A Taste Of Australia, Sans The 21 Hour Flight

When I was invited to a luncheon hosted by Tourism Australia to learn more about the fabulous foods, wines, and culture the country offers, the first things to pop into my mind were Outback Steakhouse, Yellow Tail wine, and Crocodile Dundee. Little did I know that the cuisine and vino of Australia’s many different regions reaches far beyond the Bloomin Onion and cheap Chardonnay…and the antics of sticking one’s head in a crocodile’s mouth, for that matter.



The lunch took place at the Australian restaurant The Sunburnt Calf on the Upper West Side. A myriad of Aussie apps came out first, my very favorite being the Stuffed Mushrooms, complete with a wild mushroom mousse, olive tapenade, and Manchego.



The main course I chose was a delightful Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with roasted almond and mint couscous. It was bursting with flavor yet light enough that I didn’t feel like I needed a midday nap afterward.



Dessert was Pavlova with a sticky meringue, fresh cream, kiwi, mango, and passion fruit sauce and a Peach Melba with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. I could sure get used to eating the Aussie cuisine!  



I was delighted to have a seat at the table across from Chef Michael Moore, a leader and innovator in the Australian culinary scene. He spoke so eloquently about his country and its food. Rid yourself of images of shrimp on the barbie and replace it with a bucket of prawns, a bucket of lemons…dining that is truly plant to plate, bush to bowl. Moore describes Australian food as “an attitude, a state of mind, sophisticated, and connected.”



Food and wine aside, I learned of a few brilliant cultural adventures that will be added to my travel bucket list: a three-day Bruny Island guided food, wine and walking tour in Tasmania; savoring black truffles at the annual “Truffle Kerfuffle” in Western Australia; and cuddling a koala in Queensland. (No, seriously, you can actually do this!!! Brilliant, eh?!)


As if I needed more reasons to be convinced, the question arose: “Why should I go to Australia?” Here, my friends, are a few reasons, right out of the mouth of the Aussie chef himself: 1. You’ll have a spiritual connection with a spiritual land, 2. It’s a country built on an amazing energy, and 3. You’ll be a richer person and a happier person having connected with Australia. I would say I was sold on the answers, but quite honestly, they already had me at their food, wine, and koala cuddles.   


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen




  • Tara says:

    :) Yes come to Australia, its amazing… you should definately spend a couple of days in Byron Bay, beaches, food, ice-cream, atmosphere is amazing there I’m sure you would love it. I live in Queensland and their is plenty to do from the theme parks where you can swim with dolphins, to swimming with sharks, or as you say cuddle a Koala Bear, or the drop bear but you have to have a lot of bravery for that one 😉

    I myself am loving your expertise on all things New York, i am headed there in May and stumbled across your blog and am writing all the amazing things to see, places to eat and things to do into my New York adventure list. Super stoked for the opporutnity to visit such an amazing part of the world. I hope you have a chance to visit aussie soils some day, you deffinately wont be disappointed :)

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks so much for all this great info, Tara! I truly can’t wait to visit…someday!:-) And welcome to NYC! I’m sure you will have a lovely time, and please feel free to drop me an email if you have any specific questions or need recommendations!;-) info@usedyorkcity.com

  • Antoinette says:

    When i went to Australia last year, I wasn’t at all impressed with their foods. When I asked my friends, most of them said “Fish&Chips”, and although I love Fish & Chips, I refused to have it every day. Maybe I just didn’t know what an actual Australian cuisine is supposed to be? The best foods I had in Australia were Vietnamese food in Melbourne and dim sum in Sidney’s Chinatown. The second best was the Oz burger! mmMm! Their wines though were on point. I’m a big fan of wines from the southern hemisphere. Sunburnt Calf is one of my favorite brunch spots; i love that they have many locations, even in Brooklyn!

    • Used York City says:

      Ahh, very interesting! I had the same reaction when I went to Japan…not eating fish or pork, it was REALLY hard to find food to eat, and there’s only so much rice a girl can eat! Will definitely have to try Sunburnt Calf for brunch, I imagine it’s delicious!:-)

  • wow..what a great event.. the food.. the location….. so impressed (and a teensy bit jealous) and great descriptions!

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks Stevie! It was tons of fun learning about the land down under and all the great things it has to offer!

  • Holy smokes! Oh wow…they look soooooooo good. Totally jealous. Totally. *drools…stomach rumbles* I’d love to go to Australia one day. Already on my bucket list. If The West Indian Mother had taken a job in Aus when she was in her 20s, I would have been a born several time zones away.

    • Used York City says:

      Imagine that…would a different life! But then again, you wouldn’t have been able to go to “choice eats” on your foodie adventure, so I’d say everything worked out just perfectly in the end;-)

  • When I went to Oz in 2010, the only foods on my list were kangaroo meat (which I enjoyed in several different forms — I even had kangaroo jerky), and a vegemite sandwich, as mentioned in this iconic song:



    Now I have other things to try when I get back there. :)

    And I got photographed next to a koala in a zoo outside of Sydney, but I didn’t cuddle with one (I think I was warned that they can be bitey).

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks for sharing! It’s hard to imagine those sweet little guys being bitey, but I guess my chihuahua can be a bit deceiving, too!;-)

  • Suzy says:

    Ahh, Pavlova my friend! Jess, now you are making me hungry and homesick :) It is a damn long way, but definitely worth a visit.

  • lol at the outback steakhouse reference.. Remember “Fosters”, that’s Australian for beer… This place looks interesting, I’ll put it on the radar. Oddly enough, I’ve been to Australia and don’t recall having any of those times..

  • Wow, not what I expected. I have a new appreciation of Australian food.

  • Gomo says:

    My husband has been talking about going to Australia for years. I always put the kibosh on it. But this event totally sold me! I think we’ll be there within a year! :)

    • Used York City says:

      I’m so with you! I never had much desire to go before…somehow seemed like another US on the other side of the world (with cute accents, of course)…but now that I’ve been enlightened I can’t wait to plan a trip!;-)

  • Oh, my—what delectable treats you’re torturing us with, Jess!

    I’ve heard the Australian vino is superb. And I imagine the koala cuddle is sweeter than any dessert on the planet…

    Off to Whole Foods to grab a bite…

    Thanks for the culinary inspiration :)

    • Used York City says:

      The vino was delicious! Not something I’ve tried much of before, so it definitely peaked my interest to explore further!

  • Andrea says:

    Yes, this is a very Aussie menu =) Especially the pavlova for dessert!

  • Moroccan Vegetable Tagine looks interesting. Though I have never tasted it, a French restaurant in the area describes it a stew. I asked for a sample while there but was told the kitchen was too busy. Perhaps, in French restaurants, a sample is a meal.

  • now you are making ME feel hungry!!!

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