ALTERNATIVE CAFES OF THE CASSOWARY COAST Far North Qld Ebb & Flow Cafe @ Mission Bea

EBB and FLOW CAFE with Emily Puckey

The 1st in the series of the alternative cafes of the region known as the Cassowary Coast in tropical NE Australia

By Ian Browne Shamrock News

As the tropical tide shifts across the sand, slowing down time to allow all to enjoy this paradise a little longer, people ponder the lost ark that inhabits the tropical jungle which leaps and bounds along the shoreline, as tall coconut palms score the shade, standing guard against the elements. The cassowary, the large old bird from which this tropical coastline found its name, it falls out of the shadowlands like a prank that time has continued to playout. It is respected not just for its at times aggressive behaviour, but as much for the vulnerable state our dogs, our cars and the clearing of its rare rainforests have delivered.

To the north, Cairns is a funky, vibrant city, where much is on offer for the energetic. Down this way people seem to be consumed by fishing, dodging the anxiety left in the wake of too many cyclones, and willing away time harvesting sugarcane and bananas. But the Bingle Bay and Mission Beach area breeds more cosmopolitan folk, and their sociable ways and enjoyment of jungle life by the beach is obvious. To be met are the locals, others have moved here from Europe, Britain, or rolling in from similar bohemian havens as northern NSW. They all have one thing in common though, an admiration and respect for the nirvana they have found themselves amongst.

Let’s take a look at some of the region’s coffee shops, these magnets that draw in community energy, and the relaxed, creative pleasure centres where sociable flamboyant minds congregate to share ideas within the alternative cafes of north Queensland’s Cassowary Coast.

The Ebb and Flow Café with Emily Puckey

Across from the pub in the wee colourful town of Mission Beach, and just next door to the weekend marketplace is the tranquillity of the Ebb and Flow Café. A quaint interior complimented by peaceful world music and indie tunes, the front of the shop nestles tranquilly into a leafy garden where guests are welcome to sit and reflect. Its owner, Emily Puckey, who grew up in the region, has found inspiration from her time spent in Asia. The culture, the people; their foods, herbs, the natural remedies they devote to wellness and sustainability within a long-held respect for life in its various incarnations. Included in the daily offerings is a tasty menu bolstered by healthy ingredients seduced from provenance, with some exotic herbs from far afield; fruit and vegetables appear to excite, demanding their wisdoms be explored.

Emily will talk us through how she showcases this magic within the Ebb and Flow Café at Mission Beach.

How long has the Ebb and Flow Café been around?

Ebb and Flow has been operating for 2 years. The building is over 20 years old and was an empty shop which I turned into a Café.

Serendipity had me working for a wonderful and progressive Chef in an inspiring Modern Asian restaurant in Mission Beach at the age of 15. This began my love for SE Asian food and travel and inspired me to want to own a Café someday.

Shamrock: With a twig of magic from the garden at the café front, Emily explains the possibilities the pungent herb she has placed in my hand offers, and its spiritual appeal seen throughout India where this Indian basil ‘Tulsi’ takes its pride of place in many of the homes there. This café serves the vegetarians well, but I highly recommend the Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup with beef skirt. The hand- made pies are delicious, and Emily's mum, Jules, shares the most amazing beef n pumpkin curry served with flatbread.

How has your many journeys through Asia influenced the culture of this café?

Having travelled SE Asia and India numerous times I have been inspired by the cultures, peoples, environments and the food, drinks and herbal medicines that I found and enjoyed. Our menu changes regularly with the seasons and is mostly influenced by SE Asian food and the similar produce that we can grow here in our tropical climate.

Ebb and Flow has an all-day menu which is built around seasonal availability of fresh, local produce. It can vary week to week. We rely on many biodynamic and organic small-scale farmers and producers from our local area. We try to use and promote products that are grown, produced, made and sourced ethically, sustainably and organically.

One of the key ingredients/ products that we use is fresh turmeric root which we use a lot of to make Turmeric and Ginger Jamu, a traditional Indonesian medicinal drink. Fresh turmeric also goes into our very popular Spiced Carrot and Turmeric Cake.

We also serve and promote many other foods and drinks that are known and valued for their health benefits, like Tulsi Tea, Milk Kefir, Sour Sop fruit and the fresh turmeric and ginger products that we make.

How do your customers respond to your creations?

Most of our customers are excited and delighted to find something new, different and interesting on our menus. We have many repeat customers from near and far.

Describe your clientele and the relationships you have fostered at the café. How have they enriched you?

Many of our customers are local and some are Australian or international travellers which creates an interesting atmosphere. The style of Café that Ebb and Flow is and the ethos that we have has attracted an eclectic mix of customers like Artists, Musicians, Dancers, World Travellers, Farmers, Chefs, Healers and Botanists…they all teach me something.

Travelling to exotic places and spending time with the local/ traditional people in their villages, being invited and included in their daily life, family kitchens and sometimes ceremonies has enriched and influenced my life immensely.

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