This weekend I decided to tick a few things off my list with a visit to the Sunshine Coast. If you are a foodie like me, then I recommend a visit to these two places:
Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Caloundra
I discovered Vicki Taylor and her amazing spices late last year, and was so taken with her amazing cinnamon that I gave packets to my friends and family for Christmas. I decided my trip to the Sunny Coast was going to include a stop at Caloundra so I could check out Vicki’s spice shop – Red Hot Chilli Pepper
I had a great chat to Vicki who was busy adding stock to shelves that were already heaving with wonderful products. She told me she had lived in India while working for a bank, and it sparked her interest in spices. When she returned to Australia she studied with Ian Hemple, Australia’s premier spice expert (the man behind the Herbie’s Spices range). She opened her shop Red Hot Chilli Pepper in 2011 to rave reviews and has been running popular spice blending classes as well as a successful online business.
This year Vicki has launched her ‘Licenced to Spice’ cooking school and is running classes that focus on different cuisines from around the world (Moroccan, Mexican, Mediterranean, Persian etc). I’ve got my eye on her Moroccan class, I love a good tagine and I’m super keen to learn more about using herbs and spices.
As well as every spice and herb you can think of, Vicki stocks an impressive range of chilli spice, artisan salts, peppers, gourmet foods and kitchen gizmo’s such as grinders.
Find Red Hot Chilli Pepper at Shop 4 “Monarco Resort”, Bulcock Street, Caloundra
I also recommend following Vicki’s page on Facebook for great recipes and spice tips
The Ginger Factory, Yandina
Keen to visit The Ginger Factory I drove out to Yandina to investigate this popular tourist attraction.
You can opt for a 45 min tour of the ginger factory, or you can do a tour to learn about bees and honey. There is a little ‘rain forest’ walk, shops selling macadamias, herbs and other trinkets, a train ride, a café (ginger and beef pie with pumpkin mash sounded good) and an ice creamery selling a fabulous range of ginger flavoured ice creams.
I had a look around the tourist shop at the plethora of ginger products, itching to buy something. Unfortunately I found the quality of the products disappointing, I couldn’t believe when I read the ingredients list on a gingerbread man cookie – it didn’t include any ginger, only ginger flavouring! Definitely not a good place for a diabetic or anyone limiting their sugar intake, most of the ginger products were about 50% sugar (think ginger fudge, chocolate covered ginger, crystallised ginger and ginger cordial) – the best I could find was a reduced sugar ginger cordial which uses stevia to help lower the sugar content, which was still very high.
Feeling a bit disappointed I joined the next tour of the ginger factory, which fortunately salvaged the visit for me as I did learn some interesting facts about ginger:
Ginger is harvested twice a year in Australia (once a year elsewhere in the world), and stored in brine for up to 12 months, this does not affect the taste as ginger is 80% water.
Australia is one of the largest exporters of ginger alongside China, South Africa and South America. 70% of our ginger is exported (mainly to the UK and USA), 20% is used for crystallised ginger and the remaining 10% is used in jams, marmalades and syrups.
23 farmers are contracted to grow ginger for the factory, producing 3100 tons of the rhizome each year.
The ginger is graded according to fibre content. Specialised laser cameras have been developed allowing the ginger to be sorted into 6 different grades. This unique sorting system means Australian ginger has become known as the best in the world.
Ginger helps with digestion, morning sickness, sea sickness, nausea, and stomach problems.
Try adding ginger to scones, pour ginger syrup over meat to marinate, and you can add ginger syrup to onions on the bbq for a delicious version of caramelised onions.
How to store your ginger:
- Do not peel off the outer skin before use as it contains antioxidants
- Remove any new green shoot emerging on the rhizome as it is toxic
- Put your ginger into a plastic bag, keep it in the freezer and grate when frozen
Pleased to have learnt something from my visit to The Ginger Factory, I’m glad I can tick it off my list. Looking past the shameless touristy-ness, I thought it would be a fun place to take my little niece and nephew, they would love a ride on the choo choo train.
I am now on the lookout for some new places to visit. If you know of any hidden gems on the Sunshine Coast you think I might enjoy then please let me know by leaving a comment in the speech bubble at the top of this post.
Eat Well Travel Often – oh yeah!!!
You can find The Ginger Factory at 50 Pioneer Rd, Yandina QLD