Monday, January 15, 2007

Sydney's Fast Food

On our recent trip to Australia, we were surprised to see so much fast food, particularly in Sydney. McDonald's and Hungry Jack's, a franchise of Burger King, were everywhere. As you can imagine, when you're traveling out of the country, you'd like to eat something local, something healthy, and most importantly, something you cannot get at home. As you probably well know, I don't even eat fast food when I'm in America, let alone Australia and so I was a bit disappointed to see how prevalent it was. It was also apparent the affect the fast food was having on the health of the population- Sydney was full of overweight Australians. I looked up the data on the World Health Organization's website and found that Australia has overweight and obesity rates comparable to Canada and the UK, none quite as high as the US.

We couldn't take a walk without seeing another corporate giant, Starbucks, and a new competitor, McCafe, taking its share of the coffee market. I had never seen a McCafe before, so when I saw the glass case from the sidewalk filled with sweet treats, I almost walked in to see what they had to offer, then I saw them...the little Ms, all in a row, arch after golden arch signifying this little cafe was no small pastry shop, it was in fact a franchise of the McDonald's corporation. I turned around, declared it was McCafe! and Lou laughed at me for almost being fooled into patronizing my "arch" rival.

Thankfully, we still found a few small, local cafes to have lunches of meat pies and other old fashioned Australian goodies you can’t get in the US. Unfortunately, these small cafes weren’t nearly as busy as those fast food joints.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Port O'Call, Port Douglas

Two days in Cairns was enough for us. The Great Barrier Reef was amazing off this part of the coast, but we weren’t thrilled with the accommodations we had in Cairns, so we thought why not consider checking out another part of Queensland. We had heard much about Port Douglas- a sleepy town with not much night life, but then we had also heard about its quaint, little town feel. When we found out that the reef tour boats went to different parts of the reef in Port Douglas than they did in Cairns, and since the Great Barrier Reef was the whole reason we were in this neck of the woods, off to Port Douglas we went.

Our ride into Port Douglas was with the hotel courtesy shuttle with the Port O’Call. Our driver was extremely hospitable, telling us everything there is to know about the route between Cairns and Port Douglas. He slowed down by the creek where you could see Crocodiles swimming around and tried to point out a kangaroo eating by a tree near a road side field, but unfortunately, we could not spot him. Our accommodation was, as Lou put it, “a luxurious, full-service budget hotel”. The Port O’Call gave us 30% off any food on the first day of our stay, so after an extremely hot day in the tropics checking out the local beach and having lunch at the main street restaurants, we decided to take a dip in the pool, have a rest, and try the hotel’s outdoor restaurant.

What luck. This self service restaurant where you order at the bar and pick up the plate to take back to your patio table when they call your number was an absolute gem. I ordered the Seafood Platter which consisted of the freshest sea scallops, succulent shrimp, and crisp calamari all sautéed and served alongside a fresh green salad topped by a huge filet of seared barrundi, a white fleshed fish. The seafood was as fresh as I’ve ever tasted and was cooked to perfection. Lou had the pan fried barrundi served with mashed potatoes and blanched broccoli. There was not a single morsel left on his plate. Had they been open on New Years Eve, we may have done what we would normally never do and actually eat at the same place twice.