Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Double trouble. Fun with an Italian accent in the national capital

A few nights ago I was one of a lively group dining at Canberra's lively family-owned trattoria Italian and Sons (below), feasting on several courses of rather excellent traditional Italian food served in a fun setting by well-informed and fun staff. 

The food was great and the almost all-Italian wine list (a selection of wines from Clonakilla the only exception) enticing. 

The following night, after my companions had departed, I dined solo at Mezzalira, also Italian, also owned by the same family, but a little more formal; with excellent food but more of a date-night vibe. The same impressive attention to detail, though. 

The two premium restaurants will this month kick-off a series of gourmet dinners to be called Due Mani (Two Hands), which will see respected Italian chefs Matteo Zamboni (Zambo, Sydney), Richard Ptacnik (Otto, Sydney) and Andreas Papadakis and Alberto Fava (Tipo 00, Melbourne) collaborate to create a series of one-off menus, each with an individual take on classic Italian cuisine. 

Both Canberra restaurants are owned by the Trimboli family. Their restaurant group now comprises award-winning Italian & Sons with adjoining wine bar, Bacaro (below) on Lonsdale Street in Braddon, refined modern-Italian Mezzalira on London Circuit in the CBD and neighbouring pizzeria Da Rosario. 

Owner Pasquale Trimboli saw the opportunity to celebrate Canberra’s flourishing dining scene by inviting some of the country’s most innovative Italian chefs to the capital.

“Australia has a unique heritage when it comes to Italian cooking, and it’s incredible to see an impressive crop of young chefs, each with their own take on traditions,” said Trimboli. “I look forward to opening both our restaurants, and our city, to them."

Kicking off Due Mani, Matteo Zamboni, executive chef and owner of Zambo restaurant in Sydney’s Surry Hills will join Italian & Son’s head chef Francesco Petrillo on Monday, May 29. 

Next up, from Sydney’s legendary long-lunch venue Otto, executive chef Richard Ptacnik will take a spot in the Mezzalira kitchen on Monday, July 10. He will join forces with Italian-born head chef Federico Ferrari. 

Waving ciao to the series will be the duo responsible for the hugely successful Melbourne restaurant, Tipo 00 - on a date yet to be confirmed. 

Reservations for Zambo and OTTO guest chef series are now available via or by calling  (02) 6162 4888. 

The Italian and Son dinners cost $90 or $130 including matched wines, with the Mezzalira dinner $110 a head for five courses or $150 with matching wines. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Testing one of South Africa's most exclusive game lodges

It is de rigueur for anyone visiting South Africa to spend a day or two exploring one of the many game reserves. 

The Kruger National Park is one of the most famous in the world, the Pilanesberg National Park, just two hours north-west of Johannesburg perhaps the easiest to access. 

For those with limited time and a taste for life's luxuries, I would suggest Kapama Private Game Reserve, one of the most exclusive game lodges in Africa. 

There are four different camps within the reserve, which is home to all of the “big five” wild animals and just a one-hour flight from Johannesburg to the nearby Eastgate/Hoedspruit airstrip. 

At Kapama Karula, monkeys and nyala roam freely and a hippo recently had to be extricated from the resort pool - that's a uniquely African experience.

Kapama Private Game Reserve occupies a vast area between South Africa’s northern Drakensberg mountains and the Greater Kruger National Park. 
Situated in South Africa’s northernmost province of Limpopo, renowned for its diverse wildlife, Kapama is home to over 40 different mammal species, including elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros. There are twice-daily game drives through the reserve, accompanied by expert guides and trackers.

Kapama Karula combines luxurious (and huge) villas with all mod cons including satellite TV in the library, free wifi throughout and stylish accommodation, with wraparound views of the African bush enhancing the sense of tranquillity.
Kapama Karula has 10 superior suites, all at least 90m² each, with en-suite bathrooms featuring indoor and outdoor showers, his and hers basins, and a bath.

Standard in each superior suite is a minibar stocked with a selection of fine wines and champagne, a Nespresso coffee machine, a lock-up safe, an international adaptor, and an iPod docking station.

Each suite has a telephone, overhead fan and air-conditioning and the superior suites are wrapped by glass sliding doors, allowing seamless views over the Klaserie River. Each suite has its own outside deck area, heated swimming pool and sun loungers for relaxation. There are also two giant family suites.

An open-plan lounge and bar, with an excellent selection of South African wines (all included in the tariff) is a highlight, while guests can try to spot wildlife from the deck. Other luxuries include the new Karula Spa and Fitness Centre.

Kapama Private Game Reserve, R40, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa.+27 12 368 0600.

South African Airways (SAA) has daily flights from all Australian cities via Perth to Johannesburg with direct connections to 29 African cities including all major airports in South Africa. For more information see

# The writer was a guest of Distell

Monday, 22 May 2017

The world's greatest rugby team is looking for two special fans

Are you crazy about rugby union? Would you do anything to get up close and personal with the All Blacks? 

Air New Zealand and New Zealand Rugby are searching the world for two All Black "apprentices" to join the world's leading rugby team as they take on Samoa in Auckland on June 16.

The "volunteer" positions are the first of their kind within the All Blacks camp. The apprentices will stay at the All Blacks’ hotel and assist the team both in preparation for the match and on game day, including         assisting in the setting up of the team’s Captain’s Run on the day before the game before joining the team for lunch;   attending an exclusive Q and A session with All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and players.

The apprentices will also help to set up the All Blacks’ coaches box, sideline and bench on game day and watch the game from their own private sideline bench. One will also be responsible for running the ball on to the field for kick-off.

Air New Zealand will provide transport to Auckland from anywhere across New Zealand - or around the world - for the successful applicants along with up to three friends or family members each. They will also receive accommodation and apprentices will wear special custom-made uniforms.

Hansen, no doubt masking his real feelings about the promotion, says fans of any age can apply.

“The main thing is these people need to be All Blacks supporters through and through and demonstrate a true love of the game," he says.

“Like any position on the All Blacks team we expect these spots will be hotly contested so applicants really need to sell themselves and show us how passionate they really are.”

Air New Zealand spokesman Jodi Williams says the airline has been a proud sponsor of the All Blacks for more than 20 years.

“Together with NZR we wanted to create a truly awesome opportunity for fans to go behind the scenes with the All Blacks and do their bit to help the team prepare for the test match against Samoa,” he said.
All Blacks supporters can apply now at Fans are encouraged to provide any supporting evidence of their suitability for this position – for example video, photos, written material or artwork. Applications close on June 5. 

# This story is a re-work of an Air New Zealand press release.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Meet the unique South African liqueur sold in over 100 countries

There is a fascinating story behind Amarula Cream, South Africa's global liqueur success story, which is now exported to 103 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

The unique ingredient of the drink is marula, an indigenous African fruit the size of a small plum but oval in shape. The marula fruit cannot be cultivated but only grows wild and sun-ripens to a rich yellow, with a tough outer skin surrounding its fibrous, white flesh.

Amarula Cream is made with sugar, cream and the fruit of what is also locally called the Elephant tree or the Marriage Tree. Elephants enjoy eating the fruit of the marula tree and let locals know when the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked.

Because of the marula tree's association with elephants, producer Distell has made them its symbol and supports elephant conservation efforts, co-funding the Amarula Elephant Research Programme at the University of Natal, Durban.

In 2016 the Amarula Trust formed a partnership with conservation charity Wildlife Direct and its founder, Dr Paula Kahambu, working to protect the less than 400,000 elephants still surviving. The Amarula website contains details on how to help.

Amarula was first marketed in September 1989 and is now the second-largest-selling cream liqueur in the world. Its new-shaped bottle is based on a rescued elephant, Jabulani, who lives at an elephant camp in Hoedspuit, adjacent to the Kruger National Park.

The Amarula Lapa (the Sotho name for a gathering place) is the hospitality centre for the liqueur and is an ideal stop-off for anyone visiting the game parks of the Limpopo Province.

Made from traditional thatch, stone and wood, it offers educational films and lectures, light lunches and tastings of Amarula milkshakes and cocktails, including the Springbok, a popular South African chaser that is a combination of Creme de Menthe and Amarula Cream.

The lapa is just outside the town of Phalaborwa and is close to the processing plant where the fresh marula fruit is brought during the harvesting season, de-stoned and the pulp fermented before being transported to the distillery in Stellenbosch. It spends two years in French oak and has a soft caramel flavour. 

Well worth sampling at between $30-35 a bottle.

Amarula Lapa is at 4311 First Avenue, R40, Phalaborwa, 1390, South Africa. It is open 8am-5pm weekdays and 8am-4pm Saturdays and public holidays.

# This is an edited version of a story that appeared in Winestate magazine. The writer was a guest of Amarula.  

South African Airways (SAA) has daily flights from all Australian cities via Perth to Johannesburg with direct connections to 29 African cities including all major airports in South Africa. For more information see

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

One of Australia's most enjoyable vineyard lunches

I was only vaguely familiar with the Bellarine Peninsula winery Terindah Estate, but locals recommended it heartily - and their advice proved spot on. 

From a welcoming tasting room and snack restaurant to a lovely setting overlooking vines, gardens and bay views to excellent service and top-notch food, Terindah Estate hit a home run for our group.

Established in 2003 by retired quantity surveyor Peter Slattery, Terindah produces a very good range of wines (although zinfandel is a bit of a stretch in the cool climes of Geelong and surrounds). 

Nowadays, Terindah is a magnet for locals and tourists alike; offering al a carte lunches Thursday-Sunday, occasional dinners, weekend breakfasts, cooking classes, weddings and conferences. 

The medal-winning Terindah Estate 2016 Rosé proved a popular lunch choice for our group of five; while the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir is also outstanding. 

We chose The Shed at Terindah (the name means "most beautiful" in Behasa Indonesia, over the more relaxed The Deck (open seven days for lunch and snacks) and found chef Lyndon Betts and his team in fine form. 

The service from a French waiter and Romanian maitre d' was both slick and friendly - not always an easy combination to achieve.

My entree of pork brawn terrine with mustard and stout and wattle seed bread was a stand out, as were very pretty sardines with creme fraiche, lemon and pickled shallots. Adventurous food this, but not too much "out there" to scare the horses. 

I would have liked the duck skin on my duck with heirloom carrots and radicchio to have been a little crisper, but the dish was plenty flavoursome.

Other star mains included local snapper with potato, Warragul spinach and salty ice plant, and pork scotch with nectarine witlof and garlic. Make sure to order some goose fat potatoes, which are outrageously decadent.

We felt too full for dessert but did manage some excellent French blue cheese. It was perfectly matured. 

The Shed gets all the key elements right and is highly recommended.  

Terindah Estate, 90 McAdams Lane, Bellarine VIC 3223. (03) 5251 5536. 


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

How about a bottle of pisner (yes, you read that right)?

It sounds too gross to be true. Unfortunately, we now have access to a beer made with the aid of the urine produced by drunk music festivalgoers.

Danish brewery Norrebro Bryghus has used 50,000 litres of human urine collected at the largest music festival in Northern Europe - at Roskilde.

Named the ‘Pisner’, the beer doesn’t actually contain any human waste, but is produced from fields of malting barley fertilised with the urine ‘donated’ by the rock fans. 

Barley is traditionally fertilised using animal manure or factory-made plan nutrients, but the urine yield from the festival was nonetheless big enough to fertilise 11 tonnes of malting barley, and brew 60,000 bottles of the beer.

“When the news that we had started brewing the Pisner came out, a lot of people thought we were filtering the urine to put it directly in the beer and we had a good laugh about that,” said Henrick Vang of Norrebro Bryhgus.

Karen Hækkerup, CEO of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, said: “Just as we have seen shops sell goods that would otherwise have been thrown out, Beercycling allows us to recycle a product that is normally flushed down the drain." 

Strange people those Danes! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Fancy a wine-soaked weekend in Tasmania?

If you work in the wine industry and have a role that involves sales, then you might fancy a weekend exploring some of the finest vineyards in Tasmania. 

Wine Tasmania, the state's umbrella body, has issued an invitation for Australian wine trade representatives to participate in a wine-focused visit to Tasmania in July.

On a two-day visit on July 23-24, 10 selected wine trade representatives will meet wine producers, sample their wines and taste their way around the island. The visit will also include the opportunity to sample Tasmania’s outstanding food and perhaps visit a boutique distiller or cider producer. 

Wine Tasmania chief executive Sheralee Davies (below) said that visiting Tasmania was the best way to experience the island and its wine and to gain an appreciation of its diversity.

“This program provides an outstanding opportunity for wine trade representatives to experience our wines amongst our relaxed island lifestyle and spectacular scenery. We’ll be showing (and tasting) as much of Tasmania as we can squeeze into two days,” she said.

“Close to half of Tasmania's modest wine production is only available on-island, so visiting is really the best way to find out more about the unique place that is Tasmania and the wines it produces.”

“This is the fourth trade visitation program we have presented, with an average of more than 130 applications received annually. The feedback from the trade visitors we have hosted in the past has been particularly positive, with more Tasmanian wines appearing on restaurant wine lists and wine retail shelves as a direct result.”

The program is open to people currently employed in the wine trade including, but not limited to, sommeliers, restaurateurs, food and beverage, retail and wholesale representatives. Applicants must be in a position of authority for wine purchasing decisions and available to travel to Tasmania on July 23-24. 

Interested trade representatives are invited to submit their interest by June 12 using this form:
Confirmed participants will be announced on June 26.

This program is presented by Wine Tasmania, with support from the Tasmanian Government Department of State Growth and this story is based on a press release. 

Angove to fly the Australian organic flag at Vinexpo

Angove is one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Australia and an early adopter of organic principles. 
Now Angove is set to fly the Australian organic flag at Vinexpo (below), the world's biggest trade fair, in Bordeaux from June 18-21.

Angove says it will be the only Australian producer on the new “World of Organic Wine” (WOW) stand at Vinexpo, which will feature 200 organically and biodynamically certified wineries from around the world. 
Since first becoming certified just over a decade ago Angove Family Winemakers has embraced the organic ethos for many of its vineyards is are now the largest organic winery in Australia with nearly 200 hectares of fully certified family vineyard and ongoing relationships with a number of certified growers. It takes three years for a vineyard to become fully certified.
“We see many opportunities for great tasting, reasonably priced organic wines globally," director of sales Tim Boydell says. "Organic produce, in general, is one of the fastest growing consumer categories and it is fantastic to have built so rapidly on our early position in this market segment. 
Angove will showcase its Warboys Vineyard, Wild Olive and Angove Organic wine ranges at Vinexpo. 

“Organic viticulture is viewed as the best way to improve soil quality and optimise water use, which creates stronger, healthier vines and better fruit. It is more expensive but we believe it makes better tasting wines and, importantly, is better for the environment," says chief winemaker Tony Ingle.

"We see this as an essential investment in our future and part of our deeply held belief to make sure that we pass our precious natural resources on to the next generation in better condition than when we started.
"The organic crops seem to achieve flavour ripeness earlier, at lower sugar levels, have thicker skins, especially the reds, and are less susceptible to disease. Importantly farming organically improves the environment with no synthetic or chemical herbicides or pesticides used in the growing of the grapes."
# This story is a re-work of an Angove Wines press release  

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Is this the hippest new vineyard hotel in Australia?

The Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia's most vibrant wine regions; always innovative, constantly changing.

The newest regional attraction is Jackalope, a hotel, wining and dining complex that is part of the completely revamped Willow Creek operation, along with access to the winery and magnificent vineyard views.

Jackalope, named after a mythical creature, is the personal project of 29-year-old Chinese-born entrepreneur Louis Li, who sees the design as his own creative story; a mixture of art and storytelling featuring stand-alone artworks and a dark, moody vibe. Li describes Jackalope as “an escape from reality”.

Jackalope's 46 rooms and suites offer either vineyard or terrace views and range from 38 square metres to 85 sq m. “lairs”. Floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces connect guests to the rural surrounds while, inside, bathroom features include deep-soak, black Japanese tubs, rain showers and double vanities.

The spa-like setting is complete with bath luxuries including a pinot grape skin and seed bath soak and body scrub, made using grapes from the hotel’s vineyard.

Jackalope is a dining destination in its own right with fine dining Doot Doot Doot offering degustation menus under the guidance of executive Guy Stanaway, while Rare Hare celebrates the surrounding Willow Creek vineyard through casual dining and wine experiences.

A four-course degustation dinner costs $85 or $150 with wine matchings (think dishes like John Dory with leek, vermouth, prawn and finger lime, or lamb sweetbread with abalone and shiitake). The Japanese-style crab omelette for breakfast, meanwhile, was the finest single dish I have enjoyed this year.

There is an on-site 1,200-bottle, glass cellar (above) that showcases an international selection of limited-release wines produced from vineyards 11-hectares or less – the size of the hotel’s vineyard.

The hotel’s funky bar, Flaggerdoot, specialises in cocktails and is dotted with art installations, while outside, a black 30-metre infinity pool laps up to the surrounding vineyard, while a poolside pavilion offers sun lounge service and is also available for massage treatments or private dining.

A seven-metre-tall namesake Jackalope sculpted by Melbourne artist, Emily Floyd, has taken tenancy at the entrance to the hotel.

It just doesn't get any hipper.

Jackalope: A cutting edge luxury hotel with funky rooms and two on-site restaurants adjacent to the Willow Creek vineyards and winery. 166 Balnarring Rd, Merricks North. (03) 5931 2500.

# The writer stayed at Jackalope as a guest of Ocean Eight and Polpero Wines

Friday, 12 May 2017

An Australian wine classic 168 years in the making

Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, has launched a landmark wine that has been 168 years in the making – The Caley Coonawarra & Barossa Cabernet & Shiraz. 

“The Caley is the pinnacle of a long winemaking journey seeking excellence – a ‘super-claret’ that rightfully honours one of Yalumba’s most adventurous sons,” vigneron Robert Hill-Smith said.  

“It is the result of an unwavering commitment by Yalumba to Australia’s own unique red wine style – cabernet and shiraz – from the Galway Clarets of the 1940s, through to the Signature and FDR 1A that started in the 60s and 70s and The Reserve that was created in the 1990s. 

“I see it as a symbol of Yalumba’s perseverance and patience – an acknowledgement of the importance of time in crafting great wine.” 

Sourced from Yalumba’s own Menzies cabernet sauvignon estates in Coonawarra and two old vine shiraz vineyards in Barossa (Yalumba’s Horseshoe vineyard and the Burgemeister Linke Block), The Caley is designed for longevity and collectability. 

“The Caley brings together the linear elegance, firm tannins and persistent acid structure of Coonawarra cabernet with the voluptuous, textural richness of Barossa shiraz,” Hill-Smith said. 

“I felt that given our long history in the making of this quirky blend of cabernet and shiraz, a Coonawarra-Barossa creation may yet become our ultimate achievement. 

“Our very Australian-ness is captured in the pragmatism of so many of Australia’s early wines – lyrical creations that were about the wine, not the rules – and The Caley is such a wine. It is a great example of our rich wine culture of experimentation and a willingness to give it a go.” 

 The wine has been named in honour of Fred Caley Smith, grandson of Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith. Fred was a horticulturist who had a profound impact on the development of Yalumba’s orchards and vineyards. 

He is best remembered for an 18-month ground-breaking research journey that he undertook in 1893 and 1894 to the USA, UK, Europe, the Middle East, Sri Lanka and India.  

The then 29-year-old’s detailed and poignant letters to his father, sent home every few days were collected and kept in the Yalumba archive. 

“Australian wine is at an exciting time in its evolution,” Hill-Smith said. “It can use an authentic story of aspiration, struggle and persistence. The Caley is that story – of a long journey that is a long way from over.” 

The Caley retails for $349 for a gift-packed 750m and the wine’s international release will take place on May 12 – the 124th anniversary of Fred Caley Smith’s arrival in San Francisco. 

#This story is a re-work of a Yalumba press release that I thought would be of interest to readers. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

What will be the coolest bar during Sydney's Vivid festival?

Grain Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney is aiming to be "the place to be" during Sydney's Vivid festival. 
The popular George Street bar will be illuminated with light projections and green luminescent Dom Pérignon Luminous Champagne bottles from 6pm each night from May 26 through to late June.

During the pop-up, Grain Bar will serve Dom Pérignon by the glass for $60, and Dom Pérignon Luminous bottles paired with a complimentary dozen freshly shucked oysters for $375. 
Created to match with the Champagne will be a bespoke menu of gourmet treats, including lobster corn dogs with citrus aioli and duck fat fries ($24); a trio of crispy truffle Gruyere “pleasure domes” ($21); and Sydney Rock oysters with smoked soy bonito mignonette ($4.50 each, $26 half dozen or $48 dozen).

Grain's mixologists will also be serving up a special signature cocktail inspired by the colours of Vivid Sydney. The violet-glowing Viva Violetta cocktail ($18) will be made with purple-coloured Ink Gin from the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, which gets its unique shade from an infusion of Butterfly Pea flower petals. 
One of the few bars in Sydney with a fireplace, Grain is a popular option for a cosy drink or bite to eat before, during or after exploring Vivid, including the Light Walk throughout the bar's neighbourhood of The Rocks and Circular Quay.
Throughout Vivid, Grain will also continue to serve up its regular list of wine, cocktails, boutique beers and craft spirits.
Open from noon until late daily, Grain Bar is located at 199 George Street in the Four Seasons and next to Circular Quay and the Rocks precinct. (02) 9250 3118.

# This story is a re-work of a press release for those who might be interested.

Meet South Africa's global magnet for curry lovers

The Oyster Box at Umhlanga Rocks is one of South Africa’s most famous boutique hotels - partly because of one of its star culinary offerings.

The Curry Buffet in the Ocean Terrace Restaurant is a drawcard for both locals and tourists, along with an extensive, award-winning wine list centring on South Africa and Bordeaux, along with offerings from Italy, New Zealand, Australia and Burgundy.

Set on a terrace with views of the Indian Ocean, the impressive curry selection, of at least 11 curries daily (and up to 20 on busy days), includes meat, fish and vegetarian options.

Using delicate blends of spices and fresh herbs, each curry reflects Indian or South African roots.

Tastes range from a Singapore fish curry to the spicy, hot lamb vindaloo, smooth butter chicken, vegetable korma and sugar-bean curry. The nearby city of Durban’s famous chicken and prawn curry and the Oyster Box’s signature traditional Durban lamb curry remain firm favourites.

The buffet is accompanied by fresh, homemade condiments (an amazing number thereof) including lime and vegetable pickle, chutneys, raitas, sambals and freshly baked naan breads, pappadums and rotis.

The curry buffet costs just R320 ($32 Australian) per person and is available for both lunch and dinner. To make a restaurant booking call +27 315145000.

The Oyster Box, a gorgeous hotel in its own right, is a member of Red Carnation Hotels, a private, family-run collection of boutique hotels in London, Guernsey, Dorset, Geneva, South Africa and Palm Beach. 

# The writer was a guest of South African Tourism.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

New attractions in South Africa's wine capital

Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second-oldest town and wine tourism capital, is very much on the move. 

I visited a couple of months ago, staying at the excellent Oude Werf Hotel, and in just a couple of months new dining options have opened up in a town surrounded by dramatic scenery and vineyards, rich Cape heritage, art and architecture. 

One of the world’s leading wine tourism destinations with more than 150 wine farms, Stellenbosch offers visitors exciting and authentic experiences including tastings, world-class restaurants, family attractions and exciting lifestyle activities, 

Stellenbosch is located only 30 minutes inland from the Cape’s best beaches, 40km from Cape Town International Airport and 50km from Cape Town itself. 

It is an ideal hub from which to explore the city, coastal regions and the rest of the Cape Winelands.

A recent restaurant arrival in town: The Fat Butcher

The Fat Butcher is a new kid in Stellenbosch's bustling gourmet quarter, a modern steakhouse situated on the corner of Drostdy and Van Riebeeck streets, surrounded by the town’s oldest buildings. The menu features a choice between burgers, grills (“allegaartjie” mixed grill, pork ribs, lamb rump & lamb T-bone), steaks (200-300g sirloin, rump, fillet, dry-aged New York cut, cote du boeuf, T-bone, and three signature steaks) and a few “local flavour” favourites (pork belly, lamb shank, pie of the day, porcini risotto and oxtail). 

The space in this historical building got a contemporary interior revamp with tasteful leather booths, wooden tables, textured wall paint and a masculine yet luxurious feel. 

A new dining experience: The Bus Stop @ Stellenbosch Vineyards

The casual Bus Stop promises to serve the best burgers, pizzas and waffles in the winelands. 

This casual eatery is situated in the centre of the pond on the Welmoed farm, sporting a bright yellow 1980 Bedford bus as the heart of the centrepiece. This "food truck" has been refurbished into a bar serving and highlighting the innovative Infusions, the farm’s heritage brand Welmoed and the home brand Stellenbosch Vineyards. The menu features craft beer, wood-fired pizzas and burgers from the open-air kitchen.

Autumn special: Delheim Goes Cape Malay 

One of the iconic estates in the Cape winelands is featuring traditional Cape Malay flavours for a series of special lunches during May. 

Known for their spice and warmth, the Cape Malay dishes will be an ideal foil for the cold days that lie ahead. Dates are May 13, 20 and 27 – and bookings are now open.

For more information on the Stellenbosch Experience, and reasons to visit the region, visit: 

# The writer was a guest of Amarula

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sydney comes alive during winter

Sydney, Australia's liveliest city, does not rest during winter with late May and early June seeing the city spark into full colour during the Vivid Festival. 

Over 23 nights, from Friday, May 26, to Saturday, June 17, the city will be bathed in the brilliance of 90 installations and projections, created by more than 180 Australian and international artists, across seven precincts including for the first time, recently opened Barangaroo (South).
Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the unveiling of Vivid Sydney's biggest and best-ever festival was just around the corner and Sydney is preparing to play host to a huge influx of visitors.
“As we countdown to opening night, preparations are in their final stages, with special effects being tested, kilometres of cable and fibre optics being rolled out, thousands of lights ready to be installed and Vivid themed-menus being finessed by Sydney's top chefs and restaurateurs,” Marshall said.
The expanded 2017 Vivid Sydney line-up includes more than 400 Vivid Music events, up from 190 in 2016, across 40 venues. There will also be more than 260 Vivid Ideas sessions, up from 183 in 2016, featuring 370 speakers from 12 countries across 67 venues.
“Vivid Sydney's biggest-ever program follows last year's record-breaking festival, which saw more than 2.31 million attendees, including more than 184,000 overnight domestic and international visitors (17,000 from China alone), contribute more than $110 million in visitor spend to the NSW economy,” Marshall said.
“As Vivid Sydney grows in scale and stature, it also grows in importance to the state's visitor economy, driving tourism for Sydney and rural and regional NSW, and reinforcing Sydney's reputation as a leading creative industries hub in the Asia Pacific region.
“Now is the perfect time for visitors to start planning their trip, and the best way to experience Vivid Sydney is to explore several precincts over different nights to take in all the lights and the sights.”

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Getting up close and personal with Canada's icebergs

Newfoundland holds a special place in my heart. 

It was the birthplace of my late father, home to several cousins and one of the quirkiest places on the planet. 

Newfoundland also has many things in common with Tasmania, where I now live, including the fact that both islands have long, cold winters. 

Newfoundland and Labrador have one tourism edge over Tasmania, however: the many icebergs to be found along the famous Iceberg Alley.

The huge iceberg that parked itself off the coast of the tiny seaside town of Ferryland over the Easter weekend was just the beginning of what is shaping as a bumper 'berg season.

The International Ice Patrol (IPP) suggests the increase in icebergs in Newfoundland may be the result of storms earlier in the year, causing more Greenland ice to break off than normal, with strong winds drawing the icebergs south.

Fans of these colossal ice mountains flock to Newfoundland off Canada's north-east between May and August to witness an extraordinary parade. This year, however, the season may well be extended with at least 700 icebergs expected to make their way as far as St John's in southern Newfoundland.

On a sunny day, these 10,000-year-old glacial giants can be viewed along the northern and eastern coasts, with colours ranging from snow-white to deep aquamarine. 

Visitors can get up close with these icy goliaths on a boat tour, or paddle alongside them in a sea kayak.

As the sun sets, they can head back to St John's and sip on Iceberg Vodka, made from what is promoted as "the purest water on the planet" - although Tasmania may dispute that. 

Iceberg hunters harvest the ancient ice, comprised of water frozen long before industrial pollution, creating a uniquely smooth, quintessential Canadian vodka.

Air Canada flies daily to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane with connecting flights through to St John's in Newfoundland and Labrador via Toronto. It's a long trip, but it's worth it. Visit