With their own special brand of humour, camaraderie and high energy, the adventurous duo of Rocky and Mayur have scoured every corner of our country to explore, eat and share about the best eateries and food stories in India. Several TV shows and books later, they embarked on a culinary expedition in the land down under. Speaking about their 24 days in Australia, Rocky jovially says, “I gained 8 kilos thanks to all that eating.”
Clearly, while it all looks fun on TV, there’s hard work to put in once you’re back from the road. But Rocky seems positive, “I have lost 4 kilos so far, only 4 more to go.” But he has no qualms about the extra pounds. “When the food is that brilliant, it’s hard not to eat like a demon. Ok, agreed the extra pounds have slowed me down a bit, usually, I move like Bruce Lee,” he says in his nonchalant way. Mayur adds, “People have called our eating habits all sorts of names: Food Orgy, Eating marathon, bingeing, but for us, it’s just plain and simple eating! So, in Australia too, we did what we do best—eat!”
India vs Australia
The duo agrees that the food in Australia is starkly different from India’s, both in taste and treatment. “Australia is blessed with a range of different types of climate, fertile soil, clean water and air. They don’t get into spicing things too much. The whole play is on the quality of their meat, seafood, and their produce. The less it is tampered with, the tastier it is,” says Mayur. “In India’s defense”, Rocky adds, “our food is severely underrated. When we do start celebrating our food, it will start a food revolution of sorts. Australia is truly a multi-cultural country with people from all over the world, so they have taken the best of all these influences and put it together.”
Eat, eat and eat some more
Rocky admits that he pretty much ate every kind of meat that they cook in Australia. In Mayur’s parlance, “he had enough steaks to deal with a convention of vampires.”
“The surprises,” says Rocky, “were the camel, crocodile and kangaroo. The camel meat was flavourful and surprisingly tender. Kangaroo meat was tougher and harder. Crocodile meat was a little fishy, but easy to eat like chicken. And the beef steak was phenomenal. Again, the many ranches of Australia supply meat to many parts of the world, and it’s all top-class.”
The vegetarian Mayur had no limitations or complaints about the food either. “It’s a huge country, growing all sorts of produce. Their treatment of herbs and spices is different. I ate salads that contained raw fennel, parsley, sage, patties with cumin. And so many types of cheeses and breads, and the avocado mash was delicious. I remember one of my favourite meals was this Vietnamese meal is Alice Springs where we saw the chef go into the garden and pluck the veggies and herbs, chop them and cook them in front of us to make a sizzling tofu dish. I also enjoyed the mushroom risotto at Rick Steins.”
The game changers of Australia’s food scene
The two foodies sang praises of Peter Kuruvita’s restaurant in Queensland, and were confident that their meal there was the best of their trip. “What we loved about him was that he does dishes that are modern-day interpretations of traditional Sri Lankan dishes, but he’s given them an Australian twist,” says Mayur, adding, “Can you imagine, he made a dish of beetroot and coconut cream and it was outstanding!”
Speaking of going back to our roots and a man who took Rocky and Mayur back in time was Cesare Salemi of DUST. “He’s completely rebranded bread and redefined flour. The team at DUST mill their own flour on-site, using a custom-built stone mill, instead of commercial standard roller mill flour. We saw Cesare grain the produce between 2 stone wheels, and every loaf is gently mixed and slow fermented for a minimum of 48 hours. That’s where Rocky had the best garlic bread of his life,” says Mayur.
Not all food and no play
While the duo from Food Xpress savoured the culinary trail, they had their fair share of adventures too! Dune buggy riding, shark cage diving, skydiving, wild and dangerous encounters with kangaroos, swimming with dolphins, sandboarding, fourwheeling, quadbiking, and a lot of swimming—they did it all. “We threw a boomerang and it did come back to us, if that counts as an adventure,” says Rocky in his usual breezy way.
“What India should learn from Australia is to provide space and protection to their wildlife. We got up close and personal with the birds, walked through a flock of pelicans, dived into clear, clean water and were surrounded by wild dolphins—it was magical!” exclaimed Mayur. “But my biggest takeaways from the Australia trip were the bottles of gin I brought back, the boomerangs, a photograph with a koala; and the photograph of me jumping from the top the Adelaide Oval stadium with just a wire around my stomach—freaky!,” concludes Rocky.
Watch Rocky and Mayur’s Offbeat Australia only on Living Foodz on September 22 at 8:30PM