With great wine and eclectic dining, the kaleidoscopic flavours from Down Under truly bowl one over.

In a country where experimentation and assimilation go far beyond just European- Continental infusions, I unearthed different reasons to celebrate gastronomy in this friendly and easy-going land of plenty.

A country celebrated for its magnificent wine culture and some of the world’s finest varietals mastered over decades, food is parallel business matching colours, character and class. Beginning with my Neil Perry perfected fine dining meal of succulent prawns in green Thai herbs coriander sauce on my smooth Qantas Airways direct flight to Sydney; I knew my Ozzie gourmet initiation had only begun. Marrying myriad culinary influences with like-minded wines, modern Australian cuisine is a bouquet of exciting sensations.

Stylish dishes

Atop the swankiest hospitality address Wrest Point in Hobart, The Point, the revolving fine dining outpost commands grand views of the glittering harbour. Chef Kent Sullivan’s stylish French dishes worked wonders; freshly shucked Woody Island Oysters and Salmon Roe for starters then onto Market Fish Meuniere with cauliflower puree and clams, (green beans and almond butter on the whacky side!). The Blueberry Parfait served with Strawberry Sorbet capped a fine gourmet experience, complemented by stunning vistas.

Boutique wine tasting awaited my nosy intrusions into intrinsic aromas at Moorilla Estate wines with their 2007 Riesling and a great lunch at their signature restaurant “The Source”. I drove up to Home Hill Winery for their splendid 2006 and 2007 Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs and later on to Meadowbank Estate for their crisp, dry Pinot Gris and the classy 2006 Henry James Pinot Noir. At the end of the sensory perceptions, I needed a smart light beer!

Driving down to the scenic D’ Entrecasteaux Channel with friend Cheryl, my tryst with yet another modern Aussie platter began on a cool sunny day as the breeze did me in. The chic, dynamically designed Peppermint Bay and it’s Dining Room presented me with Local potato, Boks Kassler, roasted garlic spinach and Celtic salt , as I went for their superb Pan-seared Channel Trout in garlic and white wine brine and chives paste… that was absolutely heavenly, so were the views of the bay.

Tasmania’s two outstanding fine dining hotspots command enviable reputation: Monty’s on Montpelier and Marque IV. On breezy Battery Point in Hobart Monty’s boasts eclectic fare spanning Mignonette, cucumber and gin jelly, Pan-fried Rannoch Farm quail Kiev and Three tastes of Huon free range goose. Harbour-side icon Marque IV lays out Bruny Island Oysters, Warm sugar-cured Ocean trout and Marrawah Beef Tenderloin. Both are true blue dine places I’d recommend without question.

Across the vast expanse of the Australian continent right up to Cairns, the environment undergoes metamorphosis. My quest for the diverse Aussie platter brought me to the newly refurbished The Sebel in this cheery Queensland port city where a smorgasbord of delights waited for me to sink in.

Asian influences

Coolin’g Daoun in hot Cairns, I went for Crispy Salmon and Basil Pesto Wonton to begin with, at Coco’s. The expansive 2006 Sandalford Estate Chardonnay was an apt companion with Flaky Pastry Prawns and Reef Fish Pies with a small helping of Roasted root veggies in light Wasabi dip. Asian influences dominate the Australian taste buds with increasing alacrity, as I traipsed further into the country’s western reaches.

In Perth I sailed the tranquil Swan River with Captain Cook Cruises down to Sandalford Wines to sample their Vintage 2007 Shiraz, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and more… At Oakover Wines by a fairy tale pond and rolling vineyards, my wine tasting continued, dining delicacies tempting me with Linguini Bosciola, Mex’s Beer battered Fish with tomato salsa paired with their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cool winds, great cuisine and handsome wines in Swan River Valley Wine Country… a heady siesta for gourmands.

Perth’s Cottesloe Beach with it’s evocative avant-garde sculptures is graced by another historic icon on it’s scenic shores: Indiana Cottesloe Beach is a favourite for Tempura Oysters with Ponzu dipping sauce, Asian Coleslaw and Roast Rack of Lamb Aussie style. Country décor and a super wine list add up to a great dining fiesta here.

That night my companion Mark drives me to one of Perth’s most distinguished addresses bookmarked on the culinary calendar of connoisseurs. Amuse offered me a fabulous degustation menu with matching wines, that read like a gastronomic who’s who. Goat’s cheese, black olive and beetroot, chestnut and fennel veloute, progressing on to Sea bass, crab and Arborio to Fourme D’Ambert, walnut and pear. Exemplary flavors, culinary passion to the hilt.

Concluding my Australian dining dash, I rode up the express elevator to Altitude at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney. Sumptuous. Wide-angle views of the Harbour Bridge, the Rocks, the Sydney Opera House and spectacular sights whetted my quest for a well picked vintage 2005 Bimbadgen Estate Shiraz with Gently seared Yellowfin Tuna and caviar, then Ruby Snapper and Feve Nage with white anchovy fillet. As I raised a toast to dramatic views, great wine and eclectic dining, the kaleidoscopic flavours Down Under, had bowled me over. Salude!

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Getting to Oz

National airline Qantas Airways is the only, convenient, direct, non-stop connection from Mumbai to Sydney with premium wines and signature cuisine.

Connect on Qantas’ extensive domestic sectors to various Australian cities direct. Self-drive to destinations, the best way to earn a gourmet treat!