Some of the finest meals on Australia's menu hail from the country's regional areas, where unique flavours and textures are often intertwined with local ingredients. Here, we have listed our favourite regional dishes (in no particular order), giving you the perfect excuse for that weekend getaway.
See the full list of 50 dishes that define Australian dining now in our 50th anniversary issue, out now.
ANCHOVY AND ITS BONES, PROVENANCE
It's the most spectral of snacks: a fat, dusky-pink filleted Sicilian anchovy accessorised with - what else? - its skeleton, fried whole. A double-whammy of salty, brittle shatter and raw, velvety give. Meta never tasted better. Provenance, 86 Ford St, Beechworth, Vic, (03) 5728 1786
Even the pre-dégustation snacks are stars at Igni. House-made guanciale. Swatches of chicken skin topped with whipped cod roe. Baby zucchini flowers harbouring just-cooked mussels. Umami-rich beef jerky. And as for the crisp saltbush leaves dusted in vinegar powder, they ought to be packaged and sold in vending machines. Igni, Ryan Pl, Geelong, Vic, (03) 5222 2266
OYSTER ICE, BRAE
It's the oyster exponential: oyster brine combined with sheep's milk curd into a savoury ice-cream, topped with a blitz of powdered freeze-dried sherry vinegar and dehydrated oyster and sea lettuce. The pure taste of the sea - served on the shell, naturally. Brae, 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Vic, (03) 5236 2226
GRILLED PIPIS WITH LEMON MYRTLE, SMOKED ALMOND AND GARLIC, PAPER DAISY
Australia's surf clams have had their star turns (most notably with XO sauce and wodges of fried vermicelli at Sydney's Cantonese landmark, Golden Century), but they've never been more Hollywood than against the glam backdrop of Paper Daisy at Halcyon House, the boutique hotel at Cabarita Beach on the north coast of New South Wales. Here, chef Ben Devlin plays their briny bite off against the likes of potatoes and peas, or lemon myrtle, smoked almond and garlic. Paper Daisy, Halcyon House, 21 Cypress Cres, Cabarita Beach, NSW, (02) 6676 1444
CARAWAY PASTRY WITH SMOKED TROUT AND CAVIAR, OAKRIDGE
This dish combines the firepower of chef Matt Stone and his sous-chef/baker/ partner, Jo Barrett, to scintillating effect. Barrett's superb escargot-shaped pastry (made from croissant dough studded with caraway seeds) is the stage for local smoked trout, trout roe, sour cream and herbs. There's a whiff of the Nordic here, alongside a heap of Yarra Valley flavour. Oakridge, 864 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream, Vic, (03) 9738 9900
MASSAMAN TARTARE, RICK SHORES
Chopped to order, and presented with an ochre coloured salt-flecked yolk at its centre, this radical take on diced raw beef is amped up with a gutsy massaman paste, white pepper, slivers of pickled garlic and more. Rick Shores, 43 Goodwin Tce, Burleigh Heads, Qld, (07) 5630 6611