And I thought I would surf the waves away and dig a pot of gold in Australia's surfer's paradise - Gold Coast. But that day on the 70-km long unbroken coastline, all the gold I could see was the countless blonde heads and the bulky orange sun dipping into a straight horizon. But if there is no gold in Gold Coast, why is it called that? Gold is a metaphor, silly! After Jim Cavill built the Surfer's Paradise Hotel in 1925, tourists started pouring into this tail end of Queensland and in the 1940s journalists and speculators started calling it the Gold Coast. Well, they must have been really repetitive for in 1958, the Town Council officially christened it ‘Gold Coast'.
I forgot all about digging gold, my confusion lay in what do I dig my fork into. No just what. But where as well. In Moo Moo that breaks down the trite masculine vibes of an everyday steakhouse and brings ‘sexy back into steak' (that's how Moo Moo describes itself) or in Palazzo Versace's Le Jardin where the well-heeled and the monied moor their boats in the marina and hop off for champagne high tea. In QT Hotel's Bazaar where cured meats hang from high ceilings and sand crabs sit chilled, all primed for the plate. In Chill on Tedder, the 2011 Gold Coast Restaurant of the Year. Or, handcut truffle salami, cornichons, moreton bay bug, carrot puree with butter in Little Truffle. Or, get sand in my shoes and head towards Southport Spit for a fresh catch of prawns, tuna, crab, bugs straight out of the fishing boats, tuna longliners and crabbers (this one is unbelievably fresh and incredibly cheap!).
Japanese. Chinese. Vietnamese. Indian. Italian. Greek. French. Australian. Greek, Polish. Name your favourite cuisine and you'll find a hundred kitchen to suit your palate. Not just the cuisine, even names would have you in a tizzy. Listen to this: Chill on Tedder. Songbirds. Glass. Hellenika. Oskars on Burleigh. The Polish Place. Room 81. Restaurant 3 Sixty. Southport Sharks.
Too many options. Too much confusion. Trust me, sometimes it is best to stick to the known, the tried, the tested. Like I did. I walked into the award-winning Alto Cucino & Bar on Broadbeach. Calling it crowded would be an understatement. There, literally, was not an inch left; the place is forever bursting with boisterous men and giggly girls, the menu forever spilling with risotto, gnocchi, linguine, salad, charred salmon, baked barramundi, spiced spatchcock... The food is good, the waiters good looking. If only Alto (A Little Taste Of) wasn't that noisy, I could happily order a pizza for every meal!
In Gold Coast, I was yearning for a little silence as a side dish. Perhaps, that is too much to ask for in a place that swarms with a million holidayers all year round. In Goa Indian Fusion, the food is fusion, the flavours heady and the menu a blend of traditional and contemporary. The must-eat is tiger prawns simmered in coconut and turmeric broth with lemon and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
I was adding calories by the minute, but the must-eat list was just not shrinking - there were too many restaurants still waiting to be explored. I could not try all, so I stepped into Australia's most luxurious hotel - Palazzo Versace. Honestly, my big temptation was not the kiwi bellini or the ocean trout tartare with wasabi cream and brick pastry that sit pricey on the degustation menu of Vanitas restaurant that boasts of two chef hats; my big temptation was the 13-metre canvas painting depicting the life and loves of Gianni Versace; the painting inspired by his book Do not Disturb.
In Palazzo Versace, I filled in on the artistic decor. The food could wait. I stepped out. For the Omeros Bros were waiting. Yes, brothers Angelo and Nick Omeros, who started the Omeros Bros in Marina Mirage, an iconic seafood restaurant. Gourmands swear by this one - the cooking is not complicated. Isn't that how seafood should be?
With a million sumptuous options on the platter, perhaps this 70-km long coastline should be called Food Coast. Not Gold Coast.