Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Australia - a little on the food I tried in Queensland

Lamington: named after Baron Lamington who was a governor of Queensland in the early 1900s, a lamington is a square of vanilla cake covered in chocolate icing and rolled in coconut.  I bought a lamington in Kuranda ($3.50 AUD) and tried it before we left Cairns.  It was pretty good.  It was a standard white cake and chocolate frosting but I liked the added texture of the coconut.

ANZAC - I'd heard of Anzac biscuits before and even had a few recipes of them in my baking books.  What I didn't know is that ANZAC stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.  Anzac "biscuits" are essentially hard, crunchy cookies.  I tried a macadamia Anzac from Kuranda ($1.20 AUD) and thought it was pretty good.  It's a butter cookie without being buttery and has a nice crunch.  I'm going to have to try and make this when I get back home.  They seem to have a lot of macadamia products here as well as fresh pineapple (which I love).

Chicken & Potato Pie - the meat pie is an Australian staple as it's hearty, filling and (generally) nutricious.  It's also one of the cheaper foods I've found here - $5AUD for the one from Kuranda.  What I liked about the pie I tried is its simplicity: crust, chicken & gravy filling and mashed potatoes swirled on top.  No ruining it by adding veggies (can you tell I don't like vegetables?) to be overcooked inside the gravy.  Just meat and gravy - that's my idea of a meat pie.

One of the things I'm constantly doing as I travel is checking out the food being sold or offered at various places like restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, hotel buffets, etc.  A couple of observations so far: first, I'll reiterate again how expensive things seem to be.  It's not just that I'm shopping in touristy places or airports.  Woolworths, a grocery store chain in Australia where many locals seem to shop, bears out the prices.  Think of it as like a Safeway in the US.  Cake mix was "on sale" for $4.93 AUD.  A 1.2L container of ice cream was $7 AUD.  Bananas were $2.50 a kilogram.  A can of Spam was on sale for $3.30.  For those of us in the US, we're really fortunate...and spoiled.  Never again will I complain how much food costs.  I've seen much higher in other parts of the world.  I don't know what salaries are like here but I hope they're high enough to compensate for the cost of food.  Feeding a family here must be enormous.

In the confectionery aisle - which is the aisle I always pay particular attention to - there are also brands I'm familiar with, namely Nestle and Cadbury.  But they offer a greater variety of flavors which is really cool.  Before I go home, I'm stocking up on some of this stuff that we don't have in the US.  Snickers and Kit Kats also seem popular here but they have "limited edition" Snickers with a chocolate wafer and almonds and caramel more than nougat.  M&Ms are also common in plain, peanut, mint, and crispy.  I'm still on the lookout for caramel M&Ms which I once had in So Cal but I think those were a test run and I don't think the M&M people have continued making them.  Darn.

Before I left for Australia, my friend Cheryl, who used to live here, recommended I try Tim Tams.  I don't know whether to thank her or curse her.  I bought Tim Tams in Cairns and they're delicious.  Think of them like Kit Kats in cookie form but much, much better.  I don't usually like KitKats as the wafer part always seems soggy.  But not in Tim Tams.  They're crisp chocolate wafer cookies sandwiched with a chocolate creme filling (same texture as the filling in Oreos but chocolate) and enrobed in milk chocolate.  YUM.  I also tried the caramel Tim Tams where instead of the chocolate creme filling, it was caramel.  More YUM.  Yeah, some boxes of those are going in my suitcase before I leave this country.


  1. Awww..but I love veggies as part of pot pies! hahah sounds like you're having quite a gourmet adventure!

  2. Hi Carol,
    It's really amusing (in a nice way - don't think I am poking fun at you) reading about your thoughts on all things Aussie.

    Food is expensive here and it's been a real talking point as many foods are now becoming out of reach for the average Aussie.

    With the dollar being almost on parity with the US, I've been shopping up a storm online at running stores (a pair of Asics Kayanos will set you back 260.00 here) , the Gap, Lucky, Lululemon and Team Estrogen.

    Anzac biscuits should be chewy in the middle - I will send you a recipe if you like or put it on my blog.

  3. Liz, I wish I'd had the presence of mind to pick your brain about Australia before I came! It's been a great trip so far and I'm having a ton of new experiences I'll remember for years.

    Glad you're getting more for your Aussie dollar. I still can't believe how expensive some things are here. I about fell over at the bookstore when I looked at paperbacks that cost $20-$30.

    I would love your Anzac biscuit recipe! The one I tried was hard/crunchy all the way through but it was pretty good.