Category Food & Wine

An Insider’s Guide to Melbourne’s Laneways

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Centre Way. Photo by Robyn Lea

Melbourne’s laneways are the soul of the city. Learn your way around these hidden pathways and you will discover that Melbourne, not Sydney, is the center of art, fashion and café life in Australia. (And for those who don’t know the term, a laneway is a collective term for narrow streets and alleyways that weave around Melbourne’s central business district.)

“The laneways are our bloodlines. They are where our heritage blends with younger entrepreneurs making their mark in the city,” says Fiona Sweetman, director of Melbourne’s Hidden Secrets Tours.

Melbourne’s character was forged after the 1850s gold rush when for a short time it became the wealthiest city on the planet.  Large ornate public buildings were built on the bullock-dray-wide avenues whilst in the narrow streets behind, small workshops, stables and factories serviced the burgeoning city...

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Hoshinoya Kyoto: classic Japanese inn with a twist

Hoshinoya Kyoto has been built with traditional Japanese craftsmanship

Hoshinoya Kyoto is a unique contemporary ryokan inside a noble’s retreat on the banks of the Ooigawa River in Arashiyama, just outside Kyoto. It offers a rare vision of authentic Japan incorporating a reverence for traditional culture with a whimsical modern sensibility. There are few Japanese high-end inns, indeed few resorts in the world, whose aesthetic appeals both to well-heeled locals and an informed international clientele. Hoshinoya is breaking new ground.

To get to Hoshinoya, I arrive at a dock near the famous moon-viewing Togetsukyo Bridge for the ten-minute trip in a covered boat along the forest-lined river. Tomoko Tsuchima greets me and shows me around the re-imagined interior and exterior spaces of this protected heritage site. Hoshinoya’s designers have utilised centuries-old techniques of Kyoto craftsmen…hand-crafted washi paper, latticework, ceramic roof tiles, sand plastered walls…to create a modern gem embodying the lightness of touch inherent in good Japanese design.

At t...

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Lima’s Exciting Restaurant Scene

MFP new world food

The hottest restaurant destination in South America, Lima was once a mere launching pad for trips to Machu Picchu or the Amazon. Today this gourmet melting pot is luring the world’s foodies with its mind-boggling array of local seafood, potatoes, corn, grains, chillies and exotic tropical fruits enlivened by its melange of indigenous, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese cultures.

Mistura food festival

The Mistura food festival, which, appropriately, means mixture in Spanish, is held in Lima every September.  South America’s largest food festival, it has put Peru on the world food stage. When invited chefs like Rene Redzepi, Ferran Adria and Michel Bras get so excited about what is going on here the word spreads. Mistura takes a broad approach to food, which is why it is so much fun. It is a rich cultural feast with street food, farmers, celebrity chefs, folk dances, restaurants, artisanal products, even a chocolate market and a section dedicated to Pisco, Peru’s famed grape brandy...

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Tasmania’s radical contemporary Museum of Old and New Art

Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art.

Tasmania’s MONA on the banks of the Derwent River.
Photo credit: Leigh Carmichael

Tasmania’s $75 million Museum of Old and New Art is the must-see destination in the island state once more famous for its dramatic landscapes and outdoor adventures. It seems like everybody, from European art buffs to everyday mums and dads, is abuzz about MONA, located in a subterranean sandstone structure on the banks of the Derwent River in Hobart. The largest private museum in Australia, MONA offers indoor adventures that rival New York’s edgiest galleries.

It is also no one trick pony since it is wedged into cliffs on the vine-dotted grounds of the Moorilla Estate winery which has a wine bar, cellar door for wine tastings and Moo Brew beer tastings, a fancy French-inspired restaurant and eight contemporary accommodation pavilions.

MONA has also spawned a slew of fabulous festivals and markets that bring a kaleidoscope of locals, interstate and international visitors to this creative mecca that just so happens to be located in an industrial suburb on the outskirts of a small city on the tip of the Southern Hemisphere.

 

David...

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Photo Friday: Wharekauhau New Zealand luxury lodge

Wharekauhau Luxury Lodge is on the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand

I took this Photo Friday image on the way to one of New Zealand’s spectacular luxury lodges: Wharekauhau Country Estate.

Wharekauhau Country Estate

Driving 90 minutes from the nation’s capital of Wellington to Wharekauhau Country Estate, I zigzagged through the brooding Rimutaka Ranges and then followed country roads over rolling green hills. Everywhere I looked were gamboling long-tailed suckling lambs with their mothers. The whole landscape was Pure New Zealand, where sheep outnumber people twenty to one.

In the distance, nestled amongst hedgerows in a fold of emerald green pasture is Wharekauhau’s cream stucco Edwardian manor house with a steeply pitched roof dotted with large chimneys, its expansive bay windows overlooking a shimmering celadon sea...

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New York City Boutique Hotels: Soho, Midtown, Upper East Side

New York Hotels MFP

The lobby of the Chatwal Hotel

New York City: so much to do and see, so little time. The general idea is find a good base and sally forth but that almost misses the point. Even though Manhattan is home to 1.6 million people, the island is tiny, just 21.6 kilometers long and 3.7 kilometers wide. But it is far from homogenous and is really a series of small villages that are completely distinctive.

A cool way to explore the city is to base yourself in three interesting boutique hotels that each define their particular neighborhood for three completely different Manhattan experiences. Here is my guide to Soho staying at the Crosby Street Hotel, Midtown staying at the Chatwal, and the Upper East Side staying at The Surrey.

Th...

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Wine and long-held traditions in Victoria’s King Valley

Victoria's King Valley wine region has a strong Italian flavour

Victoria’s King Valley is a laid back wine region where you’ll not only meet the makers but you might also sit down with them over a few bottles of wine and a hearty family-style meal, much of which comes from their own veggie patches and orchards groaning with oranges, figs and apples.

Family is king in the King Valley whether it is Aussie settlers like fifth generation cattle farmers Anna Marie and Graham Forge or the Italian families, like the Pizzinis, Dal Zottos, and Politinis, who settled here after World War II. The Italians first grew tobacco but, at the encouragement of one of Australia’s oldest wine-growing families, the Brown Brothers in nearby Milawa, they became contract grape growers. In the last couple of decades, the grape growers became winemakers and today they are passionate about Italian varietals… Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Arneis, Barbera and, of course, Prosecco.

Packing Prosecco

The Forge family is the last remaining settler family on the King River

Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King ...

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Best Luxury Resort in New South Wales: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa: luxury and conservation

The Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa offers a beguiling mix of unbridled luxury and environmental sustainability.  If you are looking for the best luxury resort in New South Wales, this is it. Even better, it is immersed in a dramatic outback landscape which the resort has gone to great pains to preserve, restore and protect.

It feels like you have entered a lost world when you arrive. The 4,000-acre conservancy reserve is located at the base of its own hidden canyon surrounded by ancient sun-drenched escarpments in a tucked-away part of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains several hours’ drive out of Sydney.

It is the first carbon neutral resort in the world to be certified through an internationally accredited greenhouse gas program and one of its key initiatives has been to restore the indigenous habitat of the former cattle property, including planting of more than 175,000 indigenous plants and restoring of the original 1832 homestead.

Occupying just two per cent of the reserve, the $125-million resort features a two-story barn-like main homestead building, constructed of wood, sandstone and glass, plus on-site recycled building materials, and an entire flotilla of 40 free-standing luxury Federation-style bungalows.

The r...

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Brisbane is Australia’s New World City with great food, shops and culture

Overlooking the Brisbane CBD as it wraps around the Brisbane River

There’s an old joke that does a pretty good job of describing Brisbane compared to Australia’s other major capital cities. It goes something like this. In Melbourne, people ask where you went to school. In Sydney, they ask what suburb you live in. But in Brisbane they say, ‘Come and have a beer mate!’

Brisbane has always had a big country town demeanour, which of course has its plusses and minuses. Growing up here in the 1970s, it felt like I was drowning in its laconic torpor with not much more going on than the horse races and cricket on muggy weekend afternoons. Fast forward forty years and Brisbane is now marketing itself as Australia’s New World City and there are plenty of cultural and culinary adventures in store.

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Romantic Paris: best hotels, best restaurants, best experiences

There's nothing more romantic than a Parisian sunset.Ah, Paris and Romance…the two go hand in hand like, well, those in love.  And the only way to enjoy Paris as a couple is to be “flaneurs” or saunterers. It’s not about rushing around ticking off the sights.

The City of Light makes a perfect backdrop for couples: from its tree-lined boulevards and parks to the quays and bridges of the Seine. Forget the tourist-clogged Champs Elysees and Eiffel Tower and stroll arm in arm with your beloved admiring the city’s voluptuous sculptures and luminescent light.

Why not indulge in a sublime pastry then choose an art exhibition or a performance at the Opera Garnier or buy your sweetheart a bouquet of blushing roses. You won’t find more exquisite blooms than those in Paris’ tucked-away flower shops. Luxuriate on a café terrace clinking glasses of the palest pink rose. Eschew a cab, and take out a free Velib bicycle to peddle slowly along a boulevard bike path under the dappled light of plane trees...

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