Listopedia: The Great Australian Foodie Bucket List
From fine dining to fish and chips, Australia is home to plenty of treasures. Here’s our guide to fantastic food and drink experiences around the country.
Seafood in the City: Sydney
Grab the catch of the day at the iconic Sydney Fish Market, located in Pyrmont. Take a behind the scenes tour, tuck into fresh oysters and rock lobster at indoor or outdoor communal benches, then turn up the heat at the onsite Sydney Seafood School with a couple of cookery lessons. The chilli crab cooking class is particular fiery.
Wild catch: Northern Kimberley
If you want to take your fish feasting to the next level, try your hand at reeling in barramundi or mangrove jack in the Northern Kimberley. The remote and utterly breathtaking Top End is the place to jump on a boat and wrestle with your supper. Most boats and hotels in the area will happily cook up whatever you’ve caught that day. Mud crabs are also abundant around the Kimberley, so if the thought of cracking a few claws after a busy day on the water appeals, this quintessential Aussie experience is for you.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner – or anytime in between – there’s always time for a meat pie. For an award-winning pastry product that’s full to bursting with slow-cooked local beef, head to Parker Pies in Rutherglen, Victoria. This family-owned bakery serves up a delicious variation on the Aussie classic, marinating the meat in shiraz from a nearby vineyard. They also do a damn good chicken and white wine pie.
Home to a fair few goats and plenty of cows and sheep, it’s not surprising that Tasmania is renowned for world-class cheese. The Bruny Island Cheese Company, a small operation located on Bruny Island (a 30-minute ferry journey from Hobart), makes European-style cheeses with a distinctly Tassie twist. In the north, Ashgrove Cheese in Elizabeth Town takes a love of dairy one step further with home-churned butter. Let’s put it like this – you buy the bread, Tasmania provides everything else you need for a picnic.
Mango Mania: Cairns
For ripe mangoes that taste even better than they smell, head to Rusty’s Markets in Cairns. Situated in Far North Queensland, stallholders have been converging on the site for more than 30 years, and sell all manner of fresh fruit. The market only runs on Thursdays. If you miss out, there’s always the seven-hour drive to the Big Mango in Bowen, another must-visit Australian institution. Yes, it’s a long journey to see a statue of a large piece of fruit, but the coastal route is beautiful.
When it comes to award-wining wine, we’re spoilt for choice – there’s the Hunter Valley in NSW, the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, the Margaret River in WA and the Barossa in SA, just to name a few. For a slightly different tasting experience, check out the wineries of South Australia’s Clare Valley on two wheels. Hire a bike in Auburn (a 1.5-hour drive from Adelaide) and pedal the 35km Riesling Trail. The cool-climate offerings here are among the best in the world – make O’Leary Walker a priority for its excellent tipple and equally good views.
Yes, Canberra. Once regarded as the less exciting cousin of Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra has slowly been reinventing itself and now boasts a thriving coffee and café scene that could easily rival that of other state capitals. Must-visit spots include Lonsdale Street Roasters, which is so popular it can be found at two locations on the same road, and The Cupping Room on the corner of University Avenue and London Circuit – head here for one of their daily cupping sessions, or simply to admire the sheer amount of apparatus dedicated to the humble bean.
Melbourne’s Lygon Street – the heart of the city’s celebrated Italian community – might be dotted with delicious gelaterias, but it’s the Margaret River that firmly claims the title of ice cream capital of Australia. There are several places worth checking out in this southern corner of Western Australia, but Millers might be the most famous thanks to award-winning creations including raspberry with Belgian white chocolate and ginger-infused coffee with chocolate ripple. Made with full-cream milk, each scoop is deliciously smooth – see for yourself at the farm shop in Cowaramup.
Fine Dining: Melbourne and Sydney
No round-up would be complete without mention of two of Australia’s acclaimed fine dining establishments, which appear on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 list. Leading the way at number 21 is Attica, located in the unassuming Melbourne suburb of Ripponlea and led by chef Ben Shewry who has a reputation for serving foraged ingredients. Quay, with sweeping views of Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge, was most recently ranked number 48 on the list and is a fine dining must when in Sydney.