LATITUDE TROPICAL BLONDE, MACALISTER BREWING CO, SMITHFIELD
Like everywhere else in the Western world, the craft beer scene is going off in Cairns. One of the better beer drinking options is Macalister Brewing Co at Smithfield, and it has gorgeous views over the cane fields. The beer is spot on; I recommend a Latitude Tropical Blonde which has a lovely fruity taste, a gentle bitterness and a crisp finish. Enjoy it overlooking the classic FNQ views with snacks served from the food trucks. See macalisterbrewingcompany.com.au
FISH TACO SLIDERS,THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE FUGLY FOOD TRUCK
Cairns has a fabulous range of pop-up food events, such as the recent Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, featuring food trucks. My favourite truck is The Good, the Bad and the Fugly, where they sell delicious homemade fish taco sliders with a pineapple chilli sauce. See tourofthetropics.com.au
WATERMELON APPLE MINT JUICE, JONSSON'S FARM MARKET, STRATFORD
No visit to Jonsson's is complete without a freshly squeezed juice from their juice bar – it's a great thirst quencher in summer. Jonsson's is owned by a local farming family and stocks a great range of local meats, fruit and veges, as well as coffee, tea and smallgoods. My favourites to take home are Mungalli Creek tasty cheddar cheese and the Titchum Creek coffee.
PORK BELLY WITH DAVIDSON PLUM AND QUEENSLAND SCALLOPS, OCHRE RESTAURANT CAIRNS
To me this dish combines the best of Australian ingredients from the land and sea. The native Davidson plums cut through the richness of the pork and scallops give an additional local flavour. Ochre is right on the Cairns boardwalk overlooking the marina and mountains beyond. You will likely find me at the stoves there and we have created a unique Australian cuisine matched with an eclectic wine and drinks list that was recently named the best overall wine list featuring Queensland wines in Australia. See ochrerestaurant.com.au
DUCK CURRY AT TAMARIND RESTAURANT, CAIRNS
One of my favourite places to eat in Queensland is Tamarind, the Thai-inspired restaurant at Cairns' Reef Hotel Casino. This restaurant beautifully combines rich Thai-inspired flavours and colours, and fuses eastern flavours and the finest regional produce. A must-try at Tamarind is the duck curry, with caramelised pumpkin, roasted peanuts, chilli and scented rice.
FNQ IRIDIUM GOLD RUM, MOUNT UNCLE DISTILLERY, WALKAMIN
When exploring the Atherton Tablelands, Mount Uncle Distillery is a must-do. Mount Uncle makes a fantastic rum perfect for mojitos. It is also worth taking a bottle home of Mount Uncle gin, made using Australian native botanicals. See mtuncle.com
CURED BARRAMUNDI, NUNU RESTAURANT, PALM COVE
I love this dish because it utilises one of my favourite fish from the Australian tropics, the mighty barramundi. Texturally this dish is very interesting as it is paired with orange, toasted crumbs and hazelnuts, a terrific way to start the meal. Nick Holloway is one my fellow FNQ chefs very dedicated to local produce, and his house-cured barramundi is a favourite. See nunu.com.au
For almost 25 years, Craig Squire has helmed his award-winning, sustainably oriented, Ochre Restaurant and Grill in Cairns, where he showcases regional and native Australian cuisine. He will be guest chef onboard Coral Expeditions' Coral Discoverer on a Cape York and Arnhem land special sailing focusing on the seasonal ingredients of tropical Australia. This 11-night Australian Cuisine itinerary departs Cairns on October 12. From $10,290 a person twin share. See coralexpeditions.com.au