a sybarite in paradise
reviewing the food & entertainment pleasures of Honolulu
I just got back from a month in Australia and thought I’d muse a little about the food I had there. It’s decidedly influenced by British Cuisine, especially outside the major cities where I spent most of my time.
Meat Pies: although available in Sydney, they were much more prominent elsewhere. It is a major fast food item. For good reason too. They’re easy to eat on the run, and they’re pies for heaven’s sake. Mostly devoid of vegetables and spices they tended towards the bland. I kept thinking a little thyme or parsley would brighten them up. I held out hope when they were chicken with vegetables, but the vegetables ended up being carrots and potatoes. They were often good enough, especially the ones with puff pastry shells, but lacked pizzaz. I guess my favorite was beef and mushroom. We got mini versions, called party pies, at the grocery store and had them on the boat. They made a nice lunch.
Sausage Rolls: a cousin of the meat pie, these are great for breakfast. I liked the ones best that were made with ground sausage and puff pastry. Other places used a big link sausage, which is a bit tougher to bite into.
Fish & Chips: Why is it so hard to make decent fish & chips? Judging from what I was served, Australians seem to prefer their chips (French Fries) cut thick and just barely brown. Certainly not crisp. The one exception was when I had a panino with chips at Perrotta's at the Gallery in Cairns. They were wonderful. The fish often used is Barramundi, a large perch that lives in estuaries. This tasty fish can be wonderful battered and fried, but mostly I didn’t experience that.
Barramundi: This fish was on almost every menu on the East Coast of Australia that we visited. It’s a local fish, light and flakey and quite delicious. The best we had was at Yorky’s Knob Sailing Club in Yorky’s Knob north of Cairns. It was seared in a very hot pan on both sides and fully cooked. Over it was a lemony buttery sauce, which even improved the not so crisp chips.
Tomato Sauce: you say Ketchup they say tomato sauce. It’s much the same, but a bit less sweet and a tad thinner. It comes in these squeeze containers that are a little hard to figure out how to use. I squirted myself the first time and Howard came close before a fellow diner told him to turn it over.
Salt & Pepper Calamari: this deep fried concoction is on many menus along with the fish & chips. Howard ordered it Doyles at the Sydney Fish Market. It was excellent. Doyles batter is a bit thicker than the others I’ve tried, but also more tasty.
Indian Food: There are a lot more Indian restaurants around than here in Hawaii. Every one we tried was excellent. The goat curry we had on Oxford Street in Sydney was wonderful.
Greek Salad: I never knew, until this trip, that a real Greek Salad doesn’t have any lettuce. This salad was available in several places, but the best was at a Greek restaurant in Townsville. The ingredients were fresh and they weren’t skimpy with the kalamata olives. It was lightly dressed. The one Howard and I had at the Sydney Fish Market was bland in comparison.
Kangaroo: The meat prices seemed outrageous to me, probably because they were in kilos, so several times I bought inexpensive kangaroo meat for us to eat on the boat. Lathered up with steak spice and cooked medium rare it’s fantastic. It’s got a steak meatiness, the texture reminding me of a tender flank/sirloin combination. The meat is quite lean. Some of it is farmed, some from animals that have been culled to curb exploding populations. The later practice is quite controversial and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to whether it’s necessary or not. The farmers who’s crops are destroyed think so.
Bugs: Slipper lobsters. Every time I’ve had them I haven’t enjoyed the soft almost mushy texture of the meat. Give me Maine Lobster anytime.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007