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Making Peace with Vegetarians – A Visit to Cape Trib’s Fruit Farm

After my recent post “Can You Survive These 5 Foods?“, a reader called me out.

“What’s the matter with you? This is all meaty stuff. Ya got something against vegetarians? Huh? Huh?” demanded Chantel, who writes the Click Elsewhere for the Daily Special blog.

Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. She’s Canadian, and thus too nice to really rake me over the coals. But she made a great point: What do you do if you’re a vegetarian, but you want to try something exotic?

I can think of one incredible place where you can savor the strange whilst harming nary a cute, fuzzy creature …

Exotic Tastes in Rural Queensland

I first heard about the Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm in Darwin, Australia’s uninhibited party place and launching pad for serious Outback adventures. Though the tiny farm is thousands of miles away in Cape Tribulation, a tiny Queensland outpost, travelers were abuzz about it.

Any trip that involves a ferry crossing is awesome.

Any trip that involves a ferry crossing is awesome.

More impressively, they promised me that the black sapote was in season and on the menu at the farm. That meant that a two-year chase to eat the fabled “chocolate pudding fruit” was about to come to … um, fruition. And surely, there’d be other tasty items, too.

On the Road to Cape Tribulation

If you plan to visit, you’ll likely land in Cairns. And yes, you’ll need to rent a car. You have an hourlong drive along a winding coastal road just to get to Port Douglas, which just gets you in range. And though it’s barely 50 miles from Port Douglas to Cape Trib, it’ll take close to two hours because of the twisting road – and you’ll need wait for a ferry to cross a river. Cape Trib is pretty much the end of the road. And much of it is beautiful rain forest.

The Garden of … Just About Everything

A friendly farm employee from Brazil sat about 10 guests around a table. She’d introduce each fruit and tell us a bit about its cultivation, history, uses and characteristics before slicing it up for us to sample. There were also pitchers of ice water to keep the palettes cleansed.

black sapote chocolate pudding fruit

Our fruit expert displays the black sapote. Cut it up, already!

In addition to the black sapote, I also met the breadfruit, which lived up to its name with a very starchy, dry consistency – you can even use it much like a potato. Then came the dragonfruit, jakfruit, sapodilla star fruit, mangosteen, soursop and so many others that the variety was overwhelming. The selection varies by season.

Picking a favorite is difficult, but I’d give the nod to the soursop. Trust me, under its spiny skin is a fruit that tastes far more pleasant than it’s face-puckering name. The black sapote (which contains a monstrous load of Vitamin C) got beat in my taste test by its relative, the white sapote. Both versions have a consistency similar to a slightly dried-out avocado, and odd mixture of creamy and chalky. I also liked the black sapote fruit leather, which added a bit of coconut flavor.

black sapote chocolate pudding fruit

I’m ready for my sample of the black sapote, or chocolate pudding fruit.

After the tasting, we got a tour of the farmlands itself. It’s amazing a place so compact can grow so many diverse fruits and vegetables.

Worth the Trip?

It doesn’t matter if your an omnivore, a vegetarian, a veg-aquarium or a carpetfuzzatarian, this is a drive worth making. The scenery is unforgettable  (stop in Mossman, the little sugarcane and railroad town).

And the fruit itself is spectacular. You’ll forget a lot of it if you don’t take notes and photos – because there’s just so much of it, not because it’s a dull experience. You will leave for the day topped off with every vitamin and mineral under the sun, so you can call it a day of really healthy travel eating.

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