Bring Back Gifts With Good Taste
Thursday, October 21, 2004; Page G06
Vegemite is the thick, yeasty, tar-colored bread spread that Americans don't get -- in more ways than one. For less squeamish tastes, the country has 69 wine-growing regions, but the best-known vintages come from Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Barossa Valley in South Australia, Margaret River in Western Australia and Yarra Valley in Victoria. Pick up a bottle of Penfolds Grange, a robust shiraz or a smooth port. Part of the Foster's family, Victoria Bitter is an iconic Aussie beer.
Make an original caipirinha cocktail with cachaca, the sugar cane-distilled alcohol, plus some sugar and limes. Pao de Queijo, or cheese rolls, are as tasty from a mix as they are from the bakery; look for the Yoki brand in supermarkets. For gourmet coffee, stand-out blends include Bom Dia gourmet suave, Cafe Brasileiro, Cafe Pele and Cafe Damasco. Bring back a box of Bis, small chocolate wafers, or a travel-friendly version of the rain-forest cupuacu fruit, blended into jams and chocolate.
Skip the brie and Beaujolais, and sample some of France's regional finds. Among them: Maille mustard from the company's Dijon or Paris shop; Brittany's galettes de Pont-Aven, a buttery cookie; Drome's nougat de Montelimar, a confection made of nuts and lavender honey; and Perigord's foie gras and truffles -- sold separately or indulgently mixed in one can.
Consider such popular Indian condiments as mango or lemon pickles, mango chutney or the ultimate curry chaser, papads or papadams, dried lentil chips spiked with Indian spices. Among sweets, often sold in elegant hand-crafted boxes, are sugary petha from Agra, West Bengal's milky cham cham and sandesh, and the carroty gajar ka halwa of northern India.