Our Top 10 Delicious Culinary Journeys are forks down the hottest (and tastiest) foodie experiences in Australian this year, complied from our 100 Incredible Experiences (right here in your backyard) special issue.
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Australia is one massive, scrumptious food bowl. From the abundant seafood across the length of the south coast, to fine dining in some of the best restaurants in the world, to the tropical offerings of markets in north Queensland, travelling Australia is a culinary tour of the best its many cultures and regions has to offer, compiled by Adam Liaw.
Words: Adam Liaw is food columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Sunday Life and The Guardian, and the author of four cookbooks. On television, Adam hosts the prime-time SBS food and travel program, Destination Flavour, and was the winner of the 2010 season of MasterChef Australia.
1. The roaming restaurant pop-up dining – various locations, WA
Paul Iskov has worked in some of Europe’s best restaurants and having Returned to his native WA, he and his friends set up roaming restaurant Fervor. using Native ingredients cooked over open fires in the WA outback and towns and presented in the finest fashion, this is a dining with a difference.
Why you should try it: It’s soul surfing but with food, and it might be the most ‘Australian’ dining experience you’ll ever have.
2. Doing the Barossa properly – Barossa Valley, SA
Everyone knows that a tasting tour of the Barossa Valley is an incredible wine experience, but if you forget the food you’re only getting half the story. Take a lazy lunch with local wine at 1918, a wood-fired bee sting cake from Apex Bakery and a truly local dinner at Appellation, and you won’t just have tasted the Barossa, you’ll have experienced it.
Why you should try it: The Barossa is a rite of passage for every Aussie.
3. Dining, Bondi-style – Bondi Beach
The restaurants at the two ends of Bondi Beach could be a metaphor for the two sides of Bondi culture. On the southern side, Icebergs is exquisitely cool, its polished glamour overlooking the famous Bondi Baths where the bronzed and beautiful can be found at any time of the day. On the northern side is Sean’s Panorama, casual and convivial with a European warmth to it. Locals stroll down for dinner with a bottle of wine under their arm and unwind at the tables perched on the footpath looking out to the horizon. The laughter and buzz of conversation echoes all the way to the beach.
Why you should try it: It’s a menu-less celebration of not just ingredients or cooking, but of the culture of dining itself.
4. King George whiting and chips – Port Lincoln, SA
The pristine waters around South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula host the best seafood in the world. While much of it finds its way onto boats en route to Tokyo’s best sushi restaurants, there’s nothing like a local favourite fresh out of the water. While the Eastern states sing the praises of flathead for their fish and chips, in SA whiting is the king in both reputation and name. Catch it yourself if you can, but if you can’t just grab a King George whiting and chips from The Fresh Fish Place (and maybe a dozen Coffin Bay oysters while you’re at it) and head down to the foreshore.
Why you should try it: Because fish and chips in Australia isn’t the same if you don’t share it with the seagulls. See portlincolnseafood.com.au
5. Coffee on Centre Place – Melbourne
Melbourne is stunningly beautiful, and Centre Place might be the most photographed spot in the whole city. Grab a coffee at Vicolino and soak up the unique atmosphere here; coffee-culture at its best.
Why you should try it: It’s the quintessential Melbourne laneway, the one that people make a bee-line for when they’re after a coffee in the city.
6. A World-beating affogato gelato – Cow & The Moon, Enmore, Sydney
Lining up for after-dinner ice-cream has become a fixture of Sydney culture in recent years, and Cow & The Moon has some of the longest lines in the city. Deservedly so, as its famous affogato gelato is a world-beater, winning the World Gelato Tour in Rimini, Italy in 2014.
Why you should try it: It beat the Italians, enough said.
7. Fruit picking Rusty’s Markets – Cairns
Tropical North Queensland moves at a pace of its own, whether it’s local families knocking green mangoes out of the trees that line the streets, or enjoying a slow bucket of prawns and a few cold beers watching the sun set at Palm Beach. Rusty’s Markets is a Cairns institution and it’s one of the most eclectic markets around. The tropical fruits are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world, from carambola and jackfruit to mangoes of every variety, but what I love are the homemade local products. They’re a multicultural mix from around Australia and Asia that you won’t find anywhere else.
Why you should try it: Pickled mangoes, homemade Thai-style sai krok fermented sausage, native fruit jams – there’s always something to surprise you.
8. Grab an oyster from the sea – Freycinet Marine Farm, Tasmania
There’s truly no better way to eat an oyster than pulling it straight out of the water, shucking it, and tipping it straight into your mouth. And the best place in the world to do that is at the oyster shucking table at Tasmania’s Freycinet Marine Farm. Stand waist-deep in the water and just grab an oyster out of sea water as the fish swim around your legs.
Why you should try it: The only drawback is that it’ll spoil you for all other oysters for the rest of your life.
9. A sunset beach feast – Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Some compare the Mindil Beach Sunset Market to a South-east Asian hawker centre but it’s really so much more a temple to Darwin’s multiculturalism. Stroll from stall to stall as the sun sets into the ocean and try everything from hickory-smoked local mackerel and barbecued octopus to Thai laksa or nasi campur from Borneo. Go on an empty stomach and, if you can, make it for the last market of the year to enjoy live music and fireworks bursting over the horizon.
Why you should try it: You can’t beat the atmosphere.
10. Going native – Attica, Melbourne
Ben Shewry is one of the world’s most innovative chefs. He was pushing native Australian ingredients to the limits of fine dining long before Noma rolled into Barangaroo.
Why you should try it: The degustation at Attica isn’t just delicious – it’s thoughtful, nostalgic and beautiful; a meal you won’t forget.