Generic filters
Filter by Suburb
Select all
Main Beach
Mermaid Beach
Nobby's Beach
North Burleigh
Palm Beach
Surfers Paradise
Water Fun

Sip, sample and explore at Tweed’s artisan food weekend

From bakers to brewers, everyone's on board.

Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Husk Distillery (image supplied)

It’s not often we Gold Coasters are gifted with an entire weekend filled with food-related events and experiences but when we are, it’s quite the celebration.

Which is why it’s extremely exciting that the Tweed Artisan Food Weekend is almost upon us once again with all of the opportunities to sip, sample and explore all the goodies our southern friends have to offer.

In collaboration with selected local growers, producers and chefs, the weekend of events will kick off on Friday 13th March and run until Sunday the 15th showcasing a slew of impressive creators. From bakers to brewers and everything in between, the Tweed is home to some of the finest makers around and the purpose of the three-day event is to allow us to get up close and personal with the best of them. 

Take a bush tucker walk and talk or a river cruise that begins at a bakery and ends in a distillery (the perfect day) or choose from any number of exceptional learning and tasting times.

The three-day program kicks off with a beer tour and tasting session at the Stone & Wood brewery in Murwillumbah, you can visit Cubby Bakehouse for a stacked baguette and then cruise the Tweed River to Husk Distillery for a tipple or two. 

Perhaps you’d enjoy the Fingal Walkabout Tour, curated by local elder Uncle Frank, where you’ll learn about native bush food and it’s medical properties and then lunch at Sheoak Shack and tour their latest gallery exhibition.

Stone & Wood's Murwillumbah Brewery

You can also get up close and personal with local growers at Carools exceptional Potagers restaurant, indulge in a four-course menu accompanied by local cheese and wine and then wander through the prettiest of gardens to take in the city views.

Sunday will see a Death by Avocado garden picnic soiree at Tropical Fruit World or you may opt for an exclusive Ink Gin tasting and tour of Husk Distillery. 

Perhaps like us, you’d like to do all of things.

The Tweed is one area of the Coast (and yes there are many) that very proudly supports local growers and producers and this event is a testament to that. 

It’s set to be a weekend to remember filled with learning, food appreciation and of course, a beverage or two. 

Don’t miss out on tickets. 

LOCATION: Various, the Tweed Valley Region
WHEN: From March 13th to 15th, 2020

Words by Kirra Smith 

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre

Paul Messenger

Paul Messenger - Founder of Husk Distillers and Wife Mandaley Perkins (image supplied)
Paul Messenger, Founder of Husk Distillers and wife, Mandaley Perkins (image supplied)

Correct us if we are wrong, but most of us would be pretty well versed in knowing the taste and look of the famous purple liquid that sits behind most bars. And of course, we are referring to none other than the renowned Ink Gin. And ahead of International Gin Day (yes it’s a thing) on the 9th of April, we thought it would be only fitting we interviewed the man behind Ink Gin. Founder of Husk Distillery, Paul Messenger gives us an insight into how Husk came about and what the once-Goldy-local loves about the Coast when he does make the trip up north from his home in Northern NSW.

How long have you been a Northern New South Wales local?
I grew up on the Gold Coast and have fond memories of visiting Tumbulgum as a ten-year-old when the chain ferry ran people and cars across the river. When we realised we wanted to make agricultural rum, Tumbulgum was the first place that came to mind with its fertile soils, abundant water, rich sugar cane history, picturesque river village and close proximity to some of the world’s best surf beaches. It was with enormous satisfaction and a great privilege that we were able to buy Husk Farm in 2011, finally moving here in 2012.

Tell us how Husk came about.
It’s a long story. I was flying over the Nullarbor Plain on my way to a drill rig in the West Australian goldfields in 1998 when I read a story about how a fella by the name of Bill Lark, the Godfather of Tasmanian whisky, lobbied to change the law and allow small craft distilleries to operate legally. That story captured my imagination and over the next 10 years I followed the success of Tasmanian Whisky and wondered how I too could follow this dream. But it was during a Caribbean cruise in 2009 that my distilling ruminations started to take form during an afternoon sipping 20 year-old Rhum Agricoles in a small bar next to a small distillery on the small island of Martinique. While reflecting on the vast fields of sugar cane back home, my dream took on a clarity quite at odds with the relaxed rum haze that became the rest of the afternoon in that charming place. The locals explained to me that rum made from fresh cane juice has “terroir” – the taste and soul of the place where it’s made. As a geologist, the idea of capturing the provenance and spirit of the place where I grew up made my heart skip a beat and that was where our journey began.

Ink Gins from Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Ink Gins from Husk Distillery (image supplied)

What’s your proudest entrepreneurial moment?
Everything we were doing was novel or innovative and it was clear that it would take many years of devotion to perfect our rum and reveal the true spirit of this place. It was also clear that we needed an income fast, and with the early signs of a gin renaissance taking root in England we started looking for quirky gin ingredients. I actually found the colour changing butterfly pea flower early in the journey and had been experimenting with it in liqueurs, vodka, even rum as well as with a range of gin botanicals. I was mixing these concoctions with lemon or lime to make the colour change, but the “eureka moment” came when I mixed an experimental butterfly pea gin with tonic water. The magic of seeing that deep blue liquid transform into a bright, sparkling blush pink colour sensation will stay with me forever, I knew we were onto something big and that butterfly pea gin and tonic would be a match made in heaven.

What’s the most popular Husk Spirit you sell?
At the moment, at least, Ink Gin is by far our most popular spirit, even though we continue to invest heavily in developing a unique Australian expression of a French-style fresh cane juice rum. Ink Gin came about because of the need to generate cash flow and because cane juice rum is seasonal and can only be made during the harvest (August-November). The fact that we spent three years developing the recipe and getting the infusion right meant we had to keep our day jobs for a few more years, but we wanted to make sure that people would buy the first bottle because of the colour but they’d then buy their second for the taste. Ink Gin hit a nerve with people at the right time, when the craft gin boom was about to take off and people were thirsty for something new and different.

Paul Messenger & Quentin Brival from Husk Distillers (image supplied)
Paul Messenger & Quentin Brival from Husk Distillers (image supplied)

What’s your personal favourite Husk Spirit and why?
No question, Husk Pure Cane. This is how all our rums start – it’s the most pure, unadulterated expression of our ‘terroir’, our provenance. Call it what you like, agricole, fresh juice rum or Cultivated Australian Rum, this is a style not well understood in Australia and unaged rums even less so. But in the French Caribbean, where it is as much a part of their heritage and identity, this is how people drink rum – clean, fresh and full of flavour. Drink it in a short ti’ punch, a daiquiri, caipirinha or mojito, but it must be Pure Cane.

What’s a Gin Cocktail recipe you would recommend to all Gin-lovers?
The Southside is one of the classics, that’s also really easy to make at home. Otherwise, you can’t go past the simple G&T. I like simple drinks where you can really taste the quality of the spirit.

What does the next 5 years have in store for Husk Distillery?
The next 5 years will be just as adventurous, bold and busy as the last 10 years. We are investing in the future of Australian rum with a new sugar mill onsite at Husk. This is a complicated project which will take up a lot of my time this year and next. We are also finishing up a new tank farm and barrel storage and we are planning additions to our fermentation capacity and an upgrade to our wastewater treatment. As always we are very focused on quality control and process improvements and we are committed to making Husk Distillers, Tumbulgum one of the safest, most efficient and sustainable distilleries in Australia. You can also expect to see plenty of new product releases, a new Husk Rum brand identity and bottle (shhh…), and lots of new experiences at the Husk cellar door.

Ink Gin from Husk Distillery (image supplied)
Ink Gin from Husk Distillery (image supplied)

When you visit the Gold Coast, what are your favourites…

Café: Café D’Bar after a surf off the rock wall is always a favourite.
Coffee spot: Zephyr Coffee in Kirra is fantastic. And they roast their own beans!
Restaurant: Jimmy Wah’s in Burleigh is great.
Bar or pub for a drink: Rainbow Bay surf club. Best view on the coast.
How do you choose to spend your weekends? 
Surf as much as I can, catch up with work, spend time with my beautiful wife. BBQ with family and friends and share a few Botanicals & tonics. We also enjoy cruising down the coast and catching a show at Bruns Picture House. Ending up in the Brunswick pub also makes for a great Saturday night.

Say ciao to Tweed’s stunning new Italian eatery

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Italian food is a gift from the Gods (aka people who revere carbs, love and afternoon naps above all else). It is both a comforting hug and a combination of flavours that instantly transport you back to that trip you once took to Italy and haven’t stopped thinking about since.

Particularly when it’s the work of two people who understand the importance of all of the above and have indeed spent considerable time living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world themselves.

Maki and Mike Dackiw are the brains behind Tweed Head’s newbie Gallura Italian and their rap sheet is an impressive one. They spent ten years running a trattoria in Milan before making the move to Sydney to open a sister venue and most recently, Park Street Pasta Bar in Brunswick Heads.

Luckily for the Gold Coast, the pair have now made the move to our southern shores and with them, comes a stunning new space brimming with those Italian good vibes you know and love and serving up a menu that will almost certainly blow your mind.

Gallura Italian is an intimate 60-seat venue with low hanging lights, a beautiful, brightly coloured octopus mural and a section called the Chef’s table where you can sit at the bar and watch Mike and the team at work. Oh and there are pendant lights made from oyster shells so that’s amazing.

Now to the menu and what a divine little masterpiece it is. Each dish is refined and made up of perfectly balanced flavours with influences from Sardinia and all made with the freshest of coastal produce.

To begin, the Arancini with black truffle, mushroom, buffalo mozzarella and porcini cream is absolutely divine as is the Chargrilled Local Octopus with cannellini bean crema, pickled green tomatoes, baby radish and nduja. Two of the best Italian dishes we’ve ever sampled (and yes, including from Italy).

One of Gallura Italian’s specialty dishes is the Pane Frattau – a Sardinian flat bread soaked in lamb broth with tomato salsa, basil, pecorino sarda and with a poached duck egg perched on top. It was melt-in-your-mouth magic.

From the Primi menu, the Spaghetti with NZ vongole (clams), confit garlic, vermentino (white wine from Sardinia) and Bottarga (salted fish rose) is mind-blowing, the perfect combination of flavours and the pasta arrived al dente which very rarely happens. Perfection.

For dessert, quite obviously you’ll want to taste the Limoncello Tiramisu and also maybe an Affogato because those are amazing always.

The wine list is made up of Italian tipples from across the country and there is a tight cocktail list should you wish to indulge in a couple of those too.

The emphasis of Tweed Head’s spectacular newbie is on fresh, local produce, handmade pasta and traditional Sardinian methods and may we say they have absolutely nailed it.

We’re probably going to move to Tweed now.


LOCATION: 1/20 Stuart St, Tweed Heads
HOURS: Wednesday to Friday 12pm to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9pm, Saturday 5pm to 9pm and Sunday 11.30am to 3pm

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

© 2024 All Rights Reserved.