The rise of culinary tourism gives visitors an authentic taste of place, with everything from urban foraging to oyster shucking. Somewhat driven by the social media buzz of Insta-worthy eats, food tourism shares the story of a destination. Get inspired, taste local New South Wales produce on these wild food journeys and have a hand in global sustainability too.
Just a short drive from Byron Bay, this well-known restaurant, bakery and deli does creative things with local produce in a beautiful setting. Every Wednesday night the restaurant holds their popular Wild Harvest Sessions, where Head Chef Alastair Waddell and Forager Peter Hardwick present their ideas and flavours on a plate after a day of foraging. Guests can taste, experience and provide feedback in this interactive dining experience, with the winning dishes making it onto the restaurant’s seasonal menu.
Vegetarian, Vegan & Raw Food Trail, South Coast
A bespoke, do-it-yourself trail, the Shoalhaven Visitor’s Centre has put together a fantastic resource of healthy eateries for tourists to try at shoalhaven. Tuck into a fresh Buddha bowl, a meat-free bliss burger or raw vegan sweets as you journey the stunning South Coast. In Berry’s Back 2 Earth Farm Stay, have a plant-based meal or try a bespoke retreat package with options of wellness, massage and a raw food workshop. At Greendale’s in the town Pyree, have a vegetarian brekkie board with eggs and asparagus, or head to Craft Surf in Ulladulla for a 100% raw, vegan treat.
Mushrooming Foraging, Oberon
In the magnificent plateau extremes of the Blue Mountains, visitors can join 4WD Foraging Tours in a magical Oberon pine forest as part of the Field to Forest Festival. Learn to identify and collect, or simply observe or photograph wild pine mushrooms and enjoy an exhilarating journey through some of the remote parts of the forest. The two-hour tour departs from Oberon Visitor Information Centre, seats are strictly limited.
Gather and Cook Adventure, Southern Highlands
In the lush green hills of the Southern Highlands where the rich soil and cool climate yield excellent wine and other fresh produce, embark on an ingredient-gathering expedition with Biota Dining. Step into the contemporary and award-winning Biota restaurant first for coffee and a snack, then spend the morning with Biota’s chefs foraging for ingredients in the local surrounds, then having a hands-on cooking experience resulting in lunch at 01.00PM.
Food I Am, Wagga Wagga
As well as hosting extraordinary cooking classes with guest chefs and food treks through global culinary countries such as Vietnam and Italy, Food I Am hosts fascinating food tours to visit some of Riverina’s best artisan food producers. Your experienced foodie host will introduce you to the people behind the agriculture, including boutique producers, artisans and farmers dedicated to organic, sustainable, free-range farming.
The Original 100-metre meal, Hunter Valley
Owned by culinary couple Lisa and Andrew Margan, Margan Restaurant is famous for its one-acre on-site kitchen garden, which almost fully sustains their award-winning restaurant. Every Sunday across May and June, they host their Original 100-metre Meal where hungry diners tuck into food that’s all been grown or reared within 100 metres of the table. Try Lisa Margan-reared lamb, orchard fruits, garden vegetables and fresh unfiltered honey and olives along with the delicious Margan wine crafted from Andrew’s 100 hectares of vineyards.
Wild Food Adventures, Southern Highlands
Learn to gather wild food safely with Wild Food Adventures, a privately-owned tour operator specialising in bespoke day trips, seasonal foraging workshops and outdoor feasts in the Southern Highlands region. Visit authentic working farms, taste delicious cheeses and fruits matched with local wines and eat delicious meals crafted from local produce. Try the Fungi Forage Vine Tour with a mushroom foraging expert, or the popular Winter Truffle Hunts and explore the stunning Southern Highlands landscape.
Oysters, Sapphire Coast
For fascinating catch-and-eat experiences, the coastline from Shoalhaven South to Eden is known as the Oyster Coast and offers countless opportunities to eat the fresh shellfish. Head south to the Narooma Oyster Festival, a huge celebration of the culinary delicacy, where you can enjoy Angasi, Pacific and Sydney Rock Oysters. At Jim Wilds Oyster Service, Greenwell Point Rock Oysters and Pacific Oysters are shucked while you wait. In Tathra, award-winning Sydney Rock Oysters are grown in the pristine conditions of Nelson Lake by the family-owned Tathra Oysters Company. Sample their famous oysters locally at Tathra Beach Café or in iconic Sydney restaurants Otto, Neil Perry’s Rockpool and Cafe Sydney. For a memorable day out, join Captain Sponges Magical Oyster Tour on Pambula Lake, and learn all about oyster farming.
Foraging and wild food dining in Sydney …
In Sydney, go urban foraging for edible weeds, collect pure honey and sample plant-based dining. Source your own honey by learning beekeeping on a course with The Urban Beehive, which teaches the principles of backyard and rooftop beekeeping, how to light smokers, open beehives, handle bees and identify eggs, larvae, pollen and honey.
In Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, immerse yourself in the rich Indigenous culture of the traditional owners of the Sydney city area and learn about the way plants in the garden were used by Aboriginal people and taste seasonal bush tucker foods, in the Aboriginal Bush Food Experience.
Discover the nutritional and medicinal remedies locked inside common weeds growing in your garden, and in parks and reserves on a three-hour walking Wonderful Wild Weeds – Foraging Tour at Centennial Parklands.
In the hip dining precinct of Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf, you can savour a unique plant-based high tea at Alibi Bar, Ovolo Hotel. Designed by plant-based dining pioneer and US chef, Matthew Kenney, the high tea offers sweet and savoury including Black Sesame Cream with Raspberry Rose.
Pocket City Farms grows organic produce in the heart of Sydney’s inner west. They have lots of interesting tours and workshops to take part in from crop swaps to bush tucker workshops. Dine in at the on-site restaurant Acre, which crafts delicious meals from the kitchen garden.
For wild food dining in the city, try Paperbark Restaurant, where native Australian ingredients sourced from small-scale producers are a focus, or for a fresh take on pub food, try Green Lion at Rozelle, which has lots of veggie options such as the green Mack burger with beefless patties.
Text by Destination NSW | Photos courtesy of Wild Weeds Foraging, Aimee Crouch