What do you picture when you think of Australia? Minds may wander to the brightly coloured coral and fish of the Great Barrier Reef; or to the flopping tails of native kangaroos and wallabies; or to the giant waves of any surfer’s dreams. Probably nowhere near the top of a list of reasons to visit Australia is the food, which essentially only has a reputation for Vegemite and Tim Tams (the latter of which are undeniably delicious). Australia is hardly known for its cuisine, and yet, it is consistently producing fresh, high-quality fare at a slew of both casual and fine dining restaurants that will help put it on the larger culinary map.
In Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, a mix of international influences and native techniques result in exciting and memorable experiences throughout the entire day. While the city is not the most popular in Australia to visit, it is growing and changing at a rapid pace, with its gastronomic scene at the forefront of the progress.
For breakfast, enormous and flavourful plates come from The Little Larder, an unpretentious corner cafe serving up various hearty egg, meat, and vegetable dishes, including a local favourite: pesto eggs. Hot and fresh coffee and tea are served in varying sizes of mugs, so do beware of the “bucket,” which serves up enough delicious Chai latte to bathe in.
For lunch there is Wild Canary, nestled inside a botanical garden and led by chef Glen Barratt, which has 140 square metres of garden beds right on site used to grow a delicious seasonal offering of produce that makes its artful way to the plate. A Roast Winter Salad of sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip, fennel, heritage carrot, and grilled halloumi with pumpkin hummus and seeds is the perfect iteration of what Wild Canary does well: grow and groom the best crops for Australia’s warm climate, and prepare them to incredible taste. Leave room for dessert, if possible, as the selection of freshly baked cakes from the front counter display will be hard to resist.
And then, dinner: Jellyfish Restaurant, located right on the boardwalk of the Brisbane River, offers fine dining seafood in a bright and clean setting. Sourcing a daily selection of eight to 14 types of fish, the restaurant then creates special crumbs, batters, and sauces to pair with each one. The best course of action here is to pick from the fresh sheet, and have the server suggest a selection of delicious accompanying side salads and warm dishes. Australian wine shines, and the knowledgeable waitstaff will know just what to pair with the oven-baked barramundi or grilled swordfish with smoked tomato emulsion.
Culinary tourism is becoming more and more of a draw in countries around the world, giving tourists a literal taste of what any unique city has to offer. Food is its own language, a common denominator, connecting us to the people who live in each place. Flavour doesn’t get lost in translation.
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