Questions for our Honeymoon in New Zealand in Sydney/New South Wales
I'm getting married on Dec 30th and we're going to be spending 4 days in Sydney/NSW, 3 days in Auckland/North Island and 6 days driving all over the South Island. As a newby who's never been to Australia or New Zealand I can use lots of suggestions.
I'll break our rough schedule down so you know where we'll be.
In Sydney/New South Wales, we're going to do the cliff walk from Bondi to Coogee stopping to take two hours of surfing lessons on Bondi. We're then washing off and doing a quick scenic drive (no more than an hour or two so your suggestions for the best photo ops would be appreciated!), we're going to hit the Sydney Aquarium for it's last two hours (half price tickets!). So for Sydney eating, I would really like to try your Balmain bugs unadulterated somewhere and get a quality kangaroo steak for my fiancé. Where would you suggest trying to go during our trip? I imagine that there must be someplace for bugs near or on that Bondi to Coogee walk. Then we need a place for kangaroo steaks. I'd rather have both the Bugs and kangaroo with little preparation to cover up the natural flavors. Since we'll be salty and sweaty tourists, incredibly fancy places may not be appropriate. But I've always found that money has only a little to do with quality. In addition to the bugs and kangaroo for day one, we'll need a place for snacking and drinking at night. Any suggestions? Is the Australian Hotel open late and acceptable (the one with crocodile pizza)?
The next day we are going to the Blue mountains and the day after to Hunter Valley. Any suggestions for restaurants and drinking options over the next two days?
We definitely want to do one "traditional" hangi meal in New Zealand and we'll be all over the greater Auckland area, the central area of the North Island and pretty much everywhere on the South Island (although mainly in Christchurch, Marlborough, Kaikoura and the Fiordland area). Suggestions?
Outside of the hangi, we definitely want to partake in your famous abalone and lamb. Any suggestions for the Auckland or South Island?
I'm late to this thread, but thought I'd chime in, since I have had visitors with similar curiosity. As the others have indicated, there doesn't seem to be much crossover between "indigenous" foods and what we on this board would consider "chow-worthy" foods. When we first came to Australia from the US, my partner and I were very excited to try kanagroo, but we have found that there is really kind of a stigma about this meat. Maybe kind of like possum or squirrel in the US. You don't find it very often in Sydney restaurants. In fact, you are more likely to encounter venison than roo. The few times we've had it out, it's been part of a menu "special", and not part of the regular menu offerings.
Having said that, I really like a kangaroo steak, and I buy them to prepare at home about as often as I buy beef steaks. It's a difficult meat to work with, though, as it is extremely lean and gets very tough if it is cooked anything but rare or medium rare. This may explain why you don't often see it in restaurants. I agree with the others that you'll probably have better luck finding it outside of the city.
One thing I do recommend you try is a fish called barramundi. To me, this is a quintessential Aussie ingredient. I believe this fish is common in Asia as well, but finding native Aussie barra is easy. It's an estuary fish, so depending on where it's caught, it can have either a freshwater or saltwater fish character. Tasmanian salmon is also lovely, as are oysters and mussels. Also, I insist that all my visitors have as much lamb as they can, as the Australian and NZ lamb is the highest standard in the world, and tastes nothing like what they call "lamb" back in the US. It's hard to find a higher end restaurant that doesn't have a melt-in-your-mouth rack of lamb or lamb cutlets on the regular menu.
One of my good friends describes Sydney cuisine as "Mediterrasian", and I think that sums it up perfectly. I think that for a long time, Australia didn't have much of a cuisine to speak of. It was mainly the British standards, and included things like meat pies, sausages and sausage rolls. (Native aussies, please correct me if I'm wrong.) What has emerged as Australian cuisine over the past 20 years or so is heavily influenced by the Asian and Mediterranean cultures that have migrated here. So most of what people consider "Aussie" cooking is a fusion approach to ingredients and cooking styles. You won't find a signature dish, so much as a signature style. (Though I do recommending sampling a few laksas while in Sydney, as this is the perfect example of an adopted dish that Sydney does really well. Laksa is probably more of a signature Sydney dish than kangaroo or bugs could ever be.)
If you are desperate for a quick taste of roo, crocodile or emu, though, you can head over to the tourist trap that is that Australian Heritage Hotel in The Rocks for lunch or dinner (I recommend lunch). They do pizzas with each of those toppings. (Whenever we have visitors with kids, we always take them there, and the kids are always beyond ecstatic to get a croc pizza.) It's not a culinary high point, but it is fun, and they have some good Aussie beers on tap.
sorry, I meant the Bodhi Tree in Christchurch, but make reservations as very popular.
Great seafood, fresh fruit (cherries, apples, berries, kiwis etc during december) and the farmers markets/town markets were also good places to get fruit, home baking, meat pies which are popular there. Wineries were a terrific place to sample wines but also served good food and often very scenic as near water, too many to mention but here is one we visited where you can see the sophistication
You can get wellprepared seafood in simple places, here is one just outside of kaikoura, a shack on the beach and we were repeat visitors sampling everything.
The lamb was delicious even when we bought it in supermarkets to prepare in motel.
You might add to your list of things to do to visit the zoos we visited 3, the one in sydney you get to pet kangaroos in an fenced in area. Amazing fauna. In Kaikoura you see the seals along the roadside, even on the road, you can go out to see penquins (Chistchurch or further south)or swim with the dolphins. There is also a place not far from seafood shack were you can learn about sheep farming and feed lambs, we had trouble eating lamb after that..
The Rocks area in Sydney also has a weekly market where you can feast on food in the open air. http://www.therocks.com/sydney-Shoppi...
oops i am not an insider but had to comment about the wholesome food we enjoyed on our travels to sydney and new zealand. But the climate and fabulous scenery were the most memorable of all.
We used the lonely planet guide as we had no planned itinery and it served us well even in the small towns so basically never had a disappointing meal during our trip.
Bugs and Roo are not easy to find these days. Lots of bugs at the fish market and the fish shops there will cook them up for you. As for Roo maybe a pub will have it but it isn't very common on menus these days. I can't really recall many butchers still selling it in Sydney it was more common in South Australia. You may find it more easily in the Hunter or Blue mountains.
The Australian is a pub so open quite late (not past 12 though) not certain if they serve food that late. I think the food there is OK but I have never tried it - popular with backpackers.
My best advice is to avoid the gimmicky foods and search out the best places to eat rather than follow the tourist route. Roo and bugs are good when done well but these days if you find them hey are going to be touristy and quality will be variable. Head for the best Australian food and experience a great food culture especially as it is your first visit - other threads have ideas.
Thanks for the advice.
I want to get roo not as a gimmick necessarily (although am really in to trying exotic meats, some (roo, elk, American bison) are better than beef. Some (ostrich, whitetailed deer, mule deer, kudu, pronghorn antelope, etc..) are almost as tasty but much healthier and some (moose, yak, camel) are not worth the effort) and I've bought it in the past and cooked it myself by ordering it online for prices that you would probably find shocking. I find it (at least prepared as I did) to be tastier than steak. I like my red meat just barely run over the heat and roo cooked that way was utterly fantastic.
My fiancé has never had roo, so I'd like to get at least one quality steak of it during the trip (in either Sydney, Blue mountains or Hunter Valley). I know that Deep Blue Bistro is supposed to always carry it and they've been featured on two Travel Channel and one Food Network shows over in the states but the online reviews look mixed especially for the price. I was hoping to find it prepared simply and appropriately seared some place down under.
I suppose worst case scenario, I can get the bugs at the fish market as you said and have them prepare them and if I can find some roo steaks I can cook them myself on an outdoor grill assuming 1) anyone knows a butcher shop or grocery store to find it and 2) you have free outdoor charcoal grills in your parks like we do in America.
What do you consider the quintessential Aussie food? Meat pies like everywhere else besides America in the former British Empire or is there something indigenous I don't know about? Truthfully when I travel, I'm not interested in familiar foods but new indigenous experiences. But I didn't see any Aboriginal restaurants in the Sydney and I didn't really see much (as an outsider) that was really "Australian" as opposed to the typical European/Asian fusion places that are common pretty much everywhere in America now. BUT...I don't know everything, that's why I'm asking insiders like you. What do YOU think is quintessential Australian food a dumb Yank (although as a Southerner I'm offended by being associated with the Yankees from the Northeast) should try to educate himself about the food culture. Remember I've only got three days and basically six meals plus some snacking and drinking) to learn!
I used to eat a lot of Roo in Adelaide where it was on every pub menu and I agree it can be great especially rare. But I haven't seen a lot in Sydney. In many cities it I seen by. Lot of people as pet food so I assume that association mean a lot of butchers no longer carry it. Yes we have BBQ's in parks usually electric and if not free quite cheap - good by the beach. The fish market is pretty special so worth a trip an an easy way to eat bugs.
Sydney used to have a great indigenous restaurant called Edna's Table but it has sadly closed and I really can't think of another. What is Australia food? Well it is similar to international food but I think it is actually a level above many places, especially the way we mix and match styles and cuisines so menus and dishes take on a pretty much Aussie style. I highly recommend Sean's Panaroma on Bondi Beach as the quintesessential Australian restaurant. It is farm fresh, casual and scruffy. But the food flavours are amazing and the style (despite the influences) is very Australian. You need to book an it isn't the bargain it once was but for a honeymoon it is great.
I am sorry I can't be much more help on indigenous ingredients maybe there maybe more opportunities in the Hunter or the Blue Mountains.