Check out the next installment from our "Blog Your Way Down Under" winner - where she dishes about her favorite eats in Australia.
Guest blog post by Laura Druda
There are a lot of things to love about taking a Contiki tour--new sightseeing every day, making friends from around the world, and easy access to tons of adventures. But, to me, one of the most exciting parts of touring is THE FOOD. From cereal to candy to nice restaurants, meal time is ALWAYS exciting when you're in another country. Somehow (with lots of difficulty, really) I've managed to narrow the excitement down to a Top Ten List. So here it is... My Top Ten Eats On The Coast of Australia:
10. Barramundi. Its name is derived from an Aboriginal name and, in Australia, barramundi is probably the most common and iconic fish you can order. My Tour Manager told us that, for a seafood fan, a trip to Australia isn't complete without at least one meal of barramundi. So I had about six. The fish is white and flaky, the kind of food you don't really need a knife to eat because it's that soft and fresh. It's usually cooked on a grill with some garlic and lemon and, best of all, it's yummy and inexpensive!
9. Pumpkin. This one was a TOTAL surprise. Because in New York we only have pumpkin in autumn, I just assumed it was kind of a cold weather food--like how strawberries are a warm weather food. But there, in the palm-tree-laden Australia tropics, was pumpkin...not as a pie, seed, or flavor in a latte, but actual chunks of cooked pumpkin! Served as a VEGETABLE (crazy!), it somewhat resembled what you'd expect the lovechild of squash and yam to be--starchy, side dish heaven!
8. Jaffas. These round little, ball-shaped candies mix chocolate with orange swimmingly. Like many other candies, Jaffas have a chocolate inside and a hard candy shell outside. But having that candy shell be orange-flavored is what really makes these little guys stand out in an M&M dominated world. This is a stellar combo. As most of my tour group discovered, these things are totally addicting...meaning it's not out of the question to down an entire bag of Jaffas without even realizing it.
7. Passion fruit. Apparently this isn't only a juice flavor but an actual fruit! Who knew? Passion fruit grows in warm climates, which explains a lot about why I've never had it. When it's cut open, it sort of resembles a pomegranate. The seeds inside, however, aren't thick and hard to chew like a pomegranate's are, but are soft, almost like teensy weensy grapes (grapelettes!). Turns out Tropicana DIDN'T invent the passion fruit as a marketing gimmick!
If you're not sure, the passion fruit is the one that's NOT the watermelon, grapes, kiwi, or orange.
6. Weis Mango & Ice Cream Bar. Ever have one of those we're-going-for-ice-cream moments when you're forced to decide between sweet, thick ice cream or refreshing, fruity ices? This problem is solved with the Mango & Ice Cream Bar! This is about 3-parts mango ice to 1-part ice cream and, unlike those pesky creamsicles that hide the ice cream away under an orange ice pop, both flavors are visible from the moment you open the packaging. It's striped! So practical! Now every bite tastes the same!
5. Shapes. These, to me, were more of a mini-obsession than a mind-blowingly delicious snack. While certainly tasty, the true beauty of these little crackers is that they come in more flavors than you can even imagine... like, maybe fifty! Ever have an Aussie BBQ Meat Lovers flavored cracker? Didn't think so. What about Honey Soy Chicken? Or Chicken Crimpy? What does "Crimpy" even MEAN? It's questions like these that best explain why I love Shapes crackers so much. Shown below is a grocery store shelf filled with (the somewhat traditional) Barbeque and Pizza flavored Shapes.
4. Clinkers. Do you like Whoppers? Yes? Now, imagine if Whoppers had (a) a thicker layer of chocolate on the outside and (b) a FLAVORED malty-thing on the inside. That's right! These 2-bite chocolate-covered candies come in strawberry, banana, and mint, but are all identical on the outside, making each Clinker a total surprise when you bite into it! Think Whitman's Sampler in a bag and without the guide inside. Exciting, huh?
3. The sushi train. These are everywhere, apparently, except where I live. I've seen scaled down versions of the sushi train before but never anything like this. From the moment we sat down at our Sydney sushi train restaurant, I was overwhelmed with the selection of sushi, sashimi, fried snacks, and fruit plates that whizzed passed us on the conveyer belt. One roll had pork on the inside and corn flakes on the outside! At the end of the meal, the staff totaled up our order by looking at our stack of empty plates ($2 for a blue plate, $5 for a yellow plate, $8 for a red plate, etc.) and handing us a bill. I left the restaurant amazed at how little I'd spent. A meal of that caliber would have cost $40 minimum in New York, but in Sydney, I paid $15. I like this sushi train!
2. A meat pie. My Tour Manager told us that these, like barramundi, were an Aussie classic and that's all I needed to hear to be sold. When we stopped for lunch in the cute little town of Childers, I made it my mission to get my hands on one of these, and good thing I was quick! The bakery only had a few left! One bite in and I thought, "Hm, nachos meets pot pie!" The soft, flaky crust is filled with an oozy, cheesy, meaty mush that's absolutely delicious! Thank you, Childers.
1. Tim Tams. Obviously. Because who DOESN'T come back from Australia with Tim Tams as their new favorite food? For those not in the know, Tim Tams are a special breed of cookie with all kinds of layers going on inside. The original ones are composed of malted cookie and mousse-y chocolate cream and then coated in more wonderful chocolate. The exciting news here though, is that they come in almost as many flavor varieties as Shapes do. Here are a few examples, because I feel like a snack as delicious as Tim Tams deserves a longer paragraph: White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Rum & Raisin, Chewy Caramel, Crush Honeycomb, and Black Forest. This is a picture of the original flavored ones on a shelf at Woolworths grocery store.