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Rooftop Harvest

words by annie brown

We are a nation obsessed with food. Not just eating it, but photographing it, reading about it and watching it on TV.

The rise of the television chef has placed an emphasis on food that wasn’t apparent in previous decades. Sure, food was enjoyed, revered even. The middle class were generally happy with meat and two veg, with the exception of special occasions. I remember the time when the humble prawn cocktail and vol-au-vent were the height of sophistication.

So what changed? It seems the oversaturation of food in every medium, as well as the phenomenon of chef as celebrity, means we are exploring different cuisines and indeed, different produce, more so than ever before. Social media means we can view what someone is eating 3000 miles away and in order for the photo of said meal to gain likes (which let’s face it, is a factor), it needs to be unique and of course, visually appealing (rainbow latte with turmeric crème and a shot of chlorophyll anyone?)

With all this fancy food gaining popularity, there is a sense of, how should I say it, snobbery (?) around food that wasn’t present even 5 years ago. There is an emphasis on quality, on care, on going the extra mile to produce the best of the best.

After decades of fast-food, of convenience, of the ‘lite’ phenomenon, we want fresh, we want fat, we want the home cooking our grandmothers made, yet prettier (sorry, Gran).

It’s unsurprising then, that the paddock-to-plate movement has gained serious momentum. And rightly so. If we, as both gourmands and consumers, can leave a smaller eco footprint on this planet, while simultaneously eating produce that is better for us, it’s really a no-brainer.

It’s a belief that QT Canberra has run with since the evolution of its roof-top garden and beehives in 2015.

Tended to by the chefs of our restaurant, Capitol Bar and Grill, the extensive gardens provide seasonal and organic fruit, vegetables such as tomatoes, Rhubarb, strawberries, lemons, zucchini, blackberries and aromatic herbs. This produce is used in a variety of ways in the restaurant menus and couldn’t be fresher (literally).

Pollinating said fruit and veg are helped along by the resident bees that lodge in QT Canberra’s rooftop beehives. 84 kilogrammes of surplus honey was harvested over the 2015/2016 season which deliciously ended up in the restaurant’s desserts and even on the cocktail menu. Guests who are treated to the Marketplace breakfast can even find fresh honeycomb to add to their insta-perfect pancakes.

I’ll have some pollen with that, thanks.

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