On day two of the North Coast Food tour with Lorraine from NQN I find myself at the Port Macqaurie TAFE. We were inside a busy, bustling kitchen watching 12 Finalist chefs prepare their signature dish for judging.
The mid North Coast Signature Dish Competition is now in its forth year. Through this competition chefs have the opportunity to showcase the very best of local produce in a dish which they feel represents their restaurants signature dish. The competition is a Mid North Coast Tourism initiative which aims to highlight the area as a leading food and wine destination. Through the prizes supplied by industry sponsors such as Rydges Hotels, Cassegrain wines, Focus Magazine and Joyer Consulting the winner of the competition is given the tools to further promote their restaurant.
Judging the winner of this prestigious competition is previous winner Glenn Thompson from Zest Restaurant in Port Stephens, David Baker of Port Macquarie TAFE and our very own, much adored Lorraine from NQN. I have been asked to join the “people choice judging panel” so I also had the pleasure of tasting all the dishes you see before you.
So without further ado I will lead you through these mouthwatering dishes. I can honestly say I enjoyed every mouthful, and being a judge naturally I tried each dish! (It’s a hard job but someone has to do it!) Be sure and visit the restaurants shown below, and support our wonderful food & wine industry. I think there is only two restaurants on the list that I haven’t as yet eaten at, and I will be sure to rectify this situation shortly.
Bonville International Golf Resort
Roasted Hastings Valley organic Chicken breast, boudin of chicken and basil, tomato consommé, sweet corn puree and baby carrots.
Cured Duck Breast with Asian herb salad and macadamia Praline
Crisp duck confit with shitake mushroom
Five spice duck breast on braised wombok drizzled with spiced plum sauce
The Corner Restaurant
Assiettte of local Pork
Pork Belly & Trotter Sausage
Poached Fillet with winter vegetables and pumpkin puree
Luke Justin Cameron
Port Stephens Snapper Fillet w smoked prawn, basil & feta tortellini, roast cherry tomatoes and verjuice emulsion sauce
Assiette of local squid
Sautéed local squid with saffron mussel
Local tomatoes & broad beans with local smoked port foam
Squid ink risotto w crispy squid tentacles tossed in orange paprika salt and local wild violets
The Rustic Table
Pan roasted local goat rump with banana skordalia, fresh rocket and blueberry tzatziki.
Supreme of Gaian Duckling pocketed with lemon oil infused local king prawn on a chutney of garden fruits and lakeview fresh mushrooms with black truffle shavings and an Edition Noir 2008 Durif reduction. Sided by a timbale of green apple Jelly and crisp rice paper garnishing.
The Restaurant @ Cassegrain
Ballontine of locally farmed rabbit.
De-boned rabbit leg with herb vegetable and rabbit farse, prosciutto wrapped loin with celeriac puree and game jus.
Fiasco Ristorante & Bar
Trio of Red Mullet
Steamed red mullet on a bed of fennel and garlic puree, zucchini caponata and veal reduction.
Zucchini flower filled with red mullet mouse on a cherry salsa and manzanilla olives.
Red Mullet and lard tartare with quail egg and red mullet foam.
Zulu’s Restaurant & Bar
Cricket & Coconut Crumbed Prawn Platter
Sweet succulent locally caught prawns coated in an Umani rich coating of ground roasted cricket and shredded coconut, served with an array of sauces and sides. Sauces including Sik Sik, an African roasted capsicum sauce, Muamba, an African peanut sauce, a fresh salsa verde and a lemon foam. The dish is further garnished with a Berbere Chilli Paste from four different chillies so dinners can adjust the heat to their own taste.
Dustin Bowie Ford
Saltwater Restaurant & Bar
Assiette of Dorrigo Valley Capretto, butternut pumpkin bread, butter pudding and jus fume
Sundowner Tiona Tourist Park
Sizzling garlic salt and pepper squid with spring onions, coriander, baby potato, lemon verjuice served with oyster bomb.
Phew! That was a lot of delicious food! I was very pleased to find that all my favourite local restaurants were represented in the competition. Being from Coffs Harbour I tend to be a little biased toward my home area, we were very well represented with 8 of the 12 finalist coming from Coffs or the immediate surrounds.
David Bowie Ford 2010 Signature Dish Winner
Last years winner David Bowie Ford of Saltwater Restaurant, Emerald Beach put up another delicious plate but he couldn’t hold on to the title. The judges found in favour of Robert English from AVE in Bellingen. Robert produced the Assiette of local squid, a meal which is currently on the menu at AVE should you wish to try the winning dish.
Robert English 2011 Signature Dish winner with Glenn Thompson 2009 winner & judge
Voting for this prize was a lot less of a hushed affair. We were a table of twenty and we were each served delicious canape style versions of the original dishes. There was much oohing and aahing and quite a bit of discussion about each dish, and the talented chefs that had produced our banquet. Cassegrain wines were served to compliment the meal, and I am sure everyone appreciated the opportunity for a long and leisurely lunch. Now to the all important “Peoples Choice Award.”
Kien Nguyen of Rendezvous CEX Coffs Harbour won the peoples choice with his gorgeous ensemble of Supreme Gaian Duckling. Rendezvous is open for functions and group bookings.
I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of such an exciting local event. It is always great to have the opportunity to promote the wonderful tourism, food and wine we have available on our own doorstep. Congratulations to all who participated int he event.
Gourmet Getaways would like to thank Mid North Coast Tourism and Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella for the invitation to this event.