I was recently invited to a BlogHer lunch hosted by Tourism Australia at The Sunburnt Calf in New York City. Blogger events are always fun because I get to meet and see some of my “blog friends.” This was also a good opportunity to experience Australian cuisine and learn about Australia’s food and wine culture.
While I’ve had my fair share of childhood Outback Steakhouse experiences (I used to go with my best friend and her family while we were growing up!) and have been to one or two Australian restaurants in the city, I never really got the chance or took the time to understand what Australian food actually is. Representatives from the different regions of the country–including Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania–spoke to us about the lifestyles of their areas. (Hi Audra!)
Michael Moore, a world-renowned chef, cookbook author and entrepreneur, defined Australian cuisine as laid-back but sophisticated: sophisticated in the quality of food, but laid-back in atmosphere. I really liked how he described it that way, and it made me think of California a little bit. Everyone also emphasized the farm-to-table movement across the regions and just how open and light everything is. So much calmer than crazy New York City. Honestly, the pictures and descriptions of the different regions made me want to go to Australia immediately. Maybe I can get someone to send me there for one of their Food and Wine Festivals… Wishful thinking!
And as for the food at the event, this was definitely a step up from my typical made-at-home salad lunch! Take a look at the beautiful and flavorful dishes we were served!
Classic Prawn Cocktail, with shredded iceberg and creamy cocktail sauce. The shrimp were fresh and the cocktail sauce was just the right touch to highlight the shellfish.
Stuffed Mushrooms, with wild mushroom mousse, olive tapenade, and Manchego. The mushrooms were meaty and substantial without being overly filling for an appetizer. I was happy that the flavor from the olive tapenade was not overpowering; the flavors just came together nicely.
Oysters “Kilpatrick”: tempura-fried oyster, pickled shallots, and Worcestershire-bacon butter. This was my favorite dish of the day. The oysters were perfectly cooked and the flavors were great. The bacon gave it a nice smokiness, while the shallots added the perfect acidic balance.
Steamed Buns with red braised pork belly. The buns were fresh and soft, which complimented the savory meat and fresh garnishes well.
We had a choice of three entrees, but I still got photos of the other two beautiful plates!
BBQ’d Barramundi Fillet with sea scallops, frisee salad, new potatoes, anchovy aioli. I actually chose this dish because I am a sucker for sea scallops. One of the two scallops was seared perfectly, and the fish was light and flavorful; it felt slightly more substantial than tilapia. We actually saw a photo of the biggest Barramundi and it was huge!
Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with roasted almond and mint couscous. I didn’t taste it but I could smell Joanne’s across the table. It smelled amazing!
Grilled Australian Rack of Lamb with roasted winter vegetables and minted yogurt. Another beautifully plated dish. I think that is Jacqueline’s arm in the back. :-)
And finally dessert! Pavlova with sticky meringue, fresh cream, kiwi, mango, and passion fruit sauce. I loved the passion fruit sauce!
Peach Melba with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. I didn’t try it, but those who did said it was good.
Thank you so much to Tourism Australia for hosting this lunch! This is a sponsored post, but all opinions stated are my own.