A Gastronomic Vacation

Former model and VJ turned food blogger, Maria Goretti shares with us nuggets of her 10-day culinary journey to Australia

business Updated: Jan 19, 2015 13:08 IST

With natural unspoilt beauty, picturesque wlandscape and unique wildlife, Australia tops the bucket list of Indian travelers. The country is also fast gaining reputation as the culinary capital of the world defined by its multicultural communities who have given it a characteristic edge in offering a variety food experiences. Global flavours served up against spectacular locations is an unbeatable combination that Australia offers to international visitors. It is the fusion of people, produce and place that separates Australia from the rest, as former VJ and passionate food junkie, Maria Goretti experienced during her recent culinary journey in Australia. As an advocate for the Restaurant Australia campaign, Maria attended 'Invite the World to Dinner' event that brought together 80 of the world's well known food critics, writers, connoisseurs and celebrity chefs together in Hobart, Tasmania for a culinary extravaganza.

Selfie moment: Maria basking in the view from her room

At the event, in addition to fellow Indian dignitaries including Sanjeev Kapoor, AD Singh, Rahul Akerkar, Kunal Kapur, Manish Mehrotra and Rashmi Uday Singh; she was also delighted to meet with Australian food icons George Calombaris, Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan.

So to know more about the event and her experience, we caught up with her for a quick chat. While serving food to her children and overseeing that her son doesn't leave the table without finishing the veggies, the vibrant lady gushes about her recent holiday to Australia.

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We ask her what's the first thing that comes to her mind when she thinks of Australia?

“The food of course!” is her prompt reply. “I have never before had such good food in so much variety and such good quality ever before in my life.” Maria adds that the beauty of the place is another thing that moved her, “The country is absolutely stunning”. So what exactly did Maria do during these 10 long days, we wonder. But Maria says that perhaps even two months is not enough to fully enjoy the country. There is just so much to
explore and do.

However, if you were to go there for four days to spare then this is what Maria suggests you should do:

“Definitely go to Sydney, fly over Great Barrier Reef – how serene and gorgeous it is. And what fantastic colours of the sea – you must also go diving and snorkeling, take a food tour and visit Tasmania.” All that sounds quite a bit and to that Maria replies, “Don't waste your day there sleeping in late!

Her advice to lazy bones is,

“Wake up early and go for a run. Explore the city on your feet. That's the best way to enjoy a place.” On her first day in Sydney, Maria woke up early and ran to the Opera House. From there she ran across the Sydney Bridge. “The sunrise from the bridge is awesome!” While pubs are a great draw in Australia, Maria skipped that. “I am not a party person, so instead I spent my time running, cycling and exploring the local food markets.”

We ask her to tell us a little more about these local food stores that Australia is famous for.

Enjoying a glass of wine at Quay

Maria had extended her stay to visit the Salamanca Market. “It's a
foodie's delight, no other place celebrates food as Australia does” she exclaims. This Saturday food market is a place where people either make or grow the food they sell. “I spent an entire day browsing the stalls, buying little things for my home, eating and finally I fell asleep on a bench there!” It all sounds magical and blissful. Continuing with this thought we probe her further.

So what are her most memorable dining experiences from the country?

Some of her best meals were at “Chiswick and Quay in Sydney,” she says. She highly recommends the Iceberg restaurant with a special mention of the calamari crackers. Maria had also visited Zafran which is the longest, running Indian restaurants in Australia. Two of the simplest food items that impressed Maria the most in Australia are the marshmallow icecream and Tasmanian butter!

While we speak of the quaint and the unknown, we ask her about any such unusual place that she had visited and she shares,

“I had gone for surfing one of the days and was really bad at it. Thankfully I didn't drown! So to treat myself I went to this lovely eatery called The Bucket List in Bondi beach. It is a place for junk food and really large margaritas.”

We ask her that if she were to return again and yet again to Australia, what is the one thing that she would do?

Enjoying good times : Left to right – Rashmi Uday Singh, George Calombaris, Sanjeev Kapoor, Kunal Kapur, Maria Goretti

“I will go to Sydney, have a meal at Chiswick restaurant and then take a flight to Hayman island,” she says. “I can't explain in words how beautiful that island is. The sea is so blue and clear. I even touched a turtle!” she gushes like a delighted child. "Another place I would love to visit is Ayers Rock." A perfect place for travelers who love to hike or just enjoy the scenic experience of the changing colours of the rock during sunset or sunrise.

So if she were to go back again, who she take with her?

“I would take my entire family and a bunch of friends. Australia is such a lovely place to visit with friends and family,” she says and as an afterthought adds, “However, I wouldn't mind going back alone as well!”

Lovely, we think, and ask her for one last advice for those planning their first visit to the island country. “Go without any expectations,” Maria replies. “And then you will enjoy and embrace everything that you experience.”

Maria's Aussie escapades on her youtube channel – The Maria Goretti Corner (www.youtube.com/MariaGorettisCorner)

First Published: Jan 19, 2015 12:44 IST