Australia's food and wine trends for 2015

Australia wants to use its hands. We want to smoke, and gnaw, and hew and mill. We want to eat less meat but be offered better quality. We want more vegetables, but we want them farmed by small-scale producers. And while the fish should be line-caught, the ice-cream can be soft-serve. We might like our food slow and low-impact, but we don't think that means we have to surrender our sense of fun - we want our ethics with a side of hot fudge and nuts. We’ve never been more serious about good bread and butter or being selective about the wood we smoke with. We want our fried chicken brined in shrimp paste, finished with earth-shattering crunch. Festivals around Australia celebrate natural wine - spontaneous ferments and minimal intervention - while supporting local artists, producers, chefs and musicians. We haven't lost our world-famous taste for beer, but we also have a growing craft-brewing culture seeing specialty bars, pubs and festiAustrvals popping up everywhere from Fremantle to Fitzroy. We’re hungry, we’re thirsty and we want it on sticks, fermented and tiki (preferably all on the same plate). Australia's food and wine trends for 2015
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Australia's Food and Wine trends for 2015


Australia wants to use its hands. We want to smoke, and gnaw, and hew and mill. We want to eat less meat but be offered better quality. We want more vegetables, but we want them farmed by small-scale producers. And while the fish should be line-caught, the ice-cream can be soft-serve. We might like our food slow and low-impact, but we don't think that means we have to surrender our sense of fun - we want our ethics with a side of hot fudge and nuts. We’ve never been more serious about good bread and butter or being selective about the wood we smoke with. We want our fried chicken brined in shrimp paste, finished with earth-shattering crunch. Festivals around Australia celebrate natural wine - spontaneous ferments and minimal intervention - while supporting local artists, producers, chefs and musicians. We haven't lost our world-famous taste for beer, but we also have a growing craft-brewing culture seeing specialty bars, pubs and festivals popping up everywhere from Fremantle to Fitzroy. We’re hungry, we’re thirsty and we want it on sticks, fermented and tiki (preferably all on the same plate).   

Rockstar vegestations, meat highlights

Australian fine dining has been leaning further and further away from meat-based tasting menus, favouring the creative use of grains, rare vegetables, curds, tofus and cheeses. “I reckon we’ll be seeing a lot more vegetarian-based cooking going on,” says Perth food writer Max Veenhuyzen, “dishes where the plant-based matter is the star and protein is used as a flavouring/contrasting texture." Australian TV presenter and ethical-eating advocate Magdalena Roze sees Australia going one step further in the coming years. “I see vegetables having a more of a place in desserts and snacks, something that a lot of chefs are already doing, but I think it will become more mainstream - even spreading to supermarkets.” Kale chips for everyone. 

Try...

Momofuku Seiobo
80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
www.momofuku.com

Sixpenny
83 Percival Road, Stanmore, NSW 2048
+61 2 9572 6666
www.sixpenny.com.au

Voyager Estate, Margaret River, WA

Wild and feral meats are now prized commodities (if you can catch them)

Kangaroo and wallaby, two meats that have been either dismissed as too cultural-cringeworthy or simply too lean to have a place on restaurant menus, are seeing a real push, at both ends of the dining spectrum. “I believe we will continue to see a focus and interest in native meats,” says star butcher Anthony Puharich, the man behind Vic’s Quality Meats and Victor Churchill, in Sydney. “I know kangaroo has been hopping around as a protein for a while now but there’s better awareness nowadays regarding the actual importance of eating this particular type of game meat. It’s high in iron, lean and bursting with important trace elements.” Australia also faces an issue of being overrun with feral boar, deer, hare, goats and rabbits. The solution? Eat them. They taste great, and we’re doing our delicate eco-system a big favour. Puharich agrees. “Eating wild meat, in my opinion, is purely an evolution of everyone's palates improving and our drive to continue to search for flavour in our food.” Watch out for the buckshot.

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Attica
74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, VIC 3185
+61 3 9530 0111
www.attica.com.au

Smoking’s cool again

Where there’s smoke, there’s meat. If there’s one trend that captures our dining landscape right now, it’s our passion for all things smoked, whether that’s a side of beef or a piece of fruit. Chefs have been getting increasingly nerdy about it, hoarding fruitwoods and hardwoods, obsessing over smokers and cuts of meat. They’re experimenting more and more with what eventually hits the plate, prizing deep flavour and smoky perfume. And if the queues at some of these places are anything to go by, Australia is right on board. 

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LP’s Quality Meats
12-16 Chippen Street, Chippendale 2008
+61 2 8399 0929
www.lpsqualitymeats.com

The Smokehouse BBQ
85 Merthyr Road, New Farm, Qld 4005
+61 7 3358 1922
www.thesmokebbq.com.au

Dark Mofo, Hobart, TAS

Cult collaborations, pop-up food and music festivals

Love, for celebrity chef and pioneer Kylie Kwong, is all about the letter C. “I think the C word has to mean 'collaboration' in 2015.” Whether it’s fuelled by social media, or chefs and restaurateurs simply becoming more available to their diners, it means music labels are suddenly joining forces with restaurants, creating mini-festivals in abandoned rail yards. There’s definitely a cross-platform sense of community in major Australian cities where there’s a real attraction between likeminded people. “It's hard enough delivering a great restaurant but without the help of friends it means nothing. Think great food producers both very near and far, project wines and spirits, playlists from muso mates, favourite art pieces and giving back to your local community. It's the very modern model of a meeting place for eating and drinking.” Whole suburbs are being taken over for street parties sponsored by craft beer companies, incorporating local restaurants and bands big and small. Eating in Australia is now, more than ever, about the mini-community that pops up around us. Tell us where you eat, and we’ll tell you who you are. 

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Billy Kwong
Shop 1, 28 Macleay Street, Potts Point 2011
+61 2 9332 3300
www.billykwong.com.au

DARK MOFO
MONA’s annual art, music and food event curated by Violent Femmes bass player, Brian Ritchie.
www.darkmofo.net.au

Foraging’s dead, bring back bread

Sure, fermenting and foraging are still thrown around as buzzwords in some circles, but it’s now a part of most chefs’ vernacular. "The next step,” says chef and environmental scientist Mike Eggert, “is making oils and flours. I think that we’re about to experience a massive emphasis on bread and butter. And not just sourdough - people are looking for alternate breads.” Are we about to see the return of the baguette?   

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Autolyse
21 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, ACT 2612
+61 2 8074 9458
www.autolyse.com.au

Pigeon Whole Bakers
24-32 Argyle Street, Hobart, TAS 7000
www.pigeonwholebakers.com.au

Silo Bakery, Poacher's Way, Kingston, ACT

Back to basics

A big reaction to waste and the relaxed attitude to the way we eat has seen some places slow it down to the point they’re milling their own grain for breads and porridges. “We’re packing more grains, greens and seeds into our daily food routine,” says chef, cookbook author and food tour operator Christine Manfield. “Plus we’re building on the provenance of our food, appreciating our natural resources.” Chef Darren Robertson, whose restaurant Three Blue Ducks has been pushing hard for the likes of ethically kept hens and house-grown produce, wants to see more transparency when it comes to fast food outlets and supermarkets and the products they sell. Sunny and Ross Lusted, the restaurateur and chef behind fine diner the Bridge Room, agree. “We want to see dishes continue to be served closer to their natural state, moving further away from being prepared with complex technique. Cooking over charcoal. Cooking in a wood-fired oven. There’s a lot of skill involved with this type of cooking and it places a huge emphasis on the quality of the produce - there’s nowhere to hide.” The idea of getting back to basics resonates strongly with the Australian hospitality industry, which is seeing chefs spending more time farming, foraging, milling, pressing and smoking. “I see a continuation of old school cooking over the next year. Fermenting, curing, cooking over coals… fewer foods cooked in plastic bags and more proteins cooked on the bone," says Robertson. "Simply and properly made pies, tarts, pasties - natural-looking dishes and the acceptance that food can be messy and delicious.”

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Ester
46-52 Meagher Street, Chippendale, NSW 2008
+61 2 8068 8279
www.ester-restaurant.com.au

Brothl by Joost
123 Hardware Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
+61 3 9600 0588
www.byjoost.com/brothl

Savoury cocktails and fortified wines


The cocktails of 2015 are as much about what’s left out as what’s put in. And while we might not be quite ready to be serving up ice-free, pre-batched cocktails as they do in London, we definitely hold our own on a global level. Tim Phillips, an internationally renowned cocktail bartender based at Sydney’s Bulletin Place, thinks we should just get savoury. “Look beyond the boundaries of sweet, sour and bitter. Think about flavoured salts, spice, and even umami.” He also thinks we’re about to see a resurgence in fortified cocktails. “Think you hate Madeira and vermouth? No, you don't. Fortified wines are about to hit your cocktails big-time. Buy shares in sherry and port now.” Wine writer Mike Bennie is on the same page. “There’s an undercurrent of winemakers who are fermenting their wine with botanicals and herbs in efforts to chase down the delicious but not so lucrative vermouth market. In California, the trailblazing younger wine producers all seem to have a vermouth side-project, and Australia is quietly following suit. Stay tuned.”

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Bulletin Place
Level 1, 10-14 Bulletin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000
www.bulletinplace.com

Clever Little Tailor
19 Peel Street, Adelaide, SA 5000
www.cleverlittletailor.com.au

Aussie Wine Month, Sydney, NSW

Small batch wines and vino with personality


Bennie is also convinced that the other big new thing in vinous circles is “keg wines” - small-batch gear that may only get a small run in select restaurants. “The thrill of small batch wine being mainlined to glass for some thoughtful producers has begat a culture of convenience, eco-friendly packaging and some pretty decent frisky, young drinks. NYC is rife with keg wine, usually sloshed into tumblers, but venues around the traps are increasingly playing with the format for young, fresh, vibrant wines, destined for by-the-glass or carafe.” 

Vasse Felix’s chief winemaker Virginia Willcock is all about wines with personality. The Margaret River local believes Australian producers are embracing the subtleties that make their wines unique. “There are some incredible wines being made all around Australia,” she says. “One trend is the strength of boutique producers that are emerging. There are a lot of little wine labels coming up that are young and cool, with authentic principles behind them.” Looking forward to trends on a larger scale, Wine Australia reports that Pinot Gris/Grigio, Moscato, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are moving the big units. The take home message, perhaps, is that there are more and more entry points emerging in the wine industry when it comes to education and accessibility. “Wine is such a beautiful part of life and all aspects of it should be embraced,” says Willcock. “People should have fun with wine and decide the depth at which they choose to engage.”

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Vasse Felix cellar door
Caves Road (Cnr Tom Cullity Drive), Margaret River, WA 6284
+61 8 9756 5000
www.vassefelix.com.au

Outrageous sweets


Dessert chefs are, at times, getting more attention than their big name executives thanks to an active presence on Instagram or just for being utterly bonkers. Sydney diner Hartsyard now has a cult following for Andy Bowdy’s insane soft serve creations. Hobart’s Sweet Envy also has an ice-cream truck called Big Bessie which takes desserts like the Breaking Bad sundae to the streets: crack pie, soft serve and blue sherbet. Nuts.

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Hartsyard
33 Enmore Road, Newtown, NSW 2042
+61 2 8068 1473
www.hartsyard.com.au

Sweet Envy
341 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, TAS 7000
+61 3 6234 8805
www.sweetenvy.com

Matso's Broome Brewery, Broome, WA

Craft beer


We’ve been a nation of home-brewers for centuries, but it’s taken this long to say “we want something better to drink in our pubs”. Cue the emergence of small batch breweries creating one-off specials, limited runs and flavour sensations. They’re taking over taps, and making their way into restaurants all around the country.

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Wig and Pen
Canberra House Arcade, Alinga Street, Canberra, ACT 2601
+61 2 6248 0171

Local Taphouse
122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
+61 2 9360 0088
www.thelocal.com.au

The Alehouse Project
98-100 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, VIC 3057
+61 3 9387 1218
www.thealehouseproject.com.au

Yakitori


Grilled things on sticks over white charcoal - what could be better? Great yakitori in Australia is more a nascent trend than a national obsession, but it's picking up speed fast. What Australian doesn't like a good grill?

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Sepia Bar
Darling Park, Ground floor, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
+61 2 9283 1990
www.sepiarestaurant.com.au

Chaco Bar
238 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
+61 2 9007 8352

Bird's Nest
Shop 5, 220 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101
+61 7 3844 4306
www.birdsnestrestaurant.com.au

Sullivans Cove Whiskey, Hobart, TAS

Tasmanian whisky


Did you know the state of Tasmania now boasts as many whisky distilleries as the famed Scots island of Islay? Fact. Lark, Sullivans Cove and Overeem are just three of our favourites. And in fact, Sullivans Cove just recently took home the award for the world’s best single malt whisky, beating out the storied likes of Glenlivet and Yamazaki at the World Whiskies Awards.

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The Tasmanian Whisky Trail
Book a tour and try them all in one day.
www.taswhiskytrail.com

Fried chicken


Australia has been home to some pretty impressive Korean fried chicken for some time, but bars and restaurants dedicating themselves to perfecting the art of a really good piece of deep-fried bird is still a trend that's on the up. Such is their passion for the snack food, Aussie chefs Morgan McGlone and Aaron Turner relocated from Husk in Nashville where they were both working, to Melbourne to open Belle’s Hot Chicken.

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Mary’s
6 Mary Street, Newtown, NSW 2024

Belle’s Hot Chicken
150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
+61 3 9077 0788