Eating Australia and New Zealand

My husband and I live in Oklahoma, a land-locked state in the heartland of the United States. It’s called the heartland to make it sound better than it really is.

We basically live in the middle on the U.S., where the ground is flat, the dirt is red, and the winds come rolling down the plains. You know the song.

Our town is not glamorous. After the land run, homesteaders settled here, many of whom farmed wheat and raised cattle. Later, an oil boom resulted in a population spike. Agriculture and the oil business, along with an Air Force base, are the mainstays of the local economy.

How we landed here is a long story, which I won’t recount, but we moved in 1989, and have lived here ever since. As much as I tried to get us moved out of Oklahoma over those years, (I was hoping for Colorado), there are advantages to living here.

There’s no traffic, there are no lines at any time, and no reservations are ever required, for anything. Plus, the people here are good, down-to-earth folks.

But most importantly, the cost of living is low. As a result, we get to travel, which is why we’re still here after our nest emptied long ago.

It’s especially satisfying to cross a long-awaited destination off of a bucket list, and that’s exactly what my husband and I were able to do recently. This past fall, in 2017, we visited Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, we bounced from Sydney to the Outback, to Lizard Island, Kangaroo Island, then to Tasmania.

In New Zealand we explored Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo, and Queenstown.

As usual, part of my initiation to these countries was to eat as much of the local foods as possible.

Of course the beef and lamb were both exquisite.

I also enjoyed barramundi, coral trout, Bondi squid, octopus, mud crab, Sydney oysters, abalone, and green-lipped New Zealand mussels.

Although we rarely pass up a gastropub, we also dined at upscale restaurants, like Quay, The Gantry, and Altitude, all in Sydney.

I have to thank Lorraine Elliott for her spot-on restaurant reviews on her well-known blog, Not Quite Nigella.

And, of course, there were fabulous wines, beers, and other drinks.

It was so much fun to look at wine lists, this one in Queenstown, New Zealand. Not like any back home.

I’ve always favored Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, but the Pinot Gris really took me by surprise.

The trip was incredible, and lived up to everything we hoped for and more, in terms of scenery, culture, destinations, the local animals and, of course, the food and wine.

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Travel Gourmet December 4, 2017 at 7:09 AM - Reply

    Thanks for such a joyful post to read about your trip. I’m pleased you had such a good time ticking off a bucket list destination and it lived up to your hopes. The photos are wonderful, Mimi, incredible scenery and some fabulous food.

    • chef mimi December 4, 2017 at 7:12 AM - Reply

      Thank you Kay. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip

  2. okiewinegirl2015 December 4, 2017 at 8:04 AM - Reply

    1989 was a very good year! We’re Okies for exactly the same reasons. I’m laughing because I came from Colorado and my friends thought I was crazy moving here. So glad you stayed and thanks for posting beautiful wine pics! The AU/NZ scenery isn’t half bad either 😉

    • chef mimi December 4, 2017 at 11:55 AM - Reply

      Hahaha! Well you were a little crazy moving here!!!! Thanks for the sweet comment!

  3. apuginthekitchen December 4, 2017 at 8:37 AM - Reply

    Wow Mimi what a fantastic trip. Everything looks beautiful and the food delicious.

  4. Fran @ G'day Souffle' December 4, 2017 at 9:47 AM - Reply

    Aren’t mud crabs delicious? I prepared one in Darwin and the claws are huge! I’m in San Diego now for a few more months, but your post makes me a little homesick for my home in Adelaide!

    • chef mimi December 4, 2017 at 11:54 AM - Reply

      They are indeed! A terrible name, though!

  5. M.L. Parma December 4, 2017 at 10:02 AM - Reply

    very interesting…….. >

  6. Megala December 4, 2017 at 11:06 AM - Reply

    Picturesque locations ! Beautifully captured !!

  7. Healthy World Cuisine December 4, 2017 at 3:25 PM - Reply

    It has been so fun following along on your adventure. You ate like a queen!

    • chef mimi December 4, 2017 at 3:47 PM - Reply

      Um yes, I did. And gained weight like a piggy!

  8. marcellinaincucina December 4, 2017 at 3:36 PM - Reply

    What an adventure! Love your photos. And yes, I’m a little bit biased …Australia is great!

  9. Angela@grapegravy​ December 4, 2017 at 4:58 PM - Reply

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful! Also on my bucket list. I am thinking of moving south. Portland is beautiful but the cost of living is outrageous!

    • chef mimi December 4, 2017 at 5:57 PM - Reply

      Oh that’s too bad. I remember when it was a humble town, with a farmer’s market and lots of hippies. But that was the 70’s!

  10. Gerlinde @ Sunnycovechef December 4, 2017 at 5:04 PM - Reply

    I have New Zealand an Australia on my bucket list but my husband and I can’t drive on the left side of the road. We tried it years ago in England and. it was a terrible experience. Did you go with a group?

    • chef mimi December 4, 2017 at 5:56 PM - Reply

      Yes, we did. I’ve never driven in ireland, scotland, wales, or england! It’s hard enough to cross the street!!

      • Gerlinde December 6, 2017 at 4:48 AM

        What kind of group did you go with and can you recommend them. Thanks

      • chef mimi December 6, 2017 at 9:01 AM

        I certainly can – National Geographic! The second one we’ve been on with them.

  11. ladyredspecs December 4, 2017 at 5:43 PM - Reply

    Woo hoo! So glad you had a great experience, This (Australia) IS the lucky country! The cost of living here is outrageously high though…

    • chef mimi December 5, 2017 at 6:46 AM - Reply

      Oh my, we had a wonderful experience. Is the cost of living better outside of the big cities?

      • ladyredspecs December 5, 2017 at 4:09 PM

        I think it is higher, sadly

  12. StefanGourmet December 5, 2017 at 1:27 AM - Reply

    Looks like you’ve had a great trip from the beautiful photos! We have been to most of those same places during our travels and it is indeed marvellous. And a bit like home for you without traffic (except for Sydney), low population density and down to earth people.

    • chef mimi December 5, 2017 at 6:43 AM - Reply

      Sydney was my least favorite stop, just because I’m not a city person, but still all great destinations, great food and wine, incredible scenery, and wonderful people. I just wish I could have understood them better!

      • StefanGourmet December 5, 2017 at 4:43 PM

        LOL. Don’t go to Scotland or Liverpool, that’s worse :-)

  13. Lisa @ cheergerm December 5, 2017 at 4:21 AM - Reply

    Glad it was great, Australia and New Zealand are stunning and yes, I am biased. 😉

    • chef mimi December 5, 2017 at 6:42 AM - Reply

      You should be biased! An incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.

  14. Linda Duffin December 5, 2017 at 10:07 AM - Reply

    Gorgeous pictures, Mimi, what a fabulous trip. I’m very envious!

    • chef mimi December 7, 2017 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      Thank you. Well we finally decided to just go, in case one of us got a stroke. Then the other one would have to go by herself!

      • Linda Duffin December 7, 2017 at 10:49 AM

        That would be unfortunate. :) A wise decision, I’m very envious.

  15. Laura @ Feast Wisely December 5, 2017 at 1:27 PM - Reply

    I loved reading this Chef Mimi – you really did go to town with trying some of the best food and drinks! I spotted Manly Wharf in your beer photo and that made me feel very lucky as we move into our new apartment in Manly this week 😊

  16. Abbe@This is How I Cook December 5, 2017 at 8:47 PM - Reply

    We visited Australia years ago but have yet to make it to New Zealand. The seafood is incredible!

  17. Marisa's Italian Kitchen December 5, 2017 at 10:01 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful trip Mimi, everything looks beautiful!

    • chef mimi December 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM - Reply

      Beautiful is an understatement. I have no good words for what we experienced!

  18. heather (delicious not gorgeous) December 5, 2017 at 11:25 PM - Reply

    ahh it looks so gorgeous! all that blue. i’ve seen a lot of australian brunches on instagram that look and sound amazing, but didn’t realize the rest of their food was incredible too (:

    • chef mimi December 6, 2017 at 9:02 AM - Reply

      I think it was all similar to British food, until gourmet cooking began playing a major part.

  19. Kiki December 6, 2017 at 6:07 AM - Reply

    Looks like you’ve had a great trip! I loved Australia but wasn’t a “foodie” back then so can’t for the life of me remember what all I’d been eating there.
    As for Oklahoma – I’ve heard great country songs about it :-D . And if I assume right that the picture of hay bales on the top of your post were taken there, I’d love to see something on that scale and take pictures!

    • chef mimi December 6, 2017 at 8:47 AM - Reply

      There’s a certain beauty to the wide open spaces. When we moved to west Texas, which is also flat and has tumbleweeds instead of hay bales, i met a woman who hated Colorado because the mountains made her chlostorphobic. I can now kind of understand that, if you’re born into flatness!

      • Kiki December 6, 2017 at 11:40 AM

        Oh I’d be the same with mountains! I really disliked being in Innsbruck, Austria, because on opening the blinds in the morning the mountains were closing in on me. I’d take the planes of Oklahoma any day :-)

      • chef mimi December 6, 2017 at 11:57 AM

        Oh that’s so interesting!

  20. kitchenriffs December 6, 2017 at 10:12 AM - Reply

    What a wonderful trip! I’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand, but would love to go. One of these days! Really fun read — thanks.

  21. anotherfoodieblogger December 7, 2017 at 5:01 AM - Reply

    New Zealand has been on my bucket list for over 30 years!! Thank you so much for sharing your travels with us, it certainly does sound like living in Oklahoma does have its advantages when you get to travel like this! I’ve become a big fan of Pinot Gris wines as of late, I’ll have to check out some New Zealand ones. :)

    • chef mimi December 7, 2017 at 6:35 AM - Reply

      And Australian. They were all incredible!

  22. myhomefoodthatsamore December 11, 2017 at 3:05 AM - Reply

    Thanks to this post and the marvellous photos, cara Mimi, I have lived a vicarious trip to the Antipodes. I think that you and your husband are very wise people, bravi!

  23. Amanda @OrganicIsBeautiful December 11, 2017 at 9:58 PM - Reply

    Beautiful sceneries;))

    Amanda |

  24. indianeskitchen December 18, 2017 at 9:13 AM - Reply

    How beautiful I would love to visit some day!

  25. FrugalHausfrau December 19, 2017 at 3:24 AM - Reply

    You made me laugh with the heartland comments! What a fabulous trip that must have been.

  26. The Shady Baker December 31, 2017 at 5:49 PM - Reply

    Hello Mimi. How wonderful to read about your travels in Australia, you went to some beautiful places that I have not visited, including New Zealand.

    • chef mimi January 1, 2018 at 8:46 AM - Reply

      New Zealand can’t really be summed up. You’ll just have to go!

  27. mixedbaggweb January 1, 2018 at 7:37 PM - Reply

    This certainly seems like a great place to visit, and I’ve only heard great things from those who have spent some time there. From the stories they’ve shared, it sounds like it a very warm culture and the people are friendly and welcoming. Thanks for sharing with us and happy traveling!

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    • chef mimi January 2, 2018 at 7:31 AM - Reply

      People were wonderful, and so was the food and wine!

  28. Kelly, RD January 10, 2018 at 11:58 PM - Reply

    I’m as green with envy as the green-lipped mussels! What an amazing experience!

    • chef mimi January 11, 2018 at 12:10 PM - Reply

      Lol! Thanks, it was amazing!

  29. leanneesilver January 31, 2018 at 8:01 PM - Reply

    That’s a fantastic wine list – so weird that as a local I can just go to our local wine store (and do) and buy them without thinking!

    • chef mimi February 1, 2018 at 9:13 AM - Reply

      Ahhh, so jealous!!!

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