It’s a been quite a while since I did an Aussie Day party, but it felt like time to treat my new Londonish friends to all the delights that our little Continent-Island has to offer.
Part of the party-gap is due to the fact that- while I have very fond memories of Australia day from childhood- I can see a lot of problems with Australia Day Jan 26th.
Shifting the date is an oversimplistic solution to people on both sides (why shift a date at all vs. why even celebrate when you’re still not being inclusive). And maybe there’s really no way to celebrate a nation without having continued association with the problematic side of this nation. Date wise, I understand the desire to have a celebration in Summer, not too close to Christmas.
So for that, the only obvious thing to do is to overthrow the King, time it for Feb 2nd, and call it a day.
Speaking of Kings, I originally planned to do the May 8 thing (MAAAAAYTE), but that day was somewhat occupied by the New British King (and also I was flying back from Toronto), so I ended up pushing it back a few weeks.
In any case, after much delay, I finally held an Aussie Food Appreciation Day here in London.
So, what did I make?
First on the list, although debatably Australian (the Kiwis take issue), is the Pavlova.
Which I made very quickly in the thermomix.
Pavlova is entirely egg white, so I also tried to make a vegan version using aquafaba (the juice from chickpeas), but it didn’t really work. So some optimization needed there. I also learnt that cream has to be cold to whip (<10 degrees), and that once you do have it cold, it will whip up really fast in the thermomix. In the end, I’m happy I found the kiwis, mangoes and passionfruit but a bit disappointed by the too-solid cream.
Next up, and also very clearly sitting in the ‘Is it Australian or is it New Zealandish’ space, is the ANZAC biscuit.
These ones are also very very easy to make, coming together in a few minutes + about 10-12 mins baking per batch. I choose to make these both gluten free (using simple store-bought gluten free flour and oats), and also vegan (sub the butter for vegan butter), to suit some of my guests. I think you could slightly tell the former (a bit furrier flavour?), but only slightly, so I’d happily follow this again in line people’s needs.
Also made vegan, with (as far as I could tell), no impacts on flavour, was the Lamingtons.
These folks are never that photogenic, but proved to be one of the more popular items (although also one that guests struggled the most to remember the name of). The sponge cake was slightly denser and richer than some lamingtons would take (we used brown sugar instead of caster), but I liked it overall. I think if I repeated these I’d make the coating a bit more cocoa-y.
Heading up the desert table, we also had Tim Tams, Milo-flavoured Kit Kats, and Caramelo Koalas.
Oh yes, and of course, I made some Vegan Fairybread.
I’m not sure that that really counts as cooking though?
On the savoury side, we had Pizza Shapes, Aussie-shaped Vegemite shapes, Aussie animal cookies, and some Macadamia nuts (aka Australia’s only native species that made its way to a large-scale crop).
I also made a bit of a leaf salad and a quinoa salad, made some baba ganoush and bought some hummus- not Australian, but I was worried that people wouldn’t have enough healthy/veggie options.
Of course, any Aussie experience would not be complete without Vegemite Sandwiches.
I choose to make them myself instead of letting people go crazy with the vegemite (I think there’s a tendency to over-apply and then be immediately disgusted), and also used a little Aussie-shaped cookie cutter that my mother once sent me.
I have what-I-think-are-not-false-memories of my grandma feeding us vegemite with both apple slices and cheese, so I also provided those as optional extras. I’m always unsure if the things I know of are actually real, actually australian, or just actually weird things that my crazy family did.
I also made some pies and sausage rolls, and then only managed to take this single very poor quality photo of them.
This time around I did a ‘prebake’ and then secondary bake, which made my life easier with timing, but I think was slightly less-good for the pies themselves. I also overcomplicated things by making three types of pie (veggie, onion free, and onion/beef), which is fine, but I think in the future I will have to pay a bit more attention to the individual recipes and slow it down a bit. I’ll also go back to using oyster mushrooms for the veggie version rather than fake soy mince.
I think everything came out ok, but previous pie batches have been better flavoured, and were subsequently received much better.
Oh, and there was Kangaroo meat, made simply in a pan with some salt only, which everyone (who eats meat) was very happy with. Some of the sausage roll sausages were also made from Kangaroo sausages, although I’m not really convinced that this was super impressive.
The final main food ‘item’ was an Avo Toast Bar. These days, Aussie Brunch culture has permeated the world so much that you can’t google ‘what do Australians eat’ with out hitting a few ‘smashed avo toast’ suggestions.
Apart from the avos themselves, we had all the possible toppings, with the challenge being to make the most beautiful or pretentious toast you could.
This bar also included some special Australian oil (flavoured with native limes), some macadamia dukkah, and some Leatherwood Honey from Tasmania (aka the best honey in the world, fight me).
Back inside at the actual bar, we had Aussie pink gin, some Aussie wine (brought by Yevi I think), and some iced tea made from my dad’s Ozzie Bush Cuppa mix. Yevgen also brought some amazing mangoes, so there was some sort of vodka mango slushy thing going around which I am not mad at.
The pink ice cubes are just lightly-lemoned pea-flower water, which isn’t Australian, but is incredible botanical colour-changing magic.
We also decorated the yard a bit, and spent most of the time outside, even though the weather wasn’t quite there.
Some blankets required.
I didn’t take many photos of the people (too busy pushing pies in and out of ovens), but all up, I think it went down well.
Here are some of the (unofficial, possibly slightly made up) reviews:
“I feel like I’ve truly explored all aspects of Australian food.” Someone.
‘I actually don’t like Anzacs’, Jared, now-disowned Kiwi.
“QUIETLY EATS MORE LAMINGTONS”, Giulia, Italian
And here’s a throwback from back in the Berlin Times with the BFF
21st of May, 2023
Big thanks to Nina and Sameer for the photos. Something seemed to have gone a bit screwy with my camera so everything is a little off.