Putting Bush Tucker on the Menu
There’s a force that draws visitors towards Uluru, the iconic 300 million-year-old rock in Australia’s red centre. The drama of the UNESCO World Heritage listed site, the connection to the land and being our most recognised landmark make it an essential destination for both domestic and international visitors.
What may surprise some is that there are many reasons to visit the region besides Uluru itself. Many consider food to be one of the main reasons for travelling and in selecting a new destination to visit. To experience the local delicacies, different ways of preparing a familiar ingredient or to try something completely new is one of the joys of stepping out of your familiar comfort zone.
The food culture in Australia can be hard to describe, there’s an abundance of fresh and delicious ingredients and a melting pot of dishes and cooking styles to try. Bush tucker, as we discovered in Uluru, is something that’s truly unique, delicious and Australian.
The term bush tucker is given to ingredients that have been used in both daily life and celebration by Australia’s indigenous people as part of their culture that dates back over 40,000 years. It feels right that this is the destination to be introduced to the diversity of these special foods.
The addition of bush tucker ingredients onto the menu at Ayers Rock Resort was an important step but Executive Chef, Vanessa Grace, and the culinary team at Ayers Rock Resort have taken it much further. They’ve invested time and resources studying them, experimenting and creating dishes that really draw out the unique attributes of each one, allowing diners to enjoy a gourmet experience with a difference.
Sourcing indigenous ingredients in a way that will support local communities, be gentle on the environment and sustainable over the long term requires a commitment. When you add an ingredient such as native green ants to the menu at a market price as high as $700 a kilo you need to be confident in your ability to showcase them. There is a reason for that high price though and it ensures that commercial use remains sustainable. The ants are gathered as they have always been, with a big stick and a brave attitude, these tiny delicacies pack a painful bite.
Another feature that stands out about the resorts bush tucker menu is the dedication to making it accessible to all visitors. The experience is available across all dining options around the resort ensuring everyone has the opportunity to try it during their stay.
Foodies will also want to get along to one of the daily free activities such as the Bush Food Experience for an opportunity to see, taste and cook with local ingredients or the Garden Walk with an indigenous guide to find out more about the desert garden and how the plants are used in food and medicine.
The ultimate dining experience here is Tali Wiru which takes place on an isolated sand dune with a view out to Uluru in one direction and Kata Tjuta in the other. During the course of the evening you’re introduced to the indigenous ingredients in their raw state by the knowledgeable chefs and then as each appetiser and course is served you try them again in a creative menu. Each dish is constructed to respect and put a spotlight on the quality and attributes of each ingredient and bring them together in harmony. There are no gimmicks here for the sake of inclusion. Dishes such as pressed wallaby with fermented quandong, the native peach and puffed ancient grains or a dessert of textures of chocolate with Davidson plum, lemon myrtle, quandong and hot chocolate sauce leave you in no doubt that bush tucker firmly belongs on a fine dining menu.
Bush tucker comes in many forms and to suit all tastes. After an active morning walking the Uluru 10 km base walk or hiking the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta some relaxation and a cool drink might be on the agenda. There are many bush tucker inspired options to choose from such as the crisp and refreshing Red Rock Negroni enhanced with the flavours of desert fruit and herbs. Of course all preference are catered and interesting alcohol free mocktails are also available.
One thing is clear, Ayers Rock Resort has earned its reputation for exceptional cuisine and has set itself apart for its role in reintroducing traditional bush tucker foods to the Australian menu.
About Toni Broome
Toni Broome is one part of the '2 Aussie Travellers' duo, a husband and wife travel & food blogger team. Listed as one of the Top 20 Australian Travel Blogs and Websites to Follow in 2018, they started the blog to share inspiration and information needed for their readers to create their own independent travel plans. They live by the philosophy that "you shouldn't wait for holidays to enjoy yourself, explore and experience new things. Get out, take short breaks and get away for the weekends. Even a day trip can turn up a completely new experience."