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Jun 7, 2001 03:46 AM

Australian cuisine

  • r

The San Francisco Saloon posting by muhlyssa led me to ponder this question. Is there a distinctive
Australian cuisine and if so, is there anywhere in L.A. that serves such. And the first one of you that says ANYTHING about the OUTBACK Drek house (my opinion is obvious, eh) will be flogged with a wet Kangaroo tail.

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  1. We've searched high and low for restaurants that might be Australian. When my Aussie husband first moved to America, we went to Outback Salt House just for a goof and I can defintely tell you that other than the Fosters, there really isn't anything typically Australian on the menu. Ask 10 Australians if they have ever had a Bloomin' Onion and I am sure they would look at you like you were from another planet.

    Most traditional Australian foods have their roots in British tradition (Australia was a country that GB developped to ship all of their prisoners to). Meat Pies are very Australian. Roast dinners (lamb, potatos and peas) are too. After being there twice and living with an Aussie for 3 years, I don't believe there is such thing as Australian cuisine. Just like America, the country is made up of tons of immigrants from all parts of the world including Europeans, Asians and Middle-Easterns. The only true Australian cuisine is probably what the Aboriginal people eat and that doesn't seem to have caught on as a regional fare. When I was there I noticed cuisine from all parts of the world. There are a few types of fish that are regional to that area that I noticed on a lot of menus. No where did I see "shrimp on the barby" but they do eat a lot of prawns. Yes and I did see Kangaroo on a few menus. But seafood and fish are king thing. And it's a lamb lover's paradise. Aussie lamb is so much better than American lamb that a few years ago there was an embargo on importing Aussie and NZ lamb to the US because the American Lamb market was doing so badly.

    We did find the one place in Redondo Beach called "The Great Australian Bite" that was nothing more than a sports bar/restaurtant with a few Aussie items, like meat pies and vegemite.

    There was another place in Pasadena that Calendar Live wrote up a few years ago that was australian-looking/themed called Boomerock Hot Rocks Grill
    which they write:

    "There's this place in Pasadena where you cook on rocks. That's the short version.

    Here's a longer one: There's this place in Pasadena where you cook meat on slabs of rock heated to 700 degrees and the motif is aboriginal Australia, complete with the booming, rattling drone of didgeridoo music and lots of colorfully painted boomerangs (hence the name, Boomerock Hot Rocks Grill)."

    But I asked my husband of this way of eating is typically Australian and he said no. I think it's just the way they decorated it (early-Survivor).

    I do hear Australian wine is really catching on and becoming quite popular. We did visit the wine region of the Barossa Valley when we were there. It was quite a treat, even for people who don't drink (like us).

    8 Replies
    1. re: Muhlyssa
      Mike Kilgore

      Over several visits to Oz I always thought that the wonderful thing about it was the variety of ethnic foods that spring from the immigrant communities, especially in Melbourne. I also loved the concept of the Oaks in Neutral Bay, (Sydney) where they had a large out door barbeque area and a fresh meat and fish counter, (not to mention the very large bar). First you got your beverage of choice to help keep you from being parched over the hot grill. You then picked out your steak, sausages, fish or whatever, cooked it, went throught their salad bar and sat down with your mates at either an inside or outside table. Great fun and good food. Oz is so much more about people and having the time to enjoy life.

      1. re: Mike Kilgore
        Ruth and David

        We just returned from an incredible 7 months Down Under. Reading all these replies was making my mouth water. We ate all of the above and I am completely addicted to Violet Crumbles (which I have seen in many shops in L.A.). We brought back Tim Tams (they are almost gone), Laksa paste, and our favorite cracker: Fantastic (name brand) rice crackers, barbeque flavor. I am not sure how we are going to live without them on a daily basis. I will miss being able to get Laksa on every corner, so if anyone knows anyplace (besides Kuala Lumpur in Pasedena) to get a great laksa, let me know. By the way, we went to The Oaks the first night we were in Sydney and thought it was the greatest thing going!

      2. re: Muhlyssa

        Now, speaking as an Aussie-phile only, there are a few aspects of Australian cuisine that are distinct and unique:

        - Damper
        - Lamingtons
        - Pavlova
        - and, most importantly, commercially available snack products: Violet Crumbles and Tim Tams being the grandest.

        Violet Crumbles are definitely available, and always seem to pop-up in random coffee houses. Tim Tams et al are available via catalog.

        Otherwise, if anybody's seen any of this stuff in LA, please do tell!

        1. re: Jeff Shore

          I'll add Cherry Ripes (candy bar with dark chocolate, coconut and cherries) to that list. When we go back (or anyone comes to visit us), Tim Tams are always brought back.

          We are off again in April, so put your order in now!

          1. re: Jeff Shore

            Just saw Violet Crumbles on the counter at Chez Allez in Malaga Cove. Chez Allez is a great little café/coffeehouse run by the Chez Melange people. Great soups, salads, and sandwiches. Had a portobello mushroom w/gorgonzola, caramelized onions and frisée on pan rustica this afternoon that was was outstanding. Sweet onions juxtaposed with tangy cheese and the juicy steak-like mushroom - yum!

            1. re: LBQT

              What are Violet Crumbles, and Tim Tams, too, if you know, please? pat

              1. re: Pat Hammond

                Ahh, so glad you asked.

                Tim Tams are cookies. They are basically two thin biscuits, filled frosting, and covered in dark chocolate. They are much more distinctive than they sound. The distinctive pleasure of a Tim Tam is to nibble off each end, hold it in your mouth, dunk it partway into a mug of tea (or coffee) and use the Tim Tam as a straw. This method is even described on their website. Quite fun, and the "used" Tim Tam is amazingly delicious. (Manufactured by Arnott's, an Aussie company owned by Campbells.)

                Violet Crumbles are candy bars. They are honeycombs covered with dark chocolate. They have a marvelous crunch, and nothing to do with violet whatsoever (besides the package). They are most similar to - but much better than, in my opinion - Cadbury's Crunchies. (Manufactured by Nestle.)

                1. re: Jeff Shore

                  Thanks, Jeff. Tim Tams sound wonderful. I love an excuse to play with my food, not that I need one! I had pictured the Violet Crumbles as some sort of candy, but more sugary than chocolatey. I love the Flake bars I've had in England. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what they're called. pat

        2. A compendium of Ozzie tucker (cuisine) found on a typcial Oz Restaurant menu would include:

          - Seafood: Morton Bay Bugs, Crayfish, Snapper, Barramundi, Tasmanian Salmon, mud crab
          - Australian game (not all restaurants serve them, but some do), such as Kangaroo or emu
          - Rack of Lamb
          - at pubs & grills you can also get hot meat pies,
          - for a genuine Oz-style burger, you gotta have the beetroot & the fried egg together with your onions, meat patty & toMAHtoes & lettuce, etc...

          To sample some Oz-fare stateside, I've found a little place in Cleveland, Ohio - Wallaby's Grille & Brewpub... In LA and surroundings... no I haven't found any place yet... although I have seen some restaurants serve "Australian Lobster Tails" Presumably that's like the crayfish back home... but "who knowes?"

          Anyone else know of anything else??

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rich

            Mmmm, emu... delicious when cooked right. Anybody know anyplace in LA that serves it? I don't care whether or not they call the place Australian.