Friday, 11 August 2017

Australia's own spirit links up with fashion icons

Forget Grey Goose, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff or Bacardi. 

Australia’s very own spirit, Vantage Australia, has been selected as the official cocktail sponsor for the Myer 2017 Spring Fashion launch taking place in Sydney on August 17.

The Vantage Australia team has created four special cocktails to serve at the A-list events with the who’s who of Australia’s fashion and social scene set to attend (my invite again went missing). 

The first of two events will be held during the day at a private residence at Coogee where both Aussie and international designers will showcase their latest collections at an exclusive fashion showcase headed sy Jennifer Hawkins. 

Vantage Australia has created a special activated-charcoal black Cosmopolitan to reflect the coastal views of Coogee Beach and its dramatic cliff’s edge.

Vantage Australia will also be having its mixologist on board at the second Myer event taking place that evening at Bronte’s Beach Surf Life Saving Club where guests will be taken back to a quintessential Australian childhood in summer. 

Inspired by some Aussie favourites, such as Frosty Fruits and Ginger Snaps, Vantage has developed three cocktails reminiscent of growing up in Australia: 

Frosty Fruit Granita: Vantage, cold pressed orange juice, pineapple juice and passion fruit  

Classic Vantage and Soda: Vantage, CAPI sparkling, fresh lemon 

The Ginger Snap: Vantage, CAPI flamin ginger, garnished with mint and lime. 

Reflective of the Aussie outback, Vantage white spirit draws its inspiration from native flora. 

For details see:

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

New Zealand awards reveal the best of the best

Pacifica in Hawke's Bay on the east coast of the North Island has been named the best restaurant in the country in New Zealand’s most prestigious restaurant awards.

The 2017 Cuisine Good Food Awards showcase the best New Zealand when it comes to food and wine - and the rising stars. 

At Pacifica, the celebrated Māori chef Jeremy Rameka combines Michelin-quality cooking with a casual New Zealand atmosphere, which you'll find in a weathered wooden bungalow near the coast.

Think dishes like pan-seared sesame crusted trevally with squid mince and green lip mussel sago.

Pacifica wasn’t the only Hawke's Bay eatery to get a mention with local favourite Bistronomy taking out best regional restaurant.

Malo, Hawke's Bay’s new kid on the block, picked up best new regional restaurant making this North Island region the big winner on the night. 

Auckland chef Ed Verner was named chef of the year for his work at his restaurant Pasture, while in Marlborough, Liz Buttimore, front of house star at Arbour, was awarded restaurant personality of the year. 

Oamaru restaurateur Fleur Sullivan of Fleur’s Place won a new award, the Food Legend. Fleur’s menu is simple and based on whatever is available on the day - the selection of seafood caught by the Moeraki Bay fishing boats that unload their daily catch on the wharf beside the restaurant.

Cuisine Restaurant Of The Year
Pacifica (Hawkes Bay)

Vittoria Coffee Chef Of The Year
Ed Verner, Pasture (Auckland)

Santa Vittoria Best Metropolitan Restaurant
Apero (Auckland)

Stuff Fibre Best New Metropolitan Restaurant
Gatherings (Christchurch)

Neat Meat Best Regional Restaurant
Bistronomy (Hawkes Bay)

Neighbourly Best New Regional Restaurant
Malo (Hawke's Bay)

Estrella Damm Best Specialist Restaurant
Cassia (Auckland) Best Casual Dining Restaurant
Azabu (Auckland)

Kenwood Restaurant Personality Of The Year  
Liz Buttimore, Arbour (Marlborough)

Ora King Salmon Innovation Award
Vaughan Mabee, Amisfield (Central Otago)

Cuisine Recommends Best Winery Restaurant
Black Estate (Canterbury)

Nautilus Estate of Marlborough Best Drinks List
Pasture (Auckland)

Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience
Noble Rot (Wellington)

Food Legend Award
Fleur Sullivan, Fleur's Place (Oamaru)

A unique taste of South Africa on the Cape Town waterfront

The Cape Grace Hotel is one of the most fashionable addresses in Cape Town and its Bascule Bar is one the trendiest spots to visit for a waterfront drink.

Right on the water’s edge at the V&A Waterfront yacht marina and with superb views of Table Mountain, Bascule is a café during the day that transforms into a lively bar when the sun goes down.

The Cape Grace Hotel, recently named one of the “Top City Hotels in Africa”, has launched a new drinks menu as part of its countdown to its 21st birthday.

The new cocktail list features ingredients grown only in South Africa and the hotel says it enables "guests to embark on an exploration of the country’s landscapes, folklore and history".

A variety of new cocktails aim to tell a uniquely South African story incorporating local flavours and fragrances.

Bascule Bar manager Victor Kirkbride says: “It is such an honour and pleasure to be unveiling this new collection of beverages to our guests. Guests are becoming more adventurous with their palates and the new menu is designed to get people excited about local, unique ingredients.

"We champion only the finest hand-crafted local spirits such as fynbos gin, multi-award-winning brandy and Methode Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling wine made in the surrounding winelands.

The new ‘Taste of 21’ cocktail range includes:
Cape Classique: A cocktail variation consisting of KWV 10-year-old brandy and rooibos syrup topped with Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine.

Amber Martini: A blend of Inverroche Amber Fynbos Gin, orange marmalade, Triple Sec (orange liqueur) and fresh lemon juice.

Rooibos Whisky Sour: Three Ships Bourbon Cask Whisky, fresh lime juice and rooibos syrup.

The bar has a selection of over 400 whiskies from around the world as well as serving classics like negronis.

For further information please visit

Monday, 7 August 2017

Coonawarra and Tasmanian vignerons hit the road

Winemakers from Coonawarra and Tasmania are ready to set off on their annual roadshows to highlight their wares to the rest of Australia.

The Coonawarra Roadshow will have over 100 wines available for tasting - along with the chance to meet the good folk who make the wines.

Here are the dates:

Wed, August 9 5-8pm, Federation Square – The Atrium

Hobart: Thu August 10 5-8pm, The Derwent Room, Wrest Point

Sydney: Fri August 11, 5-8pm, Ivy Sunroom, The Ivy
Brisbane: Sun August 13, 2-5pm, Moda Events Portside
Adelaide: Fri August 18, 5-8pm, The Sanctuary, Adelaide Zoo
Perth: Sunday, August 20, 2-5pm, East Fremantle Yacht Club 

Tasmania's finest will take their VIN Diemen tasting to Sydney and Melbourne this weekend with over 100 wines from 25 producers alongside some iconic Tasmanian gourmet goodies.

Sydney: Sat August 12, Noon-5pm, Cell Block Theatre. Darlinghurst

Melbourne: Sun August 13: Noon-5pm, Melbourne Meat Market, North Melbourne 


Jetstar to launch Hobart-Adelaide flights

In a move that will be welcomed by both tourists and those involved in the wine industry, Jetstar has announced it will begin three times weekly direct flights between Adelaide and Hobart from November 14.

The first direct flights between the two cities since Tiger Airways pulled off the route in August 2010- meaning all flights go via Melbourne and can take up to six hours. 

The new services will be operated by 180-seat Airbus A320s on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Up to 55,000 people are expected to travel on the flights each year.
“Thousands of travellers already fly from Hobart to Adelaide via Melbourne, so we are excited to offer direct low fares between the two cities, making it even easier to travel,” Jetstar group chief commercial officer Catriona Larritt said in a statement on Monday.
“Both Hobart and Adelaide are experiencing record tourism numbers, and we expect inbound tourism to the two cities to further strengthen with the addition of our new direct flights.
"We’ll start with three flights a week, if demand exceeds that, we’re always adjusting our schedule to provide what customers want.” Jetstar last flew the route in 2006. 
The new flight from Hobart will depart at 5:45pm, arriving in Adelaide at 7:15pm, with the return service then departing Adelaide at 7:45pm and arriving in Hobart at 10.05pm.
“The Adelaide-Hobart route has been our largest unserved market for some time,"said Adelaide Airport managing director Mark Young. 
"We know there is significant demand from customers to fly direct rather than via Sydney or Melbourne.” 
Adelaide will become Jetstar’s fifth destination from Hobart, and the Qantas low-cost offshoot says it now operates more flights to and from Tasmania than any other airline.

Parramatta moves upmarket with new five-star hotel

Parramatta,which has ambitions to be recognised as Sydney's second CBD, this week gets its first five-star hotel. 

SKYE Hotel Suites Parramatta opens its doors with 72 apartment-style suites. 

Each features L’Occitane toiletries, in-room dining from a modern on-site restaurant, a pre-stockable maxi-bar, the ability to choose your mattress firmness on each side of the bed, keyless entry and ‘virtual concierge’ tablets to enable access to all hotel services from each suite.
Amenities include a state-of-the-art gymnasium, pool, sundeck, spa, sauna and new restaurant, Husk & Vine Kitchen and Bar, which opened at lobby level on July 1.
Later this year cocktail operative Sven Almenning (the press release calls him a cocktail legend) will open a 26th-floor rooftop bar. 

When breaking ground for the development, Crown Group discovered archaeological remains integral to Parramatta’s historical and cultural past, including an 1840s house, an underlying convict hut, wheelwright’s workshop and the cellar of the Wheat Sheaf Hotel, which were preserved for public display and have inspired Husk & Vine’s decor.

The building itself is an architectural centrepiece for Parramatta, located less than 300 metres from Parramatta Square and a short walk from Parramatta’s train station and ferry wharf. 

Future SKYE Hotels Suites openings include Sydney CBD in 2018 and Green Square in 2019. 

SKYE Hotel Suites Parramatta, 30 Hunter Street, Parramatta. (02) 7803 2388.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

I want nothing this society's got; I'm going underground

The White Cliffs Underground Motel – the largest underground accommodation in Australia – has embarked on a major makeover including subterranean digging to further expand the 32-room hotel in the remote outback town.

One of only three ‘dugout’ motels in Australia, the White Cliffs Underground Motel attracts guests from around the world who enjoy a constant temperature of 22 degrees as well as a licensed restaurant, café, bar and above-ground swimming pool. 

It is located in a tiny opal-mining township is located in far western NSW, 1025km from Sydney and 781km north-east of Adelaide.

The motel dates back to the early 1900s when opal miners sought sleeping quarters away from the heat. It later became a family home and opened as a motel in 1989, with a new outback tourism company, Out of the Ordinary Outback, purchasing the property in 2016 as part of its growing stable of NSW outback experiences.

Unveiling details of the motel’s redevelopment, Out of the Ordinary Outback owner Scott Smith said eight rooms had already been completely renovated with new bedding and furnishings while beer on tap had also been added recently. 

Works to be completed by April 2018 included underground excavations to add en suite bathrooms to 12 rooms, a new family entertainment and games room, a new, outdoor lounge bar with wood-fired heater and flat-screen TV for use in winter, as well as eco-misting to cool down guests in outdoor areas in summer.

“Our underground motel in White Cliffs, a desert hamlet full of raw charm and colourful characters, is world famous so the aim of our upgrade is to improve amenities and further enhance the property’s appeal to guests from across Australia and overseas,” Smith said.

As part of the redevelopment, White Cliffs Underground Motel is offering a discount on two-night stays. Bookings made by September 30, 2017, are available from $291 per couple for two nights – an 11 per cent saving – or from $261 for solo travellers – a 13 per cent reduction. Tariffs include a continental breakfast both days.
Tri State Safaris and White Cliffs Underground Motel are owned by Out of the Ordinary Outback which also owns The Argent Motel in Broken Hill, the Warrawong on the Darling tourist camp and cabins at Wilcannia, the Copper City Motel in Cobar and the Ivanhoe Hotel. 

It all sounds like great fun. To book visit or call 1300 688 225.