lp heads down under…

Recently, Local Pickins escaped the cold and snowy New England winter with a trip to the southern hemisphere. We took in the amazing landscape, found some adrenaline pumping adventures and of course sampled the local flavor in Australia and New Zealand. Below are some of our edible favorites.

A visit to Melbourne, Australia wouldn’t be complete without an early morning trip to the Queen Victoria Market. It’s worth getting there before the crowds and checking out the multitude of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and much more from Down Under.

I bet these veggies look familiar….Though they’re commonly known in the U.S. as bell peppers, I found them listed as capsicums… Turns out you end up learning new words even in travels to English-speaking countries!

Thank you to Curds and Whey for suggesting a local favorite cheese, Watsonia Old Style Vintage Cheddar. The soft, creamy-style cheddar was the perfect pre-dinner snack.

If you’re in a hurry for lunch while exploring the rest of the city try a-la-carte sushi. Just walk up to the counter at any of the open air eating establishments, like Sushi Sushi, choose your favorites and you’ve got the perfect meal you can eat there or get as take-away.

Don’t forget to indulge your sweet tooth with Haigh’s Chocolates. You can taste the quality in every piece of chocolate, and there are lots of pieces to choose from!

Sydney was just a quick stop and most of the time was spent taking in the sites, but we did discover Liana Raine Pops. We stumbled across the cart selling handmade popsicles by the famous Sydney Opera House. This apricot, cardamom, yogurt pop had a deliciously sweet apricot flavor and the yogurt provided a creamy texture to our frozen snack. It was a cool treat on a very hot day.

Our New Zealand adventures began in Queenstown, where we bungy jumped, hiked…and ate local cheese. This selection from Gibbston Valley Cheese provided the perfect nibbles during our tasting adventure of one of New Zealand’s greatest agricultural offerings…wine.

We had their Balfour pecorino style, Takatimu goat milk gouda, Kawarau bleu, and Glenroy cheddar style. The pecorino had just the right amount of crumble; the gouda had the distinct goat milk flavor and a firm texture; the bleu was a mildly funky fromage and did not overwhelm our wine sampling; and the cheddar had a fantastic texture with just a little bit of bite. The cheese board also included dried fruit, local olive oil, quince paste and Northburn Station beetroot jam. Ah, the jam. We regret not bringing that home in our luggage as an edible souvenir.

In Kaikoura, we finally tried one of the savory meat pies we had seen all over Australia and New Zealand. They are an iconic part of Aussie and Kiwi cuisine and make a perfect take-away meal for one. The pies are about 4 inches across, usually filled with meat and gravy, and topped with a crust. We had been waiting for an appetizing vegetarian option to present itself and were almost 2 weeks into the trip when a last minute decision to stop at Kaikoura Bakery yielded the pie we had been waiting for. The shape of this pie is a little out of the ordinary! It was a very comforting dish, and somewhat reminiscent of an American pot pie.

Next we moved on to wine country, full of perfectly straight rows of vines on every horizon.

Great grapes are not the only thing they’re growing in Marlborough either. Since it was summer in the southern hemisphere we were lucky enough to eat freshly picked summer produce, such as the tomatoes in this stunningly delicious salad. What a treat for a New Englander!

Waiheke Island, a 30 minute ferry ride from Aukland, was the perfect finale to our three week adventure, and provided one last opportunity to sample the local cuisine. Check out these Te Matuku Bay oysters – slightly salty, perfectly plump and with the perfect garnish of daikon, chive and horseradish.

What an adventure! Getting to meet wonderful people from around the world, embarking on once in a lifetime experiences, and using the local food of Australia and New Zealand as inspiration to continue finding great edible treasures in our neighborhood…and wherever we may travel.

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