Australians Think "Granola-Munching Hippies" Can Cook

By Sajid Farooq
|  Thursday, Sep 2, 2010  |  Updated 11:23 AM PDT
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Australians Think "Granola-Munching Hippies" Can Cook

The kitchen at Chez Panisse. [Photo: Flickr/xmatt

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David Chang may be calling bull***t on the Bay Area food scene but Australians have a different opinion.

The very thing -- "serving figs on a plate with nothing on it" -- that prompted the celebrity chef to rip Bay Area restaurants has earned one East Bay city the title of North America’s new foodie destination.

For those geographically challenged, that description would include Chang's beloved New York City and every other city within a five hour flight.

In an article sent to its frequent flyers, Qantas Airlines called Berkeley a foodie's paradise. At the center of the Australian endorsement of the city on "the east coast of San Francisco Bay" is the Queen of Slow Food herself, Alice Waters.

"The pinnacle of the Berkeley food firmament is the renowned Chez Panisse, which opened in 1971," the airline writes. "The restaurant’s owner, food world sovereign Alice Waters, was christened 'the mother of American cooking' by The New York Times and has been a fervent proselytiser of the organic, sustainable, anti-industrial food movement for more than four decades."

The meat and beer loving Australians surprisingly pay homage to the softer side of Berkeley, admitting the city's reputation of being "an enclave of granola-munching hippies" is not too far off.

But that can't stop the foodies from down under from enjoying the delights that mountain lions would die for.

When in Berkeley, Qantas recommends laying over at Café Fanny, Gather, Saul's, Acme Bread Company and even the pride of East Bay coffee Peet's.

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