One of the best parts about studying abroad is new food. One of the worst parts is when you come home and miss it like crazy. A lot of European food can be found easily in the United States, but the food from Down Under is much harder to find.
Some of these things I miss just as much as the places I went and people I met. Australia and New Zealand had some awesome food that you just can’t get anywhere else, and it’s a damn shame. Get ready for your mouth to water. If you haven’t been to Australia or New Zealand you may be booking tickets in just a few minutes. If you have been to these lovely countries, prepare for some hard core nostalgia set in.
1. Australian Iced Coffe
I’m sure several foreigners think the barista messed up their order the first time they receive this unique take on iced coffee. Instead of the typical coffee and ice, with optional cream and sugar, this is more of a dessert. Essentially a coffee milkshake, Australian iced coffee is heaps of vanilla ice cream topped with either fresh or chilled espresso, and finished off with a huge pile of whipped cream. It’s like a Starbucks frappuccino on steroids, and so much better.
2. Savory Muffins
I never knew what was missing in my life until I bit into my first savory muffin in New Zealand. Usually a combination of sweet potato, red pepper, spinach, feta, pumpkin and onion, these make the perfect breakfast or midday snack. Really hoping that these become popular in the States because they are phenomenal.
3. Peri Peri
Think you’ve had the best hot sauce out there? Think again. Peri Peri is an African chili pepper that is found as a sauce on many sandwiches, especially in Australia. There is a popular restaurant, Nando’s, that has many versions of this sauce, all of which are delicious. For some lucky Americans, they have a few Nando’s locations in the States. I’ve even seen small bottles of their peri-peri sauce at Marshall’s.
This Australian dessert can also be found in New Zealand. It’s sponge cake covered in chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut. The chocolate sauce soaks in to the cake to make a unique texture. Sometimes these cakes are cut in half and filled with delicious cream and jam. For some reason they have become extremely popular in Cleveland, but if you live anywhere else in the States, you’re unfortunately out of luck.
These cookies are dark, dense and very rich in flavor. They are made with chocolate and, oddly enough, cornflakes. They could be found everywhere from grocery stores, work parties, and even on top of ice cream at Giapo’s in Auckland.
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They, like many other older cultures, are known for cooking in the ground. In Maori, this is known as a Hangi. My first Hangi was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. They get immense flavor from smoking it for hours in the ground using minimal spices. The meat and vegetables are tender and unlike anything I had ever had before.
7. Meat Pies
Meat pies are an Australian and New Zealand favorite. Filled with anything from savory lamb to bacon, eggs, tomato and cheese. They are hand-sized and perfect for breakfast or lunch. These little pockets of perfection are hard to find in the States, but here in Boston we’re lucky to have a taste of the hand pies from Down Under at KO Pies.
8. Tim Tams
Two biscuits filled with cream and covered in chocolate = perfection. There are so many variations of this amazing treat including caramel, coconut cream and peanut butter. Lucky for us Americans, some Targets started carrying original and salted caramel Tim Tams. The other flavors, however, are dearly missed.
What may seem like just hot chocolate is so much more. It’s actually a malt beverage, similar to Ovaltine. This delicious beverage was invented in Sydney and also comes in snack bar and breakfast cereal form. If you are a fan of Milo, it is very hard to go back to plain ol’ hot chocolate.
10. Beetroot burgers
Beets and burgers may seem like an odd pair, but these are wildly popular in Australia. They taste amazing, and the color makes them especially cool looking (and very insta-worthy). If beetroot is not mixed in with the actual burger, it is often seen as a topping on Aussie and Kiwi burgers. Even if you don’t like beets, these burgers are worth a try.
Shapes are a popular cracker snack in Australia and New Zealand. They come in a gazillion flavors including pizza, chicken crimpy and nacho cheese. Once you have one, it is hard to stop. They made the perfect snack and late night drunk food. While not necessarily better than any other flavored cracker, they are definitely missed in the States.
New Zealand is the lamb standard of the world so, naturally, it is the best lamb you will be able to get. Many of the lamb in the States is imported from New Zealand, but nothing is the same as the real thing. With more sheep than people (a ratio of about seven to one), it is easy to see why this has become such a staple in New Zealand cuisine.
If you are a mussel lover, you must make your way to New Zealand at some point. The New Zealand mussel was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is one of the largest mussels in the world, and has a unique green color. Often served in a spicy broth, they never disappoint.
14. Poached Eggs on Everything
We may think that poached eggs are on everything in America, but the U.S. has nothing on New Zealand. Poached eggs could be found on anything from your typical eggs benedict to burgers and salads. They became one of my favorite add-ons. Unfortunately it is seen as “basic” to order them on everything in the U.S., which is a shame.
Feijoa was one of the most popular ice cream and gelato flavors Down Under. Coming from South America, feijoa is loved by Australians and New Zealanders alike, and is now a popular crop in Australasia. Fresh and crisp Feijoa and feijoa flavored anything is perfect for the hot summer days.
16. Mrs. Higgins Cookies
With locations in New Zealand’s major cities, Mrs. Higgins was the place to go to get inexpensive fresh baked cookies. At $2.50 NZD a piece, you couldn’t get anything better. They also had a ton of interesting flavors along with the classics. Nothing beats a warm, gooey, right-out-of-the-oven cookie.
17. Giapo’s Ice Cream
This may be only in Auckland, but if you’ve had it, it’s probably one of the things you miss most about your time Down Under. One of the coolest ice cream shops around, Giapo’s has all locally inspired flavors created by Chef Giapo. You are not allowed to see the flavors, but you are allowed to try as many of them as you want. Once you have settled on a flavor (or two or three) they come with custom, predetermined toppings. Now you can see why this place is memorable and one-of-a-kind.
A unique lemon flavored soda, this item is “World Famous in New Zealand” as they like to say. Mixed with vodka, it tastes like your drinking a straight up Lemonhead cocktail. It has spread to Australian grocery stores, but has yet to make it across the Pacific to America and the rest of the world.
19. Chip Flavors
One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing what kind of chip flavors they eat. In Australia, popular flavors include atomic tomato and honey soy chicken. In New Zealand, popular flavors were chicken and thai chili. They are hard to get used to at first, but they grow on you over time. Once you get back to the States, you will miss all the crazy flavors you were apprehensive to try in the first place.
20. Homegrown Juice
The best thing to come out of New Zealand is low cost cold pressed juice. I miss Homegrown Juice every day, especially the green and berry smoothies. At roughly $5 a serving in America, these cold pressed juices are a fraction of the cost and taste just as good, if not better. Even if you are not into juicing or drinking them for health reasons, you will drink them simply because they taste that good.
21. Wedges & Aioli
Aioli in Australia and New Zealand is different than in the U.S. I don’t know how they do it, but however they make it I love it – and I usually hate aioli. Typical bar food is potato wedges with cheese and aioli. Even though you can find it in the States, it’s just not the same.
22. Cassava Chips
The food equivalent to crack, once you started it was so hard to stop. Airy, light, healthy and in amazing flavors such as Thai chili and sour cream and chive, these chips were unlike any other. They were the perfect snack as they were made from cassava, which has more protein than potatoes.
Kangaroo, the cute animal hopping around the Australian Outback, is also a part of the Australian cuisine. High and protein and low in fat, it is a good alternative to other red meats. It’s impossible to find it as fresh anywhere outside of Australia. Worth a try, but if you like it, you’ll find yourself missing it once you’re no longer Down Under.
Vegemite and Marmite are both concentrated yeast extract. Disliked by many foreigners, but adored by locals. There is an age-old battle over which is better – Vegemite from Australia or Marmite from New Zealand. If you haven’t been to Australia, but want to give it a try, learn how to eat it the right way.
An asian sea bass, barramundi is very popular in Australia. It’s considered one of the quintessential Australian foods. Grilled or fried, this flaky fish is flavorful and won’t disappoint. They make exceptional fish tacos, and many prefer it to cod that is used in the States.
There is a long-standing debate between Australia and New Zealand over who invented this famous meringue desert. The Oxford Dictionary states that it was invented in New Zealand, but you can form your own opinion on the matter. Regardless, these fruit topped desserts are truly outstanding – tangy and sweet with a bit of a crunch.
27. New Zealand and Australian Wine
New Zealand is known for its white wine, and Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world. Even the cheap wines are amazing and better than many of their American alternatives. You can get many of these wines in the States and all over the world, but nothing beats fresh off the vine.