New Caledonia’s cuisine is one of the best in the South Pacific. Fusion of flavours, it is a true testimonial to the blend of cultures living together on the island. Often spicy, the meals are always deliciously fresh using some of the best local ingredients.
New Caledonia’s gastronomy is truly unique, one mixing spices, tropical flavours and French techniques. Vanilla, sweet potatoes, fresh seafood or local venison, New Caledonia will surprise you and deliver a true gourmet experience.
The proximity of New Caledonia to Australia is one of its major appeals, less than two hours from Brisbane, three hours from Sydney and four hours from Melbourne, Francophiles can feast on the escargot (snails) of the Isle of Pines, or indulge the senses with dishes like gratin of mangrove crab, local venison, dauphine potatoes and croquettes at a traditional French restaurant in Noumea. Those with a more adventurous palette are encouraged to explore the flavours of the local Kanak culture, where they can discover the ‘bougna’, a dish typically made from tubercles, coconut milk and fish. In local markets, French delicacies such as cheeses, wines, fresh-baked pastries and chocolates will awaken the palate – and all this just a few hours away.
With its fusion of French and authentic Malenesian culture, New Caledonia is a food lover’s heaven. Expect to see baguettes and gooey French cheeses sold alongside coconuts and yams at the local market – the tropical and Gallic blend of influences makes the island such a delicious mouth-watering destination for foodies.
Make sure you include some of these Top 10 experiences in your next New Caledonia holiday.
Dining how the French do With its distinct French influence, the exceptional dining experience in Noumea has earned it the title of cuisine hub of the Pacific. You’ll find traditional bistros next to beachside restaurants, serving freshly caught seafood with French favourites – including Lobster Thermidor and Moules Marinières.
Traditional Kanak Bougna in the North
A buried treasure! No gourmet trip to New Caledonia would be complete without tasting the traditional Melanesian dish, ‘bougna’. Far from a quick meal, the bougna can take up to two hours to cook – but it’s definitely worth the wait.
Perfect DIY Gourmet Picnic While for many, a true gourmet holiday may involve enjoying the local cuisine in top eateries, it’s also fun to take a DIY approach. This way you can experience local food in a different way, by preparing your own gourmet feast. Gather together a delicious picnic from the local markets, bakeries, delis or supermarkets and enjoy sprawled on a beach somewhere in the glorious sunshine.
Discover the “Tables d’hotes” The table d’hote, a network managed by local farmers, offers visits combining the discovery of farm life, accommodations and culinary delights. Experience the Caledonian farm life, and then feast on meals prepared from local recipes and ingredients, including venison, wild pig, snails, crayfish, coconut crab, fish and tropical fruit.
Savour the sunset cocktail New Caledonia’s urban sophistication comes to life at night. Head to Anse Vata Bay or Baie des Citrons to enjoy an aperitif and live music as the sun goes down, or choose one of the many dining options for a taste of gourmet French cuisine with fresh South Pacific produce and tropical island views. If you are in the mood, dance the night away to the rhythms of the South Pacific at La Bodega del Mar or MV Lounge.
Eat the Isle of Pines’ famous snails Yes, snails. The “bulimes” or “Escargots de l’Ile des Pins” are endemic to the Isle of Pines and live amongst the forest. They are farmed by the locals and are a delicatessen you can find in most of the restaurants on the island. These snails can only be found and eaten in the Isle of Pines.
Devoulge on boulangeries & patisseries The boulangeries and patisseries in Noumea are worth the trip alone. The bread is incredible – every bite tastes of France and you can also indulge mouth-watering macarons, éclairs and chocolates, such as those handmade by expert chocolatier Patrick Morand.
French cheese and wine Take the opportunity to indulge in an incredible selection of very reasonably priced French wines – most of which are not even close to being available in Australia. Then there are the stores with pâtés, terrines, fois gras, duck cassoulets and of course an array of French cheeses.
Uncover the secret of French cuisine Let a French chef teach you the secrets of French cuisine! Spend a couple of hours learning and assisting the chef in producing traditional French dishes, then sample the culinary delights with a glass of French wine.
Try the local produce Be sure to keep your eye out for regional markets with delicious local country offerings such as creamy local (Niaouli) honey, jams, crystallized tropical fruits, nuts, Niaouli flower or Blackwood liqueurs, local venison sausages or the popular and brightly coloured local vegetable pickles called ‘achards’