One of the many things I love about living in Noosa is that they really know how to throw a party. In the case of the Noosa Longweekend Festival, it’s a 10-day party filled with arts literature, food and fun. This annual event has grown over the past 10 years to become one of Australia’s best multi-genre festivals, and this year’s program offered a fantastic selection of food events, including the return of the popular Duck Waddle.
Having attended this event 2 years ago, I was quick to secure my tickets early – and lucky I did as they sold out very quickly! This event is essentially a progressive lunch, and this year it was hosted by three top Sunshine Beach Restaurants. Each participating restaurant creates a duck dish and serves it with a matching glass of wine. As all three restaurants are within “waddling distance”, it’s a pleasant stroll from one to the next. Although by the time we left the last restaurant we were closer to rolling out…but more about that later.
Our Duck Waddle commenced at Fratellini, a funky Italian restaurant. The use of colour and quirky artifacts creates a welcoming, relaxed ambiance. I particularly like their front counter!
Fratellini set the standard high with the first dish of the day – Confit Duck on Porcini and Roasted Field Mushroom Risotto with Red wine Jus and Truffle Oil. This was a gorgeous dish, the confit duck beautifully prepared and the risotto complementing it perfectly. A glass of Rocco Ventosa Sangiovese from Italy was a well-matched wine accompaniment, and it was nice to see a wine other than Pinot Noir being served with duck. The dish was generous and substantial, and frankly this would have been an adequately lunch for most people, but with the promise of 2 more courses to come we waddled to the next restaurant for course number two.
Our next stop was Coconut Grove Bar and Bistro, a laid back, “beachy” dining establishment that specialises in Modern Australian Cuisine. One of the aspects about this event I enjoy is seeing how the key ingredient is used in very different ways by the participating restaurants, and Coconut Grove came up with an unusual dish that I wasn’t expecting: Perogies (Polish dumplings) with duck ragout, silverbeet and creme fraiche. It was an interesting combination, but I must say it worked well, and offered the opportunity to experience a dish most would not have tried before. The wine accompaniment was a glass of Scotchman’ s Hill Pinot Noir from Swan Bay, another good wine choice. By this point the belly is well and truly full and most of us are wondering how we will fit in another course. Are we in for a surprise at the next restaurant!
The third and last dining destination was Embassy XO, a Modern Asian restaurant with a warm and welcoming ambiance. Embassy XO definitely won the prize for the most generous restaurant of the day, offering not one but THREE courses! To begin with. we were treated to a gorgeous Steamed BBQ Duck Bun. The bun was light and fluffy and the duck filling was very tasty and everything you would expect from an Asian-style bun.
Next we were served a dish of Duck, Pineapple and Bean Shoots, with a Candied Garlic and Ginger Dressing. Being a big fan of Modern Asian food I thoroughly enjoyed this dish which was beautifully presented.
To conclude the meal, we were served a Deep Fried Duck Egg Ice Cream with a Raspberry Chilli Dipping Sauce. This was a divine dessert – the ice cream was creamy and flecked with vanilla beans, the coating crispy and the Raspberry Chilli Sauce heavenly. I don’t know how I managed to fit dessert in, but it was much too good to leave. Embassy XO accompanied their meal with Little Yering Station Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley, and again they were generous with the wine, offering several top-ups.
By this stage of the afternoon we were all ready for an afternoon nap and were wondering how we would scrape ourselves off our chairs to leave the restaurant. That was a lot of food we had just consumed! All three restaurants served different but delicious interpretations of duck, and I genuinely enjoyed everything I ate (and trust me I did not leave a morsel!). It would be unfair to pick a favourite, as the event as a whole is the true winner. The Duck Waddle in my opinion represented excellent value and demonstrated the high standard and creativity of cuisine we have come to expect in Noosa. I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a few leisurely hours, enjoying wonderful food, wine and company in a stunning location.