Some words from our interview with Matt Preston
“Firstly I love this region, it's my first time coming here for Taste Port Douglas, but I’ve been coming here for 30 years. I love North of here too, I’ve spent much time at Cape Trib and the Daintree.”
On the food here;
“When I’m talking to people and they’re coming up here I tell them to look out for the Red Claw, because that is amazing, I think you have to look out for the tropical fruits. When you have the opportunity to have a properly fresh Custard Apple, maybe just on some muesli with full cream milk it is so, so delicious. Black Sapote simply chopped in half, eaten out of the skin like a pudding, these make really great moments that I love up here. I also think there is a lot that is just better. I remember going to Noma in Copenhagen, one of the best restaurants in the world. And they had ants on the menu, lemon tasting ants. You took your finger and swiped it through a sort of sorrel paste, and the ants were stuck in the paste. And I remember everyone asking whaddya think, whaddya think and, this was the number one restaurant in the world, I couldn't help thinking they're alright but not half as good as the green ants we get in FNQ, lined up on a pool fence!. There are those great moments where the stuff that we almost take for granted as just ordinary here is exceptional.”
On the multi award winning FNQ distilleries;
“It's been a big revelation in Australia, two big recent movements, the wine bar movement and the cocktail bar movement. The cocktail bar movement has been creative and become concerned with using their own local unique ingredients and this in turn has caused growth. Whether, like the Wolf guys are doing (Wolf Lane Distillery, Cairns), with a Davison Plum Gin or just something different with tropical botanicals.”
On provenance and FNQ Food;
“There's the confidence of local restaurants now compared with ten or 20 years ago. Now they are much more reflective of what you find in the location. In the old days it was like ‘well tourists are all rich Americans or the eastern seaboard so we’ll open a french restaurant and everyone will eat steak,’ which is not really appropriate for this climate.
“When you're eating in a restaurant you should be able to shut your eyes and what you taste should be totally unique. A great restaurant reflects where it's from, in terms of what ingredients it includes.”
Some words from Samantha Payne
On what the region's food is to her;
I’ve been coming here for 30 years with my family and this region for me has always been a bucket of prawns, on a beautiful summer's day, it's about seafood. But what's exciting is how it’s prepared, to try the different flavours and styles, from Asian influence a simple fresh barbeque it’s all here.
My specialty is Australian wine, we make amazing wine here, Australia has always been at the forefront of innovation. Australia isn't governed by the appellation rules like say France and Italy. So for me it was just such a no-brainer to focus myself or my career on advocating for Australian whine. And also with that, having a mix of multicultural food that we produce here and making sure that we have some of the multidimensional wine that goes with it.
On tropical wine;
The basic principle of fermentation is you need sugar and you need yeast, the sugar comes from a fruit. Really it doesn't matter what that fruit is, whether it's grape, or mango, or whatever. The great thing about Australia is we can experiment, like the guys growing agave to make agave spirits in northern Queensland. It’s like here’s our climate, here’s what we can grow, let's make the best thing that we can. As a sommelier I work with flavours, as long as everything is in balance there’s no reason that non-grape varietals can't hold their own.
Check out the full line up of people and events for TASTE Port Douglas on their website