Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Are you ready to splash out $1500+ per person on dinner?

New Year's Eve is always one of the most expensive nights of the year but if you feel like really pushing the boat out then the recently refurbed Quay in Sydney has an offer you might not be able to resist. 

With its superb setting, magical views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and the impeccable food of chef Peter Gilmore, Quay has always been one of Sydney's best fine dining options. I recently enjoyed a most memorable lunch with superb service.

This New year's Eve, diners are being offered the chance to enjoy an exclusive dinner in the Quay Green Room with private access the terraces on the upper level with uninterrupted views of the 9pm and midnight fireworks displays and Sydney Harbour. 

Green Room guests will enjoy canapes and a five-course menu by executive chef Gilmore, paired with Champagne and premium wines and entertainment from a jazz band. 

Th menu will include hand-harvested seafood with pickled cucumber and succulents; congee of blue swimmer crab with palm hearts; roasted Champagne lobster with lemon emulsion and brown butter; Blackmore Wagyu beef with lion's mane mushrooms and dessert canapes. 

The evening will commence at 8pm with Champagne and savoury canapes and conclude at 1am. Prices (shared tables of 10) are $1450 per person including beverages. 

Throw in tips and a nearby hotel room and you'll be up for a couple of grand each for the night. But what the heck, it's New Year's Eve. 

You can book here: www.quay.com.au/functions/ Tell 'em I sent you. 


New look as Taste of Tasmania marks its 30th birthday

Tasmania's biggest festival of food wine and entertainment, The Taste of Tasmania, will celebrate its 30th birthday this summer on the Hobart waterfront.

The Taste of Tasmania has unveiled its largest-ever program of stallholders and free entertainment including live music, circus and street entertainment, activities for children and the whole family as well as reserved seating for those wanting a guaranteed prime position.

And best of all, entry is completely free. Thank you Hobart taxpayers.

Taste of Tasmania director Brooke Webb said: “The Taste of Tasmania program is an adventure for the all the senses. From a full culinary program where foodies can enjoy exclusive experiences and get hands on with Tasmania’s leading chefs and culinary influences, to the largest selection of stallholders ever seen at The Taste all proudly showcasing Tasmanian’s best dishes, to a huge program of entertainment and activities for the family and our New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Ball, there is something for everybody at this Year’s Taste.”

This year The Taste of Tasmania launches a new concept space known as ‘greener grass.’ Greener grass is a new concept that develops small business through incubation and innovation whilst creating opportunities for emerging businesses to grow and develop.

Greener grass is a dynamic space where businesses have shorter stays and can showcase for three days, four days or seven days depending on their resources.

Running from Friday, December 28 to Thursday, January 3, 2019, all culinary offerings are proudly 100% Tasmanian, with 112 stallholders, an increase of 35 stall holders from 2017.

Among the produce being showcased: seafood, cheese, berries, cool-climate wines, craft beers and ciders, gin and whisky. Attractions will include Bream Creek Vineyard (which has attended all 29 previous Tastes, and regular award-winners Home Hill Wines.

Gourmet farmer stars Matthew Evans and Sadie Chrestman from Fat Pig Deli will be serving farm-fresh deli-style platters in The Atrium, while Porky Duck will appear for the first time with crispy duck, duck waffles and duck rolls.

Also look out for Seven Sheds beers; Rukkus Fried Chicken and palawa kipli, serving up Aboriginal-inspired street food.

A full list of stallholders can be found here: www.thetasteoftasmania.com.au/stallholders

For the best seat in the house The Taste of Tasmania offers reserved seating for visitors wanting a guaranteed seat among the action. With three, four-hour sessions on offer each day, reserved seating costs $25 and is located in a prime waterfront location.

Every night of the festival there will be a headline performance from some of Australia's best party bands play main-stage including: four-times ARIA-nominated powerhouse Mojo Juju and the most exciting new RnB artist in Australia, Kaiit.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Discover the surprising wild side of Hong Kong

Think Hong Kong and your mind probably zeroes on on high-rise apartments and busy roadways.
It is a little-known fact that three-quarters of Hong Kong's landmass is actually countryside, and a vast network of hiking trails is easily accessible from every corner of the city. 
Behind the bright neon signs, buzz of the city streets and towering skyscrapers, lies a diverse range of natural experiences waiting to be explored, including Plover Cove Country Park (below).

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has teamed up with National Geographic to bring these hidden gems to the forefront as part of the Great Outdoors campaign to encourage visitors to get out of the city to explore.
The campaign features 13 of the city's most stunning landscapes, as picked by National Geographic's photographers and trail experts. Another feature includes a free guidebook, Your Guide to Hiking & Cycling in Hong Kong, with insights from the National Geographic experts.

HKTB Regional Director for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark said Hong Kong has a lot of surprises for visitors. 

"From panoramic city views with verdant mountains; and traditional villages with natural flora and fauna; to beautiful landscapes with stunning seascapes, we want to prove firsthand that there is so much more to Hong Kong than just the metropolis," Clark said.

Your Guide to Hiking & Cycling in Hong Kong can be accessed via www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/plan-your-trip/travel-kit/guides.jsp#outdoors or at any of the HKTB Visitor Centres located around the city.
For more information about Great Outdoors Hong Kong visit

Christchurch aims to attract Australian tourists

When I think of flying into New Zealand, I, like most Australians, I suspect, usually consider Auckland or Wellington as my primary destination, or perhaps Queenstown.

Now New Zealand and Christchurch tourism bodies are aiming to encourage Aussies to fly into Christchurch Airport as part of a new tourism campaign.

The spiel goes like this: "Australians, listen up. We'll help you swim with dolphins, taste some of the world's finest wines, go punting down a river, soak in natural hot pools, eat world-renowned cuisine, see progressive art and hike up million-year old mountains. It all starts in Christchurch."

Together with Christchurch Airport and economic development and city profile agency ChristchurchNZ, Tourism New Zealand is encouraging Australian visitors to book a holiday in Christchurch in autumn 2019, with day-trip itineraries that take in all the above sights and experiences.

“Australian visitors are a key market for us," says Andrew Waddel, Tourism New Zealand's general manager for Australia.

"In the past, there has been a perception the South Island could only be experienced over a fortnight or month, but recently we've been able to prove to Australian travellers they can have amazing experiences in the South Island, no matter how little time they have.

“Christchurch is a vibrant city experiencing rapid change and growth, and international visitors are exploring the city to see the exciting transformation. It is the perfect base for Australian visitors and start from in the South Island – especially in autumn.

"There are very few places on earth where you can experience such an array of activities within a few hours of your base. We have compiled itineraries offering experiences as day trips from Christchurch.”

The campaign features a new video that follows an Australian couple as they explore the region, including the farmers' market in Lyttelton, wine tasting in Waipara, jet boating and hot pools in Hanmer Springs, swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, punting down the Avon River, and enjoying street art and food.

Christchurch Airport's Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer's Justin Watson says Australians are a major contributor to Christchurch's economy.

“This campaign is the third time we have partnered with Tourism New Zealand on a Christchurch campaign, and previous campaigns have proved very successful in increasing the profile of the region and boosting the number of Australian arrivals in autumn." he said.

"With increased air capacity and direct flights from most Australian ports, Christchurch offers an easy getaway for Australians and autumn is a wonderful time to visit with gold and red hues dominating the region and vineyards harvesting – it's picture-perfect.”

The campaign runs until December 2 and promotes travel to Christchurch between March-May 2019.

Trade partner Virgin Australia has provided special flight deals from Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, and is supporting advertising for the length of the campaign.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Hobart's new destination for delightful things

It is part art gallery, part museum, part antiques store. Anyone who enjoys lovely things will want to spend some time exploring the two floors of delightful goods at Lauder and Howard Antiques and Fine Art.

After nearly four decades of dealing in rare antiques and fine art in Western Australia, Leslie Lauder and Mark Howard have moved their business and love of all things beautiful to Hobart in Tasmania.

The store opened last month on Campbell Street, between downtown and North Hobart and is home to everything from Ottoman urns to Art Deco bookends and restored furniture.

The new shop-cum-gallery houses an eclectic mix of fine antiques of diverse provenance dating as far back as the 17th Century with the occasional antiquity.

Clients can discover antique pieces from England, Scotland and Ireland, from the Georgian and Regency periods to the Art Deco era. Current stock includes a George III-style satinwood-glazed cabinet with sterling silver handles and mouldings, attributed to British maker Waring & Gillow and dated London 1902, and a rare 1825 Irish brass mounted secretaire bookcase from Cork.
There are pieces from France and Continental Europe, plus a large collection of Chinese and Japanese ceramics, also bronze figures, carved marble and antique glass. Australian history is well represented too, – with a selection of colonial furniture.

Art includes British and European works from the 17th Century to the mid-20th Century, plus early to mid 20th Century Australian paintings, with an emphasis on those by female artists.

Ottoman Empire is Lauder & Howard’s brand within a brand, with a focus on Turkish and Persian rugs, cushions and textiles, many antique and hand-made. There are also large antique terracotta pots, copper vessels, iron grilles and distinctive marble pieces.

Lauder & Howard Antiques and Fine Art will host an exhibition of works from Italy by Andrea J. Smith, an award winning Australian artist straddling the traditional and the contemporary in still life and portraits, from December 6-January 20, 2019.

The gallery is open Wednesdays- Saturdays 10am – 5pm and Sundays 1pm-5pm.


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Marketing madness is killing our country

I felt like an ice cream after lunch. So I went to the supermarket and grabbed a Magnum. 

It was not until I got home that I realised that I had invested not in a dessert but a Raspberry Chocolate Truffle designed by Romance was Born for the Fashion Collection. 

It's an ice cream, for heaven's sake, not part of a fashion collection. 

Then, came an email from Domino's, claiming they were "the official pizza of summer". This is part of a new menu launching on Saturday.

As if anyone can be the official anything of summer. What a ridiculous claim. An insult to the customer's intelligence, maybe.

Here is some of the Domino's email PR guff:

"Whether your thongs experience a blowout, you get sand in places you didn’t know existed, the summer fling won’t call you back or you’ve got work Christmas party regret, no one understands the need to be there during the summer moments more than Domino’s. 
"The ‘Official Pizza of Summer’ menu serves up an enriching and decadent selection of Domino’s finest foods while capturing all the feels and memorable moments of summer."

It sounds more like the script of a bad Bachelorette episode than something designed to make me splash out on a pizza, particularly the self-designated Official Pizza of Summer. 

C'mon marketing types. Lift your games. 

All change as the Barossa gets a new wine destination

The Artisans of the Barossa are shutting up shop at their Vine Vale cellar door and opening a new wine room and bar in central Tanunda.

The change happens on December 31, and the new destination will be known as Vino Lokal.

Calabria Family Wines, expanding their operations from the Riverina, will move into the former Artisans space (below), where they will join Harvest Kitchen.

Then, in April, construction will begin on the eventual new home of Artisans of Barossa, which will be located at Kroemer’s Crossing at the top end of Tanunda.

That operation is scheduled to open in early 2020, and Vino Lokal and Artisans of Barossa will then operate in tandem offering two different ways of enjoying Barossa wine and food.

The first set of new doors to open for Artisans will be at 64 Murray Street, Tanunda (below), in a building once known as Roger’s Shoe Store and then for a time as Nosh.

Vino Lokal is being described as "a melting pot of ideas, opportunities and possibilities".

It will feature Barossa wine along with some imports, as well as being somewhere to snack and graze from a compact wine bar-style menu.

The doors at Vino Lokal will be open 11am-8pm Monday to Thursday, and 11am-10pm on Friday and Saturday. Sunday will be an 11am-6pm affair.

There will be over 50 Barossa wines by the glass and plenty more by the bottle. Food will be prepared by Ryan Edwards, formerly of Appellation.