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6 unique island food experiences

Tonga. Culture. Feast
Bali Food Market
Upolu Samoa
Cook Islands
Anika Balinese Cooking Class

6 unique island food experiences

story by: Tom Ricketts

The islands of Asia and the Pacific have a unique array of exotic tropical fruits, unknown spices and wonderfully unique food experiences to impress anyone.

Find out what Cook Island locals really eat on this tour which literally takes you into the homes of these famously friendly people for a progressive dinner and wine experience. With three stops for entrée, main and dessert, you’ll visit three very different families, one of which has an entire legion of adorable kids (four generations worth) serving up dinner while you hear about the traditional way of life, and in particular, the cuisine you’re about to chow down on.
must try local delicacy: Ika Mata is the Cook Island version of ceviche. Raw fish is marinated in lime and coconut juices and served cold with some tropical veges and sometimes a bit of chilli. In this humid paradise, there’s simply nothing more refreshing!

At the famous Aggie Grey’s Resort (now a Sheraton) you can experience arguably the nations best island night show. The evening kicks off with cultural song and dance, before moving to the food side of things. Traditional meals are cooked inside an ‘umu’, which is very similar to a hangi. To complement this, normal western style meals are also available. The night is capped off with a fantastic fire dance display on a breakwater stretching off the beach, the perfect thing to watch as you finish off your meal with a wine or two.
must try local delicacy: Palusami Lu’au is easily the most well loved traditional dish in Samoa, and it’s surprisingly simple to make. Grab some taro root and coconut juice, wrap it in taro leaves and place it in an umu to cook. Once done, remove an outer layer of taro leaves and you’re left with a taco like meal of divine flavours. Modern day versions include corned beef and are wrapped in tinfoil.  

With dishes like Nasi Goreng, Babi Guling, Nasi Bali and Lawar in its stable, Balinese cuisine is known wide and far, and has helped shape the world’s palate. The best way to experience Balinese cuisine is without a doubt on one of the many cooking classes available on the island. The standard course runs in two parts; the morning when you’re taken to the markets to choose your favourite cut of meat and juiciest of fruit and vegetables. The second part, the actual cooking class, comes at lunchtime or dinnertime (whichever you’ve chosen). Your teacher will teach you about the different spices and how to cook the meat; you’ll be a master at the mort​ar-and-pestle and the wok in no time! These classes are especially good for families as kids love getting to choose whatever ingredients they like, and concocting their own crazy meal.
must try local delicacy: It’s not common to find pork on the menu in this part of the world, but Bali’s Babi Guling is worth the wait! It’s essentially suckling pig rubbed with turmeric and stuffed with all sorts of ingredients including coriander, lemongrass, chillies, black pepper, lime leaves, garlic, spring onion and ginger, to name a few. It’s then hoisted up on a spit and cooked to perfection.

Feasting is almost a national sport in Tonga, and the winner is determined by who has the largest spread and eats the most! All the traditional favourites here are cooked in an umu too, and consist mainly of yams, bananas, coconuts, breadfruit and fish all baked in banana leaves. Many western foods are now served too, and it’s almost always a buffet style feast. Don’t bother wearing a belt!
must try local delicacy: If you’re in need of some liquid relief on a hot Tongan day, best get yourself an ‘Otai. The traditional version of this drink consisted of ambarella (a pineapple/mango tasting fruit) mixed with coconut milk and coconut water, and drunk from a coconut. Today though, all sorts of versions are available, but easily the most popular flavour is watermelon. It’s bound to quench any thirst!

New Caledonia
New Caledonia is the French territory in paradise waters​. It takes the best of French cuisine and adds an exotic dose of the South Pacific. The result? Taste sensations every day of the week.

Down on Noumea’s serene waterfront at Port Moselle you’ll find a ​fresh food and produce market, every day except Monday. Open from 5am (on your holidays! Yeah right) until 11.30am, get up and go for brunch. The croissants are to die for.

The market is recognised by its five hexagonal pavilions with their signature blue roofs. Step inside and you’ll discover a myriad of fruits, vegetables, seafood, charcuteries, patisseries and of course, plenty of cheese.
must try local delicacy: Start with a buvette du café (coffee) and make your way from croissant to croquet madame, and every delicious French flavour in between. 

Better known as uga, coconut crabs ​are one of the most prized foods in the South Pacific - and absolutely delicious to eat. Niue is one of the few islands with a sustainable amount in the jungle, and hunting the famed uga is a popular pastime.

Give it a go yourself. 

Take a tour and you’ll observe the locals lay white coconut meat as bait, returning a few days later (this time at night) to catch the uga while they feast on the flesh, on what is otherwise known as the crab’s last supper. The uga are then caught and stuffed into sacks.
must try local delicacy: ​
It’s forbidden to hunt harvesting females or ugas under the legal size, but if you have the nerves to grab a large one, hook your two fingers over the top and your thumb over the bottom, a guide will then help you hoist the monster into a bag and you can heave him all the way home. To the stove!

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