Saturday, August 26, 2006

Foods to Try Before You Die: The Australian Edition

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Melissa of The Traveller's Lunchbox has called on a few bloggers, namely five, to help her gather a compendium of must-try foods before you die. Well those five food bloggers have now also passed the baton on to another five food bloggers and I have had the pleasure of being tagged by both Helen of the amazing Sydney food blog, Grab Your Fork and the delightful Ximena of Lobstersquad.

Now this list does not necessarily contain the finest examples of cuisine in the world, but I do think they are flavours one must definitely experience at least once. Perhaps, just so you can say you have tried it or even at least find out whether you like it or not, it’s worth discovering. The choices may be somewhat unconventional; you might say they are off the beaten track. Just think of the beaten track, then turn left and around the corner and that is where you will probably find some of these things.

Because we are rather isolated down here, I know this because so many people were shocked at the fact that we did not experience the heatwave most of the northern population did just recently, these are things that are truly unique to Australia. So I guess the only way to sample them is to come here for yourself; which isn’t a bad thing if you really think about it, and trust me it isn’t that far away. If the British and Portuguese back in the day were making those long haul trips to India to get a bunch of spices, then I’m sure it won’t be too bad getting on a plane and making the trip over. Anyway, enough rants, here goes the list.

1. Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have said it before and I am saying it again, you must and I repeat you must try this honey. You will either love it or hate it but try it nonetheless. This honey is harvested from bees that feed on the nectar of Leatherwood flowers, which evidently are endemic to Tasmania. Lucky for you non-Australians we export this delicacy, as that it appears that foreigners have a taste for this honey more than we Australians do, so keep your eyes peeled. This honey bears a distinctive aromatic and piquant flavour and no other honey tastes like it, either way you will never forget its taste.

If you want to read more, go here.

2. Arnott’s Tim Tams
Now this next statement might be debatable, but I am under the strong impression that Australians are unanimous in their love for
Tim Tams. Correct me if i'm wrong, but I don’t think I have ever met an Aussie that didn’t love a Tim Tam. This chocolate coated, cream filled biscuit has changed the face of Australian snacking the day it hit the shelves in 1964 and has captured our affections ever since. Our devotion to the Tim Tam is relentless as it is the best-selling biscuit in the country. I think it is because they are the ultimate comfort snack and oh so terribly addictive. Once you open a pack, the voraciousness at which the Tim Tams can be devoured is astounding.

For those of you overseas lucky enough to get hold of such valuable booty, the best way to sample this fine treat is to do what is called a Tim Tam Slam. You do this by taking a hot cup of something, be it coffee, Milo or hot chocolate and a Tim Tam biscuit, then bite off the two ends. Once you have done this, plunge one end into the hot drink and then, as if the Tim Tam were a straw, proceed to suck the hot drink through the biscuit. And then, before the Tim Tam dissolves into a mush, quickly shove the whole biscuit in your mouth. Trust us; this very practice of “slamming” is pure bliss.

3. Kangaroo Meat
It’s the quintessential Australian icon, and many people envisage our streets teeming with these creatures hopping all over the place. Although this is not the case, unless you are in the country; kangaroo meat is one that you should give a go at least once. I have been told by many that the meat is quite dry and chewy, however if cooked properly, the meat can actually be rather tender. If you are hesitant in digging into a sizeable chunk of kangaroo steak, a good way to start off is to try kangaroo sausages. In fact, my first encounter with kangaroo was when I unknowingly ate some Kangaroo and Basil sausages at a barbeque. I couldn’t even tell the difference until someone had alerted me to it. But there is a distinctive difference in taste as the meat is obviously more gamey.

In reality many Australians are still hesitant to eat kangaroo meat. I think the thought of eating cute little Skippy the bush kangaroo is somewhat disconcerting, but hey does that mean we should stop eating Babe too? I guess the point is, try it once and see for yourself.

4. Perigord Truffles
It’s true, France and Italy aren’t the only places where you can harvest truffles; you can get them here too. This is a big fat hooray for those Australians who think that finding such a prized, yet elusive gastronomic treasure would be so far out of their reach. Well perhaps, the per kilo price is still out of many people’s reach, including me, but the probability of finding Australian truffles being served at a restaurant or getting some for yourself now looks like a much better prospect. Ever since the day the first black truffle was harvested on June 18th 1999, the Perigord founders have not looked back.

If you are in Sydney and want to sample Perigord black truffles, then make your way to The Wharf Restaurant, headed up by Tim Pak Poy.

5. Quandongs
Among many other native fruits in Australia, the Quandong fruit, with its peculiar name and appearnce has intrigued me the most. This is on the list because I myself am aiming to try one of these sometime in my life. A quandong is actually a native Australian peach. Although I have never tasted one, I have read that the taste is somewhat peach and somewhat apricot, just a bit tarter. And even though the actual fruit is not common in the city, the indigenous Australians have been eating this fruit and it has been part of their staple for thousands of years.

“The quandong fruit is only similar to peaches (and apricots) in that it has a stoney seed and a subtle peach-apricot flavour. The plant is more closely related to the sandalwood.” (excerpt from www.dining-downunder.com)

And now for the five bloggers I’m tagging:
Bonnie of Daydream Delicious
Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice
Matt of Abstract Gourmet
Ilva of Lucullian Delights
Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardarmom Addict

For the complete list go here.

17 comments:

Rachael said...

That is such a great list!

Funny thing, in the US, Tim Tams are octoconal shaped Kosher crackers...your Aussie version sounds MUCH better. (Though, the onion flavored ones are pretty delightful.)

:-)

wheresmymind said...

Kangaroo...ummm...I think you have to be from down under to enjoy that :)

Mary said...

I like your choices, especially the Tim Tam. We don't seem to have anything remotely similar.

Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

I love the Australian theme to your recommendations. And yes, Tim Tams are indeed a gift from heaven.

lobstersquad said...

you make a very strong case for travelling to australia. which was in my top five of places to go anyway, but now more. the only one in your list I´ve tried is kangaroo meat, at the australian embassy in madrid, of course!

ann said...

i've had kangaroo meat too!
there's an awesome resto here in nyc called 8 Mile Creek and they do the best kagaroo skewers (kanga-babs if you must)
i initially went there for the men and the beer, now i go mainly for the 'roo
awesome list, sets the bar high for mine... sigh...

Jasmine said...

Thanks so much for tagging me!

I'll have to decide whether I do a Canadian list or a list based on my travels...

Maybe I'll do two lists...but that's cheating, isn't it?

j

Bonnie said...

Jen!

I've been thinking about this all day! I've come to the conclusion that this is a near impossible tast... but I will get there... in the end. I definately like this Aussie list!

Ivonne said...

Thank you so much for the tag! I'm especially intrigued by the kangaroo meat and the quandongs on your list!

K & S said...

next time I buy some TimTams will have to slam them! :)

Megan said...

This was really fun to read! I don't know anything about any of them but they all sound good! =)

jenjen said...

Rachel- thanks, I never knew about the "other" tim tams. I think ours is definitely more fun to eat.

wheresmymind- actually not a lot of Aussies will eat kangaroo meat. They are too scared of eating Skippy, the cute furry bush kangaroo on TV. It's actually more popular in some places in Europe, strangely enough.

Mary- it's a pity that Arnott's do not import them to many places. I have heard of Tim Tams being sold at Aussie specialty stores. I remember missing them terribly when I went to visit family in America.

Helen- thanks for tagging me it was lots of fun, although really hard to pick which ones to include. But I thought that, if anything Tim Tams had to be on it.

Lobstersquad- oh you must come and visit us! I can be your personal tour guide!

Ann- kanga-babs, sounds so cute!

Jasmine and Bonnie- oh you will definitely find it hard choosing just five but good luck.

Ivonne- I think the kangaroo meat is probably the easiest thing to sample as they export it to many places in Europe and North America, unlike Tim Tams which are like an urban myth to many who have heard about it but never tried it.

K & S- yes slam away! you will not regret it, its fun and addictive!

Megan- I hope you get to discover some of the things on the list.

Matt said...

Hey JenJen,

Thanks for the tag.

Mine is up here:
http://abstractgourmet.com/2006/08/5-things-to-eat-before-you-die/

I would have said kangaroo and witchity grubs as well, but you beat me to the kangaroo, and live witchity grubs are something I can possibly do without trying.

I was also highly pissed (off) recently to find out that both Australian suppliers of black truffles are all out for the season, and I'll need to wait til next year to procure some of my very own. Still, at $3 per gram, that gives me a while to save up.

Thanks again for the tag.

Matt of Abstract Gourmet - where memes go to die :)

Mae said...

Fab list Jen, i have tried kangaroo meat more than once and it trully is delicious! Very tasty :)

Jasmine said...

Hello!

I've finally posted my list :)

j

Anna said...

good choices! although is it "un-australian" of me to confess i don't like tim tams???

i love kangaroo and quandongs though. they go really nicely together as well, especially when you make a quandong and red wine sauce to serve with the roo. hmmmmm. yum!

jmejmejmejmejme said...

i LOVE timtams! wen i went to nyc to work for 6months i brought 20packets of timtams with me from aus!! but alas...it ran out in like 2wks hahaha
GO THE TIMTAMS, AUSSIES ROCK!!!