A taste for the Sunshine Coast hinterland

Matt Jankauskas … the head brewer at Brouhaha. Image: Aaron Shum.

Matt Jankauskas … the head brewer at Brouhaha. Image: Aaron Shum.

I’m really unsure where this stands in PC terms, but I was quite pleased that I was accompanying my wagyu rump with a glass of Brouhaha Milk Stout — the makings of which had been in the diet of the steer in question before it had been sacrificed, partly for my plate.

It’s part of a process of sustainability adopted by Brouhaha (www.brouhahabrewery.com.au), a brewery and restaurant located at Maleny in the hinterland of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The head brewer, Matt Jankauskas, gives his spent grain, or mash, to Maleny Wagyu, a farm which uses it to finish off fattening their cattle. Brouhaha chef James Ostridge then has the pick of the cattle for his kitchen.

He uses his chosen beasts in a true nose-to-tail way, though some of the product may end up as pet food rather than landing on a plate in the restaurant.

Toby Stodart … knows plenty about matching beers with food.

Toby Stodart … knows plenty about matching beers with food.

Anyway, after a quick brewery tour, the deal seems to be that I choose the food I’m going to eat, while restaurant manager Toby Stodart picks the beer to accompany my choice.

The system works admirably. For my entrée I decide on lemon-pepper calamari with aioli and lemon. It’s flavoursome and succulent, and works a treat with Matt’s blood-orange saison.

What I really like about the beer is that the blood-orange is a very subtle addition. It’s still very much a beer rather than being a concoction.

Maleny wagyu ragu … sensationally accompanied by Brouhaha mik stout.

Maleny wagyu ragu … sensationally accompanied by Brouhaha mik stout.

For my main course, I’ve given myself no choice. It simply has to be the Maleny wagyu ragu — beef braised in milk stout and blonde beer, then slow-cooked for five hours and served with pappardelle pasta, parmesan and rocket.

This is simply sensational food — full-flavoured, melt-in-your-mouth stuff — and it goes perfectly with the milk stout chosen by Toby. This really is heaven. Anyone who maintains that you must have wine with food obviously hasn’t been to a venue such as Brouhaha.

A great start to the day … breakfast at the Maleny Food Co.

A great start to the day … breakfast at the Maleny Food Co.

It doesn’t take much of a walk through Maleny to realise that, like Nimbin in northern NSW, it’s a once-farming town now largely settled by ‘alternatives’, and that the two get on well together.

These days, the main street is lined with cafés, restaurants, art galleries and healing venues, where I’m sure once stood stores selling drenches and cattle feed.

I venture that the town has avoided the excesses of Nimbin, but Norman Scott, the owner of the Maleny Food Co (www.malenyfoodco.com), isn’t so sure.

Norman Scott among his cheeses … loves life in Maleny.

Norman Scott among his cheeses … loves life in Maleny.

Regardless, he loves his life, he loves using premium local milk and delicious fruit to produce some of the planet’s best gelato, he loves serving the heartiest of breakfasts, and he loves keeping a separate room stocked to the brim with hundreds of cheeses from nearby and much further away.

Foodwise, the top of the Maleny tree is probably occupied by Spicers Tamarind Retreat (www.spicersretreats.com/spicers-tamarind-retreat), which very recently held a festival of Asian food that very much emphasised its culinary leanings.

The Asian food festival at Spicers Tamarind Retreat … lawns filled with happy campers.

The Asian food festival at Spicers Tamarind Retreat … lawns filled with happy campers.

Guests filled its plush, rainforest-lined lawns to listen to music, chat quietly yet intensely, drink a few glasses of wine and try a range of Asian treats available to exchange for supplied coloured tickets.

The food was delectable, with the opportunity to try six quite different dishes, including some wonderful ginger-pork won-tons, and there was also a chance get a taste for the Tamarind’s highly regarded cooking school.

As the property’s general manager Ryan Dillon stressed, many of the herbs and spices used in the dishes and at the cooking school are grown on the property.

The other thing that he stressed was much more fundamental — the Sunshine Coast isn’t just about beaches and sun. There’s a completely different world in the hinterland. And he’s so, so right.

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