Since one of my favorite wines is the Yellow Tail brand from Australia and I do adore Australia’s popular Arnott’s Tim Tam biscuits, I jumped at the chance to attend a special luncheon this week in NYC put on by Tourism Australia. It was pouring rain in the city on Tuesday, so I was especially glad to step into the warmth of The Sunburnt Calf, a quaint Australian bistro on the upper westside (226 W. 79th St.) where we spent the afternoon tasting and hearing about the incredible food and wine culture in Australia.

In his new cookbook, Blood Sugar: The Family, Chef Michael Moore shares the way he manages being a diabetic with inspiring and creative recipes.

After listening to Michael Moore, one of Australia’s most experienced and respected chefs, talk about “why you should go to Australia,” I was immediately hooked. I went to Sydney for business several years ago, but now I want to go back to see the stunning landscapes, nature and welcoming people across all areas of the country. Adelaide, Melbourne, Victoria, Perth and even Tazmania – north, south, east, west – I want to tour them all during my life after 50.

“Why should you go to Australia?” Chef Michael asked the bloggers in the room? “You will have a spiritual connection with a spiritual end. You will be a richer person and a better person.” (All he had to say was spiritual and as a yogi I was hooked – Australia here I come…it’s on my ‘not to be missed’ bucket list .)

Chef Michael went on to describe the amazing food culture in Australia:

The luncheon menu included BBQ'd Barramundi, Rhubarb Gimlets, and Oysters 'Kilpatrick'

1. It’s about ‘attitude’ – being curious and eating authentically. (That’s me, I’m very curious. No wonder I liked the Oysters ‘Kilpatrick’ appetizers of tempura-fried oysters and pickled shallots with worcestershire-bacon butter.)

2. It’s about a certain ‘state of mind’ – Chef Michael said that buckets of beer and barbecues in the backyard are special moments for Australian folks. (Me too. Me too. I am getting relaxed just thinking about grilling burgers on my Weber grill. Is it summertime yet? I think it is summertime in Australia. The seasons are opposite ours in the U.S. that’s why Australia is a perfect vacation spot during the winter months when it’s cold here and warm down under. Speaking of ‘state of mind’, I’m still thinking about the Rhubarb Gimlets that we sampled – they went down pretty smoothly. They were made with rhubarb bitters.)

3. It’s about sophisticated taste, connectedness with farmers and growers and fishermen, and about discovery – Chef Michael said that many restaurants in Australia have a farm to table approach to their cooking with fresh ingredients. (Ooh, I was into discovering the delicious Australian flavors at the luncheon so I ordered BBQ’d Barramundi Fillet with Sea Scallops, Frisee Salad, New Potatoes and Anchovy Aioli. It was scrumptious – I ate it all.)

According to recent research, those who have been to Australia rated it #1 in terms of food and wine. I can definitely see why. Breakfast on Bondi Beach, Sydney Seafood School, The Longest Luncheon Table – all these events sound like so much fun.

I stopped by to see my kids at their jobs in NYC on my way home from the luncheon. “Next year we’ll have to go on a trip to Australia,” I said to my daughter A and my son D. “It’s on my ‘not to be missed’ bucket list.”

“Mom, we have to go to Paris, Provence, and the South of France first in honor of your retirement,” said my daughter A. “Count me in,” said my son D. Hopefully, I’ll have some dollars left after I buy all my lavender in Provence this summer. If not, I’ll have to start saving again for Australia. Meantime, I can always go back to The Sunburnt Calf for another meal. My daughter A says they have a great weekend brunch. Hope to see you there or maybe in Australia next year!