Singapore Adventure

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Top Ten of the Top End: Food & Drink
by venitha

In spite of Australia's reputation for meal after meal of shoe-leather steaks topped with two fried eggs, we thoroughly enjoyed the Top End's cuisine, probably because we resisted the temptations of Weet Bix (what is up with that?) and that ubiquitous Aussie favorite, beans on toast.

Instead, we enjoyed the following:
  • Barramundi. This fish rocks! Known simply as barra to the nickname-happy Aussies, it's incredibly versatile: we had barra burgers, barra and chips, barra filets, barra balls(?), and smoked barrmundi slivers. A delicious light white fish that apparently takes on any flavor and apparently is impossible to ruin, Barramundi is also the region's premier game fish, as it gets quite large (up to 2m!). And it's been around so long that it's commonly featured in 's captivating Aboriginal rock art.
  • Kangaroo. It's advertised as a very tender, slightly sweet, deep purple meat, and we were served what looked like a perfectly-cooked (so perfectly-cooked that I can't believe I didn't think to take an interior photograph) filet mignon. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. Disappointingly tough and slightly gamy, with a texture that leads me to believe that the kangaroo diet is heavy on . Despite the temptation of such impressive fusion cuisine as kangaroo laksa another night, neither one of us tried it a second time.
  • Crocodile. Yep, you guessed it: tastes like chicken.
  • Emu. Given its pounded-thin appearance, I was expecting either salisbury steak or beef jerky and was wildly delighted to be completely off. I'll-thumb-wrestle-you-for-the-last-bite delicious and melt-in-your-mouth tender, emu is the elk of Australia. If this comparison is lost on you, you'll just have to trust me that it's high praise indeed.
  • Dairy products! Not that I'm looking forward to my upcoming trip to Wisconsin or anything. The home-made ice cream (I'll have vanilla with a TimTam mix-in, please) and the native cheeses were unexpected treats. Jim laughed at the discovery of a new challenge food for his Taiwanese co-workers: blue cheese.
  • Iced Coffee. Besides being aw-man-you-finished-it yummy, Iced Coffee was just what the doctor ordered, and ordered and ordered and ordered, for a trip that started with a red-eye flight and never really stopped.
  • TimTams. Bite off opposite corners, and use it as a straw for your milk. Or your Bailey's. Whatever. Best of all, TimTams come in dark chocolate, too.
  • Quandong. It sounds like it belongs in China, doesn't it? True blue , however, quandong is a fruit that tastes like a cross between a cherry and a grape and has the unfortunate here-Jim-you-can-have-mine texture of an olive.
  • Passion fruit. I am passionate about passion fruit. Sour sour sour!
  • Coopers. Jim is passionate about beer, and in spite of the fun names given to Fosters (blueys) and Victoria Bitter (greenies), our favorite was easily the South Australian Coopers.