The Wonderful World of Oz

August 27, 2019

Food, Glorious Food!

Filed under: Uncategorized — A @ 7:38 pm

So in case you, ya know, have never met me, I love food. And most of you probably know that I also love wine and even a few other beverages. So as you may have guessed, food and beverage are always one of my favorite aspects of travel. Even if the place doesn’t have a unique cuisine that Americans are clamoring to recreate in trendy restaurants back in the States, I always to eat and drink like the locals when I’m in a new place. So here’s a little tribute to some of my “eat and drink like a local” efforts here in Australia.

Meat Pies
This was actually our first real meal in the country. We’d had a loooooong first day, and since we knew we’d be getting to our hotel quite late, I suggested we pop into a 7 Eleven and grab some sandwiches or something, instead of running the risk of nearby restaurants being closed. Well, friends, 7 Eleven ALSO had a variety of meat pies to choose from, so I couldn’t resist. We chose one chicken and one beef, and they were quite decent, thank you very much. My second meat pie adventure was at a cute cafe along the iconic Great Ocean Road; I got a classic pie and chips meal, which, while not winning any Michelin stars, was tasty and very authentic.

Aussie BBQ
Reminder 1: In other English-speaking countries, “barbecue” simply means “cookout” (the kind of meal) or “grill” (the cooking utensils). Reminder 2: The classic Aussie phrase “shrimp on the barbie”? “Barbie” is Oz-speak for “barbecue.” Anywho. Our tour guide up to the Great Barrier Reef area booked a little barbecue area for us at the resort where we stayed and cooked us up a true Australian barbecue the night after our reef trip. It included chicken, steak with onions, and lamb sausage, plus rolls and three or four kinds of salad. I had one of the best steaks I’ve had in a LONG time, but Brandon said his was not a great cut. However, we both heartily agreed that that lamb sausage was the food of the gods. Seriously, y’all… I want some more RIGHT NOW.

Melbourne Chinatown
Australia has a massive population of immigrants from China, Japan, and Korea. Makes sense, since it’s a relatively close destination. Melbourne has an especially prominent Chinatown, and it is chock full of delicious options from these iconic cuisines. Brandon and I dined in Chinatown two of our nights while in Melbourne; the first was at a dumpling place, and the second was a counter service Japanese place. The dumpling restaurant was crowded (always a good sign) and completely old school in its decor. The menu was a booklet of many pages, but we settled on four simple options, a mix of fried, steamed, and breaded dumplings, filled with things like prawns (shrimp), pork, and veggies. They were all delicious and also very affordable. The Japanese outfit offered bowls, mostly. Brandon chose ramen, and I went for a poke style salmon bowl. For only costing about $7-$8US apiece, we were impressed with the food.

A Fancy Meal
I always enjoy having one nice sit-down meal when I’m on a trip, and Melbourne, having a reputation as a foodie city, seemed like a good place to make that happen. Brandon found an Asian fusion tapas-style restaurant that offers two different tasting menus, one at about $50/person, so that won the day. The first part of the meal was a selection of their small plates, all of which were delicious. We enjoyed some sashimi, some pork and chili dumplings, and this savory chicken and noodles salad that was to die for!! We got two mains for the second part of the meal, a fried fish and braised lamb, which came with family style sides of rice, salad, and bread. Dessert was a peanut butter and chocolate mousse creation that evoked for me the taste of the filling for peanut butter pie.

In addition to the amazing food, we enjoyed some really nice wines. Mine w were all Australian: a Chardonnay for the first several courses, a Nero d’Avola for the middle bit, and a unique sherry-esque dessert wine at the end. Truly a special meal and a memorable experience.

Which brings me to wine. To accompany a takeaway meal at our hotel one night and the BBQ on the GBR trip, Brandon and I blind purchased a couple of bottles of red at a bottle shop. Both proved to be excellent choices, for having so little info on them.

The big wine experience of the trip was our tour into the Yara Valley wine region outside of Melbourne. We visited four wineries, where we tried — among other things — several takes on: Shiraz/Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, several red blends, hard cider, and sparkling wines. Picking a favorite is really difficult, buy I will definitely say that Australia knows how to make some Shiraz and some Chardonnay.

Can’t visit another country and NOT try all the snacks. I’d heard lamingtons were unique to Auz, so when some were offered at a picnic lunch on our GBR trip, I couldn’t resist. They were okay. Maybe better ones are available from real bakeries or home recipes or the like. (They’re these cakey cookies dunked in chocolate or caramel, then rolled in dried coconut. The ones we had were surprisingly dry compared to what I’d expected.)

I’d also read about Anzac biscuits, which were mass produced and popularized during… I think World War I. They’re basically like oatmeal cookies with coconut mixed in and more brown sugar. A LITTLE bit like coconutty digestives. Really good dipped tea or coffee, and a couple of them make a nice brekkie (breakfast).

And my favoritest of snacks… CHOCOLATE. Freddo Frogs are just a standard Cadbury milk chocolate frog, and Carmello Koalas are their delicious, caramel-filled cousins. Both good for a quick fix. Tim Tams are kind of like a more wafer-y KitKat, and I enjoyed one in the form of a Tim Tams donut. (Yep, donuts. Can’t stop myself lol.) I also tried what is apparently the oldest candy bar in Australia, the Cherry Ripe. It’s cherries and coconut covered in chocolate, pure and simple. I love those three things, so it was a nice treat for me.

Future Goodies
We’re hoping to try some barramundi before we leave, and we’re looking forward to trying lots of beer in Sydney. Chicken parmigiana is also apparently a big deal here, and I feel totally okay with making that my dinner on one of our remaining nights.

So there ya have. A mouth-watering retelling of my favorite parts of travel: eating and drinking (the Australian edition).

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