Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A bloggy luncheon with Ben, Julie, Kate and Jasse

I was lucky.

I think Cairns Festival producer Eric, a delightful hyper-active Yank whose last project was in Wellington, New Zealand (it's an island, off the coast of Australia where I come from) took a shining to me.

Nicky, the web guru of Cairns and the brains and taste buds behind Cairns Dining, hasn't forgiven me yet. You see I chose her over another friend, Jasse, to be my 'date' when I attended my first Cairns Festival assignment.

Eric sent me off to Palm Cove's Sea Temple, right in the midst of Saturday's election day frenzy. It was like being one of the violists on the Titanic - you know, when everything around you is in turmoil and total unpredictable chaos, yet you're part of something beautiful and special. It was a mad day, without trying to sit down for a four course meal right plonk in the middle of an election that provides a blogger with so much photo and copy fodder.

By midday, I had changed from boardshorts to black n whites, done six polling booths, interviewed Warren Entch and Jim Turnour, as they cast their vote at Whitfield and Earlville respectfully (well, that's debatable), spent an hour with a film crew from the BBC at the stunning Indigenous Art Fair at the Tanks Arts Centre, and even swapped very small talk with the illustrious Gavin King - the other comeback king.

My Festival task was to dine with some hob knobs at the Taste Paradise luncheon whilst celeb chef, Ben O'Donoghue - a surf-mad Aussie who's worked in London's top restaurants, made us lunch. Ben has a string of TV shows to his credit, filmed around New Zealand and Australia.

My Saturday schedule was so crazy that I made a late and noticeable entrance. Jasse was far from impressed. Lesson one of the day: Never keep a woman waiting, especially one with two large dogs. Nevertheless, we didn't miss too much of the menu.

We joined Cairns Regional Council's refreshingly new and chirpy communications manager, Julie McGlone; Angelica (with a hard 'g'), a tactile yet refined Italian import; Kate Volcov, the marketing manager for the Cairns Post, and her better half, Adam - a rather untypical-looking accountant. They're all relatively new to Cairns, bracing for the their first wet season. There were two spare seats for Advance Cairns, who didn't show. More tucker for us.

The appetizer was Miso prawn, followed by an salad entree of North Queensland mud crab with pink grapefruit, toasted coconut and wasabi. Anyone who knows my palate, will be aware that the little green stuff with turn me inside out. Luckily, I narrowly avoided that poison.

The main was a spadino of bugs, figs and pancetta with a chilli mint dressing, topped off with a fat-filled dessert, Ben calls Nicker Bocker Glory. It was so bad, it was good.

Penny Jackson from Pernod Ricard Australia magically matched the serves with Jacobs Creek Reserve range: Chardonnay Pinot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.

Bon Aperitif!

CairnsBlog author Michael Moore captures the Taste of Paradise luncheon at Palm Cove on Saturday, and chats with celeb chef Ben O'Donoghue. Listen closely for his naughty joke about Kylie Minogue's teddy bear.

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