In a country as vast and geographically diverse as Australia, the potential for unique dining experiences is flourishing. More and more chefs are turning to their immediate communities to source seasonal produce, giving their menus a distinctly local flavour. And the results are extraordinary. Tasting Tassie truffles in the Tamar Valley or wild barramundi from the Coral Sea in Far North Queensland is just the beginning. The best part is members of Accor Advantage Plus enjoy sensational benefits when dining in many restaurants at the forefront of this delicious movement.
The Bellarine Peninsula in southern Victoria is a foodies’ haven. This pocket of rolling farmland east of Geelong celebrates the best that nature has to offer, from fresh seafood, premium wine and craft beer, to quality cheeses, olive oil and vegetables. Guests at the Novotel Geelong and the Mercure Geelong can indulge their palates on the Bellarine Taste Trail between Geelong and Queenscliff. You’d be amazed at how many farm gates and provedores are operating in this tiny region.
Narelle Needham, destination officer at Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine, proudly points out that Portarlington is the mussel capital of Victoria. She recommends you start your culinary tour with some mouth-watering molluscs from Sea Bounty or Advance Mussel Supply.
“Drysdale Cheeses is another provedore whose products are found in a lot of restaurants and cafés in the region,” she says. “And Lonsdale Tomato Farm has exceptional tomatoes, herbs and lettuce.”
If you want to experience Bellarine produce in action over lunch, Needham suggests you head to Elk Horn Road House or Bellarine Smokehouse at Jack Rabbit Vineyard.
Mercure Geelong also holds occasional food-and-drink-themed exclusive events for Accor Advantage Plus members, the most recent being an interactive beer crafting and tasting with Little Creatures, which has a brewery in Geelong.
Palm Cove paradise
If tropical flavours in tropical settings are your thing, The Reef House, a member of the MGallery Collection, in Palm Cove, Far North Queensland, is the place to be. After a day of snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, or beachcombing beneath the palm trees, dinner at the award-winning Reef House Restaurant awaits.
Head chef Ashe Lewis is spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh produce – after all, part of the pantry is the Coral Sea. “Our restaurant overlooks the water,” he says. “It provides great inspiration. We always have barramundi on the menu. And most of our vegetables are sourced from the Daintree or Mossman.”
In summer the signature dish of crispy wild-caught barramundi with Thai red curry, rice pilaf and crisp Asian salad dressed with nam jim is a must.
Cooler climates encourage a vastly different basket of goodies. The Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania is well known for its vineyards, but this scenic place of respite on the Tamar River is also flourishing with orchards, forests and pastures – and that means quality produce.
One of Tasmania’s most popular haunts for foodies is the Harvest community farmers’ market, which is just a six-minute walk from The Sebel Launceston. Open every Saturday, it’s a wonderful showcase of locally produced meat, dairy, cider and beer, vegetables, truffles, freshly baked breads and pies and, of course, cool-climate wines.
Keen to see this amazing goodness transformed into sensational cuisine? Look no further than Market Square Restaurant at The Sebel Launceston. Head chef Michael Mackaway says, “People come to Tasmania to experience the local produce. We use unique products so guests can see what is available in the area. And I like to make everything from scratch, so using local organic goods helps me to do that.”
Mackaway’s master stock braised beef cheeks with Paris mash and bok choy hails from Cape Grim in the island’s north-west. And with berry season kicking off in summer, guests can expect fresh blueberries and raspberries starring in some of his desserts.
So wherever you’re staying and whatever your tastebuds are craving, Accor Hotels will put you among the freshest produce in the most exciting food destinations in Australia.