Travel Guide to Australia

David Karp spent February and March in Australia (these are late summer and fall months there) writing articles about food, travel and, of course, fruit. Here are some of his culinary discoveries.

Two of the great treasures I discovered are the Moorpark Apricots of Tasmania, possibly the world's greatest apricot (I ate 3 kilos for breakfast one morning) and the original white nectarine, a variety called the Goldmine. Because its hard to grow and the fruit is extremely delicate most farmers are ripping out these trees. Australia, like the US is an immense country and getting fresh produce to market presents the same problems. Unfortunately that means most of the product is mediocre because it's grown to be tough instead of flavorful. As always you have to shop carefully, and know what to look for.

Australia is the perfect place to find great farmer's markets. Melbourne has the giant, centrally located Victoria Market, and Adelaide too has its own Central Market. I learned a lesson in those markets. Before loading up with purchases, look for the organic section first, because sellers there often have the freshest local produce and the most interesting varieties (one vendor had 61 varieties of Australian-grown chili peppers and dozen's of varieties of heirloom tomatoes!).

In the last few years there's been a whole movement of interest in indigenous "bush tucker" products, foods that were and are appreciated by the Aborigines. There are restaurants devoted entirely to this food - the Red Ochre Grill in Adelaide was probably my favorite. Edna's Table in Sydney is another good choice - where you find native meats like kangaroo, emu, and crocodile as well as the native fruits and vegetables.

For more information on Australian foods, David recommends these books:

Louis Glowinski's The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia (Melbourne: Lothian 1991, in print)

Juleigh Robins' Wild Lime: Cooking From the Bushfood Garden (Allen & Unwin, 1996)

Cherry Ripe, Goodbye Culinary Cringe, no author listed (Allen & Unwin, second edition, 1995)

 

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