Early days in Noosa

Martin Field 2007-06-30T08:05:25+00:000000002530200706 Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Fauna and flora
I’ve been off the air for a while – not least of all due to months of house selling and buying, household removal and acclimatising to the sub tropics. We’ve moved from a house a few kilometres from Melbourne’s city centre to sixty acres of eucalyptus bush in the hinterland of Noosa, Queensland. Our temporary accommodation comes complete with lace monitors (big lizards), scrub turkeys, carpet snakes, feathertail gliders and paralysis ticks. Oh, and a lot more sunshine than we’re used to.

Not just Hastings Street
Getting acclimatised means getting around and checking out the local scene. One thing you learn quickly after visiting the local eateries is that Noosa is not just glitzy Hastings Street.

For example, the restaurant strip in and off Gympie Terrace, Noosaville, is first class. For starters, check out the Italian style cuisine at Pilu Ristorante E Bar, at 2/257 Gympie Terrace. We dined there a few weeks back and I went there again for a Noosa Long Weekend tasting of Barambah Wines.

Barambah is made in Queensland’s South Burnett region by winemeister Peter Scudamore-Smith. His Barambah First Grid Verdelho 2007 is a stunner. Water pale, with a fragrant kiwifruit and fresh cut cucumber nose, it displays a lively palate of fruit salad cut with citric tang. Could be the region’s answer to NZ Sauvignon blanc. About $19 – order via the website (www.barambah.com.au)or email manda@barambah.com.au.

‘Bush’ tucker
Then there’s the hinterland. We’re staying near Cooroy, a semi rural town 20 plus kilometres out of Noosa. Somehow, you don’t expect to find fine restaurant food in the ‘bush’ but we did.

In this case, it was a Thai restaurant, Ploy Thai, which serves food better than any Thai cuisine we’ve had in Melbourne in recent years. The setting is nothing to write home about – a tiny shop front seating only about 30 diners – unpretentious would be an understatement, and most of the dining is at tables on the footpath. Here, it’s all about the food.

Chef Prim, from northeastern Thailand, grows all her own spices and herbs and apologises, needlessly, that each dish takes time as it is cooked from scratch. It shows. Every dish we’ve tried – over two visits – displayed a superb and complex combination of separate tastes and sensations. Nor is Prim afraid to use chili where it’s needed – the effect quite unlike the blandified pap that often masquerades as Thai tucker in the ‘smoke’.

Melbourne diners who queue to indulge at Ocha in Kew will know what a delight it is to find such a tiny, unexpected gem.

Ploy Thai. 16 Maple St. Cooroy 4563. Phone (07) 5442 5549. An abundance of vegetarian courses. Entrees $6.50 to $8.50. Mains $12.00 to $18.50. Open 5 to 9pm Tuesday to Sunday. BYO.