Fact: Australia is really really delicious. Here is just a sampling of the fabulous food and wine to be had in the Land Down Under. And no, Vegemite is not on the list. Sorry, Australia, I just don’t like it. And yes, someone made it for me the right way on white bread toasted with butter and a thin scraping of Vegemite. No dice. And if you don’t know what Vegemite is and why I won’t be eating it anymore, observe a number of people giving it a try at the Aussie Nomad’s Vegemite Challenge.
On to more delicious things…
Australia has no shortage of coastline and as a happy result, has no shortage of fresh seafood. Barramundi became a fast favourite of mine in Queensland. The barramundi baguette that I was served by a hippie dreadlock-sporting Frenchman at Sardines cafe in Fremantle, Western Australia was so good I went back to have it again the next day.
And then there are the full-out seafood platters with fish and chips, prawns (shrimp), calamari, and more:
2. Meat Pies
I had a lot of hesitation about eating meat pies. Due to a long history of enjoying summer dessert pies, the association between flaky, buttery pie crust and sweet fruit filling was strong. This makes your tongue think that when you eat one, the other is sure to be present as well. So biting into a chicken, brie, and avocado pie at Sylvia and Fran’s Upper Crust gourmet pie shop in Collaroy (Sydney) was a confusing moment for my taste buds. The second bite was more successful. The second pie, a spinach, squash, and feta combination, even more so. The more traditional fillings include beef and mushroom, lamb and rosemary, and bacon and egg. Sylvia and Fran’s shop had over 30 different kinds of pies, so you’ll find something to suit your tastes.
3. Laneway Cafes of Melbourne
Melbourne has a ton of hole in the wall cafes and small venue music bars tucked into its many laneways and alleys. You never know what treasure you’re going to find. My favourite was Degraves Lane, which was home to the tasty Spanish Cafe Lorca serving up heaping desayunos completos, the breakfasts of champions. An unnamed Middle Eastern place across the way had fiercely delicious food as well. Another highlight was the self-described “arrogantly French” creperie on Hardware Lane.
4. Asian Food. All kinds of it.
There is a heavy Asian influence on food in Australia in the best possible way. Thai curries, pho, sushi, and more are plentiful and excellent. In Western Australia, I relied on the budget-friendly restaurant chains Han’s Cafe and Taka Restaurant for a filling, tasty dinner on a regular basis.
There are 3 major wine areas to visit if you’re looking to spend your days lazing in vineyards, sipping on red and white: Yarra Valley in Victoria, Barossa Valley in South Australia, and Margaret River in Western Australia. I did not personally get to the Barossa Valley during my time in Australia, but it remains on the to-do list as the main producing area of the famous Australian Shiraz, which I highly enjoy. I did tour Dominic Portet, St. Hubert and Yering Station wineries in Yarra Valley, and then hopped aboard Bushtucker’s Great Wineries Tour to taste the wares at Bettenay, Knotting Hill, the Grove, and Adifern wineries of Margaret River. The respective winning vintages of my taste testing were Yering Station’s Shiraz Viognier and Knotting Hill’s Sauvignon Blanc. Also worth noting were a fantastic macadamia liqueur on offer at the Grove and a fortified rose wine with chilli flakes at Bettenay.
Really, if there is one thing to take away from this long wine-snob-sounding paragraph, it is that you should drink some wine in Australia.
6. Indigenous Eats
I have already mentioned that I tried eating kangaroo while I was in Australia. I also had the opportunity to sample a number of different foods native to Australia on the Bushtucker tour including: Margaret River Factory tasty cheese (yes, “Tasty” is a variety of cheese, like cheddar or gouda), organic farm greens, kangaroo (better this time) with bush tomato chutney, rosella pesto, smoked emu, wild turkey, pumpkin loaf from Margaret River bakery, sundried tomatos, kalamata olives, kakadu plum, etc.
There was also a witchetty grub/sandgroper available to be tasted, but despite the high protein content of the big white chubby worm, I was not tempted. I did ask for an opinion from a braver diner next to me: “It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten. It tastes like pureed cashews in a latex glove. Chewy.”
7. The Greatest Cake I Ever Ate
There is a shop on Acland Street in the trendy St Kilda area of Melbourne called Monarch Bakery. And it makes the Greatest Cake I Ever Ate, the Chocolate Kooglhoupf. Thin layers of tasty doughnut-textured cake holding a rich chocolate filling that makes your whole head hum with happiness. If I could think of a way to order these by mail to my house across the Pacific Ocean, I would.
Nom nom nom. You need to go to Australia just to eat this cake.
So there you have it. If these 7 reasons weren’t enough to convince you, keep in mind there is also lots of quality beef and lamb from the Aussie ranches, great coffee, and fantastic fresh fruits and vegetables around as well.
Your tummy will thank you for going to Australia.