Grab your fork, spoon and photo ID and head down to Ballina for the annual food and wine treat on Sunday 1 July. Not only will there be plenty of the best local produce to sample, there will also be bands playing, VIP chefs, a variety of wines, craft beers, ciders and spirits to sample or take home.
And, if you’re worried about driving, there’s a comprehensive bus service to get you there and home again for $5 each way.
The event starts 11am at the Ballina Jockey Club. Entry is strictly over 18 years only, hence the need for a photo ID if you’re a young-looking 50-year-old like myself. I always enjoy checking out the local exhibitors, as the range of produce produced in our region just keeps growing.
For example, a lot of our ‘local’ coffee is grown overseas, but Zentveld’s coffee (grown in the hills behind Byron) and Kahawa (Alstonville Plateau pesticide-free coffee) are the real deal. Another regular at farmers markets is Nimbin Valley Dairy, who handmake their delicious range of cheeses near Nimbin.
There will be plenty of food-truck-style catering, as well as a few cuisines you might not have tried before: Byron’s Safya restaurant’s food and drinks are inspired by Egyptian recipes that are generations old. Olive and Luca, the catering arm of Lennox’s Quattro, are always good, and you can’t go wrong with sliders from the Byron Bay Brewery, but you might like to try the Peruvian ceviche from A Chefs Pocket, or some Ethiopian food, Japanese octopus and prawn dumplings from Terry’s Balls or Junk Yard BBQ’s smoked food, from a smoker home-built from reclaimed and reused products.
Of course one of the highlights will be the cooking demonstrations of the signature dishes from well-known local chefs.
Tickets are $25. Entry is strictly over 18 years only. At only $5 return trip, keep the car at home and take the festival bus that will running around the region from Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Bangalow, Suffolk Park, Lennox Head, Lismore, Goonellabah, Wollongbar, Alstonville and Ballina.
Sean Connolly chef and culinary director Balcony Bar & Oyster Co Byron; Blake Seymour executive chef Ballina RSL; Gavin Hughes, head chef Byron at Byron; Terase Davidson, chef and founder of Taste Byron Bay and sometime Echo contributor. These VIP chefs will be doing cooking demonstration at the the festival.