Tuesday, January 22, 2013

OZ/NZ Epic Trip Roundup - Part 2 - Fast Food Finds

When some people travel they insist on always eating at fine dinning establishments, or places that look "local".  While I do like to sample local looking places, I'm well aware that lots of people all over the world like to eat junk food, and sometimes you can really see what the locals are eating by visiting the local McDonald's.  Just look at your own eating habits, how often do you sit down at your local restaurant to enjoy a meal, and how often do you run to the fast food restaurant, street vendor, or even mall, to pick up a quick bite on the go.  Whenever I travel I love checking out the fast food, street food, and even mall food, and I'm constantly surprised at how much this food really speaks to the culture.  Even in Australia and New Zealand I managed to find some aspects of junk food culture that was really unique.
The one thing about both Australian and New Zealand food culture that stood out, was the love of meat pies.  Every single grocery store had shelves of frozen pies to choose from, and every pub had one as a specialty of the house.  The fillings were often similar beef or lamb, and often they would have cheese or potatoes mixed in or on top.  I made sure that I sampled as many pies as I could, and I was never disappointed.
The most famous place in Australia to get a meat pie was a little stand on Wooloomooloo Quay called Harry's Cafe De Wheels.  Apparently it used to be mobile because of a requirement of Sydney law that a street food vendor of any kind must move a certain amount every day in order to keep their permit.  Since then the law has changed and the cart is firmly planted in its current spot.  As far as the pies go, this  place has earned its reputation as the premier pie place in town.  I'm not alone at saying this either, the outside of the cart is covered with pictures of famous people that have dined there.  There's even a photo of Col Sanders munching on a pie.  If you find yourself on an Australian adventure, you'll probably go through Sydney at one point or another, and if you do, stop by Harry's and pick up a pie.
The burger above isn't something unique to Australia (Brisbane to be exact), but it is an example of how diverse the food is in Australia.  No matter how small the town, you can pretty much find food from any corner of the world.  This burger is a prime example of that.
That burger comes from a burger chain called MOS Burger, a Japanese chain.  The thing is, as far as I knew before this trip, MOS Burger was only available in Japan.  The fact that a chain would take such effort to branch out, knowing that they would survive in a foreign market is pretty spectacular.  Better yet, MOS Burger is spectacular, and I can't tell you how many times I've told my Japanese friends how much I'd missed eating at MOS Burger.  I can only hope that this franchise does so well that they decide to expand even further, maybe Canada or Greece?
Australia also has its fair  share of the global giants as well, McDonald's are everywhere, and so are Burger Kings, but they call them Hungry Jack's instead.  While these place have the standard menus you would expect to find, they also have a few items that are a little different, and very tasty.
Hungry Jack's in Australia was featuring their summer Tropical Whopper.  It was a standard Whopper, but it also had the addition of BBQ sauce and a slice of Pineapple.  I'm sure many of you are turning up your nose at the idea of a slice of pineapple on a burger, but it kind of works.  You wouldn't normally think sweet would work with a hamburger, but with the right proportion it balances out the flavour really well.  I'm not sure that I would keep adding pineapple to all of my hamburgers in the future, but if offered a slice  now and again I would except it.
While I could take or  leave pineapple on my burgers in the future, pickled beets on a burger might become a staple  topping on my burgers in the future.  I got this Kiwi burger in McDonald's in New Zealand because I was curious about the slice of beet.  My curiosity quickly changed into passion and wonder.  I wondered why I had never put a slice of pickled beet on my burgers before.  The slightly sweet and sour flavour works perfectly with a hamburger, particularly if you're a fan of  putting pickles on your burger.  The texture is a little crunchy, but not so crunchy that it makes your burger hard to eat.  It's really something you must try, and fortunately it's fairly easy to find pickled beats in many grocery stores all over the world.


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