Caroline Eubanks is an American writer currently exploring the best of Australia and has found herself growing fond of some unusual aspects of Aussie culture. These are her Australian guilty pleasures!
While I’m not yet in the habit of saying “fair dinkum” or spreading Vegemite on my toast, I’ve become slightly Aussiefied in my six months Down Under. Here are the things I’ve become addicted to.
I am crazy for cooking shows of all varieties, but Masterchef Australia is unlike anything I had seen before. It’s a huge brand, with a magazine, food products and hundreds of endorsements. And the cheesy lines from the judges make it part comedy, part reality.
Lemon Lime and Bitters
When I first learned how to make one at the bar I work at, it sounded horrible. Why would I want to drink something bitter? But the mixture of the sweet lime cordial, lemonade (or Sprite) and Angostura bitters makes for a surprisingly refreshing summer drink, especially if you’re cutting down on your alcohol intake.
Sweet Chili and Sour Cream
I just wanted a snack one night at the pub and saw potato wedges on the menu. When they came out with two containers, one white and one red, I was confused. But after dipping in sour cream and then sweet chili sauce (and only in that order), I couldn’t imagine life without it. Sweet and sour, salty and creamy perfection.
On a road trip to Adelaide, I heard about free tours of the Haigh’s Chocolates factory, so I was obviously in. Instead of creating chocolate Easter bunnies, Haigh’s makes the Easter bilby, one of Australia’s native species. A trip to Haigh’s is always a pleasant experience, especially when you get free samples.
I know cafes exist outside of Australia, but they have nothing on the ones here. There’s something homey about visiting cafes, soaking up the sun at an outdoor table, using the free wireless Internet, drinking tea and eating banana bread. Even though I’m not a coffee drinker, it’s like another language here. Flat whites, long blacks and even your basic cappuccino are all popular options.
Sydney especially is home to lots of ethnic enclaves with their own unique cuisines. Petersham is known for their Portuguese bakeries and charcoal chickens. Leichardt is the city’s Little Italy. My own neighborhood of Marrickville has Vietnamese, Greek and Lebanese influences. Back in the US, my idea of cultural eating was going to my favorite Mexican restaurant, but since coming to Australia my horizons have been broadened.
It’s taken months for me to find a brew of choice and I think I’ve finally found “the one.” James Square beers are named after one of Australia’s original convicts. They are more in the style of craft beers than the watered down low-calorie options. Sundown Ale is my personal favorite, with Amber Ale coming in close second.
Since some of the best wine in the world is made here and sold at a reasonable price, it’s easy to get a cheap buzz. If you’re classy, you can get a bottle of decent wine for under ten dollars and if you’re someone who doesn’t care as much about taste, there’s always goon, the box and bag wine that’s popular with backpackers.
If you plan on making a visit to Australia, I’m sure you will come up with your own list of guilty pleasures – if you haven’t already!
Keep up to date with Caroline’s Aussie adventures on her blog Caroline in the City and on twitter @cairinthecity. To discover your Australia visit one of our Aussie Specialists at your local Flight Centre store or call 0208 045 4186.