Confession: Australia has never been on my must-visit list. It seemed like an awfully far distance to travel to visit a country that wasn’t that different per se. I mean, sure, they have kangaroos and the Great Barrier Reef and all. But that didn’t seem like enough to travel so far for. Good thing I can admit when I am mistaken. Which I totally was. BlogHer recently brought me to my senses when they invited me to a Tourism Australia event to learn more about the Australian food scene. I also looked into Australia a little myself and learned that Australia has the most beaches in the world — more than 10,000. And among those is Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, which holds the world record for the whitest sand on Earth, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
Now, another confession: I’d never given a single thought to the cuisine of Australia. But let me tell you, I learned that it’s absolutely divine. Australian food is all about fresh, local flavors. And the farm-to-table movement? That’s totally their thing.
At the Tourism Austalia luncheon, BlogHer introduced about 20 bloggers from the New York metro area to the food and wine of Australia. It was kind of awesome. We started off with cocktails and introductions by the car at The Sunburnt Calf on 79th Street in Manhattan. Then we sat down for an interesting presentation and lunch.
We started off with shared appetizers. My favorite were the Oysters “Kilpatrick,” a tempura-fried oyster with pickled shallots and Worcestershire-bacon butter served in oyster shells. I am a huge, huge fried oyster fan, and these were absolutely a bite of heaven — sweet, salty, crunchy amazingness. The Steamed Buns (above) were pretty amazing too.
While we were enjoying these appetizers — including this Classic Prawn Cocktail with creamy cocktail sauce — they told us more about Australia food and tourism. “Real Australian food is a state of mind,” says chef Michael Moore, a top Australian chef and author of the new cookbook Blood Sugar: The Family. What really resonated with me is what Moore said of chefs in Australia: They aren’t in competition with each other but rather have more of a team mentality. “We connect. We work together. We are all working to do the common good of what we’ve got here,” says Moore.
Moore describes the food scene in Australia as sophisticated and connected, which is kind of awesome. This BBQ’d Barramundi Fillet, topped with frisee salad, new potatoes and anchovy aioli, was absolutely divine — I totally came home dreaming of recreating this dish because it was so good. (Salad on this firm, white fish? Absolutely amazing). I left The Sunburnt Calf with Australia firmly ensconced on my to-travel-to list. During the presentation, some breathtaking photos on a big screen showed how beautiful the Land Down Under is. (If I sound a little infatuated with it, I totally am now). And the Great Barrier Reef? It’s home to 500 varieties of seaweed and is the largest reef in the world — the size of the eastern coastline of the United States. That’s something to be impressed by, for sure. But then, there are lots of pretty sizable things in Australia, from the world’s largest oyster to the heaviest crab. And let’s not forget the unique wildlife like kangaroos and emus.
So, what can I tell you about cuisine in Australia? It’s a delicious mix of cuisines that relies on what’s fresh and local for them. Love that. I hope I can travel there to experience it for myself someday. How about you? Have you been to Australia? Do you want to go?
Disclosure: I am being compensated by BlogHer for this blog post and for attending this event. However, all opinions are, as always, my own.