Regional Flavours hits the spot on a sunny Saturday

No better way to spend a sunny but cool Saturday then wandering around Southbank’s Regional Flavours Festival. After a heavy week, it lifted my spirits and reminded me how much I love food, regional produce and admire the people that are producing it and living their dream.

It also helped that I got to meet a food hero of mine. Paul West from River Cottage Australia is absolutely as lovely in person as he is appearing on my TV screen. So gracious to spend time chatting even when he was rushing to eat his lunch on the way to his presentation.

We talked briefly about the program recently where he ended the life of a small deformed chick and how important it was to show both the good and the bad of managing a working farm.

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Southbank and all of the sponsors should be congratulated for organising such a brilliant event showcasing the best that Queensland has to offer. The set-up was great. Despite the fact it was packed with people, the event organisers thought about all the little details, from pretty table decorations to excellent signage along with plenty of different places to stop, eat and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

I started my day at 10am in the Southbank Piazza to watch Matt Preston cook up his super easy meals. Hosted by Miguel, the presentation was fun and his two ingredient bread (consisting of plain flour and plain vanilla ice-cream) was a crowd pleaser. Flour and ice-cream, an intriguing combination and might be worth giving a go I think.

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I then walked over to Little Stanley Street where all the market action was happening. Walking past the Moreton Shire stand I couldn’t go past the Panko crumbed Straddie mullet. A decent serve for $5 and it was delicious. I also ate haloumi with fig jam ($5.50). I sampled olives, capers and cheese and loads of different non alcoholic drinks. If you love wine and you aren’t driving, you’ll be happy. Every winemaker from Queensland is represented and all doing a roaring trade with samples. (You can purchase a wine glass from the Courier Mail tent).

If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be on a sugar high. Zumbo has a stand and I have it on good advice that his Milo bar was Ahmazzzing! Believe it or not, I didn’t eat anything sweet. Not sure what’s going on… clearly I’m not myself at the moment, although I did buy fresh strawberries and blueberries. I ended my day with my head in large crate picking out some pineapple tops (they were free) to take home and plant in the garden.

If you don’t have any plans for Sunday, then I suggest you cash up, grab your market bag, wear comfy shoes and set out to Southbank to enjoy the sunshine, the food and the chilled atmosphere of Regional Flavours.

It’s free to get in and the full program is available here.

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 July 2015

Southbank Parklands

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Champ kitchen tapas

Al and I last visited Champ Kitchen & Bar in Southbank in September 2012. Although we arrived in plenty of time to enjoy a pre-theatre dinner, our last visit was marred by slow service and confused staff. The meal itself was delicious but the whole experience left us doubting whether or not we’d ever go back.

This time our visit was on a rainy Sunday, again a pre-show light lunch before seeing A Chorus Line. We had intended to venture down Little Stanley Street in the hope of eating somewhere new, but the rain and no umbrella forced us to head for Champ to test their tapas menu.

I started with a Lychee, lime and mint frappe. This drink receives a double thumbs up! I think I’ll try making it at home over Christmas (with a dash of vodka, of course).

For tapas we choose four dishes;

  • Scallops on black pudding with cauliflower puree
  • Porcini mushroom aranchini balls
  • Chorizo sausages with pesto and tomato relish
  • House smoked salmon with sourdough bread and capers

They arrived within 10 minutes of ordering and they were all tasty and well priced. I’m not a fan of black pudding and Al said he would have preferred it a little more crispy but the scallops were plump and juicy with just the right amount of carmalisation. The aranchini balls were tasty and moist. Often they are over-cooked and dry but I liked these a lot. Al devoured the mini chorizo sausages. After one bite, too spicy for me. I would have enjoyed a little more flavour on the salmon but with a squeeze of lemon juice, this also was a satisfying and healthy dish.

They had a lovely selection of afternoon tea delights on the bench including custard tarts, eclairs and chocolate brownies. We did consider buying some to take home with us but common sense and theatre tickets prevailed.

Champ has a nice relaxed feel about it and was certainly busy on this rainy day. Was a little disappointing that none of the staff noticed the two elderly ladies, who on finishing their afternoon tea, tried to leave via the very large full glass window to the left of the dining area. They tried to push against it for several minutes until another diner pointed them in the right direction. In their defense, it does look a little like it could be an exit door.

Verdict: good option for pre-theatre dining if you want to stay close to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Grey St, Southbank, Ground floor, ABC building
(near the wheel)