Coffs Coast Food Lovers Long Lunch launched in Sapphire Beach

Awia Markey of Bite Food Tours, the organiser of the inaugural Coffs Coast Food Lovers Long Lunch, with speakers Alice and Darren from New Life Farm, Sapphire Beach. Photo: Gavin Moroney.

A NEW experience for local food lovers was launched in Sapphire Beach on Saturday 29 April.

The Coffs Coast Food Lovers Long Lunch was held at Wylde Oak Café at the family-owned Coffs Harbour Nursery on Wakelands Road, Sapphire Beach.

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Four local food producers came along to present their growing and making journey, sharing lived experience stories from having food products.

Founded by Awia Markey of Bite Food Tours, the Long Lunch successfully connected like-minded food lovers with local food producers; sparking conversations about accessible fresh flavoursome food and food products.

Alice and Darren of New Life Farm, fifth generation growers and neighbours of the nursery on Wakelands Road, live the low food miles ethic with their farm produce sold on site and through a local delivery service.

They made the point of healthy balanced soil, seasonal eating and how to manage pests.

“Plants don’t stop growing so we’re always at it,” said Alice.

New Life Farm is now producing pickles having seen the amount of chemical preservatives and high percentages of sugar used in commercial products.

“We use the least number of ingredients as we can,” said Alice.

Stirring her audience to salivation, Coramba garlic farmer Catherine Scarborough shared how she came up with her idea for locally grown and produced Black Garlic.

As she talked, taster pots of her buttery Black Garlic spread circulated amongst guests.

“Arriving from England, eventually in the Orara Valley, everyone around us was growing garlic,” said Catherine.

“Our farm is in the middle of a forest, on high and sloped land with well-drained soil; we love where it is and feel an obligation to look after the land, so growing on it seemed a good fit,” she said.

Having evolved her recipe she says, “this way is more fun”, comparing her Black Garlic to “ordinary” fresh garlic.

You can mix it in sauces, blend it, rub it on food and deliciously eat it plain on biscuits or bread or in a hot potato.

Also in attendance was Dave Ricketts – the ‘Chocolate DR’.

“You’ve been missing out,” Awia said after sampling Dave’s food.

Dave makes his chocolate made here in Coffs Harbour having had a lifetime passion polishing off a bar of commercial chocolate daily.

During Covid he had time to develop ideas, recipes and a way of producing chocolate bars to sell using minimum ingredients; basically cocoa beans, sugar and milk in varying quantities.

“I’m experimenting with different flavours now, with a recent success in Lion’s Mane for its alleged health benefits and using natural Monkfruit sweetener,” he said.

Chocolate DR Dave is also diversifying in product types, now offering a must-have mousse and chocolate flakes for making hot chocolate.

Zarin Asady from Coffs Harbour’s Silk Road Afghan Supermarket shared insights into cultural, as well as cuisine contrasts between life in Coffs Harbour and Afghanistan.

“I love to cook and use Afghan ingredients,” Zarin said.

“I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for my husband and two sons, as well as working in the shop weekdays, 9am – 6pm,” she said.

Awai said event attendees learned a lot about local food production possibilities.

“Attendees learned more about the people behind our fabulous local produce, and gained a sense of place as well as taste, with a combination of speakers sharing their food and cultural stories,” Awia told NOTA.

“I’m grateful to the suppliers who donated their gourmet produce to be included in our two Lucky Door Prizes.

“The food was fabulous, and meals were enhanced by local produce, including Catherine Scarborough’s Black Garlic on the mains, and Dave Ricketts’ Chocolate DR chocolate shavings on the Dark Chocolate Brownies.

“Feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive, and Bite Food Tours will be hosting another Long Lunch later in the year,” she said.

Winner of the main raffle prize, Shaolee, took the Gourmet Feast prize back to Sydney, where she can share ‘our’ local produce.

Bec won the second prize, Kitchen Delights, a prize she was manifesting for herself as she’s having an Afghan cuisine night cooking at home and most of the contents were from The Silk Road Supermarket ingredients.

The box included the ‘Parwana – Recipes and Stories from Afghanistan’ cookbook.


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