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Australian restaurants


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Having viewed a lot of comments about great restaurants in France and the US, I feel it is incumbent on me to point out that Australia is where all the action is these days (apart from London where they import Australian chefs!!).

Let me just mention three. Tetsuya Wakuda's eponymous restaurant in Sydney, is simply one of the greatest in the world. This man is a culinary genius.

Another that stands out is the Flower Drum in Melbourne. We have rarely eaten better Chinese food anywhere (certainly not in the United States).

For seafood, then Neil Perry's Rockpool in Sydney would give Le Bernadin a run for its money!

What we lack is a fine French restaurant in the style of Ducasse. There is nothing like it here.

Sadly, we also had an unrivalled Thai restaurant called Darley Street Thai but it has closed and David Thompson has moved to London and opened a similar establishment there. Our loss is London's gain.

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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I also get excited about Cheong Liew's food at The Grange, in Adelaide. He's a genius too. Like a Picasso to Tetsuya's Monet.

I actually like David Thompson's Sailors Thai Canteen as much as I liked Darley Street - perhaps more, because I need less recovery time between sessions and so can eat there more frequently. Salmon curry and sticky rice with mango are my favourites. And squid with brown bean. Even though it is informal, I can't imagine anyone outside of Thailand doing Thai food so well. Who else would insist on making coconut cream from scratch and travel afar to urge growers to produce the requisite obscure species of lime?

Reading eGullet's "negative reviews" board, I noticed that Nahm has received some ferocious criticism in the UK press. But I just can't imagine David Thompson making bad food. Have you been to Nahm, Roger? Or had word-of-mouth from reliable sources?

I haven't been to Rockpool. The Neil Perry phenomenon irritates me. Not for any rational reason. Perhaps being photographed half naked for a coffee advertisement was his overactive publicist's (bad) idea. Maybe, too, that whiney feature in SMH where he bemoaned the loss of a "Chef's Hat", despite scarcely being in his kitchen all year. And the myriad fawning "Neil Perry at Home" puff pieces in lifestyle magazines. Perhaps if I ate just one meal at Rockpool, I'd immediately dismiss his acute overexposure as utterly inconsequential. But, with Sailors Thai Canteen being just across the road from Rockpool, I'm unlikely to be sampling Mr Perry's food anytime soon.

In Melbourne, I love Flower Drum, too. Yu.u and Kenzan (too lazy to walk six blocks to Hanabishi) are great for cooked Japanese and sushi, respectively. And we have many el cheapo ethnic favourites. But I just can't get excited about non-ethnic restaurants in Melbourne. We've yet to find a non-ethnic place here that does seafood (we don't eat meat) so well that we're inclined to return for another meal.

Some of the dishes have been nice, but nice just isn't enough. We can do nice, and then some, at home. Other dishes have been downright ordinary. Langtons was especially disappointing. I don't understand the rave reviews. Although the raves are usually about the likes of ox and lamb shanks.

Maybe I'd enjoy Melbourne's allegedly better non-ethnic restaurants more if I ate meat. As it is, they seem vastly inferior to better restaurants in Sydney, which have a serious "Wow!" factor.

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I have to interject a word of realism here guys:)

first of all I should disclose that while I have only been a few times, I am no great fan of Sydney.  It is well balanced in that it has a chip on both shoulders about trying to be a world class city and reminds me of nothing so much as a brash younger sibling who keeps shouting for attention. How many times can you let fireworks off that #### bridge and expect the world to go " Ahh aren't you wonderful?"

I think this comes through in the in the many restaurants I went to.  While the ingredients were superaltive there was too much splash and flash and not enough style and guile.  I was very disappointed with the one exception of a cart which sold tandoori fish rolls for a couple of dollars which were as good as anything I have bought of the streets of Calcutta.

Don't take this as a pom bashing the aussies.  I am very fond of Australia.  I think of it like a brother ( not a favouite brother mind you, more the sort on is slightly ashamed of and keep locked in the attic :)

I adore Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and suspect that it is because they, being content to be great Australian cities seem to have less of a complex about the whole thing.  I would eat out in Melbourne over Sydney any day of the week.

All that being said, I have to go back there again soon on business, so any suggestions to prove me wrong would be much appreciated

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Heather

I agree with you about Sailors Thai. I particularly like the Canteen upstairs, Sue and i try to eat there every week we are in Australia.

I also agree about Cheong Liew. His food is very special. In fact Adelaide, given its size, is lucky to have four world class restaurants, namely The Grange, Nediz (run by Genevive Harris, formerly of Bathers Pavilion), Bridgewater Mill and the Penfold's Magill Estate Restaurant.

I am sure you really would like Rockpool. The food there is very clever. Also the produce he uses is first class. I agree about the marketing of the Perry phenomenon - too eager and too agressive. It is interesting, however, that he has retreated to Rockpool. All his other restaurants no longer exist (although there are the persistent rumours of him opening in London).

Yu.u is a lovely place and different in that they go out of there way to avoid publicity. Another place we really like is Sud for 'home-style' southern Italian cooking. Very simple, very plain and very good. Nice people run the restaurant too.

Probably the best seafood in Melbourne is Toofey's in Carlton. The rest of the high end non-ethnic are a problem. Circa, est est est and Jacques Reymond are too inconsistent.

And Simon. We will just keep sending our chefs to London to teach you all how to cook!

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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Roger, thanks for mentioning Sud. We went twice, more than a year ago now. We enjoyed the food, thought service was excellent, but on our second visit were trapped in a room thick with smokers. Now that the new laws have been passed, we really must go back.

Reassuring to know those handsome boys are still doing good things there. So often favourite places change all too quickly. We visited Cumquat in Hobart two weeks ago, for the first time since January and were so disappointed. And now Kafe Kara is up for sale. Yikes!

Simon, I'm wondering what restaurants you visited in Sydney to give you such an unfavourable impression of local cuisine. How long ago did you visit? You can't be so ardently critical of the city without being more specific!

And where did you eat in Melbourne that has you so excited?

On your next visit to Sydney, as you may have gathered from discussion above, you must try Sailors Thai Canteen and Tetsuya Wakada's restaurant. Mr Wakada's cookbook is awesome, too - many exciting low-carb dishes. (How is low-carb ####, by the way? Baked felafel recipe coming soon to Gereral Topics.)

I'll make some more Sydney suggestions when I know where you've been already. At this point, I'm thinking - given your objections to Sydney's brashness - that you should maybe head straight from airport to the north shore and not venture beyond it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to add to the Melbourne/Sydney discussion. Sydney now has a rival to Sud. It's a place in Potts Point in the space that was previously the Paramount.

It is called Osteria Moana. There is a fixed antipasto (no choice) and then a choice of three main courses. Communal tables (although when we went back last week there were a few single tables ina new space at the front) that seat about eight people make it a noisy restaurant but the food is real!

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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  • 7 months later...

The more I travel overseas, the more I think that Australian restaurants beat most others hands down. Take out a few of the really greats such as Ducasse and Gagnaire (and the occasional special place such as Gramercy Tavern) and there really isn't much that reaches the heights of Tetsuya, Rockpool, Flower Drum, Magill Estate, Grange, Nediz, Aqua Luna, Sailors Thai, Bamboo House, Vulcans and some of the other icons we have grown to know and love.

And then there are the others such as Kylie Wong's, Chez Phat, Sud, Chinta Ria, mit Zitrone, Season which would also stand on the shoulders of their equivalents in other countries.

So, I think that we are better than everyone!

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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I have to disagree with you – strongly so.  I’ve just come back from a 6 week holiday in Australia and sampled many of the fine restaurants including Rockpool, Salt, Banc & Edzard.  These are all great places and extremely affordable but there was nothing that I would say distinguished them on an international level.  Neil Perry is a fine, inventive cook – but he’s no Ducasse  or Ramsay.  He may get a modest following but he’ll never set the world on fire.

What Australia has to offer is wonderful cheap dining from the bistro to more formal surroundings and on that level Sydney & Melbourne easily competes with anywhere worldwide.  But I had no truly memorable meal when I was there (I did look hard).

What did surprise me was the price of wine – it was no cheaper there than in London.  There was a lot more oz wine to choose from but precious little from overseas – I do love oz wine but occasionally you need a bottle of French which was difficult to source.

PS. I do remember having yabbies in a hotel in a spa town 1-2 hours north west of Melbourne (don’t remember the name but it wins lots of awards) – it was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever eaten.

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BLH - Glad you enjoyed the Australian restaurants. I agree that at the Bistro and lower level they are great, especially since a lot of them are BYO.  My personal favorite type of Australian restaurant were the smaller ethnic places in Melbourne (such as Vietnamese and Middle-Eastern). But, while many of these places has great food, if you were tourist you may over look them, especially since the vast majority are not in the city centre.

Australia now has one of the highest sales tax on wine in the world (about 48%), but when I was last there the wine was still much cheaper then in the UK, or at least the quality of the wine at a given price was much better. Try getting a good quality wine in a UK restuarant for ten quid :(.

A great pity about the yabbies (fresh water crayfish), the are generally very nice (I spent a large amount of my childhood catching and eating them), but like all their kind, if they aren't fresh they are not worth eating. What exactly was horrid about them?

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My starter was a tasting of fresh water fish & included eel, trout & jabbies.  All tasted rancid to me but the jabbies stood out as being the most unpleasant - a musty bitterness.  I don't think I finished eating them.

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Lakehouse, Daylesford.  Pure s**t.

On the plus side we did stop at Hanging Rock - our picnic was coffee & a ciggy.

Daylesford - hate the sodding place, had to go there for Family holidays, no wonder the food was bad.

Hanging Rock - love it, we would go there for the boxing day racing. Sometimes a picnic as well :wink: .

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  • 2 years later...

I'm a Vancouver e-gullet subscriber and have posed the question in the Vancouver forum on how we view our cuisine compared to "Modern Australian" cuisine. I'd love to hear your views and as well as your postings in our Vancouver forum on our two countries cuisines. We may share a common language, ocean, and proximity to Asia but I'm curious how you view our great restaurants compared to your own.

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver, Canada

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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hmmm interesting question stephen. it will be interesting to see the responses you get.

my only qualification for commenting is that I used to live in Vancouver. but that was 20 years ago, but have visited more than a couple times during that time. now living in Melbourne. Interested in the topic as a general foodie/cook.

generally your comments about sharing the common points is valid. but I also noticed you also restricted the comparison to the 'great restaurants'. that being the case, I would agree the cuisines between the 2 cultures are similar because they are also driven by international food trends. This would apply to most of the 'great restaurants of the world' - a result of globalization. . (i.e. good Thai food can be made anyway in the world now, not just Thailand) The differences would come from the chef's vision, or indigenous ingredients only.

I also note you are comparing 'our cuisine' to 'modern Australian'. I am assuming you are making a general reference to 'pacific rim' cuisine here. yes/no?

the point I would like to make here is you are comparing east coast Canada to all of Australia. you did not compare modern Canadian to modern Australian. that being said, Australia is a big place (similar size to continental USA), albeit with a smaller population, and the cuisine of tropical Australia is quite different to Sydney and Melbourne for example. similar to differences between Vancouver and Montreal I assume. So I guess all i'm saying Australia does have regional cuisines, some of it modern, and not necessarily all pacific rim.

but I still think there are great differences between the 2 countries with regards to general restaurant industry or dining out. Quite different industry structure with the distinct absence of chain restaurants here in Oz. (only a recent phenomenon at the fast food end of the scale). As tough as the industry is, we have a healthy industry of independent restaurants.

We also have very vibrant ethnic communities (new and not so new) that impact strongly on everyday eating in Australia. Not just dining out, but cooking in the home has changed dramatically in the past 20-30 years. And while Vancouver/Canada’s ethnic communities have impacted there, the biggest impact would be from America imo. And we have avoided that (in the past).

One of the biggest differences I see, is we still have great access to fresh raw materials outside of the corporate grocery store chain. And I am not just taking about trendy farmer’s markets for foodies in the major cities. Every small town or suburb of oz has an independent butcher, fishmonger, poultry shop, and fruit & veggie shop. I am not saying it is the best or cheapest produce, but it is from independent shops. Albeit I recognize this is changing in our modern world.

We also import very little to this country (again that is changing… I hear Philippine bananas is the latest imported commodity!). So that being said, we enjoy great seasonal variety in our produce, from our small enterprising primary producers. In Vancouver you can get pineapple from Hawaii, grapes from Chile, oranges from Florida everyday of the week etc. This difference would impact on our cuisines greatly.

My apologizies, I have deviated greatly from the initial question about our great restaurants. Our greatest similarities exist in our ‘great restaurants;. Our greatest differences are outside of those establishments.

So for every similarity, there are many differences. What I do recognize Australia is one of the luckiest countries in the world with regards to clean, high quality and reasonably priced produce, with a healthy independent restaurant industry.

And yes, I would say, luckier than Canada.

cheers

ozmouse

cheers

ozmouse

melbourne

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Well I could not resist not commenting on this one as two years ago I lived in Vancouver for two years and have now returned to Australia. The single most depressing thing about living in Vancouver after the rain was the food and wine. This was not to say that there are not some great restaurants in Vancouver but in terms of the general quality and freshness of the food, there is really no comparison between Australia and Vancouver. As ozmouse suggests the greatest similarities are in our great restaurants. Like ozmouse I also feel the need to comment on some non restaurant matters.

If I can start with the Granville Market. The fruit and vegetables were so lacking in freshness that I often cried in frustration. I found that I could not plan what I was going to cook in advance as it was really a matter if seeing if anything was vaguely fresh. Also the fish is terrible. One day given that the freshness of the fish was an issue I said to the fishmonger I am not fussy about what kind of fish I just want something that is fresh. As we were leaving the market my husband said to me what is that smell - it was the fish. Needless to say there were more tears and the fish went in the bin. In Sydney we are very fortunate to have to Sydney Fish Market. I recently took a friend from Vancouver there and they were totally speechless.

In Australia I also feel we have a lot ethnic cuisines. In Vancouver I felt it was fairly difficult to find good examples of certain ethnic cuisines such as Greek and Thai. In Vancouver it was also difficult to find a decent Italian style pizza. Decent bread and coffee is also something that needs to be carefully sourced in Vancouver. I also feel that food safety are a real issue in Vancouver restaurants. One day I had a craving for Vietnamese food so we went to what I was told was one of the better restaurants in town. About a week later I was in Las Vegas and became so ill that I had to leave the room cleaners a $100 tip because I felt so guilty about the state I had left the room in (you probably get the picture). Anyway after some testing back in Vancouver they discovered that I had caught a Vietnamese parasite from the Vietnamese restaurant. They wanted to put me in a study at UBC because I was the first Caucasian to have the parasite. While that was all very nice nothing happened to the restaurant despite the fact that many people caught the parasite from the restaurant.

I also feel the need to comment on the wine situation. I have never seen anything as depressing as those Government Liquor stores in Vancouver. They really know how to take the pleasure out of wine shopping. As for the Okanagan wines. I realise that many people in Vancouver honestly believe they are great wines but you have to assume these people have not drunk very many wines from around the world or are alternatively off with the pixies.

Sorry I have digressed greatly from your original question but I think I have been looking for the opportunity to vent. I think our high end restaurants and very similar to those in Vancouver which is to be expected in the era of globalisation. One difference is probably that Australian high end restaurants do offer a greater variety of seafood dishes purely because we have a much wider variety of fish and shellfish available in Australia.

No doubt I will now cop lots of abuse from the Vancouverites. I have always been too scared to say anything on the Vancouver board as everyone is so parochial.

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LOL

Vancouver & Melbourne might be unofficial sister cities, but I agree with FiFi.

Going from the thread going on in the Vancouver forum, apparently all is not lost!!!

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Chef Fi Fi La More:

I agree with your point of view to the food at Granville island, I too have been very frustrated with going there, after about ten years, I began to see that it really did not matter what the season was, there was the same stuff, it could have been the height of the growing season but you could not tell by what was in the market.

I have been to Seattle’s Pike Place Market and you know what growing season it is, there are actual farmers there every day, not the few great farmers who work hard in Vancouver promoting local agriculture.

Yes you do have to work hard to find good bread, coffee and other fine foods but they are there, Vancouver is very spread out and the population is not that big so the market can not always be. We export all our great things, I have been looking for years for Northern Pike fresh water fish, you see it every where in Minnesota, in all the restaurants, I do know that we have a huge fresh water fish marketing board but we export most of it, so we as Canadians probably in the West do not get to try so much of our best foods and seafood’s, sometimes I find it funny that a place like BC, so many people do not like seafood and being on the coast it makes it even more Ironic, to add to the irony that a city like Edmonton has just as many good seafood restaurants and have just as fresh Fish as Vancouver, Alberta has a huge Fish company called billingsgate and they have as much buying power as most local fish companies so they bring in fresh fish every day from al over the world.

Any way I hope that you had some good experiences in vancouver??

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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As a Canadian (born in Victoria lived for many years in Vancouver) now living in Australia I can't resist posting due to many frustrations I've had with the Australian food culture. I am living in Adelaide so much of my perspective is from this city but have also travelled to Melbourne and regions. (small note to ozmouse that Vancouver is the west coast of canada). I agree that our similarities exist in our great restaurants so the rest is what I've experienced outside the the top restaurants.

Starting with price, Vancouver beats Australia hands down. With the dollars being almost 1:1 it's very easy to compare and I have not found a single item of food or a single restaurant of similair qualities where the Australian version is at a minimum 1.5x higher including produce. This is especially true when many have indicated that Adelaide is not the most expensive city Australia. The one difference that I can not comment on is how the prices relate to what the average worker earns. On a personal beef $1.50/lime when you grow them here is ridiculous when we buy them for $0.30 in Canada where we don't grow any!

Many of the comments that I have to follow can largely be attributed to a lack of food knowledge and culture I have found here. For example while I agree with ozmouse that Australia has more ' independent butcher, fishmonger, poultry shop, and fruit & veggie shop' than Vancouver, have more doesn't mean the quality is better. Using butchers as an example, in every butcher shop I have entered in Adelaide (including the markets) I have asked about the source of the meat, and how long and how it has been aged. I have not found a single merchant who has aged meat for more than 14 days and many have no idea how long or even where the meat has come from. Additionally, there is a distinct lack of meat with any marbling in it rendering much of the meat tough and tasteless. Oddly, I have had a lot of Australian meat in Vancouver that was excellent so was very surprised at the poor quality here.

As for fish mongers, I believe the Vancouver and Australia to be on par but with different products. The oysters are excellent but different in both places. Vancouver has no lobster/shrimp industry so that can not be compared but the crab is great from both places. There are different local fish so a direct comparision is hard (I don't expect to find my coveted sokeye salmon in Australia just as I don't expect barramundi in Vancouver). As for freshness, I have found just as much unfresh fish in Australia as I have in Adelaide so I think it's a problem that plagues the fish industry in general and we need more consumers demanding freshness.

Fruit and vegetables and other products are equally frustrating for knowledgable vendors, however I would say that in general Australia is blessed with some excellent fruit and veg grown in the country. Canada does grow many fruits but obviously must ship in some products that we can not grow and thus these will be less fresh. Finding strawberries in Australia that are not oversized monsters, unripe and lacking any flavour has been next to impossible. They are reminisent of the ones shipped to Canada from California and nowhere near as good as the BC grown ones. As for nonfruit/veg it's hit and miss. As an example the number of stores I had to ask for chorizo in before I found someone that even knew what the product was many.

Chocolate has to be one of the most dissapointing things in Australia. I have been into many local shops or at markets with makers of chocolate products and asked about their products. When enquiring about the %'s, source of the chocolate or other questions most times they can not answer. In one place I asked a man what kind of chocolate that he used for his truffles came from he said 'it's real'. On further equiry he said he used a powder and water and had no idea where it came from! Further, hot chocolate is not simply a brown colour warm milk drink as is mostly served here but it should actually taste like chocolate.

I will concede the greek food and to some extent Thai in Vancouver is lacking but that is not to say Australia isn't missing a few cultures Vancouver has. For one, excluding top end restaurants there is a lack of French food and culture here. I have not yet had a pain au chocolate that wasn't tough, chewy, likely not made from butter and poor quality chocolate. My experience with Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese has been similairly good in both places. I've noticed quite good selections of Italian food and products and there seems to be a geniune passion for the culture here just as there is in Canada. However, I must reply to Fi Fi La More as I've had terrible pizza in Australia. In many places I've specifically asked for thin crust and been told that it is thin only to get a pizza with dough at least 1cm thick. That's certainly not thin. Additionally I've had pizza (still with thick dough) where the cheese had obviously been frozen before being put on the pizza and when served to me was still cold! I have had 1 good pizza in my entire time here and had to pay $25 for it!

Regarding decent bread, I have yet to find quality bread that isn't white. Yes if you like white bread I'm sure there is lots of good examples in Australia but for anything outside of that Vancouver has a much larger and better selection of bread hands down. Coffee in australia is excellent across the board and better than all but the very best in Vancouver. Note that there is not drip style coffee in Australia so no comparison can be made.

As for the wine situation I may agree that the goverment liquour stores in BC are lacking in light and service at least they have more than only Canadian wine. Australia has largely only Australian wine in their stores. If you are looking for a good selection of chilean, California, France, Spain, Italy, Argentinian wine certainly don't come to Australia because they really only sell Australian wines with a smattering of hugely marked up foreign wines. Australians need to realize that not all wines in the world are sickly jammy, loaded with oak and boistered with fake acid and tannin.

Finally, to end my little rant (I also have been needing to vent!), I have never experienced anything more parochial than South Australians in all my travels.

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I am living in Adelaide so much of my perspective is from this city but have also travelled to Melbourne and regions.

No need to say anymore. Poor old Adelaide has been going backwards gastronomically like its economy, since Don Dunstan left as premier. Even hobart is more a gourmet's mecca :blink:

Regarding availability of overseas wines and Aust. parochialism I think it is more a demand and supply issue. There is of course huge amounts of New Zealand wine coming into oz, principally savignon blanc and pinot but may be you see NZ as our 8 th state :biggrin:

In Sydney there are a large number of wine shops selling extensive French, and Italian wines and not just generic champagne, cheap chianti etc. In the last couple of months I have received over a dozen offers for indent 2002 burgundies, 2003 bordeaux, lots of chablis and barolo/nebbiolo etc. Because oz wine is such very good value for dollar up to around $20 a bottle it is very hard for imports to compete at this level with the onerous 50% wine tax plus duties.

Cheers

Paul

Edited by episyd (log)
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Well this topic is certainly generating some interesting discussion. Stovetop it was really interesting that you mentioned the fish marketing board in Vancouver -now I know where all the great fish went. Hopefully they will become more active in the local marketplace. My husband went on a couple of those corporate fishing trips so we got to eat some fantastic salmon. I also had some amazing seafood when staying with an Indian Band on a remote island. Although it is two years ago now some of the restaurants I really liked were - Lumiere, Ouest (as it was then named), En Japanese,Vijs and Rodney's Oyster Bar.

I am in absolutely no position to comment on the food situation in Adelaide. Although I did visit there for a week recently and they are certainly a parochial bunch. The ironic thing about the food situation in Adelaide is that Adelaide University actually runs a Masters Program in Gastronomy. I have only lived in Melbourne and Sydney so I can really only speak from my experiences there.

There is indeed lots and lots of crap Pizza in Australia but at least here in Sydney I know I can go to pizzeria certified by the Associanzione Vera Pizza Napoletana. I am happy to be corrected but I don't think this was an option in Vancouver. There is a real pizza revolution going on in Melbourne at places such as Ladro. I rarely eat white bread although Philip Searle (an ex-Adelaide legend) at Infinity Sourdough makes a very decent loaf of white bread.

I loved Alberta beef but I do feel happy with the meat situation in Australia. I have three different places where I source my meat - the local growers market where I can but it directly from the farmer, my local all-organic butcher and one of the those really old fashioned butchers where they make all their own small goods, age their beef for different lengths of time and luckily have many of the cuts that I enjoyed in North America such as short ribs and brisket. I think for me North America will always be the King of the good old fashioned steakhouse. I used to pay $50 a kilo for Australian lamb at Urban Fare but at the time I thought it was worth it every cent even though everyone in Australia thought I was crazy. I bought 10 limes for a buck this morning but they do get expensive in the off season. I always try to eat according to the seasons when fruit and vegetables taste better and are priced accordingly.

I would have to agree with Paul on the wine front for both Melbourne and Sydney. There are wine shops in both cities that sell virtually only imported wines. I personally love burgundies and Oregon pinot noir and have absolutely no trouble sourcing these wines although they are not a cheap as I would like so they are certainly not for everyday drinking. On Christmas Day we had wines from Chile,California, France, Italy and Australia so I like to believe that my appreciation of wine goes beyond the jammy oaky Australian selection.

One thing that is a problem in Australia although only from my selfish perspective as an eater is the Customs Authorities. There are some things which we can't import in Australia such as unpastuerised cheeses and more recently Puy Lentils.

Would love to hear more - especially from those in Melbourne which is probably Australia's food capital.

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If I can start with the Granville Market. The fruit and vegetables were so lacking in freshness that I often cried in frustration. I found that I could not plan what I was going to cook in advance as it was really a matter if seeing if anything was vaguely fresh. Also the fish is terrible. One day given that the freshness of the fish was an issue I said to the fishmonger I am not fussy about what kind of fish I just want something that is fresh. As we were leaving the market my husband said to me what is that smell - it was the fish. Needless to say there were more tears and the fish went in the bin. In Sydney we are very fortunate to have to Sydney Fish Market. I recently took a friend from Vancouver there and they were totally speechless.

<snip>.

I also feel the need to comment on the wine situation. I have never seen anything as depressing as those Government Liquor stores in Vancouver.

tough words fifi. i dont think the situation is that bad in vancouver. every city has its pluses and minuses

when granville first opened it was a unique marketing experience, and indeed it did have some endearing food & wine features. but i think we should remember it is probably more a tourist attraction now than it is food market. so as such, i dont expect the best produce from it. nor do i judge the city produce by that market alone.

From my experience, sydney is unique in the world, and enjoys some of the best seafood in the world. So any city will come up short. So count your blessing there!

I laughed out loud at your comments on the liquour stores!! yes there are a unique experience are'nt they. There is alot of room for wine education in Canada. It is the only place I know where you buy wine categorized by a number representing sugar levels. But from what i hear, it is recent history here in Oz that wine education was limited to sweet white and flagon port.

cheers

ozmouse

melbourne

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LOL

Vancouver & Melbourne might be unofficial sister cities, but I agree with FiFi.

Going from the thread going on in the Vancouver forum, apparently all is not lost!!!

what did u mean by that statement plc?

are you saying melbourne and vancouvers food cultures are so similar they could be sister cities?

from what i remember melbourne and vancouver keep vying for top spot as the 'most liveable' city in the world.

i have to agree, both cities are easy to live in. (but we win on food!!!! :raz: )

cheers

ozmouse

melbourne

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Chef Fi Fi La More:

<snip>

Yes you do have to work hard to find good bread, coffee and other fine foods but they are there, Vancouver is very spread out and the population is not that big so the market can not always be. We export all our great things, I have been looking for years for Northern Pike fresh water fish, you see it every where in Minnesota, in all the restaurants, I do know that we have a huge fresh water fish marketing board but we export most of it, so we as Canadians probably in the West do not get to try so much of our best foods and seafood’s, sometimes I find it funny that a place like BC, so many people do not like seafood and being on the coast it makes it even more Ironic, to add to the irony that  a city like Edmonton has just as many good seafood restaurants and have just as fresh Fish as Vancouver, Alberta has a huge Fish company called billingsgate and they have as much buying power as most local fish companies so they bring in fresh fish every day from al over the world.

stovetop, some good points about seafood. why is that? i dont have the answers im afraid. but i did'nt think they exported pike?! I at so much of it growing up in Manitoba.... who would have it!!

similar paradoxes re fish marketing exist here - While praising the quality of seafood in sydneytown, here in melbourne it is woeful (imo). so even though the 2 cities are both on the water, why the difference in the quality of the produce?

like you say, you have to work hard in any city to find good produce and provediores. i put 55 kms on the car last saturday travelling to my suppliers of choice here in melb.

and yes, seattle's pike market is one nice market.

cheers

ozmouse

melbourne

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As a Canadian (born in Victoria lived for many years in Vancouver) now living in Australia I can't resist posting due to many frustrations I've had with the Australian food culture. I am living in Adelaide so much of my perspective is from this city but have also travelled to Melbourne and regions. (small note to ozmouse that Vancouver is the west coast of canada). I agree that our similarities exist in our great restaurants so the rest is what I've experienced outside the the top restaurants.

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On a personal beef $1.50/lime when you grow them here is ridiculous when we buy them for $0.30 in Canada where we don't grow any!

i think you make some valid points cns. (most certainly about the east coast! oops!)

I laughed when i read about your limes. Yes that is true, why are limes so expensive here? Well i dont know. 10 years ago, you could hardly by them! I was thinking of starting a lime farm when i first immigrated. that was right beside my blueberry farm as well! lol

i went shopping for my limes at an asian market here in melbourne on sat. bought in bulk ie 20 large limes and they were 40cents each. marked price was 80c each. i spoke with the store owner and swung the deal. but yes they are more expensive elsewhere and seasonal. when they are... i dont buy! simple.

also your point about beef is very true. canada has beautiful beef, so it will always be a tough comparison! (similar to the point i made re seafood in sydney) As someone said before earlier, alot of the good stuff gets exported. indeed some of the 'export quality' stuff sitting in stryofoam trays at safeway is better than the stuff at the butchers. i travel to specific butchers for beef. I suggest you source a similar butcher in adelaide! I also travelled to a different market to buy my chorizo on the weekend. did you want it fresh or dried?

as for wine how is this for parochial.. i only try to buy victorian!! but that is only because i am trying to educate my palate as much as i can on these regions, vintage to vintage. of course i taste lots of other wines along the way for comparison, but i have to start somewhere with regards to education. but chiliean friends of mine only buy chilean! so everyone can find their niche.

CNS, you have pointed out some of the best and worst both australia and canada has to offer. As a general comment, I like to think the produce here is better. but is has improved 500% in the last 10 years.

but as you point out, there is alot, and i mean alot, of very average or below average produce around. i dont buy it. i dont frequent those shops. I travel to buy the best i can. As you point out, it is more expensive than the rest, but i think the crime is paying for the price for the average stuff.

would like to write more, but time is against me.

last saturday's shopping list

claringbolds seafood - prahan market - sashimi

Michael Mow's- prahan market - dutch cream and kipfler potatoes,tasmanian onions, organic garlic

cleo's deli - prahan market - chorizo sausage

franks bakery - elsternwick - sourdough rye

springvale market- limes, produce and fruit (case of mangoes $14!), BBQ duck

balkan butchers - springvale - sausages, cold cuts.

last sunday afternoon

Cafe Taglio - st kilda - thin crust pizza - broccoli, pine nut & lemon and a ricotta, roast eggplant & pancetta

Cacao - st kilda - choclatier

ps anybody with leads to good providores bayside/frankston area i'm ready to here about them! i spend too much time on the road.... :shock:

cheers

ozmouse

melbourne

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