The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘Hervey Bay’

Raging Bull – An essential Aussie experience

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 15, 2010

One of the things that any Australian tour book will tell you, is to try an Australian game restaurant.  Basically, these restaurants specialize in the native meats of Australia.  Specifically, these establishments will have kangaroo, crocodile and emu, at a minimum, but they may also have beef, chicken, pork and lamb, as the “usual suspects” for meat, and may even include more unique meats, such as wallaby or rattlesnake.  In the town adjacent to Urangan, Torquay, there was a game restaurant called Raging Bull.  We decided to check the game restaurant off our list while in Hervey Bay, and check out the Raging Bull.

IMG_2171We made reservations (Australians call it a booking), but one clearly wasn’t necessary.  It was a little bit of a challenge, because they didn’t include an area code (two-digit) on any information we could find, and one is required when calling from a mobile phone.   Through a little investigative work, we got the area code, and despite some communications problems with the gentleman taking the reservation, all was good.  I think he just had a hard time with my “accent.”  Once we arrived, though, our table DID have a reserved sign on it, which they left on the table for the duration of our meal.

IMG_2169 IMG_2170

So, the Raging Bull is a Stonegrill establishment; meaning that your meal is served on a searing hot (literally) stone, and you cook the meat on your [stone] plate to your liking.  We had heard of a stonegrill restaurant, but we couldn’t actually remember having been to one.

The restaurant was a nice open-air restaurant, with a nice charm, right across the street from the ocean.

IMG_2166

IMG_2172

The Wife started with a glass of Australian Chardonnay, and I started with an Australian beer.

IMG_2155

IMG_2157The menu looked fantastic.  As promised, all sorts of “different” kinds of game meat.  In general, we’ve been kind of surprised at how expensive food has been here, but when you consider that there is no tax on food, and that tipping is not customary, it really doesn’t seem as expensive.

IMG_2159

IMG_2158We started with the chicken liver pate, despite the fact that we had chicken livers at lunch.  It was excellent, and the Turkish bread here in Australia is fantastic.   We kinda fell into it in Sydney at Bill and Toni’s, as their “toast” was made of Turkish bread, and since then, we’ve been seeking it out.  For the record, I’ve been to Turkey, and had authentic Turkish bread; it is nothing like the Turkish bread in Australia, but the Australian type far surpasses the authentic stuff.

IMG_2160The Wife ordered the Kangaroo, and I ordered the Bellow, Snap, Jump, and Run.  The Wife had kangaroo once at Sir Edmund Halley’s, and it is the only meal we have had there that wasn’t excellent.  We had both had kangaroo at my brother’s in Sydney, and it was excellent.  It probably speaks to the freshness of the meat (I am currently unaware of any kangaroos native to North America.), as well as the comfort level of the chef preparing the meat.

IMG_2163 See how the meat rests on the thick (~1.5”) stone?  It’s searing hot, and you just let the meat sit, depending on how “done” you want your meat.  The Wife said her Kangaroo was wonderful and flavorful.  The stone is also lightly covered with salt, which adds to the flavor as you cook your meat.

IMG_2165Here is my “plate.”  Starting from the biggest hunk (top left), and moving clockwise; beef, kangaroo, emu, and crocodile.  Each was unique in its own right.  The emu was certainly my favorite.  It had a very duck-like quality to it, and was nice and juicy.  The beef was also spectacular.  The kangaroo was good, and I really liked the texture, but I didn’t find that it had particularly special flavor, and tasted like any other beef steak.

Few Americans realize that Australia has a huge beef industry.  With all the open land, however, it’s ripe for open-range beef cattle.  Tomorrow we’re headed through “beef city” in Rockhampton, Queensland.  I’m hoping to have a great steak there.  I’m not so much for red meat, particularly on consecutive weeks, let alone consecutive nights, but I feel compelled since we are in such a high-quality beef area.  If the Raging Bull’s beef is any indicator of the quality of beef in the region, then I certainly won’t be disappointed.

The evening ended with the Raging Bull’s proprietress talking to us for nearly half an hour.  Australians are just so friendly.  She asked us where we were from, how long we were staying, where we were going, etc. etc. etc.  She was from New Zealand and had moved to Australia 30 years ago!  (She must have come when she was very young.  😉 )  It’s particularly nice because you never feel rushed.  We’ve had a really hard time figuring out HOW to pay at restaurants, because some you go to the register, and others they bring the bill to the table.  They’re so laid back, though, that you’re not sure which it is, because it isn’t like the check is on the table along with the main course.  We’ve taken to just asking to simplify things.  “Uhhh… sooo… how do we pay here?”  Once again, though, they’re so friendly, they just laugh in a friendly way, and take care of us.

Certainly if you come to Australia, get to a game restaurant.  I feel for our vegetarian readers for not being able to take part in this one.  If you have time in Hervey Bay, which turned out to be a wonderful, quiet resort region, make it a point to swing by the Raging Bull!

Advertisements

Posted in Restaurants, Specialty, Travel | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

A Day in Hervey Bay – and a Rant on Australian Coffee

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 14, 2010

IMG_4508

When we were initially booked in Hervey Bay, we really weren’t certain what we were going to do with our time there.  The itinerary the travel company sent us says, “Hervey Bay’s attraction lies in the range of activities it offers – whale spotting, fishing, walking, water skiing, scuba diving, fishing, exploring nearby Fraser Island. [sic]”  As fishing is listed twice, neither of us being fishermen, and walking making the list, which seems like an activity available at any vacation destination, we were indeed a little concerned.

Our concerns were only bolstered when we arrived to find 2 complete blocks of resort, surrounded by quiet residential homes.

Fortunately, one of the quarterly brochures contained a map that showed us that we were only at the tip of the Hervey Bay destination area, and we had several kilometers of shoreline to explore.  After sleeping in, enjoying the sunrise, and having a nice cup of instant coffee, we decided to head out for the day.

A note on Australian coffee:  I love light roast, filtered, black coffee.  I have a couple cups every day, not because I “need” it to get up in the morning (although it’s debatable about whether or not I’m physiologically addicted), but just because I like the warm, bitter fluid in the morning.  My brother warned me the first morning I was here, however, that filtered coffee was something that was generally unavailable in Australia.  Not that it “doesn’t” exist, but just that Australians universally prefer a “long black” to a cup of fresh filtered coffee.  A long black, BTW, is full cup of pressed coffee from an espresso machine.  A “short black” is a traditional shot of espresso.

So we headed off for the day.  We were both jonesing for some Vegemite on toast, so we popped by the small cafe downstairs for some coffee (long black) and toast with Vegemite.  Once my coffee came out, I wondered where Australia gets its coffee from.  The mountainous rain forest we had driven through yesterday, it seemed to me, would produce marvelous coffee, but a.) I have never heard of Australian coffee, and b.) I didn’t see any coffee as we drove.

I decided to ask the barista/proprietor about where the coffee came from.  She said it came from Brisbane, which led us into a discussion about coffee, including where Australia produces coffee and why they don’t drink filtered (percolated) coffee.  She said that she did have a percolator at the shop, but no one ever asks for it, so she never makes any.  She did suggest that if we came back tomorrow, she might make a pot for us.  I’m thinking I might take her up on that.

In the mean time, I have to say that the instant coffee available in Australia seems far more passable than anything I’ve ever had in the U.S.  I suppose it could be that when one is in dire straits, it changes the fundamental framing of the question, i.e., when no other coffee is available, perhaps instant doesn’t have to be that good to be completely passable.

Anyway, from the cafe, we headed to the beach area.  We were pleasantly surprised with all the shops that lined the street (note street; not streets).

IMG_4600

We found a little place to pull over and take a couple pictures of the Bay.

IMG_4530 That’s Hervey Bay in the background.

IMG_4534

IMG_4538Then we parked and walked up a trail that ran parallel to the road and beach.  We were able to get some nice photos, I thought.

IMG_4576

IMG_4590 Part of the path was a fitness trail.  The Wife enjoyed her time on the fitness equipment, as you can see.

IMG_4566 IMG_4551

IMG_4574We were also able to get a couple shots of the beach.  The water really didn’t look all that appetizing, but then again, swimming was NOT on the list of activities.  That could also be because the famous box jellyfish lives off the east coast of Australia, but I thought it was only found further north than Hervey Bay.  If you’re not familiar with the box jellyfish, here’s a short excerpt from Bill Bryson’s book, In a Sunburned Country, about a young man that, ignoring all posted signs to stay out of the water, went swimming and was stung by a box jelly.

It is said there is no pain to compare with it.  The young man staggered form the water, covered in livid whiplike stripes whereever the jellyfish’s tentacles had brushed across him, and collapsed in quivering shock.  Soon after ward emergency crews arrived, inflated him with morphine, and took him away for treatment.  And here’s the thing.  Even unconscious and sedated, he was still screaming.

You can see why WE’RE not swimming, but I haven’t seen any posted signs.  By the way, Bryson’s book is a fabulous read, and a must read, if you’re considering taking a trip to Australia.  His book details his own misadventures through Australia, and his writing is fantastically funny and enjoyable.  Anyway, here are some pictures of the empty beach.

IMG_4555

IMG_4636After a reasonable walk (about 2.5k), we were hungry and decided to get something to eat.  We stopped at a place that had fresh sushi, and an enticing salad menu, but they were closed.  It’s been interesting that the majority of restaurants are open for lunch, and then dinner, but not in between.  I thought this restaurant was particularly odd because we were there at 1:45 pm, which I would think would still fall into the lunching hour; evidently not.

IMG_4586 So we popped next door to the Irish pub for a bite.  To be honest, neither of us were too excited about another pub, but we were both very hungry, and getting baked by the extra-hot, tropical, Australian sun.  Also, I was getting dehydrated, between the coffee and walking in the sun.

IMG_4632

IMG_4634 They had a nice lunch menu, too, so that brought us in.  Once inside, though, we were very pleased with some of the menu offerings.

IMG_4601 Bundaberg is about 90 minutes from Hervey Bay, an is proclaimed “Australia’s Most Famous City”, but the Australians.  It produces ginger beer by one manufacturer, and Bundaberg rum by another.  I’m not sure I would call it the most famous city in Australia, but I did want to give both the rum and ginger beer (and they make a sarsaparilla) a try.

IMG_4612This bread loaf was a “cob loaf.”  Basically, it was garlic bread, but it was seasoned with something citrusy, and it was excellent.

IMG_4619They had chicken livers on the menu, also, which the Wife and I just couldn’t pass up.  They were served in a very light gravy, and flavored with mandarin oranges.  Once again, more fabulous flavor, but none of the pub grub feel.  Sorry for the picture.  The pub was pretty dark, and we were really having a hard time getting the pictures to come out.

IMG_4621Then we did go for the Guinness Pie with steamed veggies.   It has been remarkably hard to come across steamed veggies, actually.  Even the “sautéed”  veggies I had the other night were uber-soaked in butter, really taking away from what started as completely fresh vegetables.  These, however, were simply steamed, and still a touch crisp.  They were wonderful.  The pie was good, too, but I was a little distracted on the pie

IMG_4622While lunch was going on, a young man got up to perform.  He was actually quite good, but he never gave the crowd his name.  He just sang covers of recent pop music, but he was talented.  Part of me wondered if he had paid the appropriate royalties to perform the music.  IMG_4629 After he played for a bit, a gentleman with short dreadlocks and a “half poncho” got up to speak.  Evidently, a friend of his had died of leukemia in 2006, and we were sitting right in the middle of a cancer-awareness campaign.  He spoke for a moment about his friend, and then had his hair cut, right there in front of everyone.

IMG_4625 Here he is getting his hair cut by the widow of his friend.  His friend’s apparent-children are watching (pictured in the foreground of the picture).  The name of the event was “World’s Greatest Shave.”  It was fascinating.

IMG_4631 Then he took a seat to get his head shaved.  The woman beside him is about to have her head shaved, too.

IMG_4626 Here is another woman that had her head shaved.  Before and after shots for you.

IMG_4628 Wow.  I told the Wife I would be willing to get my head shaved, or colored (they were doing spray colorings for those that didn’t want to lose their hair), but after a bit, we were getting a little uncomfortable with the dynamics of what was going on.  Clearly, we were out of place in the event.  Most of the people involved clearly knew each other, and while we were not explicitly unwelcome, quite the contrary actually, as it was very jovial, inclusive group, we simply felt like we didn’t fit in with the hair events.  We finished up and headed out.

Posted in Restaurants, Sites, Travel | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »