Australia masterpost

Missed an Australia post? Want to relive the month? Here’s a comprehensive list of all of our Australia posts:

Monday recipes:

Chiko rolls

Minted lamb leg

Shrimp on the barbie

Travel tip Tuesdays:

Getting to Australia

Wine Wednesdays:

Australian wine regions

Cultural Thursdays:

Music – Ten of Australia’s most popular bands

Architecture – The Sydney Opera House

Foodie Fridays:

Fusion – Pumpkin curry soup

Food history: British tastes go Down Under

Sweet Saturdays:

Lamingtons

Anzac biscuits (video)

Battle of the Neenish Tarts (video)

Pavlova

Sunday Brunch:

Strawberry passionfruit pikelets (pancakes) 

Extras:

Country reveal

Our story

Party time

 

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Ten of Australia’s most popular bands

Australians love their music, and Aussie bands have dominated nearly every type of music. Here are ten of the best musical acts to come from the land Down Under.

10. The Bee Gees

This trio of UK-born brothers got their start in Australia in the late 1950s.

9. INXS

These rockers broke onto the scene in the 1980s, and have since had their own show on American television.

8. Men at Work

This group’s song “Down Under” became an Aussie anthem in the 1980s.

7. Silverchair

The group rode the grunge-rock wave of the 90s all the way to a double-platinum album in the US.

6. Olivia Newton-John

The star of one of America’s most iconic films actually grew up in Melbourne. A four-time Grammy award winner, she’s sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide with songs like the iconic 80s anthem “Physical.”

5. Gotye

The singer of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” which spawned a thousand memes, covers and spin-offs, was born in Belgium and emigrated to Australia at the age of two.

4. AC/DC

One of the most iconic hard rock bands, they disagree with the frequent categorization of “heavy metal,” saying instead that their music is simply “rock and roll.”

3. Keith Urban

A country superstar, Urban was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. So far, he’s released 14 number 1 hits and a quadruple-platinum album.

2. Savage Garden

This duo conquered the pop world in the mid 90s, and “Truly Madly Deeply” is still frequently covered today.

1. Kylie Minogue

Considered the ultimate pop goddess in Europe, Kylie has sold a mind-numbing 68 million albums worldwide, and was even made a Chevalier (knight) by the French government in recognition of her contribution to art and culture.

Got a favorite Aussie band we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!

Sweet Saturday ~ Pavlova

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I absolutely love Pavlova.  While there is definite debate over whether pavlova was created in Australia or New Zealand, I first had it in Australia, and it is very popular throughout the country.  Pavlova is a meringue dessert, covered with whipped cream and fruit.  While pavlova typically uses kiwi and other tropical fruits (passion fruit is a favorite of mine!), you can really use any fruit you want.  The recipe that follows is a mixed berry pavlova from Food Network.
Mixed Berry Pavlova:
Ingredients
4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
Triple Raspberry Sauce, recipe followsDirections

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won’t get a pencil mark on the meringue.)

Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Combine the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about 1/2 cup of raspberry sauce, or enough to coat the berries lightly. Spoon the berries carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don’t overbeat!

Yield: 1 cup

Triple Raspberry Sauce:

1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12-ounce jar)
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur

Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Yield: 2 cups

Fusion Friday: Pumpkin curry soup

As we mentioned briefly in this month’s culinary history post, one of the biggest influences on Australian cuisine in the last century has been the large number of immigrants from Asia. This has lead to a blending of Chinese and Indian flavors with tropical and bush ingredients and traditional British dishes. Many of the dishes that are now considered “traditional” Aussie foods actually originate from this pairing. Just like in England, Indian curries have become so prevalent that many Australians consider it their “comfort food.”

Here in Atlanta, we’ve been having a freak cool spell brought on by all the rain: Instead of the usual 100-degree August days, we’ve had several in the high 60s and low 70s. When you add in the unseasonable wind, it truly does feel like fall. And what better way to celebrate fall than with the ultimate autumnal ingredient, pumpkin? Pumpkin curry soups are very common in Australia, and a quick search yields tons of recipes. Here’s the one I’ll be making this weekend, from Allrecipes Australia:

Pumpkin Curry Soup

(from Allrecipes Australia)

Ingredients

Serves : 3

  • 1 pumpkin, kabocha or butternut
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Preparation:15min  ›  Cook:45min  ›  Ready in:1hour

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Peel and halve the onion.
  3. Mix the melted butter with the curry powder and brush over the cut sides of the pumpkin and onion. Place them cut-side down on a baking tray and bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 45 minutes.
  4. Puree the pumpkin and onion in a blender with the chicken stock. Reheat in the pan, adding more stock if you like it thinner. Test for salt, and add cayenne pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt.

Sweet Saturday: Battle of the Neenish Tarts

*Ding ding ding* Gather ’round, folks, for the ultimate fight for Aussie Sugar Supremacy! In the first corner, the traditional favorite, the Lemon Lacerator! [crowd cheers] And the the far corner, the newer version that’s gained quite a foothold in the hearts of the people, Ragin’ Raspberry! [crowd cheers again] Who’s YOUR favorite? Place your bets now!

Never had a Neenish tart? Cook your way through both the lemon and raspberry varieties, and let us know what you think!

After making both kinds, here are my notes:

-The mock cream used in the raspberry variety is essentially butter jello. I was expecting it to be more like cream, but if I had known in advance what the end consistency would be like, it might have been easier to work with.

-Though the raspberry recipe calls for butter at room temperature, I would recommend keeping it chilled until about 5 minutes before you use it. My room-temperature butter was too warm and ruined the cream, so I had to make it again.

-Make the icing a little stiffer than you think it needs to be, and use the thinnest layer you can – anything more will overpower the flavor of the tarts.

Got any tips for making them better? Think the wrong tart won? Let us know your favorite in the comments!

The Sydney Opera House

One of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Sydney Opera House is a masterpiece of mid-20th century modern architecture. Despite its status as one of the best-known symbols of Australia, the Opera House was actually designed by a Danish architect, Jørn Utzon. In 1955, the director of the New South Wales (NSW) Conservatorium of Music and the NSW Premier launched a competition to design a new home for the arts in Sydney. 233 applicants from 32 countries submitted designs, but Utzon’s stood out as the clear winner.

(PS – what do you guys think of this layout? Would you prefer the traditional, paragraph-style posts from last month, or shorter, magazine-style posts like this one? Let me know in the comments!)

Wine Wednesday ~ Australian Wine Regions

Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of wine.  There are a lot of different wine regions in Australia, but www.Australia.com does a great job of breaking them down into 5 manageable areas: South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory.

South Australia includes the Barossa Valley, which produces a great Riesling, and some of the best Shiraz in the world.  McLaren Vale, in South Australia, is known for its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.  The McLaren Vale area is home to over 50 wineries and hundreds of independent growers.  I know I could definitely get behind a trip to visit all those wineries!  Finally, South Australia is also home to the Clare Valley which is known for its wine and for its food.  Expect to find outstanding Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay, and other types of wine here.

Western Australia includes the Margaret River area, just a few hours south of Perth, which produces some of the country’s premium wines and has a great food scene, especially for seafood lovers.  Western Australia also has a boutique winery area, Swan Valley.  Here, many of the wines are produced in smaller batches and not sold in large commercial operations.  Instead, you often find wines in this region being sold simply at the wineries, which are generally smaller and more likely to be run by families.  Some of Australia’s best Cabernet and Shiraz can be found here.

The Hunter Valley in New South Wales is home to over 120 wineries including Australia’s oldest winery, Wyndham Estate.  Only a couple hours outside of Sydney, this region could make a great excursion for a couple of days during a longer stay!

The Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula in Victoria offer opportunities to sample Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir.  In the Yarra Valley region you can find everything from small boutique wineries to huge commercial operations and, of course, a great glass of Shiraz.  Mornington Peninsula is home to mostly boutique and small, family-owned wineries which are often paired with local produce.  The region is also home to multiple food and wine festivals.

Finally, the Australian Capital Region, near Canberra, might be the best place to go for both food and wine.  The region is home to over 100 vineyards, wineries, cafes, and farms where you can find great wines and new takes on regional cuisine.

Since I was not old enough to drink in the US yet on my last trip to Australia, I didn’t get to visit any wineries – I didn’t think I liked wine then!  I can’t wait to take another trip and visit some of these great regions, and sample some delicious wines.  How about y’all?  Anyone been to Australia and had a great wine experience?  Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday Travel Tips ~ Getting to Australia

Hey everyone!  Sorry this post is a little late, the internet and I have not been getting along today.  My best tips on getting to Australia can be summed up pretty concisely.

  1. Keep an eye out for flight sales.  Getting to Australia can be very expensive, so keep an eye out for cheaper flights, or use airline rewards to help cut down on the cost of travel.
  2. Go for a longer period of time, and see multiple cities (or even hop over to New Zealand).  Australia is not somewhere you want to go for a short, or even week long, vacation.  I would recommend that your trip be no less than 10 days, and even longer if at all possible.
  3. Be prepared for a long flight.  The flight to get there is long.  You will easily spend 24+ hours traveling if you are leaving from the east coast.  That said, it is so worth it.  As soon as I got to Sydney I immediately forgot about the flight and began enjoying my time there.
  4. Get on Australia time as soon as possible.  I know that staying awake when you have already been up traveling is the last thing that anyone wants to do, but getting acclimated to the time change will make your trip so much more enjoyable and allow you to see significantly more than you would if you don’t force yourself to get used to the time difference.
  5. Remember that in the southern hemisphere the seasons are opposite.  When you leave the US for Australia in the summer, you will be arriving during their winter.  Of course, in some parts of the country that still isn’t terribly cold, but be prepared for it to be chilly (I believe it was in the 50’s in June) in Sydney.

Most importantly, Have Fun!!  Look for more tips about things to see and do, coming soon!