There are many Australian institutions - Vegemite, Steve Irwin (RIP), beating the English at cricket, walking barefoot anywhere and everywhere - but the one I was most keen on trying as soon as I landed was brunch. Over the last decade Australia and to a similar extent New Zealand have done all they can to claim a decent serving of respect when it comes to food, cooking and café culture. There is convincing evidence that they have succeeded as the flat white has now installed itself on most coffee shop boards across the globe.
In my opinion, however, it is via the medium of brunch that Antipodeans have excelled themselves. I suspected as much even before we’d left the Northern Hemisphere as one of our favourite London brunch joints was the delicious Aussie-Kiwi collaboration Caravan in Exmouth Market . So important is brunch to Australians that though my (Australian) boyfriend NewMan couldn’t remember some of the roads he used to live on in Sydney, he could remember precisely where he and his brother had an " f*%&ing awesome brunch " in Neutral Bay many years ago. And so one lazy, hungry morning we headed off in search of a repeat performance by a small but colourful restaurant called Chaos. Based on my limited but enthusiastically acquired experience, a typical Aussie brunch menu will include corn fritters, baked eggs, avocado (" you gotta have avo! "), sourdough toast and imaginative interpretations of a "full English" and can even stretch to yummy salads, roasted vegetable and goats cheese tarts and will always offer vegetarians as much choice as us meat eaters. They have also mastered the more traditional favourites like pancakes, eggs benedict and home made granola and porridge. Personally, it’s the eggs. Aussies know how to scramble their eggs. Thanks to brunches in Oz (I possibly could start up a blog based on this theme alone!) I left the country with an irrational dependency on Bircher museli, raison loaf and corn fritters. And yes, all at once. Please.
Frances M. Thompson
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