The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘Vegemite’

Vegemite – As Australian as Apple Pie is American

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 22, 2010

Most Americans have learned everything they know about Vegemite from the band “Men at Work.”

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What IS this Vegemite stuff? My brother used to talk about it whenever he came home from Australia, but still, it’s hard to describe. Even after hearing about it, I still didn’t have a clue, until I tried it. It’s basically a very salty, subtly bitter spread, that’s high in B vitamins and niacin. It kinda looks like chocolate peanut butter, but if you were to assume some kind of flavor similarity, you would be sadly mistaken, and probably disgusted.

IMG_2178Despite its name, it doesn’t contain any vegetables. It’s a yeast extract product, and it’s about as Australian as kangaroos, Uluru, and black opals. It’s made by Kraft, though, which perhaps diminishes its Australian Bona Fides. Basically, expended brewing yeast is used by Kraft to produce Vegemite in copious quantities for consumption by Australians. While we were at the XXXX brewery, the tour guide told us that they sell their tremendous amounts of spent yeast to Kraft for the production of Vegemite.

We’ve seen several people reminisce romantically about growing up on Vegemite sandwiches. It’s available at essentially every breakfast (brekky).

While sitting in a gas station restaurant, in the bustling metropolis of Marlborough (it has 2 gas stations), as I spread Vegemite on my toast, talking to the Wife, a truckie (big rig driver) at the adjacent table turned around, and asked, “Did I hear an accent?”

I said, “Yes, we’re American.”

“It’s not very often you see someone with an accent put Vegemite on ANYTHING,” the truckie observed.

“Well, I’VE fallen in Love with this stuff.” I admitted, proudly.

“It’s sad that the States won’t allow you to import it because it contains some trace amount of some chemical.” He further informed us.

“Bummer, because we were hoping to take a little home with us.” I lamented.

But alas, snopes.com has busted the urban legend, and it appears we CAN take some home with us. The chemical is folate, which the FDA only allows in bread. As Vegemite contains yeast, barley, salt, and water, it’s ALMOST bread, but evidently not enough to satisfy the FDA, so no deal on Kraft importing it. But we can bring in some small amounts for personal consumption, and personally consume we will. Oh, happy day! We’re also planning on bringing a couple of the above individualized packets to give to some friends, to see what they think of it.

It’s not for everyone, though. Its flavor is definitely unique, and I can certainly imagine why/that lots of people do not find Vegemite tasty or even palatable. Great, more for us!

Posted in Specialty, Travel | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Australia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, I mean, Blue Mountains

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on March 9, 2010

IMG_3525After a gorgeous day in Sydney with my brother Jeff (post still to come), we headed out in our hired car for the Blue Mountains.  The Blue Mountains are something like an hour+ outside of Sydney to the West. 

IMG_3247The car we hired is a Toyota Camry Hybrid.  I had been concerned about having to drive on the left side of the road.  As it turns out, my concerns are absolutely founded.  Everything about driving on the left is awkward.  It’s not rocket science, but everything is weird.  Kilometers vs. miles, for example, makes things a little awkward.  The driving laws are subtly different, with no turn on red being at the top of the list, followed immediately by a blanket no U-turn law.  As a tourist, perhaps the U-turn is a bigger issue, actually.  The turn signal is on the right side.  You would have thought it was pouring rain as often as I hit the windshield wipers instead of the turn indicator.  While driving is awkward, for sure, so far we have had no significant issues. 

So, driving on the left, we headed out to the Blue Mountains.  On the drive, I was taken by how much the area looked like the hills of Virginia, specifically the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The mountains were gorgeous, and the little towns we passed through were wonderfully quaint.  As we drove, it started to rain, making the rampant windshield wiping more appropriate.  Then it got dark, making our journey more difficult, still.  We really didn’t have a map, either.  We had a crummy map my brother had given us, but it really didn’t have the detail necessary to find the hotel.  How DID people find stuff before the internet and  GPS?

IMG_3459As we rolled into the hotel, foggy and dark, we were a little concerned that we had arrived at some hotel where axe murderers might congregate.  The York Leura Gardens Resort Hotel, which looks quaint on its web page, looks remarkably creepy with an empty parking lot and a lurking fog.  Interestingly, we were put in a hotel room between what appeared to be the only other occupied rooms in the hotel.  At least our neighbors sounded nice.  The walls were paper-thin, and we could hear everything they had to say.  In general, our first impressions were not positive. 

IMG_3472We considered asking for a new room.   This was not exactly what we had envisioned for our second anniversary, but we decided to stick it out.  We were glad we did.  The hotel turned out to be a wonderful find.  The linens were wonderful, and eventually our neighbors quieted down.  We had a nice little balcony out back, complete with a small dining table.   When we woke in the morning, the fog had cleared, and the hotel looked remarkably serene and tranquil.  We headed off for the hotel breakfast, which took around some of the gardens, and it was beautiful.  The breakfast was a traditional Australian “Big Breakfast,” which includes the usual eggs, bacon, and toast, but also includes hash browns, baked beans, roasted tomatoes, blood sausage, and mushrooms.   The hotel turned out to be a wonderful find.

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 IMG_3464We’ll probably have an entire post about Vegemite, but suffice it to say, it’s interesting, but it’s pretty tasty, and it’s a great addition to toast.

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IMG_3499After breakfast, we checked out and headed over to take a look at the Three Sisters.  It was here that it became apparent that the Blue Mountains were distinctly different from the Blue Ridge.  First, all the trees have a more yellow color than the deep greens of the leaves in the Blue Ridge.  Second, there are more precipices in the Blue Mountains, at least from Echo Point, than I have ever seen in the Blue Ridge. 

IMG_3520 The valley was gorgeous, but a little hazy.  The weather was on and off, too.  It was overcast, then it would drizzle just a bit, then it would clear us.  Here is one of the clearer shots.

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After we finished getting some shots of the valley, we headed back to Sydney.  We were in a bit of a time crunch to pick up Jeff and head out to the Hunter Valley before all the wineries closed.  The Blue Mountains were awesome, and I wish we had a couple more days to stay around and check it out!

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