Australian BBQ: An Unexpected Adventure

With Memorial Weekend upon us, the unofficial beginning og BBQ season. We decided to spice things up and look at BBQ traditions from around the world, similar to our Korean Picnic. After some research and Laura’s strange obsession with the children’s show, “Bluey”, we settled on Australian BBQ.

Australia has a rich BBQ culture, not unexpectedly. From what I can tell the traditions don’t seem too different than the US. Now when we say BBQ we aren’t saying it in the sense of the low and slow American BBQ, we are more talking about a cookout with the grilling of foods. Now where in the US we grill chicken, burgers and dogs(among others). The Australians are more like lamb, sausages, and prawns (no shrimp on the barbie, they have prawns not shrimp). Like in the US beer and games are common, they would more likely play soccer or cricket though.

For our adventure this is more of a lesson on what can go wrong and having flexability when things don’t go your way. Our original plan shifted so many times as you will see below. The final result does not reflect what we wanted, but we made the best of the situation and had a good time anyways(I think).

The Plan

  • Get Australian Beer
    • Get American Beer from an Australian Company
  • Make Dessert and save for later
    • Make Dessert a second time after everything else is done (Recipe Credit SugarSaltMagic)
  • Go to Park, bring portable grill and BBQ
    • Use Electric indoor Grill
      • Use Grill Pan and Oven to loosely simulate grilling
        • Make grilled Lamb Chops (Recipe Credit Food Channel)
        • Grill “Shrimp” on the Barbie (Recipe Credit SpruceEats)
        • Make Sausage Sizzle (Recipe Credit 196 Flavors)
        • Grill some Veggies (Recipe Credit
  • Try playing cricket
    • rent cricket equipment to try hitting the ball
      • buy a cricket bat and ball
        • Try an Australian gambling game called Two Up
        • Listen to Australian Music
        • Watch an Australian Movie
  • Try Vegemite (Cheese Scrolls Recipe Credit CreateBakeMate)

Not Australian for Beer

The first issue we ran into was, no liquor stores around us sell Australian beer. Boy did we try. We went to every major liquor store within 20 miles. Nothing! We were hoping to find Coopers or Victoria Bitter. The only thing we could find is Foster’s which is not quite Australian for beer. Foster’s is American brewed but by an Australian company, not entirely authentic (from what I read this beer is not sold anywhere in Australia). It was the best we could do, our first fail of the day.

Fosters, what Americans think Australians drink

Thank you New England Weather

We give this guy props, but we went a different route

Our next issue, was the unpredictable New England weather. Upon checking the forecast, Thunderstorms were expected. Since we live in an apartment and our plan was to go to a park and grill, this posed a big problem. If we were grilling at home outside, we could have made it work even with a storm, but having to go somewhere and set up, we couldn’t take the risk of getting caught in the storm.

Second Attempt

Onto the next idea. We have an indoor electric grill. It’s not the best but it’s the closest to grilling you can get indoors. This seemed like a great idea but……despite the product claiming to be “smokeless”, it is not quite smokeless enough. We started to cook and pretty quickly, we set off the smoke alarms. And then we set them off again. It became apparent that plan B was not going to work either.

Our smokey “smokeless” grill

Third Attempt

As the absolute last resort, we moved to a combination of cast iron grill pan and the oven. Definitely not ideal. Which was really sad and disappointing to us, but it was time to make the best of it.

Third times the charm

And now for Australian BBQ Food(Kind of)

Why do Australians like Vegemite

Vegemite cheese scrolls, they need a lot more cheese, and much less Vegemite

Australians love Vegemite and I’m going to be honest, we have NO IDEA WHY! This stuff is nasty. I was so excited to try this and wow, this must be the most acquired taste in the world. We tried some small spoonfuls, and they were absolutely wretched. So bad in fact that it is now a household bet that the loser of a challenge has to eat a spoonful of this stuff. We also tried making cheese scrolls with it, this is a slight improvement. The flavor of cheese ever so slightly makes it less terrible. You would have to pay me to eat this stuff and even then I still might turn down the offer.

Lamb Chop’s play along

We don’t eat a ton of Lamb or prepare it, but I have always liked it. We luckily found a stand at our farmers market that specializes in lamb and picked up a couple Rib Chops. A simple marinade of olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic, and we marinated the Lamb for an hour or so. We “grilled” them up. They were good, simple but good. I would be glad to have these as a regular cookout item, and it wasn’t super expensive either.

A win!

Prawn (Shrimp) on the Barbie

Shrimp aka fake prawns

Shrimp on the Barbie is not a thing. Australia do not have shrimp they have prawns, so they should be putting another prawn on the barbie. This was another simple marinade of butter, olive oil, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, thyme. Again due to our grilling problem, we were forced to oven bake these. Either way this was a good marinade for shrimp and was a solid recipe, not amazing but good.

Don’t need no bun’s son

As a hot dog connoisseur, eating a “sausage” on a slice of white bread and not a bun, kind of broke my brain. I guess this is referred to as a “Sausage sizzle”. We used an all beef “organic” hot dog as our sausage, simple white bread and topped them with some sautéed onions, ketchup and mustard. It was as good as any other hot dog (not quite to the level of a Rhode Island Hot Weiner, but what is?).

That Sausage Sizzle

Australian BBQ Veggies and Stuff

Veggies and cheese

So that this wasn’t just a meat and Vegemite show, we added some veggies. We took a potato and sliced it up and “grilled” it (this one went in the oven after setting off the smoke detector). Next we made some veggie kabobs, with zucchini, onion and Halmouli cheese. We had never had this type of cheese before, but it was sort of similar to Indian Paneer. It has a nice mild flavor and a really good texture to combine with the veggies. The only issue was that the cheese started to melt before the veggies cooked. Next time I would try to make sure we used larger cuts of cheese on the kabobs so it stays together better. Overall, this was a good combo, and we would make this again.

Lamingtons (not to be confused with Lamb)

Oh, where to begin. This was another early mishap in the day, but first let’s back up. Lamingtons are an Australian classic dessert, made of fluffy, light sponge cake, then dipped in chocolate and coconut. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it started that way.

We first started these before we even started the rest of the recipes, because we usually make desserts first to set aside. The recipe is a little time consuming, just because like with most baking, you need to pay attention to textures along the way. Everything was going fine, we followed the recipe and put them in the oven. After about 20 minutes, we did the toothpick check, and it came out clean.

Then came the flip onto the cooling tray anddd that’s where things went wrong. Apparently, our clean toothpick test was deceptive. They were SEVERELY undercooked, and oozed out all through the tray. This was VERY disappointing. Laura had to walk this one off.

Fast forward to after dinner, and we tried again. This time, things went much faster and smoother, and we ended up with a pretty awesome dessert. It’s easy to see why they’re such a favorite in Australia. They’re really light and fluffy, and the chocolate and coconut is the perfect sweet spot. The biggest lesson here was, sometimes things fail, and it’s ok to get some air and try again.

Let’s Play Cricket

With our BBQ at the park we wanted to add an activity, and since neither of us has ever played cricket we wanted to give it a try. Problem is, Cricket is not popular in the US and definitely not in suburban Massachusetts. We tried to find places to play, and find equipment to rent or buy, but we couldn’t find anything that was reasonably priced or close by, and nothing that we could order would have arrived in time. Another fail!

One of these days this will be us

Just kidding, let’s play Two Up

Two up with Fosters!

After all the other failures, we needed some fun, and we stumbled on a pub-like game that people play on Anzac Day in Australia. Anzac Day is the only day the game is legal due to gambling laws. It’s a simple game where one person throws two pennies in the air using a flat paddle looking thing, and bet on whether the results are 2 heads or 2 tails. We modified to the game by using a ruler and 2 Canadian pennies (Canada and Australia both recognize the Queen of England, so there is that). We converted it into a drinking game of sorts, and bet on how many seconds of drinking. The first person to finish their beer had to eat a spoonful of Vegemite (our now standard house bet). Sadly, I lost and was forced to endure that pure tastebud torture. It was gross and even 15 minutes later the taste was stuck on my tongue.

Mad Max and Bluey

To Finish the night, we watched the original 1979 Mad Max. It was Laura’s first time with any Mad Max, and my first time seeing the original in full. I thought it was solid, definitely a bit strange, but a decent movie. Not sure it explains what happens in the later movies at all but oh well. Laura was not as fond of it, she thought the story was non-sense and didn’t like the violence.

Sooo to finish the night we watched few episodes of Bluey, a children’s show based in Australia. I will admit for a children’s show it is really well made, it teaches cute lessons and they do a great job of adding in humorous things for adults. Honestly It’s a great little show overall.

Mad Max and Bluey… 2 very different Aussie vibes

Learning Experience

This was a difficult day, not a lot went right, there were many surpises and dissapointments. We learned that we need flexible and that we need to be ready to deal with the set backs. A lot of these things were out of our control but others were in our control. All in all these days are meant to be fun, so they should be. Even if things don’t go right, roll with it and make it fun. Life is too short to dwell on things that don’t go right, learn from what happens and move on. That being said I think we both would like to do this again with our original plan. Maybe we can squeeze that in again soon.

What is your favorite way to BQQ/grill? Have you ever had a day of cooking setbacks like we did? Let us know in the comments below!

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