In a previous post I mentioned that my husband and I finally visited Australia and New Zealand in the fall of 2017. We took advantage of all of the in-season offerings from the land and sea that these countries offer, but there was one destination where a cooking class of sorts was offered by the executive chef, although no cooking was necessary.
It was a tasting menu of the local edibles, from leaves to berries to bark, and then some. Only one other person joined in, so she and I had the chef all to ourselves.
The chef was Jonathan Bryant, at Longitude 131, a hotel in the “spiritual heart of Australia, the Red Centre, also known as Uluru, rich in Aboriginal culture and rugged outback beauty.”
This is the sampler he placed before us.
A print-out was included, which was quite handy, especially now, as I’ve forgotten most of the names of these “exotic” edibles. Of course, these were only exotic to the two of us eager students; all of these local foods were used by the Aborigines for food as well as medicinal purposes.
For example, Quandong, a modest but nutritious fruit. Both the fruit and its large seed are utilized in many ways. Just that morning I’d had Quandong jam on my sheep’s milk yogurt. It was delicious.
Then there was a finger lime – something I’d only seen on food blogs. You open this finger-shaped lime, thus the name, and out bursts little micro-sized balls of lime – sometimes called lime “caviar.” I added some to my gin and tonic, as per the chef’s suggestion.
We also tasted Desert Limes, which are very tiny, but I didn’t get a good photo.
Wattleseed was really fascinating to me; I’m surprised it hasn’t become the “new” seed trend worldwide. The Aborigines used to grind the seeds, which are harvested from trees, to make flour.
Pictured at the left, above, are wattleseed and a golden variety, which isn’t gold, and the roasted and ground seeds, at the right. At lunch I’d enjoyed wattleseed bread. It was hearty and wonderful.
One interesting fact from the printout: The wattle flower is the well-known emblem of Australia, and is represented in the green and gold worn by Australian athletes.
Paperbark was interesting. Actual tree bark, it adds a smoky flavor to food, so the chef wraps paperbark around fish and vegetables when grilling to impart the smokiness.
Then there was lemon myrtle leaves, similar looking to bay leaves, but a truly potent lemony smell. Not only is lemon myrtle used in cooking, its essential oil is used in soaps, candles, and so forth.
The following look like peppercorns, but they are Muntries, known otherwise as emu apples or native cranberries. They were a precious commodity to the Narrindjeri people of Southern Australia. To me they tasted like Christmas!
Salt bush, pictured below, was salty to me, but its value escaped me. Nonetheless it is used in local cuisine, and sometimes dried into flakes for seasoning. I’d purchased this seasoning mixture without realizing the main ingredient is saltbush!
There was much more to nibble on, but the above were the most fascinating to me. It was a fantastic experience!
Jonathon Bryant is Executive Chef at Longitude 131°. Originally from tropical north Queensland, Jon’s journey to the Red Centre has seen him traverse the east coast of Australia following the classic Reef-to-Rock circuit.
Beginning his career on Hayman Island, Jonathon set off to explore the country, its produce and of course, its kitchens. Time spent in Tasmania saw him gain an appreciation of what it means to ‘dine local’ at fellow Luxury Lodges of Australia property, Saffire Freycinet. From there, a return to island life beckoned on Lord Howe Island where Jon was able to combine his love of fresh seafood with a passion for diving. Each experience helped shaped his light, textured cooking style and his honest, produce driven approach to cuisine.
Following his penchant for regional roles and drawn to Australia’s heartland, Jonathon joined the team at Longitude 131° in 2016. No stranger to the challenges of working in remote locations, Jon consults with a diverse range of people and suppliers to source the best premium produce from all over Australia for his daily changing menus.
Combining new techniques, flavours and native ingredients like lemon myrtle, quandongs and saltbush, Jon aims to translate the creation stories of the indigenous Anangu from the dreaming realm to the plate, offering guests a slice of local life from the very first bite.
How fun!! I would of loved to try one of those finger limes for sure!!
They were really fun!
What an amazing meal. I would love to try those things. Thanks for sharing :)
It was such a unique experience!
Yum. I love the idea of finger limes.
So unique, but definitely limes!
What an interesting read and fascinating experience!! If I ever get to visit Australia, this will definitely be on my agenda!
Yes! You need to go.
I would love to!! One day I hope!! Maybe when I’m an empty nester and all the kids are out of college!!!
You’ll love it!
Interesting! I’ve seen chefs use some of these on the occasional TV programme but I don’t think many, if any, get exported or are even used in Aussie kitchens (I may be wrong here so do please correct me). I bought a seasoning here containing lemon myrtle but the mixture was way too sweet for my taste. Fascinating experience, Mimi!
I think you’re right about that. Maybe we should go into the wattleseed exportation business!
Haha, maybe after I’ve got the other new biz off the ground!
I enjoyed reading about all the different kind of seeds and fruits . Australia is on my bucket list,
So see New Zealand, too!
Sounds like a really interesting class, and lucky for you there were only the two of you. I would have signed up for that as well!
I was hesitant at first, because I wasn’t sure it was going to entail. It was way better than a cooking class!
Oh wow! It all looks so interesting, what a great experience :)
It really was!
How very unique! I’m not sure I’ve even heard of some of them. What a wonderful trip that must have been. I have seen your photos from time to time on Instagram. Have you done a blog post about it at all? I love taking courses on different cuisines too whenever we visit countries outside of the USA. Australia is beautiful, wish we’d popped over to NZ when we were on that side of the world :)
I’ve only done one blog post called “Eating AU and NZ” just about some of the unique foods we experienced down there like barramundi. I’m sorry you didn’t visit NZ, but there’s still time!
Finger limes are amazing on fresh natural oysters with a little miso and sake. It’s sublime having the little citrus bombs go off in your mouth as you savour the oyster.
Oh my. That does sound wonderful!
A friend made them for me and I thought my head would explode in happiness. They were so good.
I understand that feeling from food!
How interesting and tasty. I thought that lime was a pickle! :) Looks like a great trip. I would love to visit NZ one day.
I know – it should be called a pickle lime!
Great post Mimi
Lovely post, Mimi. I like your new avatar too.
I’m so glad you had a good time in Australia 🇦🇺! Yes it’s a wonder our native foods aren’t more well known. Our dog used to adore wattleseeds and would crunch on them very happily. Saltbush is sometimes eaten by lambs supposedly to make the flesh tastier. Happy new year! Cheers sherry
Fascinating! Another food blogger mentioned the same thing about saltbush! Maybe it’s because your foods would have to travel SO far to reach everyone else! But they should be more know, definitely.
It’s looks fun and very tasty, Thanks for sharing this great trips mimi.
Thank you Aria!
Lamb that grazes on saltbush on the arid periphery of the desert are uniquely delicious, kinda pre seasoned. Bush tucker hasn’t really become mainstream here, still “gourmet” fare
Interesting! Sometimes I open up the jar of saltbush seasoning because it smells just like the outback to me! Good memories.
Great post Mimi. I love using wattleseed in my pavlovas, has such an interesting ‘coffee’ type flavour.
Wow! That’s interesting! I loved everything wattleseed!
What a cool course!! New Zealand has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.
Us, too. And it was even better than we expected!
Take me on vacation with you! (At the very least, I should scour your blog for vacation ideas.)
We take our vacations very seriously! We’re finally going to experience South America next year – Chile Peru Brazil, and Columbia. I won’t be eating any grilled guinea pigs, tho!
Fantastic post Chef Mimi – how lucky you are to have experienced Longitude 131 – on my bucket list!
It was beautiful. Very hot, many flies, and very beautiful!
Yes how I remember those flies from my trip to Ayers Rock ten years ago!
Yes, quite annoying. Hard to drink wine with those guys buzzing around your mouth and eyes!
Yes we had to resort to the hats with dangling corks!
Love all these things! John, from He Needs Food has introduced me to many. So hard to find these things reasonably priced in the US! So glad you got to make the trip! Someday…
I don’t think I recognize that blog – I’ll have to check into it! Thanks!
I received a gift of lemon myrtle a while back which I should try and make more use of :)
What are you going to do with it?
I made panna cotta http://tandysinclair.com/lemon-myrtle-panna-cotta/
Everything looks so fresh and delicious! A great experience indeed.
Definitely. something I’ll never experience again!
So very interesting. Thank you for sharing it all. Lovely.
You are so welcome!
What fun, experiencing all of those different taste and textures. Thanks for a great post.
Thank you! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So many amazing flavors and textures! I would definitely love to try out food wrapped in that paperbark!
I know. I don’t think I did, or I wasn’t aware of it…
Australia and New Zealand are both on my wish list. What a fun time you’ve had. You’ve whetted my appetite — literally. :-)
It was such an experience. So beautiful.
OMG, you are so lucky. You could explore it all. And what an informative post you have got here. So many ingredients out of these, I am sighting for the very first time. Thanks for this experience. :)
Thank you. It was such a great experience !
It was so fun following you along on social media during your excursions. So many different delicacies to try except you can skip the marmite. Do you like marmite? LOL
NO! But i tried it and marmite, just for fun! Too salty!
I’m from australia and I learnt a thing or two!
haha i have to admit that i was expecting something else when i saw “edibles” (; but anyways, it sounds like you had so much fun trying these things out! i’ve heard of finger limes but nothing else.
This is fascinating. I was an exchange student in Australia 30 years ago. Adding your experience to my bucket list when I go back.
Oh how exciting. What a great experience that must have been!