You know that feeling when you're on holiday somewhere special and you wake up early when the sun's just rising and there's the promise of a beautiful day, and the sea is clear and calling your name, so you go for a swim before breakfast but you're still in the water at midday because the waves are just so darned delicious and there are schools of fish swimming at your toes, and besides, you're sure there's some mighty fine tucker to be devoured with gusto whenever you're good and ready? Yeah that!
To celebrate my recent retirement from full time work, Peter and I indulged in a week-long vacation at Noosa on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Our lux apartment was fully self contained, and included a barbecue, dining setting (and spa bath!) on the balcony overlooking the beach. Although we'd planned to shop and cook for ourselves, the lure of the various eateries on Hastings Street was too great, so we allowed our taste buds to explore the lunch and dinner menus on offer instead.
As it happened, berardo's bistro on the beach was less than fifty paces from our accommodation, therefore we took advantage of its proximity and dined there on several occasions, including breakfast with my nephew and his lovely wife, who drove from Brisbane to see us; as well as dinner shared with some very dear friends who travelled all the way from Hervey Bay with their three little children.
With vistas across the sand to the clear blue water, berardo's bistro on the beach is indeed (per words on their web site) a 'towel's length' from Laguna Bay — and the view from 'the office' for diners, as well as the team members who work there, is nothing short of spectacular!
The view from 'the office' to Laguna Bay...
Meet the chefs, Brendan Butterworth and Head Chef, Gene Quinlan
Head Chef, Gene Quinlan, has been at berardo's bistro on the beach for over three years, having previously worked in Gladstone in Queensland and also central Victoria. His philosophy is to take the best-quality, locally-sourced produce and treat it simply — presenting dishes with fresh, clean flavours. Now that's my kind of food!
berardo's dish of grilled Tiger prawns with chilli, garlic and parsley, for example, is quite simply one of the best prawn dishes I've eaten in my life. I asked Gene and his colleague, Brendon Butterworth, if they'd be kind enough to share the technique for preparation. They were delighted to oblige, taking time out for a few photographs too (thanks so much guys!). It's my pleasure to present the recipe I've written following Gene's instructions, together with postcards from the Noosa kitchen.
The recipe and technique for the prawns...
TIGER PRAWNS WITH CHILLI, GARLIC AND PARSLEY
8-10 extra-large tiger prawns
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped*
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 small lemon
lemon wedge, to serve
baby cos salad, to serve
pan roasted potatoes, to serve
First make the garlic and chilli-infused oil. Combine the oil, garlic and chilli in a small saucepan, heat gently for about five minutes, then set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
Next you need to 'butterfly' the prawns. This is slightly fiddly, but well worth the effort. Take a prawn, lay it on its back on a chopping board and uncurl it. Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut into the head and slice down through the belly to the tail, taking care not to cut right through the back of the shell. Open out and flatten the prawn, then using the tip of the knife remove and discard the black intestinal tract. Rinse under cold water if needed. Then pat dry with paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Flash grill the prawns, shell side down, over a hotplate or grill (see image above), until the shell begins to blister. Then place the prawns onto a baking tray and spoon over a quantity of the infused oil and lemon juice. Pop them into the oven for five minutes, just until the flesh is cooked. Keep an eye, as you don't want to over cook them. Gene advised that if you happen to see that one or two of the prawns are not quite done, cook those just a little longer. The idea is that the meat comes away easily from the shell.
Transfer the prawns to a serving plate. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with a wedge of lemon, some pan roasted potatoes (cooked with garlic and rosemary), and a side of fresh baby cos lettuce leaves dressed with lemon vinaigrette and sprinkled with grated Parmesan and sea salt. This quantity serves two.
*Choose small red bird's eye chillies if you prefer heat, otherwise use the sweet red serrano variety.
Tiger prawns with chilli, garlic and parsley a la berardo's...
'Did you eat anywhere else while you were here, the Manager at berardo's bistro on the beach asked with a grin when we ordered baguettes for lunch after a swim on our last day. 'Of course we did,' I laughed.
There are many excellent restaurants, cafes, bistros and ice creameries in Hastings Street, and we enjoyed a bite to eat at several of them. But there are still many more on our list of places to try. So Noosa, hear this, we'll definitely be back.
Note: this is not a sponsored post. Chef, Gene Quinlan, and his wonderful team at berardo's bistro on the beach were kind enough to prepare a serve of grilled prawns and accompaniments for our photographs; then generously allowed us to enjoy it, and shared their techniques too. Many thanks to all.
Tell me dear readers, have you ever allowed yourself the indulgence of a holiday like this one, where everything (including the ocean and the food) was absolutely delicious!? Please feel free to share your experience. You know I love hearing from you.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.