- Basic dishes that celebrate the essence of the cuisine, such as Grilled Lamb, Lamb Roast, Grilled Prawns
- Recipes with odd names that intrigue me, such as ANZAC biscuits, damper, pikelets, pavlovas, and lamingtons
- Dishes similar to American “classics” with an Australian twist, such as an “Aussie Burger with the lot” meaning a hamburger piled high with a fried egg and a slice of pickled beet
- Australian wines downstairs in the hub’s stash
- Australian beers carried at Total Wine that are not Foster’s.
I began making my plans, but I just couldn’t find the “heart” in this week’s project. I decided to turn to an expert, and I found the heart and soul I needed for inspiration.
As Executive Chef at Edge Steak & Bar in the Four Seasons, Aaron Brooks has transformed my notions for what a steakhouse in a swanky Miami hotel can be. After attending two specialty dinners there in the last month (the first featuring BBQ, Whiskey, & Beer, and the second featuring Southeast Asian cuisine), I have come to appreciate his talent, style, and passion. What does this have to do with Australian cuisine? Chef Brooks is a native Australian. It occurred to me that he might be able to point me in the right direction with this week’s planning, but I never expected such a warm, generous response. He didn’t just tell me about the cuisine; he shared how the cuisine has been a part of his life. That’s how I found the heart and soul of this week’s project!
Monday Night: Shrimp on the Barbie
|Grilled Shrimp over a salad|
of arugula and tomatoes
As a side note, when I researched which vegetables are most popular in Australia, I discovered that it’s mostly the same list as what we eat here in the United States. I did find a June 2010 posting on the website of Food Safety Australia noting that the top ten vegetables purchased in Australia are potatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, capsicum (peppers), mushrooms, broccoli, pumpkin, and zucchini. In the spirit of this post, I served my Australian dishes with vegetables from this listing.
Friday Night: Rack of Lamb and Muscat-Grilled Pineapple with Sea Salt
|Grilled Rack of Lamb|
with zucchini-tomato salad
With so much grilling out, an Australian beer tasting seemed like an imperative. Based on nothing more than Total Wine’s selection of Australian brews, I tried Coopers Original Pale Ale, Coopers Sparkling Ale, and James Boag’s Premium Lager. James Boag’s was definitely my favorite of the three, and not just because Chef Brooks told me how much he liked it. The brews from Coopers just tasted like good pale ales to me…no real significant flavor or finish to them. The James Boag’s Premium Lager had a crisp refreshing quality with a nice carbonation and hints of lemon and hops. A perfect beer for a hot summer day by the grill. I would definitely buy this one, again.
with Sea Salt
Saturday Night: Lamb Roast and Pavlova
I knew that Lamb was popular in Australia, and based on Chef Brooks’ enthusiasm for it, I felt like serving it two nights in a row was more than appropriate. Off the grill, he shared with me that his family would enjoy a “mixed grill” of chops, loins, kidneys, and sausages served family style. For the ever-popular Sunday Roast, his family enjoyed Roasted Lamb with parsnips, carrots, minted peas, and gravy. Even better, the day after Sunday Roast always included a breakfast of Bubble and Squeak, a hash with origins in the United Kingdom which is made with bacon, onions and leftover vegetables from the Sunday Roast.
|Lamb Roast |
Roasted Parsnips and Carrots
Fresh Peas with Mint
Sunday Morning: Bubble and Squeak
Sunday morning arrived, and I finally got to try Bubble and Squeak. It was just as good as Chef Brooks described! As a child, I would’ve been much more excited about Crock Pot Roast if my mom had turned the leftover potatoes and carrots into this masterpiece for the next morning’s breakfast.
|Bubble and Squeak|
Obviously, I found the heart and soul of Australian cuisine! It took a little longer than some weeks, but I appreciated it all the more. I could not have experienced such a great week without the generosity of Chef Aaron Brooks, and really, that’s what I love most about this whole project. Food is truly a universal element that unites us all. We have favorite dishes that our moms and dads made, favorite restaurants that we love to visit with friends and families, and stories of new dishes discovered during our travels. Those connections endure through the ages, and for me, they keep me searching for more.