Australia's World Class Food and Wine
It’s Fresh, Organic, Artisanal and Bountiful
Most first time visitors to Australia go for the expected reasons. They want to pet a kangaroo, visit the Outback, and find Nemo. But exit surveys by Tourism Australia show that when they leave, what they’re raving about is the food and the wine.
In fact visitors from China, US, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK and South Korea rank Australia their top food and wine destination in the world. This seems surprising considering that 74 percent of people who’ve never visited the Land Down Under didn’t even know food and wine was a thing in Australia.
Oh…but it is.
Australia is a big country….about the size of the U.S., with several temperate zones, many of which are great for growing all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, which makes up Australia’s world class food and wine: Bananas, figs, peaches, citrus, raspberries, passion fruit, chilies, spinach, artichokes, onions….. They’re really big on serving local produce, and if it’s organic—so much the better.
Australia’s World Class Food and Wine includes the meat—beef and lamb—that are grass-fed rather than “finished off” with a diet of grains, unlike US livestock. So the meat is leaner and, many people believe, more flavorful than U.S. beef. Also, in a lot of places in the world it’s tough to get fresh seafood. But Australia is an island. Lobster, salmon, abalone and prawn are plentiful, as are Australian specialties like King George Whiting, Moreton Bay Bug and Rock Lobster.
In recent years a couple of trends have grown in Australian food. One is fusion cooking, fueled by the huge proliferation of immigrants from all over the world seeking Australian sunshine and laid back lifestyles. The result is endless combinations including Thai, Tex Mex and Pacific Rim traditions all mixed together. Like Japanese fried chicken with rice bubbles…desserts like chocolate, pineapple and mint. But the other big trend is going hyper local. Focusing on regional dishes and reviving Bush Tucker, indigenous foods traditionally popular with hunter gatherer populations. Wallaby, for example, and soda bread baked over ash. Even Bush Tucker is subject the fusion treatment: How about Wallaby carpaccio?
Australians are all about artisanal foods. Artisanal breads, artisanal beers, artisanal cheeses, artisanal coffees. Australia is one place where Starbucks has never gained much of a foothold, because of the country’s passion for its organic, fair trade coffee farms and its own, local, coffee traditions.
And then there are the wineries. Australia has a long history of viniculture. It has more than 100 varietals and grows wines in more than 60 regions, from the cold-weather grapes grown in Tasmania to South Australian vines that date back to the 1850s. It’s most important wines are Riesling, Chardonnay, Semillon, Muscat, Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Most restaurants have sommeliers around to make sure you pair the right wine with your meal.
And finally, Australians are passionately into the dining experience. Even “fancy” restaurants tend to have chill environments where you can enjoy the outdoors and relax over your meal.
Aussies are so stoked about their food and wine industries, they’re aggressively recruiting more people to come support the growing demand: chefs, baristas, bartenders, anybody with the chops and talent to keep putting the country on the culinary map. Really, with so many fun ingredients to play with, right at your fingertips, who could resist?