Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Drinks’ Category

Sadly during our stay on the Gold Coast on our holiday, the only partly sunny day we had was spent at Tropical Fruit World.  Why is that sad?  It’s not that it was a terrible experience or anything but we left feeling like we were trapped on a crappy tourist ride at Disneyland and it spit us out from one place to the next only to make us wait for the only thing I cared about – the fruit.

Tropical Fruit World is less than an hour south of Surfer’s Paradise on the New South Wales border.  Apparently they grow the most varieties of tropical fruit in the world and it’s also used as a research centre for scientists.  So with all that nerdy food stuff, I was excited to learn about different varieties of fruit that I’d never seen or eaten.

Upon arriving, you see that it’s sort of kitschy with a young female employee and someone dressed as half an avocado waving at me in front of the avocado statue (I didn’t expect anything less).  There is a little retail fruit shop that sells whatever ripe tropical fruit that is available that day and it’s interesting and reasonably priced.  We asked about the tour and were told that there was one leaving right away so we took advantage of it!

So off we go to hop onto an open-air bus with about 25 other people.  The bus drove inside the acres and acres of tropical fruit and I was getting really excited.  After a few minutes, I was annoyed because the driver was whizzing by the plants and spewing out information so fast that you barely had time to listen to all the facts much less take any clear photos of anything.

Whizzing by the lychee trees! There were dozens of varieties but I wouldn't know what the difference is since we just drove by so fast.

Our first stop was not to take a walk but to grab handfuls of raw macadamias and practice cracking the nuts and eating them.  He gave us about 5 minutes before we were ushered back onto the bus.  Ok, I had fun but I was hoping we’d get to see more than that.  The driver actually told us that we don’t have to come since we had a pram but heck no if I was going to miss out on anything!  Then we drove through more orchards and saw a lot of interesting things that I was desperate to see more clearly but was happy that I learned a few things here and there.  But then, it gets worse…our next stop was at their “petting zoo”.  Here, we were told to pet the kangaroos, sheep, horses and whatever else was there.  I was not very interested at all and I guess it was for the kids but we stayed there a lot longer than I cared to.  I took that opportunity to let my kid say hello to a kangaroo but only for a picture op.

Cracking Macadamia Nuts

Kangaroos for the Kids

Again, we were ushered off to yet another activity that had nothing to do with tropical fruits.  We were going on a boat ride…to where?  As we hopped onto this open-aired boat, we were all given huge hunks of bread to feed the ducks that beg alongside the boat since the actual boat ride and scenery are not that interesting.  At the end of the ride, we are taken to the “island” and then we hop onto a mini steam train that we straddle!  The train was fun, but again, it had nothing to do with tropical fruits and we were stuck there for longer than we cared to be.  The whole time that you’re taken to pet animals and ride trains, you have NO idea where you are and how to get out.  I had lost all sense of direction and positioning.

Finally, they asked how many people didn’t taste fruit yet and we raised our hands and they ushered a few of us out to yet another waiting bus that plopped us back to “reception”.  Once we got to reception, we were told that we were too late for this tasting and that we would have to wait for the next one in over an hour!!  Although annoyed, by that time we needed a break so we took the time to eat lunch and sit in the a/c.  Another family from Adelaide were also made to wait and were very angry because like me, that’s all they came for (to taste fruit) and they couldn’t believe that they had been taken to all this other shit and had to wait for this tasting.

Finally the Fruit Tasting

The cafe there is very interesting.  They serve some very interesting smoothies using really exotic tropical fruit that they grow and they also make interesting ice cream flavours.  What was amazing was that our lunch was the BEST part of the day!  Perhaps because both of us had such low expectations for the food (food at touristy places are often sooo average), we were amazed when my husband’s smoked salmon sandwich was huge and fresh with generous lashings of salmon and avocado and my chicken wrap was juicy and satisfying.  We ordered two interesting drinks – Babaco (Champagne fruit) ice cream float and Black Sapote (chocolate fruit) smoothie.

Thank Goodness for the Yummy Drinks

On our way out, we found a walking path along dozens of interesting varieties of mangoes and honestly, that was much more relaxing and informative than most of that tour and the walk was free.  We took a picture of the giant avocado and laughed about our experience and were thankful that I was able to get in for free (had a voucher) or else we would’ve felt the sting of wasting so much money!

Read Full Post »

Lychees sold off the side of the road

 

A few years ago, we were on our way to Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast, and decided to take the scenic highway to get there. Back then it was called the “Glasshouse Mountains Highway” but they have since renamed it “Steve Irwin Way” since his death which is pretty apt since his Australia Zoo is on that road. Although we have never visited Australia Zoo, we’ve driven past it numerous times and it’s always very busy. One visit, we stopped at this fruit stand that stood next to a pineapple field that advertised “pineapple crush” and really good burgers. We not only had one of each but we also bought one of the largest pineapples I’d ever seen for really cheap! Pineapple crush is basically pineapple juice with crushed pineapple bits in it and that time, it was sooo sweet and so cold that I was hooked. The burger was huge and amazing with avocado in it and we took it to a nearby national park to eat it.

You know how sometimes it’s best not to return to a location so that your memory of the place stays in tact and it lives on like a happy dream forever? Well, I definitely understand that. On our way to catch our flight in Brisbane, we decided to find that fruit stand (I couldn’t remember what it was called) and at least get their pineapple crush. Well we found it alright but sometime was different….it lacked the character that it had. No more signs exclaiming about the best burgers in the world. No pineapple crush in sight and it was pretty dead. I went up to the counter and enquired about the pineapple crush and the woman said that yes, she still had some left. I ordered two large ones (pretty expensive $4.50AU each) and because we didn’t have time to eat burgers, we left with just that. The crush was not very sweet and it tasted watered down. I think they have changed ownership and it just lacked soul. It was so disappointing. Oh well, I still have the memories of the last time I went there and photos of that great burger.

Bought pineapple crush here

 

Luckily, just before we got to the fruit stand, I saw a guy selling fresh picked lychees off the back of his truck (we call ’em “utes” in Oz). Even though I was about to get on a flight, I just HAD to have them. I couldn’t believe that they were $5.00 for 1 KG (2.2 lbs) bag (here in Adelaide I saw one greengrocer selling them for 3 pieces for $1.00)!!  Because it’s illegal (because of quarantine issues) to bring in fresh fruit to South Australia, we peeled all of the lychees at the Sydney airport while waiting during our layover to go home.  We gorged ourselves on the lychees before getting on our flight home.  I haven’t had such fresh lychee since I was a kid in Hawaii picking them off trees in Nu’u’anu. So fresh and delicious that there was no hard skin that formed around the seed – instead the flesh was very soft and the seed easily slipped out.

I love going to Queensland because it reminds me of my childhood. It is tropical and the fruit that is available is amazing. As you drive along, you can see sugarcane fields, ginger fields, avocado farms and pineapple fields to name a few. If you go there during summer, be sure to eat some fresh lychees. If you are near the Sunshine Coast, “the Big Pineapple” is a hoot to stop at…just for the pictures at least. In late summer the mangoes are in season too and they are beautiful.  Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Continuing in my Hawaii posts…

If you’re planning a trip to Oahu and want to see what good island produce looks like as well as get an insight into the local culture, head to the Kapiolani Community College’s Saturday Farmer’s Market which is sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College (where my friend Adriana teaches).  Where is it?  Well, if you’re staying in Waikiki and head towards Diamond Head, you’ll see the large crowd of cars parked in a big parking lot near the entrance to the landmark.  This also has to be one of the prettiest community college’s around and all with an ocean view from most points on campus!  After you eat your way through the market, it would be a great idea to hike up the mountain and take in the sights.

This farmer’s market is great for local residents who have so long relied on so much of their food being shipped in from the mainland.  Many supermarkets I have been to in Hawaii have very sad looking produce departments – tired old carrots, wrinkly apples, moldy oranges and onions – mostly because (depending on the item) from the time it is picked in a field in California (or insert any other state), it’s probably sometimes a MONTH before it hits shelves in Hawaii.  This is truly sad.  With gorgeous volcanic soils on the islands and great year-round weather, I am glad that some people are foregoing the urge to be greedy (by selling land to real estate developers) and have decided to get back to the soil by farming in small plots – locally and most times pesticide-free or organically.  With gas prices sky-rocketing all over the world, it is also good to buy locally to save on the shipping costs (and help the environment by reducing emissions) and the produce is sooo much fresher!  What’s great is that many local chefs have gone on the local produce band wagon and have been promoting it a lot more now.

I was also so happy to see that North Shore Farms are growing juicy, sweet, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes.  It wasn’t that long ago when the only tomatoes that you could find in Hawaii were these hard red bullets and/or shipped from California.  They also sell their extremely popular tomato, mozzarella and macadamia basil pesto pizza every week.

You’ll also find locally produced honey, herbs, greens, eggs, hormone-free beef, sausages, organic drinks, pastries, bread and even sea asparagus!  A must to quench your thirst is a fresh ginger ale from Pacifikool made with locally grown ginger root.  They serve two varieties – Hawaiian and Thai variety ginger syrups with vary slightly.  I personally like the Hawaiian one because it has more spice.  The lines are very long but it’s definitely worth the wait!  Don’t forget to try the great sausages at Kukui Sausage Company.  I really liked the Kim Chee and Pastele sausages – yum!  The woman in the booth was looking at me very suspiciously when I started taking photos and wasn’t particularly friendly – did she think I was going to steal her idea?  Little did she know that I liked her sausages and wanted to write about them.  Regardless of the not-too-friendly service I got, I still think their sausages are unique and tasty.  Pomai of Tasty Island has great posts on local island cuisine and on these particular sausages.

I noticed that a few other food bloggers out in blogland have written extensive posts of this farmer’s market so I won’t go on about what I ate or what I did.  I’d rather leave you with some gorgeous photos that I took that day.  I have loved farmer’s markets since I was a kid and whenever I travel, I definitely seek out the local market and always come away with having learned or discovered something new and I hope you do too.

Read Full Post »

Raw Tea

While finding designer drinks on supermarket and convenience store shelves is by no means unique in today’s multi-billion dollar drinks industry, the newest fad in drinks seems to be taking advantage of the new “tea” craze with its touted antioxidant goodness. Sadly, I think that the usual sweetened bottled iced teas (whether it’s black, green or white teas) contain so much sugar that the sugar is practically canceling out the antioxidants.

While tea has been around for centuries and it is drunk like water in Asia, it has yet to become as popular in the United States. So…why not try to market tea as an alcoholic malt beverage!? Although I saw this a few months back at a local supermarket when I went back for a visit back to the U.S.A., this product was originally launched in 2006. “RAW TEA” made by Smirnoff (Diageo), is marketed towards the young, white, wealthy college crowd and comes in green tea flavour and black tea with lemon, peach or raspberry flavours. Every comment I have read about this product focuses on the advertising campaign and no one seemed to question whether some people may think that this malt beverage would somehow be thought of as healthier than say, a rum and coke. I guess in the eyes of marketing execs, what the difference between blending tea and alcohol versus blending juices and alcohol?

I decided to buy a six-pack of “RAW TEA” because I was very curious on what it would taste like. It costs around the same price as an imported pack of beer would and bought the lemon flavour to be “safe”. There was almost no taste of tea and it tasted like vodka mixed with sweet and sour but with some other much more sour flavour added as well. I didn’t finish that bottle and ended up throwing most of it down the drain. Who knows, perhaps the other flavours taste better. Regardless, from a foodie point-of-view, it seems like a marketing gimmick and a farce to market tea with alcohol. Who are they kidding? As if this product is actually healthier than the combination of alcohol and artificial fruit flavours such as in wine coolers? What’s next, alcoholic goji juice?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: