Eating local takes on new meaning when you're dining in Sydney. An increasing number of chefs are offering more native Australian food on their menus.
Known as 'bush tucker', these ingredients go beyond a kangaroo steak. But if 'roo steak is what you're looking for, try Kingsley's steakhouse for one of the best. The meat is prized for its gamey flavor and low fat content (www.kingsleysauststeak.com.au).
Found wild in bushland, the leaves of the lemon myrtle are used to flavor everything from tea to aioli; wattleseed makes a rich, nutty addition to a dessert; and lemon aspen, a tiny, piquant fruit, can be used sparingly in place of lemon. Warrigal greens can be served instead of English spinach. While these aren't found on every restaurant menu, they're showing up more frequently.
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Local specialties from the sea include Sydney Rock Oysters, and the more obscure but equally delicious Angasi, or flat, oysters. For sampling oyster varieties, you can't beat the Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont, where they're shucked before your eyes.
If the truly authentic Aussie experience is what you're after, head out of town. Ninety minutes' drive west of Sydney on the other side of the picturesque Blue Mountains, the town of Lithgow is home to the Secret Creek Café. There you can admire the native wildlife as it wanders past the window. But at Secret Creek Café you can eat it, too. Perhaps Australia is the only country on earth where you can eat the two animals featured on its coat of arms (www.secretcreekcafe.com).
EAT: The Crave Sydney International Food Festival runs across the city during the month of October. During the festival you can enjoy night noodle markets in Hyde Park, breakfast on Bondi beach with a cast of thousands or sample some of the city's finest restaurants late at night for dessert and sweet wine. www.cravesydney.com
SHOP: Gourmands across Sydney shop for oils, spices, teas, chocolate, biscuits and more at Simon Johnson at various locations across the city. Exquisite produce makes for high-end prices, but the retail experience is sublime. Don't miss the chilled cheese room, where you can taste before you buy. www.simonjohnson.com
STAY: Located in the heart of bustling Darlinghurst, L'otel is an urban treasure. With just 16 rooms it's a boutique hotel, and at street level you can enjoy the laid-back bohemian atmosphere of the café, restaurant and bar. It's also minutes on foot from both Kings Cross and Oxford Street. www.lotel.com.au