On Holidays in Kingscliff...
Christmas was frantic in the Little Pudding kitchen so I have spent much of the past month blissfully zoning out. I have played in the sand with my son, read some fiction and rediscovered lazy afternoons, usually with a glass of something cold, crisp and white within reach.
This is the beautiful view from my Mum’s holiday apartment at Salt, just south of Kingscliff in far-north NSW. I have just returned home from a week up there with Mum and my toddler, the precocious Master N, while my very generous and organised husband continued to supply my city cafes each morning. I am indeed a lucky lady.
Summer on my table = throwing together the freshest ingredients I can find to create something simple and delicious. There are lots of spice rubs, marinades and salads going on and the hub of the kitchen shifts outside to the barbie. It’s a nice change from the oven.
Foraging for dinner is always a treat on the Tweed Coast and further afield in the Tweed Valley - from the little fruit and vegie stalls beside the road to the daily catch in Chinderah and the beautiful cheeses from Witches Falls and Tweed Valley Whey. It all makes its way back to our balcony table with the view. Bruschetta recipe below.
With Mum fresh out of a week’s detox at the new Cabarita Ocean Retreat, we did a lot of walking, swimming and riding. From Salt, it’s a pretty 20-min walk into Kingscliff, where we always like to stop for coffee and sometimes brekkie.
I’m a bit in love with the decor of Babalou, upstairs in the old pub. They do great poached eggs and Master N put a good dent in his doorstop fruit and nut toast.
We were generously treated to dinner by Peppers at the resort’s restaurant, Season, where I had the market fish (barramundi that night) with almond and spinach croquettes, fennel béarnaise, crisp fennel and cress salad.
The fish was perfectly cooked inside with lovely crispy skin on top and I’m not ashamed to say I ate all three of those croquettes. OK, I gave Mum a bite of one.
Master N also thoroughly enjoyed his lamb cutlets and happily gnawed on two at a time before hurling them in the direction of the next table, narrowly missing series two Masterchef contestant, Joanne, who was trying to have a low-key dinner with friends. She very nicely said she been there with her own kids and to keep persisting with restaurants because eventually they will start behaving.
Good advice, but I wasn’t trying it at Fins. With baby in bed and babysitter in the house, we frocked up on our last night and went to our sentimental favourite for dinner. And cocktails.
|Espresso Martini at Fins|
Taken at night, my photos don’t do justice to the beautiful food served at this Good Food Guide one-hatter.
We have been dining at Fins since it was housed in the pub at Byron Bay. It’s where we first tried French white varieties of Pouilly Fume and Sancerre, later prompting a memorable trip to the Loire Valley (full of stories for another post sometime)...
Chef and owner Steven Snow is a mate of Mum’s – both of them energetic, workaholic lunatics – and his passion for the freshest seafood and clean, vibrant flavours are prevalent in every dish he plates. And I have eaten almost everything on the menu.
On this night, I had the tian of tuna sashimi with tobiko, shiso cress, white miso dressing and fish chips, used as little scoops. It was a wonderful mix of textures, all crunchy, soft and salty in the mouth and the tuna was, of course, fresh and delicious.
For main, we both had Chilli as Anything. It’s a great name for a great dish and it’s full of the sort of flavours I love with seafood – loads of chilli and punchy spices, and a clean, refreshing salad of green papaya to the side. It’s my kind of yum. So good, I forgot to take a photo. Damn, did it again!
We don’t usually go for dessert at Fins but we always look at the menu and when we spied a new version of the chocolate torte with a layer of salted caramel in the middle, we had to try it. I find caramel tends to improve everything and this dessert was no exception. It was velvety and fudgy without being too rich and the accompanying honeycomb ice cream was extremely moreish.
Snowy has recently divided his menu into Fins Ocean and Fins Earth, offering a line of locally sourced steak options which he pairs with organic produce and herbs often from his own garden. No doubt Mr LP will be keen to sample when we return in late Feb.
Compared to Byron Bay or the Gold Coast, the Tweed Coast in the middle is still relatively unknown as a holiday destination and I kind of like it that way because I’m not a good sharer. But I’m also a bit rubbish at keeping secrets so here is a list of my favourite places to visit if you happen to be passing through:
- Babalou, Kingscliff. Also great for cocktails and tapas as the sun goes down. www.babalou.com.au
- Mavis’ Kitchen, at the foot of Mt Warning. Worth the drive. Best herb and vegie garden I’ve ever seen. www.maviseskitchen.com.au
- Emmanuel’s Wine Shop in Kingscliff for wine, local cheeses and treats by Fingal Head company Whisk & Bean - http://www.emmanuels-wineshop.com.au/
Local reading and info:
- Summer 2012 edition of Ocean Road Magazine – www.oceanroadmagazine.com.au
- The Golden Door Spa at Peppers, Salt Village, Kingscliff – www.goldendoor.com.au
- Sambara Spa, Kingscliff – www.sambaraspa.com.au
- Cabarita Ocean Retreat – www.cabaritaoceanretreat.com.au
The sky is always changing up there. I never tire of watching it.
Summer bruschetta on the barbie
Serves 6 to 8
Half a loaf of stale sourdough bread, sliced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 Spanish (red) onion, chopped
2 punnets of mixed cherry tomatoes or mini Roma tomatoes, chopped
Half a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and bruised
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup quality olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh goat’s curd or marinated feta (we used Tweed Valley Whey’s marinated feta)
Preheat your barbeque’s char-grill.
Rub the bread slices with the garlic halves then brush each slice with olive oil.
Mix together in a bowl the tomatoes, onion, basil leaves, vinegar, and olive oil with a good grind of salt and pepper.
Char-grill the bread slices and place on serving platter.
Top with tomato mixture and some crumbled feta.
Serve with a cold glass of Rose, or, as we did, pink Veuve.
Put some tunes on, sit back and watch the darkness fall over the ocean. Life’s tough...