Find everything from key lime pie to snails when following a foodie trail on the Sunshine Coast.
Imagine a taste tour of the Sunshine Coast. ….I’m biting into a thick slice of pale green key lime pie and it’s so deliciously rich, sweet and creamy I’m definitely going back for more. But this pie actually contains no sugar, no cream and no wheat, and it hasn’t been anywhere near an oven. You could have fooled me! Instead its decadent flavour comes from agave nectar, avocados, coconut and clever techniques.
Kind Living Cafe owner Amy Kelly, who made the pie, tells me her passion is educating people about nutrition and compassionate eating. And I thought I was just enjoying great food! The clear skies and clean living of the Sunshine Coast seem to be a magnet for people with a passion for organic, raw, local and farm fresh food, and there’s a new trail of delights on the Sunshine Coast that I’m exploring to prove it.
It starts at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, about an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, at the very swish Rumba Resort. The resort is on the beachfront at Bulcock Beach with views of Pumicstone Passage and the Glass House Mountains in the distance. I love the mod con touches of a Nespresso coffee maker, large spa bath and Wi-Fi in my spacious suite. The balcony is made for sunset drinks but I am booked for dinner just below at Tides, which is Caloundra’s first restaurant to be awarded a coveted hat by the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide.
During the day the 270-degree views from the restaurant grab your attention, according to owner Michael Mulhearn, but at night I’m just as happy with the chef’s tasting menu which has me wandering through dishes of Noosa spanner crab with avocado purée and spiced quinoa, and crisp pork with seared scallops on a bed of apple and fennel purée.
‘Next morning, first stop is the quiet township of Palmwoods about 30 minutes drive away, although it’s anything but quiet when I arrive. The Lane, a new Friday and Saturday pop-up in Main Street, is buzzing with happy faces. People are tucking into delicious food at Homegrown Café, buying or trading local organic produce or ‘conscious’ groceries at Renae’s Pantry, and browsing the books and clothes at Mother Maria. This informal co-op is the brainchild of Ben Sirl and starts with community-style street food each Friday night and continues all day Saturday.
When it comes to shopping organic, it doesn’t get any bigger than Kunara Organic Marketplaceat Forest Glen, which is the largest in Australia. It sits side-by-side with the award-winning Kunara Cafe where executive chef Monica Topliss lives, breathes and dreams of organic and mainly gluten-free food. Foodstore manager Uwe Wulfen scours Australia to find the best produce for Topliss to play with.
As the day draws to a close, I head up the mountain through mist-shrouded roads to stay at Clouds of Montville. The cosy cottage has a fireplace and a spa and I enjoy both before dinner, sipping complimentary port and eating chocolates in the spa while the fire makes everything toasty. Dinner is just up the road at Wild Rocket@Misty’s, an old Queenslander-style building packed with locals enjoying home-style food.
More clear blue skies on Sunday morning see me heading to the 45-hectareMaleny Botanic Gardens which tumble down towards the Glass House Mountains. Owner and creator Frank Shipp is a man with a huge vision and the gardens, which are open daily, are a must-see. On the homeward journey along Old Gympie Road there’s one last stop on my list. Glass House Gourmet Snails is the first and only commercial snail farm in Queensland. Cliff Wilson and Mary Page welcome me with a delicious snail soaked in herb butter and cooked in a mushroom cap. As I tour the snail farm I can’t help thinking about the big plate of snails that will be top of my list when I return to the Sunshine Coast, for there’s more than one food trail waiting to be explored.