It’s not every day that I get to hop on a train to the City and feast on international cuisine. Yet I was given just that opportunity on Tuesday, March 12th, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a windy, rainy day than imagining myself in a quite opposite clime while enjoying good food and excellent company.
It was blustery outside, but the gathering inside was anything but all wet. Food bloggers from the tri-state area were treated to an appearance by celebrity chef Michael Moore, who talked about what Australian cuisine means to him, and we broke bread (pork buns?) with representatives from Australia’s seven states on a quest to learn more about why we should consider Australia for our next food destination.
What is Australian cuisine? Much like American food, it’s a bit of a melting pot of European and Asian influences. It’s really more about the attitude, the state of mind that makes Australian cuisine different. It’s food that is authentically cooked. Food that is fresh as can be. Farm to table is a way of life instead of a catchphrase. Food that captures that moment in time. It’s a connection to the earth and a connection to each other, where everyone works together toward common goals. Sophistication with relaxation. And it’s all about the outdoors.
Go there and you will see all this in action. Whether you’re exploring the 14 wine regions of New South Wales or having a private picnic on the beach on Lizard Island, you’ll find a connection. Go to Melbourne, Australia’s #1 culinary destination, and take part in the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The whole month of October is devoted to food in Sydney at the Crave Sydney International Food Festival. In the Northern Territory, it’s all about “bush to bowl,” “plant to plate.” Chefs there are learning from the indigenous people, which can only lead to delicious discoveries. And you can’t forget about Tasmania, which boasts the world’s cleanest air and purest water; surely this leads to the best produce, too!
Did you know that Western Australia is well known for its truffles? Or that 65% of the wine exported from Australia comes from the state of South Australia? (It will also be hosting Savour Australia in September 2013, Australia’s first global wine forum!) So many great opportunities to explore food–it makes me wish I could spend a month eating my way through the country!
I may not have been able to board a plane heading west on Tuesday, but dining at The Sunburnt Calf was the next best thing. We had mushrooms stuffed with wild mushroom mousse, olive tapenade, and Manchego cheese, and delightful steamed buns with red braised pork belly. I tried my first oyster–an oyster “Kilpatrick”–which was a tempura-fried oyster with pickled shallots and Worcestershire-bacon butter served on a half shell. (I had to keep myself from licking the shell clean!) The grilled Australian rack of lamb was superb: tender enough to cut with a butter knife, and accompanied by a colorful array of roasted winter vegetables and minted yoghurt. To top it all off were portions of Pavlova with fresh cream, kiwi, mango, and passion fruit sauce and a peach melba with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. A moment in a meal, captured forever in my mind. If this is what dining in Australia is like, you can count me in!
For more information on food and wine in Australia, visit www.australia.com.