Tour the Gold Coast’s thriving food scene

FOOD, wine, beer, coffee- jump on one of these Gold Coast food tours and uncover why and how the city is transforming into a dining haven.

Offering an array of cuisines that tickle the tastebuds of locals and tourists alike, the Gold Coast food scene is unrivalled in its offering.

"High quality dining experiences are really putting the Gold Coast on the map as a foodie destination," says Karen Inglis-Turner, the owner and operator of Gold Coast Food and Wine Tours.

"And, food tourism is one of our fastest growing markets."

Today, we join Karen to find out what all of the fuss is about, and embark on a tour of Broadbeach with Gold Coast Food and Wine Tours.

We arrive and Karen greets tour participants, gives introductions, and tells us a little about the history of the area that we'll be touring today - not too much, just the interesting bits, and then we're off on our short walking tour.

We are straight into the good stuff; consuming a fair amount of food and wine on our learning journey and gain lots of information about food production, cocktail making and coffee.

Why does some coffee taste bitter when others don't? What makes a great coffee? What's the difference between cold brew and cold drip?

At Base Espresso, our first stop, we get a lesson from an expert barista - Timothy Sweet (ranked #6 in the world) and taste a delicious brew.

Tim, part of a third wave trend in coffee, is roasting his own beans, Uncle Joe's, taking carbon dioxide out in the roasting process to pursue the ultimate goal: perfect flavour to match the luscious aroma.

Tim tells us that great coffee is scored like wine, with 167 tasting notes in coffee. Specialty coffee rates 80pts or more and is priced accordingly at $100-700 per kilogram.

"Coffee should dance on your tongue, excite your palate, taste different from start to finish; rather than being two-dimensional,"

Tim Sweet -

Meanwhile, Karen says she has local artisans serving up incredible fare every day.

"I look for their specialties - the things that make them really stand out," she says.

Our second stop is My Gelato - an exceptional gelato shop. Owner David Lo Giudice is a graduate of the Gelato University in Bologna, which means that he's a veritable professor of gelato.

Everyone loves ice cream, but our group admits that we know very little about it, such as the difference between sorbet, gelato and ice cream.

We visit the back of the shop where David's signature dish is being made. The 'OMG' is a flavour explosion of Nutella and salted caramel. No preservative, artificial colouring or flavouring, just top quality Lindt cocoa. No wonder it tastes so scrumptious.

Not far away, Cardamom Pod serves up a vegetarian feast. It is also the venue for our wine tasting. There are also raw desserts to sample: raw snickers, peanut butter cups and Oreo bars. These vegos don't miss out on the good stuff.

"I like learning the background and knowing where the food comes from," says Robyn Atkin, one of the participants on the tour.

Double Zero Pizza, our next stop, is a great example of that. We're here to learn how to make real pizza (the best of the best) accredited by Neapolitan standards that date back to the beginnings of this thousand-year-old dish.

Ninety seconds in the oven and the pizza is baked. We sit down to enjoy it with a glass of Sangiovese. This is how friends are made - over a great pizza washed down with wine.

Sage Restaurant fills in the remaining gaps with sliders and baked brie. It's then that I realise we're having lunch and dinner in one food tour. By now, however, even those with larger appetites are slowing down.

At room81, the classy last venue on the tour, we're blown away by the cocktails, concocted by Alex the mixologist to a family recipe. Some take photos, others write notes…but we all eat, drink, listen, talk, make new friends and generally have fun. That's the point, right?

"What I love about this tour is that you can check out a whole bunch of places for a really good price and pretty much know they're going to be good before you go there," one of the participants says.

Even for those who live on the Gold Coast there's so much to discover in our own backyards.

The guided tour of Broadbeach uncovers hidden dining gems, teaches us about food production, as well as introduces us to new friends.

It's not only great fun but also terrific value. With tours ranging from $49-89 it would make a perfect present for the foodie in your life.

Meanwhile, Hop on Brewery Tours covers the more liquid side of food - craft beer; a burgeoning industry on the Gold Coast.

Owners and operators Matt Farrelly and Joslyn Erickson are passionate about beer.

After years of attending beer festivals around the world they quit their jobs to share their passion, offering all-inclusive day trips to their favourite breweries in and around Brisbane, Mount Tamborine and the Gold Coast.

While there is a full day tour available, we took the 'Quickie' tour of the Gold Coast - a half day tour visiting one craft beer bar and two breweries in under four hours.

Our group consists of beer enthusiasts and even a brewer, eager to get the inside story on Gold Coast beer.

Our first stop is Bine and a chance for the group to meet and enjoy a paddle of beer as Joslyn, who leads this tour, gives us a rundown on beer basics: the history of beer, ingredients and their origins, trends in beer making, and all kinds of beer trivia.

She is quite the raconteur; a fount of knowledge of all things beer, regaling us with tales of gods and kings. Interestingly, the earliest origins of beer were from 8,000BC in Ancient Egypt, and beer was once 'women's work' until the power shift instigated by the clergy during the Middle Ages brought brewing into the hands of men.

With a basic understanding of processes, we hit Black Hops Brewing in Burleigh, run by three local lads.

Govs, the brewer, leads us on a tour of Black Hops brewery, telling the history of how the group of friends (Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield and Michael McGovern) came up with the crazy business idea of starting their own brewery.

They began experimenting with brews, starting with the making of an egg nog stout as a trial, Dan marketing it even as it was being made.

Realising that their story was perhaps their most valuable asset, the trio involved the public in their venture from the outset, hence their slogan 'the least covert operation in brewing'.

Doing contract brewing, courting their audience with information about their progress as they went along, Black Hops Brewing is the only brewery in Australia to be helped along by crowd funding, their subscription sold out within a few hours.

The response to their beer meant that it wasn't long before these weekend warriors decided to open their own brewery. Sourcing as much produce locally as possible, waste is also recycled, with spent grain used as feed on a Currumbin Valley farm.

Although Balter Brewing, our last stop, launched their first beer in March 2016, it is already an award-winning brewery, scoring a prized gold medal for their XPA in the CBIA Awards (Craft Beer Industry Association), held July 2016.

Balter, meaning to dance artlessly without particular skill or grace, but usually with enjoyment, had a hot start in the press due to its co-ownership by world champions Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, along with pro surfers, Bede Durbidge and Josh Kerr.

Although we're here to taste beer, it's hard not to gape.

Set in the industrial area of Currumbin Waters, the brewery is an awe-inspiring operation; a vast industrial shed full of shining tanks as far as the eye can see.

Around us, hand-faced brick walls and the expansive 12-tap tasting area is lit by a huge luminous mural by Brisbane-based artists Frank & Mimi, which remind us that for all of its industrial vibe, it is also a place of design.

Our tasting starts with Balter's XPA, an Extra Pale Ale with a fruity palate that will punch your taste buds into the pleasure zone, rounded off with a crisp finish. It's extremely sessionable and perfectly on trend for summer drinking. Already you'll find this ale in over 30 venues.

With Balter's 12 taps slowly filling, there are lots of options for tasting as we listen to Joslyn tell their story. Around us families are relaxing, dining from food trucks which attend the venue on rotation.

Taking a trip with Hop on Brewery Tours is not only enjoyable, it's a fun way to learn more while meeting others with a similar interest. OK, it's fabulous to have a driver, but it's Joslyn's expertise and personality that make this trip even more of a pleasure.

Hop on Brewery Tours cost between $120 - $160 including transportation and refreshments or a meal. Private tours are also available.

Originally posted on More Gold Coast.

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