Sponsored by Tourism Australia.
Recently, I was invited to attend a special Australian food and wine event in New York City at The Sunburnt Calf, where Chef Michael Moore prepared a sampling of Australian delights for us to taste, using healthy and fresh Australian-inspired cooking techniques. Chef Michael Moore is not only a chef and restaurateur but he has also written two cookbooks featuring creative, diabetic-friendly recipes. (His latest book is Blood Sugar: The Family. I would love to cover this in a separate post.)
The tasting menu was a mix of traditional Australian dishes with modern twists, all paired with Australian wines. To be honest, between trying to taste all the dishes, take pictures, and share what I was eating on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I didn’t have a chance to try all the wines, but I would like to spend more time at some point appreciating the pairings of Australian wine with the food.
Since I’ve never been to Australia, nor have I eaten at an Australian restaurant, I couldn’t wait to learn more about what Australian cuisine was all about.
We had the opportunity to listen to various folks share about the food and wine experiences from each of the six Australian states — New South Wales (Sydney is the capital), Victoria (Melbourne is the capital), Queensland (Brisbane is the capital), South Australia (Adelaide is the capital), Western Australia (Perth is the capital), and the Northern Territory (Darwin is the capital) — plus Tasmania (Hobart is the capital), including some of the recent food and wine trends. I was impressed by how culturally diverse the food is in Australia (it has influences of European, Asian, and Mediterranean cultures), as I had never really thought about Australia as a food and wine destination before.
After I learned more about the physical characteristics of Australia and the evolution of its culture, the seemingly eclectic menu that we were served for lunch made complete sense. Some notes I made:
- Australia is culturally diverse: people born overseas make up almost one quarter of the total population.
- The Northern Territory and Western Australia are closer to Indonesia than they are to the opposite side of Australia.
- Each part of Australia has its own unique, individual style of food and wine, but they all have a common thread: fresh, local ingredients, and a culinary experience that reflects the country’s diverse mix of cultures.
- Australia has over 2,400 wineries, with an increasing number of smaller, regional wineries, each reflecting their individual terroir.
The modern cuisine of Australia focuses on the whole dining experience: the finest ingredients (local and seasonal, sustainable, fresh produce), the freshest seafood (after all, Australia is surrounded by three oceans), a fusion of flavors and cultures, sophisticated interpretations (young, dynamic chefs abound) yet simple preparations (high-quality fresh ingredients require little else), and served in a naturally beautiful environment (imagine a casual dinner beach side as the sun sets).
Visiting Australia is on my bucket list. I’d love to experience the real Australian Outback and see kangaroos, wallabies, and emus; snorkel the Great Barrier Reef; take cooking classes or attend one of the many Food and Wine Festivals; eat at Michael Moore’s O Bar and Dining restaurant while taking in the 360-degree panoramic view of the entire city of Sydney, sign up for the Bruny Island Long Weekend on Tasmania, and take a seaplane up to the beach and set up a casual BBQ. One day…
Disclosure: This is a compensated post by Tourism Australia; my reflections are my own based upon my personal experience.