Festive Season 2011 Underway at Palm Cove

5.16pm, The Sea Temple, On the Beach really, Palm Cove, Between Cairns and Port Douglas, Far North Queensland

Two things I need to say folks……35 degrees Celsius & 95% humidity. Yep, its another steamytime day up here in the tropics, just with a more spectacular view of the ocean right on the front doorstep……oh yeah…..with Double Island just offshore. We’re at The Sea Temple for one night only, to officially start their Festive Season – and to continue a lovely relationship. That would be the one between Michael McManus (ex The Sebel in Cairns)the GM here and Yalumba – nurtured by the King of Cairns – our man in Queensland Greg Rashleigh.

I’ve just been out to the kitchen with chefs John and Jason to have a look at all the prep for the courses that the boys have designed specifically for our wines – and we are in for a treat. Unfortunately I can’t get photos uploaded from my camera right now, then I was going to take them with the phone and send them to Tony back at Yalumba via email, and I must have knocked the phone and now predictive text is on and I dont know how to turn it off – so I can’t send email photos that way either! So I’m going to describe a couple of combinations, and I’ll do the pics come Monday.

First up with the Jansz NV is one of Jasons custom canapes – picture this. A dish the size used for soy sauce, filled with a ‘nest’ of steak tartare, then the separated yolk of a quail egg in the middle of the nest, with a mini crostini designed for dipping alongside. And that’s just for starters. John took me out into the coldroom – best spot in Far North Queensland as far as I’m concerned – and showed me the prawns marinating, ready to be flash chargrilled, the figs sliced and drying off ready for the hazelnut tempura batter to go on before the flash fry and addition of caramelised walnuts – to go with the 2009 Botrytis Viognier. And not forgetting the warm shredded confit duck with star anise that will be tonight’s designated driver for the 2009 Bushvine Grenache. And all I have to do is have a chat between each course, and remain focussed, with the sultry evening going on, Hawaiin flares being lit, vanilla bean incense candles in the breezeways, and the odd speedo clad foreign tourist boys wandering past. Life’s tough up here in Steamyville, FNQ!! Maybe I’m just starting to aclimatise…. but I think I might just move in!!

See ya when reality sets in and I have to start heading south for home tomorrow!

PS Got up early this morning in Cairns to go to the Friday fruit and veg market in Cairns, and have now got a whole new respect for the humble banana. Got chatting with some lovely local farmers who specialise in growing fruit up here, and did a comparative tasting of Cavendish, Ladys Finger, Sugar & Monkey bananas. More on that – with pics – when I get back. The Mareeba lychee season has just started too and I’ve been ploughing through a small mountain of the things today – the canned stuff just doesn’t compare!

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