The Food Junkie

Taste, texture & tales. Inside the mind of a chef.

Personal blog of The Food Junkie, Rebecca Clark. Discover stories of taste, texture and tales inside the mind of a chef that's travelled the globe in search of her next food hit. Bec sports a private cook book collection to rival the British Library and Harvard and shares her cooking wisdom with practical tips and humour. She's co-owner of Fish D'vine and The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach, Australia. An iconic award winning restaurant in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

It's all in our own backyard.

Wherever I roam, from a city, to a foreign country or a drive in the countryside, the search for foodie experiences never leaves me. The hunting through farmers markets, supermarkets, road side stalls and artisan county food outlets is truly a favourite hobby and I wish to see them all. Always prepared to try anything and I usually do, this infatuation has lead me to many culinary experiences and bucket list ticks. Problem is, the list never ends, it just keeps growing. So many amazing chefs, producers and passionate foodies out there, the culinary global world just keeps giving.

This ever-growing foodie array has also been on a whirlwind spiral in my own back yard. After a recent trip overseas, this epiphany became ever so true. Traveling around Australia I am always blown away. Inspired and delighted to see that our offerings are as good and often better. The produce in our own Whitsunday back yard is now punching well above its weight.

Arriving in this amazing paradise around 16 years ago, the food scene unless you hit the oceans and waterways didn’t really do it for me. The old Island traders offered some foreign goodies but otherwise Bilo supermarket was the only place. Great for basics but not really my kinda hunting ground. During these times, my holidays and travels were hunting escapades to gather all that wasn’t on offer at home. Every time, the last minute trying to shove as much possible into the suitcase and then generally paying for excess luggage as my need for these amazing ingredients was, well just to…needy.

                                                        Wow how things have changed.

Today we have pretty much all that one could desire, right here, in our own back yard. Amazing butcher, who goes the extra step. Seafood suppliers who source out the best with an ever-changing range. Local fruit and vegetables supplier who is always buying and supporting the local growers and bringing in new delights to tickle my fancy. The east Asian countries being very well represented with the local markets and speciality stores. The fantastic Great Australian food festival, held here every year. Pop up food trucks with ever so tasty delights. Local farmers changing  there crops with the food trends. Oh, my how we have grown.

                                                        For this I wish to say thank you.

Thank you for making the Whitsundays a place I can truly call home and be proud of our ever-evolving foodie scene. The new and existing restaurants showcasing their chef’s talents and giving us more options to try. Our amazing Saturday foreshore market, just forever giving.

The cooking classes I’ve been holding for over a year now, I hope will help to put us on that culinary map and the joy they give me is, well priceless. 

Yes, the Whitsunday’s offers so many options to tick off those bucket list boxes, let's show the world they can add something else to their list.

                                                 Visiting a truly amazing foodie destination 

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New trend or revamp of old classics?

So why whole grains and superfoods one might ask? Not the junkies usual fare, not what I’m known for. Well, all food fascinates me and I mean everything. With this class I’m using a mix of ingredients I have used before and new ones I’ve just discovered, the intriguing factor has been a fascinating hit - a true food junkie hit!

Who doesn’t love a basket full of fresh greens, the glossy green to the warm hints of sage green. Berries kissed by the summer sun. The earthy, nutty, wholesome feeling of the grains. Fulfilling in so many ways.

The culinary delights that these ingredients can marry together is a true foodies dream.

What has taken me by surprise is what’s out there. What’s available within the ancient grain world. As trendy as they are now and after some experimentation I can understand why. The Aztecs and Incas were onto something then and thank goodness it hasn’t been lost. Just so many options, textures, tastes and then the added bonus of their nutritional value.

Some you can even feel the benefits just by their touch, gloss, shape and colour

In all of my master classes I go into study mode a few weeks prior, to design and create. The test kitchen is open. Using my skills that I’ve gathered over the years of being a chef.  This is my time to mix ingredients to bring new dishes to life, my creations. It’s my true passion. I start with designing a recipe, then test and test, until I’ve mastered the one I wish to showcase. Then I record and write the final recipe - which isn’t common for chefs, as it’s all in the brain.

With this class, it certainly has been a journey. A foodie trail that has blown me away and I can’t wait to share. I know it won’t be the only superfood class I will be holding.

Way too many avenues to explore.

So get out there, grab some grain and green and get creating. Pop in to The Prickly Pineapple and hunt and gather for all you need, book into the class and let your superfood journey begin.

Let's get fruity

 

It is without a doubt, my favorite time of year, spring. The weather in the Whitsundays is just stunning. Perfect blue sky days and just the perfect temperature. Yes, summer is coming and although it can at times be a little warm in the tropics, the tropical fruit start to flourish. Mango madness time, so deliciously sweet and the range now is amazing. Fruit salad for breakfast, just delightful.

Another way to enjoy the beautiful array of fruit is the classic fruit sorbet. A dish to make the most of these fruity delights. As the abundance of local strawberries start to disappear a sorbet is a fantastic way to linger on the delicious flavour. Blueberries, another fabulous berry and so good for you. The colours of all the fruit from mangoes to strawberries is a pleasure of beauty to the eyes and taste just divine. Is it worth it, hell yeah. A touch of pure bliss in the freezer for you to enjoy anytime. Serve in a bowl, in a cone or with another dessert, I love a sorbet with cheesecake, Yum!!

Fruits in season now are strawberries, papaya, blueberries, cantaloupe, bananas, pineapple, and rockmelon. So lets get fruity!

Classic fruit sorbet

This is a base recipe for fruit sorbet. It will cover most fruits but remember all fruits are different so sugar levels and lime/ lemon juice will vary. It will always need to be sweeter before freezing as the sweetness will drop when frozen. So just go a little sweetie. You can infuse other flavours into the sugar syrup, like cinnamon, lavender, cardamom, nutmeg, rose water, citrus peel, fresh herbs, lemon grass etc.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cups fresh fruit, remove any skins pips or inedible parts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-6 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice to taste.
  • Remember you want it to be a bit too sweet but the citrus, important as it will enhance the flavour


Method

Peel, pip, do whatever the fruit requires, then roughly chop. Place sugar and water in saucepan and gently bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Cool, this can even be made the day before so it’s good ‘n’ chilled. Place chilled sugar syrup, lime or lemon juice and fruit into a blender and blend till smooth. This mix can now be strained depending on the consistency you require. So now, if using a machine, place into the bowl (frozen) of an ice cream machine and churn away.  Follow the machines instructions. When ready scoop into a plastic container, cover with cling film and lid. Keep in freezer till sorbet time.  Or place into a plastic container, place cling film on to protect from going icy and cover with lid and place in the freezer.

When frozen, remove, cut into chunks and blend again. Usually this step is only required once, but if you feel it needs it again, go for it! To check the flavour, freeze a little, try and adjust if needed. Quickest way on a small saucer.

Store in freezer, once again with cling film and lid to protect. Sorbet will last in the freezer for about a month, then it will start to go icy. But fear NOT. If this dose happen, or even before it does, perfect solution. Blend with Rum to make the perfect fruit daiquiri. YUM.