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Want to know more about native ingredients? Come to Time Out's talk 'Wattle Seeds on White Tablecloths' this October.
Eating at Noma Australia was about being part of a defining moment of Australian cuisine. Only 5,500 people got to experience it over its ten-week pop-up, which ended on April 2, but the waiting list reached an estimated 30,000 folk willing to pay $485 per head to dine at the current world number three restaurant. To put it bluntly: it was a big fucking deal.
The thing that resonated with us, during and since our visit, was that this meal was an education in what Australian food could be if we had embraced native bush food long ago. Here was René Redzepi, a Danish-Macedonian chef, showing us the possibilities of our native sour muntries, citrusy green ants, clean crocodile fat and creamy, unripe macadamia nuts.
Redzepi spent many months prior to opening Noma Australia traversing the land and seeking out the best of Australian native produce from the source. "The abalone came from off the coast of Margaret River in Western Australia," he says, "It was Josh Whiteland, an Aboriginal [Wadandi] man, that showed us how to harvest and cook these creatures. It was a standout moment for me being with him, walking around the rocks; that experience was the reason we have abalone as the main course."
"Another experience was being with him on the beaches," he continues. "It was scorching hot, I think around 40°C. We went for some plants and I remember him telling me to keep my eyes pure, and watch out for brown snakes. He flicked off the fruit of a pigface and with the snap of his fingers peeled the fruit out and revealed a plump little kiwi-looking thing with the brininess of an oyster but the sweetness of a kiwi. Mind-blowing."
"The breadth of knowledge and the diversity of ingredients we’ve seen through these encounters is something that I would say is completely impossible to experience in a city. You can get a bowl of ramen, great steaks, and everything in between – but no pigface fruit!" In that spirit, we've picked out some of the key places in the country where Redzepi sourced his produce. This is our food tour of Australia, by way of Noma.