From Paradise Island

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DIVING AND DINING… EMILIO FORTINI AND CHEF MARK JENSON ON ANCHOR BAY IN LIZARD ISLAND.

Found. Paradise island. Its so exclusive and remote that the only way to get here is by a private chartered plane.

Its one of the few islands in the world that is located on a shimmering coral reef. It has it’s very own 24 powdery white beaches and only 40 luxury suites. So not only do I picnic on a secluded, sun-drenched beach but do so on world class gourmet food. I revel in a seven course tasting menu under the stars on the beach. And just as much as the world class cuisine hits stratospheric heights, the breathtakingly beautiful depths of the ocean’s silent and magnificent treasures reveal themselves to me as I learn to snorkel and dive from the experienced instructors here. Named Lizard island by explorer James Cook over two centuries ago, this sensationally beautiful island shimmers in the sun in the turquoise blue seas on the Northern most tip of Australias  awesome Queensland.

DIVING INTO GOURMET FOOD

Please take a look at the photograph I shot on one of their secluded most beautiful beaches. Chef Mark Jenson has cooked up the most delicious fish, which is not only found in the waters around here but is also the most prized and most in demand Coral Trout ( Recipe follows). Joining us right after his deep sea scuba dive is Emilio Fortini the sporting and sunbronzed Chief of the island resort. The dynamic and charming Italian ensures that there is perfection in every detail of the  understated luxury here. A wine afficianado and gourmet himself he epitomizes the spirit of the island. As does Chef Mark who having traveled the world and taken a year’s sabbatical only to eat around in Asia infuses his cooking with  many a vibrant Asia flavor. He changes  the menu daily and his dishes are influenced by the unique environment in which the island is located.

I love the culinary offering here which  reflects the tropical climate here and draws influence from South East Asia and the Mediterranean.  Not limiting  to these Chef Mark  also  interprets modern Australia and portray through food the many cultures that embody this magnificent country. Over 90% of the produce that he uses is  locally sourced from Far North Queenslands fertile soil and the Great Barrier Reef. I trip out on his premium produce coral trout, red emperor, tropical lobster, red claw yabbies and fantastic rare tropical fruits and vegetables. Succulent meats from the Atherton Tablelands where their volcanic soils and high rainfall allow the animal to graze on prime pastures.

Its not just about the superb food here. Ive yet to come across a  resort which has it’s own Research centre. A mindblowing trip to the internationally acknowledged research centre reveals all the path breaking studies done here on marine life and the coral reef.

It’s a heady feeling to be connected to nature in every way and yet to be coddled in luxury, from the spa to the beachfront villas. To be massaged under the sky on a beach with the local macademia nut oils and the premium French beauty products. If this is not paradise, what is?

P.S. while it’s blissful most of the time, the only “downside” to this paradise is the lack of phone connectivity. There is only satellite wifi and Im crossing my fingers that this mail goes through now.

Crisp Coral Trout

On my request Chef Mark Jenson shares his superb and easy to make recipe. You can substitute the coral trout with any other fish.

First step is to make the sahn rhot paste.  The next step is to make the sauce from the paste.  The third step is to cook the fish and plate up.

Sahn Rhot Paste

30 gr              red chilli

10 gr              garlic cloves

10 gr              coriander root

Rough chop and blitz in blender.

Tamarind Sauce

40 gr              sahn rhot paste

60 gr              light palm sugar

30 ml             fish sauce

80 ml             tamarind concentrate

As needed                      Oil

Gently fry paste in oil.  Add sugar and lightly caramelise.  Add fish sauce, tamarind water, bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Coral trout (or any pan size fish, gilled, gutted and scaled)

Score fish 2 cm deep to resemble diamond shapes on both sides.  Use a small skewer to separate the fish wings.  Dust the fish with cornflour to absorb the excess skin moisture.  Fry in vegetable oil at 170C for 8 minutes till fish is cooked translucent at the bone in the thickest section of the fish.

Pour the tamarind sauce on the plate.  Remove the skewer and stand the fish up resting on the fish wings.  Garnish with coriander leaves and chilli julienne. Enjoy!

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