised on quaint village farms. Whenever possible, their fish is line-caught. The fish is coated in African spices (aromatic, not spicy) and cooked in terracotta with chermoula, sweet potato and fresh dates, plus the occasional spike of preserved lemon, mint and olives.
Pinot Noir Glazed Duck Breast should satiate those looking for more robust flavours. It is served with spiced quince, duck lentil braise, organic greens and drizzled with duck jus. Those with a sweet tooth, meanwhile, should save space Blood Orange and Campari Brulee, which comes with coffee cinnamon ice cream and poached quince. End your meal Basarana Pacharan on the rocks with orange. Degustation menu costs $109 per person, $169 with wine matching. Menu and wine are subject to change.
Fins Restaurant and Bar
Address: 5/6 Bells Boulevard Salt Village, South Kingscliff NSW 2487
Opening hours: Dinner from 5.30pm daily, Lunch on Fri, Sat and Sun from 12-3pm