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Eat and Drink with Curtis Stone in NSW

Tyrrell's Wines, Hunter ValleyCREDIT: Destination NSW

Jane Tyrrell and Curtis Stone enjoying wine in the vineyard.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Eat and Drink with
Curtis Stone in NSW

Tyrrell's Wines, Hunter Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Jane Tyrrell and Curtis Stone enjoying wine in the vineyard.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

From fruit that tastes like chocolate pudding to memorable First Nations cooking encounters – these are the essential food and drink experiences in New South Wales, according to renowned chef and TV presenter Curtis Stone.

Cuisine is “the soul of a place”, says Curtis Stone on his Field Trip show. It’s why the acclaimed chef focused on New South Wales and its food and drink highlights for a whole episode. After all, the state is home to the Hunter Valley, “the oldest and most iconic wine region in the country”, says Stone, and just a three-hour drive north of Sydney. NSW also showcases 65,000 years of Aboriginal culture through many proud First Nations ventures, such as Dwayne Bannon-Harrison’s Mirritya Mundya pop-up dinners and food events on the South Coast.

The state also boasts Australia’s largest Chinatown in inner-city Sydney. Here, you’ll find Golden Century, which serves “the best dish in the world”, according to award-winning American chef David Chang. The much-loved XO pipis are so popular, they’ve inspired the launch of Golden Century’s XOPP restaurant nearby. It’s housed in the striking Exchange building by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma at Darling Square in Haymarket – a food precinct that includes an award-winning Japanese-Scandinavian café, Korean toastie specialist, tapas bar inspired by Barcelona’s famous La Boqueria market, Hungarian bakery known for its chimney cakes, Indonesian haven for mee goreng, French-Asian art café, and a noodle house dedicated to mazesoba (soup-free Japanese ramen). Sydney’s vibrantly multicultural food scene – as well as its brunch, coffee and fine-dining offerings – have been praised as world-class by New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells. If cuisine is the soul of a place, it’s clear that NSW has plenty of soul.

“Go on, take your picture by the Opera House,” Stone says to viewers of his show, while also reminding them that food offers a dimension you can’t find in a photograph or postcard. In Sydney, you can dine in Jørn Utzon’s world-famous building and order a modern twist on the classic Australian pavlova, with the meringue shaped like the landmark’s architectural sails. At the Opera House’s flagship restaurant, Bennelong, you can also try award-winning chef Peter Gilmore’s inspired interpretation of the lamington as well.

Given the state’s many cultural icons and its remarkable, diverse landscapes, it’s easy to see why local chefs are inspired by their surrounds. Mark LaBrooy co-founded Three Blue Ducks a decade ago, in the beachside suburb of Bronte –making the most of the café’s kitchen garden, urban beehives and proximity to the sand and water. It’s now part of an everexpanding restaurant empire that includes a multipurpose venue on a 32-hectare farm in Byron Bay on the North Coast – and LaBrooy’s commitment to sustainability and hyper-local ingredients remains strong. Head to the Snowy Valleys outpost of Three Blue Ducks at Nimbo Fork Lodge, a four-hour drive south-west of Sydney, and you’ll enjoy butterflied rainbow trout that’s been caught in the nearby Tumut River. That’s the definition of hyperfresh, local food.

So you can see why Stone sought out LaBrooy to go lobster diving on his show. The adventurous chef is, as Field Trip’s presenter points out, a “bad-ass” who is also a hunter, surfer and motorbike rider. And the fearless LaBrooy has seen off thousands of sharks to become an experienced lobster diver in the waters near the original Three Blue Ducks café. LaBrooy admits it sounds “dramatic”, but he’s so at home in these coastal surrounds that he easily turns the shoreline into an outdoor kitchen: a DIY curry-making station that impresses Stone. (For more waterside-cooking inspiration: tune into Three Blue Ducks’ own TV show, where LaBrooy and his fellow chefs travel two-and-a-half hours north of Sydney to go lobster-diving at Port Stephens and cleverly revamp “surf and turf” into a stunning dish featuring beef tataki, barbecued lobster and pickled green tomatoes.)

On Field Trip, Stone heads to the Tweed region, near the Queensland border, to visit Tropical Fruit World. It’s home to 500 varieties of edible plants – and many types of “strange and wonderful fruit” that the chef finds appealing. There’s black sapote – also known as chocolate pudding fruit, because of its dessert-like flavour. The chef could easily imagine himself making “delicious ice-cream” from it and discovers that there are many inspiring ingredients that can fire a cook’s imagination here. Like rollinia, which he encounters. “It tastes just like lemon meringue pie,” he says. Tropical Fruit World’s manager Aymon Gow also introduces the chef to gigantic jackfruit, yellow dragonfruit and other curiosities that grow in the warm subtropical climate and mineral-rich soil (credit the region’s extinct volcano for the site’s fertile dirt). Stone affectionately summarises Tropical Fruit World as a “commercial farm, oddball tourist stop and bizarro farmers market” rolled into one, and is struck by how many novel and unfamiliar ingredients can be discovered there. 

Behind the scenes of Field Trip with Curtis Stone. CREDIT: Destination NSW

A sneak peek of some of the amazing NSW locations featured on Field Trip with Curtis Stone.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Behind the scenes of Field Trip with Curtis Stone. CREDIT: Destination NSW

A sneak peek of some of the amazing NSW locations featured on Field Trip with Curtis Stone.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Duranbah, North Coast CREDIT: Destination NSW

Pick fruit at Tropical Fruit World.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Duranbah, North Coast CREDIT: Destination NSW

Pick fruit at Tropical Fruit World.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Nimbo Fork Lodge, Killimicat CREDIT: Destination NSW

Enjoy the tranquility of Tumut River behind Nimbo Park Lodge, Killimicat.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Nimbo Fork Lodge, Killimicat CREDIT: Destination NSW

Enjoy the tranquility of Tumut River behind Nimbo Park Lodge, Killimicat.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Husk Distillers is another Tweed attraction that maximises its volcanic soil to generate something outstanding: single-estate rum from the sugarcane grown on its farm. No wonder Australia’s only “paddock-to-bottle” producer and its founder Paul Messenger also caught the eye of Stone – and the attention of his show. Messenger’s dedication to creating locally made rum is impressive: his family transformed a former cattle farm by planting the first batch of sugarcane in 2012 and, for many years, slashed the crop by hand and crushed each stick of sugarcane one piece at a time. Husk Distiller’s innovative range includes its Ink gin, which transforms into different colours when you swirl or mix your glass (actor Margot Robbie caused this blueish-pink spirit to sell out and gain global distribution requests when she posted about it on Instagram; combined with the brand’s spiced rum winning gold at San Francisco World Spirits Competition and other honours, it’s no surprise that Husk Distillers is gaining international recognition). Despite the worldwide attention, Husk Distillers continues to celebrate its local surrounds with its special releases, such as the Tumbulgum rum commemorating the 150th anniversary of the town where the distiller’s plantation is based.

Also worth seeking out in the Tweed: Currie Country’s cultural experiences. The family-run First Nations business offers native food tastings, storytelling sessions by traditional owners, and cultural cruises that explore the region’s Indigenous roots. You can also find Currie Country’s bush foods – such as its emu eggs – at acclaimed local restaurants, such as Pipit.

Stone says that Aboriginal culture is “one of the greatest things this country has going for it”, and it’s why he showcases Mirritya Mundya’s Dwayne Bannon-Harrison on his program. “Dwayne is a proud ambassador of Indigenous culture. He runs a food truck that embraces Aboriginal cooking techniques and native ingredients,” says Stone. Native river mint, murnong (an “ancient bush potato”) and saltbush are Indigenous flavours highlighted on the program. You’ll also see Bannon-Harrison pair wild raspberry with oysters – which are renowned in the Narooma region on the South Coast, where he’s based. (Oyster fans, take note: Narooma is famous for its prized specimens – and happens to be the site of the popular Oyster Festival). In addition to Mirritya Mundya’s culinary offering, Bannon-Harrison runs illuminating First Nations tours through his Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness company. In the South Coast region, you can also learn about bush tucker and traditional seafood through Djiriba Waagura’s cultural camps, or take part in Nura Gunu’s walking tours focusing on native foods and Indigenous knowledge. For an inner-city experience, don’t miss the Aboriginal cultural tours overseen by Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden. Undertaken by a First Nations guide, the walk covers local Indigenous history, reveals the many native ingredients growing throughout the harbourside site (like the fragrant lemon myrtle trees) and includes a tasting of bush foods.

NSW is well-known for its wine regions and for his show, Stone focused on the remarkable Hunter Valley. This region isn’t about stereotypical “rolling green hills”, he says. This wine district has to weather droughts and tough conditions – but the land is also capable of remarkable, surprising feats, as proven by the local vineyards that give the Hunter Valley its character. Here, he meets fifth-generation winemaker Jane Tyrrell, whose family first planted vines on its Pokolbin estate back in 1879. Their hardy grapes have survived challenging conditions and endlessly dry climates; they’ve also helped her family produce Tyrrell Wines’ semillon, which is Australia’s most awarded white wine: its staggering haul of honours includes an accumulation of more than 5000 medals and 300 trophies since the first drop was poured in 1962.

As one of the first families of wine, the Tyrrells own eight of the 11 oldest vineyards in the state, and they draw on ancient, century-old vines from their “sacred sites” to make extraordinary drops: wine critic James Suckling gave Tyrrells’ Old Patch Shiraz a perfect score of 100 for its four most recent releases. “This is an amazing bit of dirt”, says Jane Tyrrell of her family’s Pokolbin estate – and her description is also true of the state’s vast-ranging vineyards. With 14 official wine regions across NSW, there are plenty of opportunities to discover the unique qualities of each grape-growing district.

Mudgee, a heritage town in the state’s north west, is another noteworthy wine destination: it has historic vineyards (and viticultural roots dating back to 1858) and a reputation for being the birthplace of Australian chardonnay.

Orange, a four-hour drive west of Sydney, is known for its diverse wine styles and landscapes. Experience its spectacular variety by the glass: head to Ferment, which allows you to sample 19 local cellar doors in one handy and well-designed location. Don’t overlook Ross Hill Wines when you’re in the region – it’s Australia’s first carbon-neutral winery and vineyard.

There are also newer wine precincts making their mark, such as the sun-dazed and coastal Shoalhaven region, and the cool-climate charms of the Southern Highlands and the Canberra District. Wherever you are in the state, you’re just one glass, snack or meal away from discovering the soul of NSW.

Husk Distillers, North Tumbulgum CREDIT: Destination NSW

Enjoy gin at Husk Distillers in the Tweed Region.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Husk Distillers, North Tumbulgum CREDIT: Destination NSW

Enjoy gin at Husk Distillers in the Tweed Region.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Tyrells Wine, Hunter Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Curtis Stone and Jane Tyrell tasting Tyrells Wines.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Tyrells Wine, Hunter Valley CREDIT: Destination NSW

Curtis Stone and Jane Tyrell tasting Tyrells Wines.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

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