Relish Food and Wine Festival

Only two sleeps to go till Relish Food + Wine Festival

Tickets to the inaugural Gin Joint burlesque dancing and gin tasting sessions have sold out but Relish Food + Wine Festival goers can still get on board Bubbles on the Boat, the Long Lunch and hands-on cooking sessions this Saturday, 2 June.

Robyn Peach, event manager for Fraser Coast Tourism and Events, said the special sessions were added extras on top of more than 60 fantastic food and wine stalls and cooking demonstrations at the festival in Maryborough.

“Ranger Nick will be showing people how to cook with a camp oven and there’ll be a beer and barbecue stall set up on the deck by the river,” she said.

“It’s going to be a beautiful day – cool and calm with lots of sunshine – it’ll be absolutely glorious in the Mary River Parklands so come down to Relish with your friends and enjoy some of the best food in the region with one of the best bands as well – Soul City.”

Federal Hotel chef Gavan Chin will take on a mystery box challenge at Relish and create a classic pub meal with a twist at noon in the Food Lovers Marquee.

“I don’t actually know what I’m cooking but it’ll be fun and light hearted and hopefully a bit educational,” he said.

“We’ll whip up something crazy.”

Mr Chin said it was the fourth year he’d been involved in Relish and he loved the festival.

“It’s great for the area and showcases all the produce and great establishments we have,” he said.

FCTE event coordinator Amber Tucker said tickets to the Long Lunch were selling fast and she recommended people go online or visit the Maryborough or Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centres to buy a ticket for the four-course meal made by the region’s best chefs.

Entry to Relish, which runs from 10am to 5pm, is $10 ahead of the event and $15 at the gate this Saturday.

Relish Food and Wine Festival

Amber Tucker (left) and Robyn Peach from Fraser Coast Tourism and Events and Federal Hotel chef Gavan Chin give Maryborough’s Heritage Market goers a taste of what’s to come on Saturday. 

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chocolate

Is chocolate really a fruit?

 Chocolate lovers rejoice – the love of your life is a fruit!

Well, that is according to Chris and Lynn Jahnke’s light-hearted theory.

“Chocolate is made from seeds of cocoa fruit, so in my mind that clearly makes chocolate a fruit,” joked Chris.

“And are we not encouraged to eat more fruit?” he asked of the 24 people visiting a Charley’s Chocolate Factory tour in April.   

They all nodded in agreement and chuckled as if hoping his theory were actually true.

What is true is that chocolate is produced from cocoa beans, which come from the husked and ground seeds of Theobroma cocoa fruit.

But it’s the high fat and sugar content of chocolate as we know it that lowers its reputation as a healthy food.

Obesity and high blood pressure are just two the medical issues associated with the high consumption of chocolate.

It’s not all bad news for lovers of the popular treat,” however.

According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, eating dark chocolate may lower bad cholesterol, prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

I learnt this and many other fascinating facts about chocolate on a ‘Cocoa Tree to Chocolate Bar’ tour at Charley’s Chocolate Factory last week.

Owners Chris and Lynn are “walking encyclopaedias” on the subject.

They’ve become deeply entrenched in the industry since moving from Melbourne to rural Queensland and buying their 400 acres at Mission Beach.

“We first came to Queensland in 1994 to escape the cold winters,” Chris said.

“We loved it and kept coming back year after year during winter and eventually came across this property at Mt Edna.

“It was a banana farm back then. We bought the place but didn’t want to grow bananas so we removed them and set up to run beef cattle but there wasn’t enough land for a full-time venture.

“After a few years commuting between Melbourne and North Queensland, we sold our inner-city apartment and business and moved here permanently.

“We looked at growing other fruit crops from macadamias and mangoes to lychees but most took too many years to bear fruit and I’m a bit impatient!

“Then I watch an ABC Landline show on cocoa. I knew chocolate was made from cocoa and chocolate is ‘moderately’ popular!  The rest, as they say, is history.”

Today Chris and Lynn successfully grow cocoa on Mt Edna and turn it into award-winning chocolate.

They also take guests on regular tours of their nursery, plantation and factory at 388 Cassowary Drive, Mission Beach, North Queensland.

For more information and booking details phone 4068 5011, email ask@charleys.com.au or visit www.charleys.com.au

 

Ancient people were chocolate lovers too

Traces of cocoa have been found in drinking vessels carbon dated to 3800 years ago, said Lynn Jahnke at Charley’s Chocolate Factory.

“The earliest civilisation associated with the drink is the Olmecs of southern Mexico.

“It’s thought the Olmecs watched animals crack open the cocoa pods but they spat out the part that’s now used to make chocolate.

“What they wanted was the sweet, sticky lining that protects the seeds.

“The Olmecs opened the pods, extracted the seeds and left them to ferment. They then let them dry in the sun, then lit fires and roasted the beans.

“They cracked the beans open and extracted the nibs, which they pound into a powder-like substance to make a beautiful and nutritious drink.

“How did they know to do that 3800 years ago? They didn’t have technology, food science, and chemistry as we do today. They just knew instinctively what to do.”

Lynn said that throughout most of its history, cocoa was a drink until English chocolate maker Joseph Frye made the first solid bar in 1847.

Today, 83 billion US dollars worth of chocolate are eaten worldwide every year and it takes five million tonnes of cocoa per year to make that much, said Chris Jahnke.

“Seventy per cent of that five million tonnes of cocoa is grown in West African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.”

Statista figures show that in 2015 Switzerland had the highest per capita consumption of chocolate worldwide at 8.8 kilograms in that year. China ranked the lowest at only 200 grams per capita.

Chris said more recent studies ranked Australia at No. 7 in the world, just behind the United States at No. 6.

“Cocoa is a tropical tree that’s fussy about where it’s grown,” he said.

“It likes hot, humid conditions with lots of rain.

“Worldwide, cocoa grows most successfully within 15 degrees to the north and south of the Equator, provided the local conditions of high humidity and rainfall are also present.

“To grow cocoa in Australia, the best areas are in North Queensland near the coast between Tully and Mossman.”

Mission Beach is located between Tully and Mossman. At Charley’s Chocolate Factory, the plants are grown from seed and the chocolate is manufactured onsite.

Among their accolades, the Charley’s Chocolate Factory won the 2017 International Cocoa Award under the Cocoa of Excellence Program.

For more information visit www.charleys.com.au

chocolate

Railway

Savour top food on railway journey

Pumpkin and Spinach Filo served with seasonal salad and Balsamic Dressing along with Caramel Mousse for dessert – I’ve never tasted railway food this good!

I’d boarded the Spirit of Queensland at Maryborough West the evening before bound for North Queensland and barely had time to settle when staff delivered Beef Medallion with roasted potato and veggies for dinner, directly to my seat.  

On picking up the cutlery, I was transported back more than 40 years to when I used a small pocket knife to cut a fruit cake to share with my travelling friend Rose.

Rose and I were the only passengers on the old wooden freight train running between Barcaldine and Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

Both daughters of railway workers, we were looking for adventure and chose the familiar transport. The fruit cake we brought with us was our only food.

Since then I’ve enjoyed many rail journeys, among them on Queensland’s Tilt Train, Spirit of the Outback, and Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway between Queenstown and Strahan.

However, before this month’s 17-hour trip from Maryborough to Tully, I’d never experienced long distance rail travel in Business Class. I’ve always taken Economy seats or, on overnight journeys, bunked in Sleeper Cabins.

This time I was keen to try one of the new RailBeds I’d seen on Queensland Rail’s website. Basically, a RailBed is a large set by day that converts to a flat bed by night.

They’re placed three abreast, two on one side of the aisle and one on the other. 

The RailBed Car had an airline feel to it with a trolley service for meals and complimentary drink upon arrival. A Club Car was nearby to purchase other drinks and snacks.  

I could watch movies on an individual screen and there was even a 24-Volt Power Point on my chair armrests to recharge my mobile phone.

Pressing an orange button above my seat alerted staff that I was ready for bed. They flipped the seat to convert it to a mattress and even made my bed.

A shower pack and towel was provided if I wanted to freshen up before turning in for the night. As with airlines, the Car’s lights were dimmed and curtains closed.

In the morning, I only had to press the orange button again and staff converted my bed back to a seat.

While the seat was quite firm and the footrest too far away for my short legs to reach, overall my first RailBed experience was comfortable, the service was awesome and the food absolutely terrific. All meals were included in the package price. 

For anyone travelling from Brisbane to Cairns and/or return, if you can spare a day to sit back and relax, choosing a Spirit of Queensland RailBed is an excellent alternative to an air flight.

Railway