Let's Go to Australia!

Tourism Australia Luncheon | Appetizers | Stuffed Mushrooms: mushrooms stuffed w/ wild mushroom mousse, olive tapenade, Manchego;  Oysters "Kilpatrick": tempura-fried oyster, pickled shallots, Worcestershire-bacon butter; Steamed Buns: red braised pork belly/wild mushrooms and 5-spiced crispy tofu; Classic Prawn Cocktail w/ creamy cocktail sauce

What comes to mind when you think of Australia?

When this question was posed to me and a room full of bloggers, the first answer was "Outback Steakhouse!" Another answer was "Tim Tams." Meanwhile, my thoughts wandered to kangaroos, koala bears, and the Sydney Opera House. Food had not been in the forefront of my mind when I thought of Australia. This was all about to change, as I had the pleasure of partaking in an Aussie foodie adventure right here in NYC.
Tourism Australia Luncheon| Entree option 1 | Moroccan Vegetable Tagine w/ roasted almonds and mint couscous
A team from Tourism Australia recently hosted a luncheon at The Sunburnt Calf to introduce New York City food and lifestyle bloggers to the fresh and inspired cuisine of Australia. Chef Michael Moore, the leading expert in Australia's culinary scene, was on site to kick off the event with a few words of his own. He shared about how the fresh, regional ingredients are embraced and utilized to bring out flavors that "do the talking" and do not have to be hyped up for diners to enjoy them. One thing Chef Michael said about Australian food that stuck with me was that it's "a moment in time driven by the state of mind." It's about attitude, relationships with local food producers, and focus on healthy, happy cooking.

Tourism Australia Luncheon | Entree option 2 | BBQ'd Barramundi Fillet: sea scallops, frisée salad, new potatoes, anchovy aioli
Throughout the luncheon, we were treated to various flavorful dishes that brought Chef Michael's words to life, as you can see by my photos. The classic prawn cocktail appetizer (top photo) was so fresh that it seemed like I was being served beachside. As were the jumbo sea scallops and Barramundi in my entree, which I had chosen mainly for the scallops (because, to be honest, I didn't even know what Barramundi was!). Both melted in my mouth and left me wanting more. If sitting in an Australian bistro in NYC on a rainy day can make me feel like I'm actually in Australia, then I can only imagine what it would be like to catch and cook my own seafood, which is part of the experience of a Wild Abalone Tour in Tasmania, where the air is pure and the waters pristine.
Tourism Australia Luncheon | Entree option 3 | Grilled Australian Rack of Lamb w/ roasted winter vegetables, minted yogurt
If the sea is not your cup of tea, then perhaps an Aboriginal Tour led by a gourmet chef in the Northern Territory or the Australian Outback would better suit you. Tour Bush Tucker and see Australia from an aboriginal perspective, and end the experience with a three-course meal prepared by a trained chef who is a descendant of the bush people. Or how about dining in the middle of a rainforest in Queensland, where fine seasonal ingredients are plucked from the surrounding lush environment. Not only would you be enjoying an incredible meal, you would have breathtaking landscapes to match. What more can you ask for?
Tourism Australia Luncheon | Dessert | Classic Australian Pavlova w/ fresh cream, kiwi, mango, passion fruit sauce; Peach Melba w/ vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce
The unique dining adventures presented by the Tourism Australia team are enough to make me hop on the next flight out of NYC. To truly experience the meaning of farm-to-table (or ocean-to-table) would be extraordinary. Australia's passion for food and wine makes it the perfect destination for food-lovers everywhere, and I cannot wait to experience it for myself one day.  

Have you been to Australia? Did you have a memorable dining experience there? Please share with me in the comments below. I would love to hear about it! 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by BlogHer and Tourism Australia - I was invited to the Tourism Australia Luncheon as part of the sponsored campaign. All opinions are my own.