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Take a culinary adventure from the vines to the waterways

By Laura McKinnon
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Taste of Australia by Lyndey Milan

Taste of Australia by Lyndey Milan


Travelling and food are synonymous; returned travellers often share their memories of favourite travel spots by also mentioning foods they enjoyed. And you only have to look at Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest for the real-time evidence.

Lyndey Milan – who was Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly for over 10 years and who co-hosted the Channel 9 cooking show Fresh – has travelled some of Australia’s most stunning geographic regions to unearth the real taste of Australia, showcased in the television series Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia. She traversed capital cities, wine regions, the high country, coasts and indigenous flavours of the Australian bush, and this beautifully illustrated cookbook is a result.

Starting with Sydney

The book starts by exploring cities of Australia, in particular Sydney as it is Lyndey's hometown. She believes that with a population of just under 5 million there is going to be some seriously good food. She does a small expose on the town itself; a bit of brief history about the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a chat about Neil Perry and his relationship with Qantas and showcasing Australian foods, Sydney’s Flemington wholesale markets and the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Moving away from Sydney she speaks of the Australian coffee culture, Melbourne’s Pete Evans and his rise to stardom, Adelaide and an amazingly enthusiastic mushroom grower Nick Femia who is based there.

Urban recipes

Within the city section are recipes like Almond Gazpacho with Seared Scallops and Parsley Oil; Churrasco Prawns with Aji Sauce; Barbecued Beef Brisket with Tofu and Peanut Sambal; and Roman Lamb and Green Beans with Anchovy. Each recipe in this section seems to have some relevance to the city; the recipe for the Roman Lamb came from Anthony Puharich of Victor Churchill butcher for instance.

There is also a Lamb, Mint and Pea Pie recipe passed on from Neil Perry, and  some significantly healthy and tasty options such as Crisp Kale Chips and Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ provided by Pete Evans.

But some are more indulgent than healthy, for instance the Chocolate Hazelnut Fondant Pudding (otherwise known as a Volcano Pudding!). Included in this section is a whole sub-section on mushrooms; ideas for using them and recipes for fungi.

Around Australia's wine regions

The book goes on to look at wine areas across Australia (which as a whole takes up 368,000 acres of Australia’s land), highlighting the Barossa Valley, the Adelaide Hills, the Yarra Valley, the Hunter Valley, and Margaret River, amongst others. In the same way Milan did with cities, she briefly looks at interesting aspects of the areas.

Some stand out recipes in this section include Prosciutto-wrapped Scotch Eggs; Maggie Beer’s Coffee Vincotto Chocolate Tart with Bitter Oranges; and luscious Honey Blondies.

Throughout the book Lyndey recoomends wine styles to complement the recipes and where a recipe has been developed with a particular wine in mind it is noted. This is particulary evident in 'The Vines' section. 

A personal favourite is the Adelaide Hills Spanish Tapas which Lyndey developed with Nepenthe Wines in mind. The Spiced Pork Rolls matched perfectly to Nepenthe tempranillo as did the Goats Cheese and Bead with the sauvignon blanc.

The sea, the bush and the high country

Taste of Australia continues its journey by visiting coastal areas, the bush and the high country. Once again particular facts about each region are shared with the reader as well as recipes that are inspired by each area.

Some of the bush based recipes are quite mouth-watering, including Rainbow Trout with Preserved Lemon and Herb Dressing, and Brown Sugar Meringues with Passionfruit Curd.

However, the real standouts are ones that encompass native bush flavours: Yabbies with Lemon Myrtle Butter and Macadamia Warrigal Greens; Barramundi ‘Larb’ with native Australian flavours, and Wattleseed Anzacs.

Overall this book offers a lot. Descriptions of regions and the foods they showcase, recipes by the author, recipes offered to the author by other chefs and, as promised, recipes covering all different tastes from all parts of Australia.

It really would be surprising if someone could not find something in this book to make their taste buds water. The complexity of recipes also has a fair bit of range,  from the simple like Pumpkin Puree through to the slightly more challenging Mushroom and Walnut Pillows with Saffron Milk Cap Sauce.

If you are a keen traveller or for any food loving visitor to Australia, this book is worthwhile purchase to guide you on a national food tour. Send one to a homesick expat too! As the title suggests it really is a Taste of Australia.

Taste of Australia by Lyndey Milan is published in Australia by Hardie Grant (Melbourne 2014; sc, 224pp) and retails for A$39.95

Taste of Australian can be purcahsed online via Booko here »
Taste of Australia won the Best Cookbook by a TV Celebrity in the World Award in the 2015 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards held in Yantai, China.


  • Sydney (NSW)

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September 08th, 2015
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