STEP 1: Go hunting in the hinterland
Good food is one of the great pleasures of life, and at Better Homes and Gardens it’s one of our main loves, so you can probably imagine how excited I am to be checking out the wonderful food scene at the famous Eumundi Markets today.
Eumundi Markets are just a 15-minute drive from Noosa in the gorgeous countryside that makes up the Noosa Hinterland on the Sunshine Coast. Riding there in style on a Harley with EagleRider, I can’t believe how gorgeous the scenery is. It’s all glorious farmland with cows and greenery, so it’s hard to believe we’re really only an hour and a half north of Brisbane. The hinterland is like magic and I’m told the markets are bursting with fascinating characters, so I can’t wait to get there and take a good look around.
On 24 March 1979, three pioneering marketeers set up their stalls around the CWA Hall and opened for business. There was a total of eight visitors and a turnover of $30. Not the grandest of beginnings, but from there on the Eumundi Markets were up and away!
Fast forward 40 years and the markets are thriving, thanks to the enthusiasm of the stall holders and crowds who show up on Wednesdays and Saturdays, rain, hail or shine!
STEP 2: Keep it local
First up I meet Peter from Cedar Creek Farm Bush Foods. He makes sauces, condiments, jams and chutneys from locally grown ingredients in his commercial kitchen just 15 kilometres from here and gathers most of his ingredients from local growers and suppliers. Peter’s knowledge of bush tucker is really impressive, and he tells me that the range of ingredients available to him in this area is outstanding. “Within a 100-kilometre radius of Nambour, you can grow just about anything,” Peter says. “When it comes to fruit and vegetables, whether they’re temperate or tropical, you name it, you can grow it here.”
Peter invites me to try his fabulous Bush Tomato Sauce, and when I ask him what it goes with his answer is simply “everything”. It’s deliciously savoury and I have to agree it would be just as good on a sausage as on scrambled eggs. He also lets me try some of his wonderfully tangy green mango chutney (also made from locally grown mangoes) and the crispiest, most delicious macadamia Anzac biscuits ever.
I’m also so lucky to find Noosa Cane Juice which is run by Claire and Pete. Like a few of the local foodies I meet, they’re chefs who have cooked their way around the world and have settled here for the lifestyle and fabulous fresh produce.
I’ve never considered sugar cane to be something you could drink, but apparently, it’s been juiced in South America, across the Middle East and Asia for hundreds of years. Pete tells me it has terrific health benefits too as it contains zinc, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, chlorophyll and more, plus it’s as unprocessed and natural as it comes. Claire and Pete simply press it, mix it with fresh lime or ginger juice and bottle it.
Interestingly, there’s no known way of preserving sugar cane juice, which probably explains why I’ve never seen it in my neck of the woods. The locals love it though, and it stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge. And I must say I have never tasted anything so surprisingly delicious! So, if you get to visit the Eumundi Markets, and I highly recommend you do, make sure you try it because it’s terrifically different, super refreshing and you’ll find yourself just saying ‘Wow’! Claire tells me it also makes a sensational base for smoothies and cocktails – especially a cane juice mojito!
STEP 3: Uncover the stories behind the food
The people here are the heart and soul of the markets and they all have so much passion for their work. I meet Eric, another chef, originally from France who came to Australia for love (ah, l’amour) and stayed when he also fell in love with the region. He cooks organic vegan dishes and his stall is a hot ticket with market goers who come for his creative style and healthy food. Eric is a big believer in the vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, but also tells me it’s great for keeping you ‘clean, lean and energetic’, so when I try his delicious quinoa koftas with a coconut yoghurt tzatziki I wait for my transformation to begin! I’m not sure they’re going to make me cleaner or leaner today, but they taste absolutely incredible and I do feel energised and ready to taste more local produce!
Next I discover the delightful Melody from Ten Acres, who creates handcrafted sourdough and pastries from sustainable Australian wheat and gives me an almond croissant that took my breath away. Then there’s Steve, AKA Mr Fudge Puddles, a fudge maker who graciously lets me taste my way through his divine range of handmade fudges from salted caramel to an exceptional blueberry fudge with real blueberries. I meet Luke who slow cooks meat for 12 hours in his secret blend of spices made from local ingredients sourced from fellow stall holders. I see signs for hemp burgers, crocodile snags and stalls that promise their food has been cooked with love. This place is heaven for a foodie like me!
STEP 4: Fill your heart with food
With dozens of stalls on a busy day, you’ll be spoilt for choice, and the arts and crafts are equally fabulous. You feel a real sense of camaraderie at the Eumundi Markets and the people here genuinely seem to support one another. Everywhere I go someone suggests I try someone else’s chutney, or they point me in the direction of a local artist. It’s the kind of community spirit that’s infectious and we could certainly use more of.
I’ve sampled truly fabulous food here and I have to tell you; it’s a food lover’s dream destination. I’m leaving today having met extraordinary people, tasted wonderful things with my heart wonderfully full and I know that when you visit you will too. You won’t be disappointed.