Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vivo Bar and Grill - Palm Cove

Frankly we wanted to go back to NuNu the next day for lunch again but we couldn't risk enduring the same waiter. So we tried a groovy restaurant a few doors down - Vivo Bar and Grill - with a wide, inviting colonial verandah and shutters.

The fish and chips came wrapped like a bon-bon in some grease-proof paper. While the fish was fresh the batter was slightly crystallised and a bit greasy. The triple-cooked chips were easily some of the best fries I've tasted. Crisp, salty with a fluffy interior.

We also shared a blue swimmer crab with chilli, snow peas and fresh tagliatelle pasta.

Perfectly balanced flavours and squeaky fresh ingredients.

And as we looked out onto the lagoon we realised the service hit all the marks NuNu failed to... warm, attentive, unobtrusive, professional, relaxed... (need I go on?)

Another swim, a walk and a bit of footy on the telly and we slept deeply ready for our flight back home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NuNu Restaurant - Palm Cove

How, in this tropical holiday hamlet, is there such a sophisticated food scene?

The food community in Palm Cove and its hinterland is producing and transforming regional produce into the most exquisite dishes.
Leading the charge is NuNu restaurant on Palm Cove's ocean front promenade which Australian Gourmet Traveller nominated in 2008 as its Regional Restaurant of the year.
2 years down the track and it's still eye-poppingly good.

In this tropical weather you have to start with a refreshing cocktail. My vanilla ginger mojito was bursting with tangy mintiness.

With an extensive small and large plate lunch menu we thought we'd share a few dishes - hervey bay scallops with red curry, cucumber and roast cuttlefish

Pure genius.
The beautifully balanced red curry sauce was perfection.

Freshly shucked Pacific and virgin Coffin Bay oysters

Apparently they're called 'virgin' because they are yet to spawn. They were less creamy than fully grown Pacific and more intense in flavour.

The BBQ tiger prawns with rainforest honey and zaa'tar were meaty.

Some moreish crispy fried chilli salt pork ribs

These are based on the Vietnamese street food prok ribs that you find on the streets of Hanoi.
I could have had a bath tub full!

Heirloom tomato salad with purple opal basil

The ox heart tomatoes are from the hinterland town of Mereeba. So large and sweet I had to save some seeds to see if I could reproduce them on the edible balcony.

The low-light of an exceptional meal was the service. We had a waiter who thought he was the star of the day not the food. Inattentive, erratic and downright rude. A pity really that bad service can overshadow remarkable food.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Palm Cove - Angsana Resort and Spa

There are many styles of holiday accommodation at Palm Cove ranging from caravan parks to 5 star resorts.

We chose the Angsana Resort and Spa - an oldie but a goodie

snaffle up an ocean view room if you can

These come in one - three bedroom configurations. Insanely spacious and comfortably decorated.

Our room overlooked the beach pool and the spa centre where we enjoyed extraordinarily relaxing Javanese
and Hawaiian massages. For an indulgent experience book a double treatment with your partner and receive a foot bath, tamarind tea and outdoor shower as well.

The big plus with the Angsana is that it is the only resort located right on the beach.

And if you're worried about crocs and stingers there are plenty of pools to lounge by

You can call up room service or breakfast at the resort's beachfront Far Horizons restaurant.

choose from fresh tropical juices....

an eggs benedict with the best tangy hollandaise sauce I've tasted

Mark couldn't go past the Far Horizons Big Breakfast which was beautifully cooked.

time to walk off that breakfast..

.. and explore the coastline a little. Another development called The Village is going up on the other side of the creek. I wonder how it will change Palm Cove and impact on the local environment.

Hello! Palm Cove is a popular wedding destination - especially for Koreans.

a proud father...

and the most magical setting for a reception

all catered for by the Far Horizon's staff

Our dinner that night at the Far Horizons was a little more low key but no less magical...
Blue swimmer crab ravioli, and a tasting plate of dumplings, and lamb cutlets. No pushing boundaries here. Just fresh uncomplicated dishes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Palm Cove, Qld - How to Escape Sydney's Winter Blues

Hard to believe that a 2 1/2 hour flight north from chilly Potts Point finds us here in paradise.

This is the well-heeled tropical hamlet of Palm Cove about 30 km north of Cairns on the Far North coast of Queensland.

It's 28 degrees celsius today. The locals think it's nippy.

Look! I found some dismembered feet. I wonder who they belong to?

sandcastles in the sand

Surprisingly - despite a rash of resort development in the early 80s - Palm Cove in still surrounded by the remnants of an ancient rainforest.

It sits in a lagoon on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. The waters are teeming with marine life....

...including crocodiles, and stingers in the wet season. Hey - you wouldn't be in Australia is there wasn't some critter to worry about.

The locals and tourists from the nearby caravan park aren't perturbed...

The pier is a favourtie spot for catching something for lunch

Palm trees are abundant - of course. The sound of the warm sea breezes rustling through their leaves is calming and hypnotic.

What the guide books don't tell you about are the glorious towering melaleucas that line the main street. Magnificent.

Definitely ice-cream weather.

Tomorrow we explore Palm Cove's legendary culinary scene.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Edible Balcony - Strawberry and white chocolate ganache tartlets

Winter isn't kind to the Edible Balcony. The summer and autumn lushness has been replaced by plant stasis. But it does mark strawberry season.

These juicy red jewels have been well-worth waiting for.

This large Tioga variety is growing amongst the nasturtiums in hanging baskets.

Not as fragrant as my smaller variety in the pots but still sweet and juicy.
I still have to do a morning caterpillar patrol to make sure the slugs don't enjoy them before I do.

They made a perfect topping for some tartlets for afternoon tea.

The tart shells are a good quality pre-bought range that come in boxes of 24.

I made a quick ganache filling using 250g of melted white chocolate mixed with 1/3 cup of fresh pouring cream. 
I sliced the fresh strawberries into quarters and glazed them with some warmed strawberry jam.
Anyone for tea?