It was after Alan and Susan Carle won a Slow Food Award for their work with biodiversity that the luxury resort, Peppers knew they had to have the husband and wife team present at their recent Food and Wine event at Peppers Beach Club in Port Douglas.
“We won a Slow Food Award for our work with Rainforest Biodiversity, and we have been instrumental in introducing many of the exotic tropical fruits to Australia. Our initiative, The Botanical Ark, contains the largest collection of tropical fruit species diversity in Australia, and, as some people say, possibly the world,” said Alan.
Peppers have recently launched a Gourmet Food Trail. Every month or so, a different Peppers property throughout Australia will host a foodie event where enthusiasts have the opportunity, over one weekend, of enjoying the hospitality of the luxury resort and given the chance to indulge in the food and wine of the region. The month of March was Port Douglas and Tropical North Queensland’s turn to shine.
Alan’s presentation took place on the Friday night.
“Our presentation involved gathering 60 species of fruits from our garden, which means climbing trees, hiking the hills, searching for the elusive... all in the torrential rain, bringing them home, making sure they are free of insects or other nasties, and cleaning them. Once transported the 30km to Port Douglas, we assembled them in a magnificent display that only the tropics can offer. We offered a dozen fruits for tasting on the night,” said Alan.
The most unusual fruit that Alan presented was from the Cherry Mangosteen or the Garcinia forbesii. Found in the jungles of Borneo, Alan explains that the tree produces small 2.5cm red fruits. He also had on hand a Salak or Snake Fruit, which is native to Indonesia. The fruit appears as if it is covered in a snake skin, yet tastes like a pineapple flavoured granny smith apple. The pear shaped fruit is about 5cm long, 4cm wide and grows amongst the base of one of the spiniest palms known.
The Carle’s began their work more than 24 years ago as a subsistence farm before focusing the endeavours on a private ethno-botanical garden. Together the couple travel to tropical regions around the world searching out plants that have special qualities and those that can be used for food, spices, medicine and cosmetics. It is Tropical North Queensland that provides the perfect climate for their fascinating work.
“Tropical North Queensland is the only area in the country with sufficiently high rainfall, high humidity, and warm temperatures throughout the year - conditions that fosters Tropical Rainforests, the home ecosystem of these fruits,” he said.
“Special groups may visit the Botanical Ark by invitation (prior booking and confirmation), and depending on their requirements, would entail an introductory talk, an interactive garden tour, followed by a morning or afternoon tea or lunch, which features dishes prepared with tropical fruits and fresh local produce. My wife, Susan is an innovative cook. We love living in Tropical North Queensland for the warmth, the water, be it year round flowing creeks, the Coral Sea or the rain, the friendliness of the locals, the natural beauty, the wildlife and the tropical lifestyle. And of course the great food.”
The next Peppers food and wine event will take place at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge on April 27.