Special Report: Live from Oz

September 20, 2008

So you decided we are a bunch of slackers because we haven’t written in a while?  Well, fear not fellow travelers, for we have not abandoned our mission (we’ve even done part one of Andorra, to be posted soon), but have merely been taking a break while I am in Australia.  I have been here now for a week, and have a week more to go.  The trip is work related (conference), but I’m finding time to get in some great sightseeing, and eat lots of different and yummy things.  I figured since Australia is an “A” country (on our list), and we’ll have to be eating some of their cuisine in New York in a few weeks, it would be worth a preview since I have a first hand look right now.

I should clarify that I am in Sydney, and have not been outside the city as of yet.  But there are plenty of culinary adventures to be found here.  What is Australian food like, you ask?  Well, there is a lot of this:

But there are also loads of other things.

Particularly notable is the delicious Asian food.  It’s also convenient that my hotel is a couple blocks from Chinatown, so I’ve been sampling some of the excellent Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese around.  Chinatown here is different from the Chinatowns of New York.  It is much less residential, and much more touristic than the Chinatowns of our fair city.  There are a lot of young Asians running around in packs, and fewer hunched over old ladies.  There are restaurants a plenty, but few vegetable shops (and no vege stands.  In fact, I have not seen any street food in Sydney at all, which is a little disappointing).  That said, I think the food might surpass that found in NYC.  The Thai food is far more dynamic, with more flavor and dimension that what one finds in a typical Thai joint in the Big Apple.  And the Chinese is also outstanding.  The other day, whilist walking home from a long day at the conference, the wind suddenly carried a distinctive smell my way.  It was familiar, but from a long time ago.  It took me a minute to place it, then it hit me: China.  It smelled like China.  Not in a stinky fish head way like you get in Manhattan C-town, but in a delicious, street food in Xi’an kind of way.  I haven’t smelled that since I was in China in late 2003.  So immediately I wandered into the first Sichuan restuarant that i found, and enjoyed the heck out of a scallion pancake and some Kung Pao chicken.

Cafe life in Bronte Beach

I’ve also had some cheap and excellent sushi (surprisingly cheap, considering food is generally rather expenive here), Italian and Spanish, as well as grilled fish, octopus, prawns, and scallops (more local fare).  They certainly do seafood right.  Sydney has a fantastic cafe culture; sandwich shops and pubs typically have tables spilling good vibes and eats onto the street.  And they have killer coffee.  Now, I am not a coffee drinker at home (maybe one cup every two years), but immediately upon arrival here (at 7:30am after a 23 hour journey) I grabbed a cup, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  The name of my new found love is the “flat white.”  This is a shot of espresso with milk.  I also add a little sugar.  And being the talented baristas they are, the Aussies make it look beautiful too.  You can also get a flat black, a long black, and the familiar latte.  Yum.

So we’ll soon be eating Australian in New York, and will have good basis for comparison.  I’m assuming it will be lots of grilled and fried seafood, to ensure the experience is typically Aussie.  I hope its as good as the food here.

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5 Responses to “Special Report: Live from Oz”

  1. yvonne Says:

    So Ben was right about the coffee after all!

    Glad to hear you are eating well in Australia (and sooo jealous about the Chinese food…).

    Grapes and pears are really good here right now. Yummy!


  2. we vacationed in australia a few times when i was a kid. we ate kangaroo pies. i would say that meat pies (with tomato sauce) are basically the national dish of australia (and new zealand, to an extent). this was the late 80s however; perhaps the country is no longer the cultural backwater i so fondly recall (also, sidney is kind of metropolitan, so…). pies. gotta eat the pies.


  3. ohmygod! i LOVE flat whites! why don’t they have them in NYC?!

  4. Esha Says:

    mmm…scallion pancakes…

    usually Manhattan C-town is stinky when it rains, it’s fine otherwise…have to defend my ‘hood. 🙂

  5. Kelly Says:

    a word from an antipodian.

    The flat white.
    i miss it so much. even at a petrol station in NZ, and apparently OZ, you can order a flatwhite and its always good. no filter coffee for us.

    its really just a latte in a smaller cup, therefore less milk. i HAD to ask a barrista, it was bugging me. anyway, maybe its a crystal clear water, but it just tastes better there. how do they make the fern leaves?? i try sooo hard. cant do it.


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