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Foodie fun in Sydney and Byron Bay

12:00 AEST Thu Feb 3 2011
Catriona Rowntree and Dermott Brereton were given a couple of assignments involving something close to their hearts: food. Catriona kicked off in Byron Bay on the north coast of NSW.

Foodscape Tours

With so much fresh produce around the Byron area, it's becoming quite the foodie destination. Catriona joined Foodscape Tours on a Bite Around the Bay tour. The idea is to walk through the heart of Byron, meet the shopkeepers and taste their specialties along the way. There are also bus tours on offer.

A good place to start is the Balcony Bar & Restaurant in one of Byron Bay's last historical buildings. Enjoy a coffee as you overlook the town coming to life, and you're bound to want to return for lunch or dinner.

L'ultime Patisserie beneath the balcony is a little bit of Paris in Byron. The boulangerie and patisserie is owned and traditionally run by David Tetu who was born in France. He and his team begin preparing pastries, chocolates, petit fours and cakes at 4am every day and it's a very popular stop on the walking tour.

In the Pink, Byron's first gelato bar, has been running for 22 years. The ice-creams and gelato are made on the premises in all your favourite flavours, plus some local goodies not found anywhere else — finger lime, Davidson plum and macadamia.

Red Ginger is a specialty Asian food and homewares store. It's popular for tea and yum cha, and a delightful place to linger, searching for the perfect recipe book and maybe purchase ingredients to try your hand at home.

Citrus is a deli, grocer and cafe, and it is usually where the tours finish up and have lunch in the gallery upstairs. They serve everything from wonderful coffee and cakes, oils and vinegars, chocolate and cheeses to great meals created from local produce. They also sell frozen home meals.

The best advice if you are going to take part in a Bite Around the Bay tour is wear loose clothing, comfortable shoes and don't have breakfast!

Sydney Seafood School

Dermott went to Pyrmont on the edge of Sydney's CBD to the fish market — it's the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. There you will find an amazing array of seafood, as fresh as you can buy it. You can buy to take home, have one of the restaurants prepare it or, if you're feeling adventurous, learn to prepare and cook it yourself right there.

The Sydney Seafood School has been running for 20 years, and to celebrate its second decade, has undergone a sleek transformation.

It all began when local fishermen were bringing in catches not too many people were familiar with, let alone how to prepare them. Much of it was used as bait the next day. The idea of a cooking school was hatched and it has broadened to taking 12,000 keen students every year.

After watching a demonstration in a tiered auditorium, classes are split into groups of five and recreate what they have just seen, helped along with a guest presenter and assistants. Then everyone enjoys the fruits of their labour with a glass or two of wine.

The best equipment is used. There are custom-made stainless steel cooking islands with Fisher & Paykel appliances, including a gas CookSurface. The 117cm high-definition screens above the demonstration area ensure perfect viewing of the cooking action. Villeroy & Boch china and Spiegelau glassware give just the right touch when serving.

Dermott felt very fancy coming away knowing how to prepare Moroccan fish tagine and to make preserved lemons and chermoula as accompaniments. Not generally noted for his culinary skills, he found it quite easy and very enjoyable. We may have created a kitchen monster!


Byron Bay and Sydney.


Foodscape Tours' Bite Around the Bay start at $69 per person for the walking tour and $89 per person for a bus tour. They run on Fridays and Saturdays. Guide, tastings and lunch are included. Bookings are essential. They also operate on the south coast of NSW. See their website.

Sydney Seafood School classes are from $85 per person for two hours. It operates on weeknights and from 11am on weekends.

Prices correct at February 3, 2011.

For further information

Foodscape Tours
Byron Bay, NSW 2481
Ph: 1300 502 100

Sydney Seafood School
Bank Street
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Ph: (02) 9004 1111
Fax: (02) 9004 1144

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