Mark your diary, set your record function, do whatever you need to do to make sure you don't miss a moment of 'Off the Eaten Track' - Channel 7's new local food program.
From the opening sequence which has a cartoon Alastair McLeod running through the wilds of Queensland (hope your personal trainer was watching that Alastair!) searching for produce to the mud crabs, mangos and avocado ice cream he discovers, this is a foodies delight.
It's even more delightful that, if you are lucky enough to live in Queensland, it's all on your doorstep and can be consumed without any 'food miles' guilt.
Think Atherton Tableland coffee, Chinchilla Murray Cod, Rockhampton Beef, Hervey Bay scallops Achacha from Ayr and buffalo mozzarella from Cairns.
There's also a peek inside local wineries and a sip of local beer with tips on how to match them perfectly with Queensland cuisine.
If you haven't met host Alastair McLeod before you are in for a treat. Despite his Irish accent, Alastair is dinky-di. Mostly you'll find him in the kitchen at Executive Chef at Brett's Wharf and the brand new Tank Restaurant and Bar. He's also no stranger to television with good stint on 'Ready, Steady, Cook'. My sources tell me he also plays a mean guitar and sings more than adequately. When are you releasing the CD Alastair?
Off the Eaten Track is a joint effort from Channel 7's The Great South East and Queensland Weekender programs, the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) and Tourism Queensland (TQ).
Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin, described the series as a celebration of the people who grow, catch and make Queensland produce.
For the launch Alastair cooked up a treat in the Bretts Wharf kitchen. We feasted on Hervey Bay scallops, green caviar, Berkshire pork and Kingaroy peanuts (top photo) matched with a Ballendean Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and Thulimbah cider. Main was Rockhampton sirloin, celeriac remoulade, stinging nettle puree, malt and asparagus matched with Ballandean Shiraz.
But it was dessert that stole my heart – Burdekin achacha cream with pomegranate pistachio praline matched with a Ballandean Late Harvest Sylvaner.
Our take home goodies pack included many of the ingredients for this recipe where Queensland produce is the star. Give it a go!
Desert lime Coeur a la crème, mango, peanuts, basil
½ vanilla bean
60g Kingaroy Cheese quark
100g caster sugar
80g strained yoghurt
2 tbs Australian Desert Lime paste
1 Honey Gold mango, thinly sliced
1 recipe peanut praline
1 recipe basil syrup
Beat vanilla, quark and sugar until smooth. Add yoghurt and the desert lime pastes and continue to beat until smooth once more. Beat in the cream followed by the mascarpone. Divide mixture evenly between large squares of muslin and tie into ‘beggar’s purse’ parcels. Hang, suspended in the fridge overnight to allow the ‘whey’ to drain. The next day, when unwrapped, they should be firm enough to remain in a free form ‘heart’ shape. Serve with mango, praline and a drizzle of basil and desert lime syrup.
250g dry roasted peanuts
Vegetable oil for greasing
Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy-based saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook, without stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove immediately from the heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Stir in peanuts then turn out onto a lightly greased baking tray and cool. Break into small pieces and place on a chopping board. Roll a rolling pin over the toffee to coarsely crush.
50g caster sugar
1/2tbs Gourmet Garden basil
½ tabs Australian Desert Lime paste
In a high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Turn the heat to low and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear – approx. 3 minutes. Boil to a syrup, remove from the heat and add basil and desert lime paste. Allow to cool.