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Jamie Durrant

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From Mansfield to Beechworth these are some of the best places to eat and drink  in Victoria’s High Country. Eldorado Road Cellar Door, Beechworth, Victoria Visiting Eldorado Road’s newly expanded Beechworth cellar door and cantina is a destination to underline on your High Country itinerary’s list. A tasting of their ultra premium wines, local and imported artisan cheeses and charcuterie presents a gourmand’s dream, all delivered effortlessly in a relaxed and somewhat micro storefront tastings…

Encore St Kilda Beach has won triple category awards at this year’s Victoria & Tasmania Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. Encore operated the Melbourne Hospitality People Group is famous for its beachside food and drink icons: Republica and Captain Baxter (St Kilda Beach) and Mr McCracken within the Essendon Fields Hyatt Place Melbourne hotel complex. The multi-function Encore venue was awarded in the Wedding Caterer, Function/Convention Centre Caterer and Caterer of…

Finally this week, some good news from Hong Kong! Billed as the highest rooftop bar in the world, Ozone has just launched an epic new cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the five elements of nature — metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Promising a tasting experience that’s worth the journey to the top of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Centre building in Tsim Sha Tsui, these drinks coupled with sweeping views of…

Celebrating the launch of the new Aussie online retailer Epic Wines Online, we spoke to founder Trevor Knaggs about which wine pack gift makes Epic Wines Online a good choice for Father’s Day. Why Epic Wines Online? ‘At Epic Wines Online we only sell organic, biodynamic or sustainable wines. These wines are produced in ways that respect the planet and as they’re chemical free, are not harmful your body. We curate these premium wines into…

Seared Duck Salad with cress, quinoa, pecans, goat’s curd and blackberry balsamic dressing Serves 4 4 duck breasts, skin on 1 cup cooked quinoa 1 bunch, picked water cress 4 tbsp goat’s curd 4 small radishes, thinly sliced ½ cup toasted pecans Blackberry balsamic dressing 1 cup of fresh blackberries to serve Blackberry Balsamic Dressing 1 cup fresh blackberries ½ cup Australian extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup balsamic vinegar 2 tsp brown sugar Juice of…

At a time when uber cool black hotel interiors are the order of the day, Brisbane’s new Art Series Hotel – The Fantauzzo uses black in wonderful context. Some might consider it slightly mood zapping, but we think it’s black and charcoal colour scheme that you’ll love, accentuating the art and amplifying the raw story telling of Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo. Tucked snugly underneath Brisbane’s Story Bridge and providing a powerful visual backdrop to the…

Seedlip is a novel non-alcoholic distilled drink – the perfect tipple to drink when you’re not drinking – that has launched to great acclaim in the US and the UK and been embraced by celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning bartenders, from Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck to Eleven Madison Park (named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2017) and Dead Rabbit (named the World’s Best Bar of 2016). Seedlip, the brainchild of UK-based entrepreneur, botany enthusiast…

Essentials’ favourite High Country pub, the Harrietville Snowline Hotel, has recently boosted its appeal by hosting large group and corporate team-building events that leverage the pub’s unique contacts and knowledge of High Country adventure and lifestyle activities. Recent hosted weekend retreats, including one for Melbourne accounting firm Bluerock, have seen groups of up to 100 take to the nearby mountains and trails for challenges including skiing, cycling and rope activities; plus excursions to breweries and…

There’s a new force for change happening in the Australian wine industry and the South Australian regions of Mclaren Vale and Adelaide Hills are leading the way. The positive new direction is the production of certified organic and biodynamic wines – wines that are sustainably grown and made with minimal intervention – meaning an all natural, chemical and additive free process. In terms of industry sales both down under and the world over, the organic…

Artisan dairy producer Andre Kogut, for the past 12 years, has been making premium organic cheeses at his Blue Bay dairy in Mornington, south of Melbourne. Products include the delicious and versatile European cottage style cheese Quark. Vareniki are classic Slavic dumplings, usually filled with quark or fresh curd cheese, berries, mashed potatoes or other meatless ingredients. They are half moon in shape and are typically made using a yeast-free dough. The following recipe is…

If you’re a lover of finely detailed and rather dramatic nineteenth century landscape art, like myself, then you might have, at one time or another appreciated the works of the Hudson River School art movement. Their aesthetic vision was influenced by Romanticism but also focused on three themes of the America in the nineteenth century: discovery, exploration, and settlement. Filled with power and energy, works like A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House,…

Chef Roi Rigoni talks about his carbonara ‘epiphany’ and the culinary gifts of his mother Bruna, while partner Sue White enthuses over her new Raffaello ice-cream. Since 1996, partners in art and life Roi Rigoni and Sue White have been sharing their version of modern Italian hospitality with Kiewa Valley locals and visitors at their whimsical restaurant, Roi’s Diner, which reflects the personalities of this culinary duo. Roi’s food, based on the traditional flavours of…

The mid-winter sun exudes relaxation, with the outside temperature reaching at a pleasant 17 degrees. A crowd is gathering inside the private dining room – an extended group of family friends, many familiar faces, some new. I’ve arrived at Chrismont’s Cellar Door, Restaurant and Larder to celebrate a birthday, and while I’ve visited many times in the past, my eyes are still drawn outside to admire the children’s storybook forested hill that meets the valley…

A captivated crowd last night packed the house at the newly re-branded De Bortoli Wines Rutherglen Estate cellar door for the Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery landmark exhibition titled: Northern Exposure – Stories from Lockhart River and Fitzroy Crossing. Flying in from Lockhart River, Cape York, and arriving to the gallery decked out in a thick winter jacket, woolen gloves and beanie; the cold climate was the only shocking element that Aboriginal artist Patrick Butcher Jnr faced as…

The Van Haandel Group has this week announce its appointment of award-winning chef Oliver Hansford (of Stokehouse Melbourne) as the new Executive Chef of Stokehouse Q, Brisbane. Ollie returns to Brisbane and Stokehouse Q, having been awarded the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Young Chef of the Year Award in 2016, and following on from his current role with the Group as Head Chef at Stokehouse St Kilda, overseeing the relaunch of the iconic Melbourne…

In the Footsteps of Tatiana Metanova After an early morning flight over Russia’s vast tundra, laid flat like moss-green jigsaw pieces interspersed with connecting waterways and small lakes, we were finally on descent into Leningrad, or Saint Petersburg, as it is once again known as today. From my window seat I had a perfect view of Lake Ladoga. Here in the winter of 1941 the 219-kilometre ‘Road of Life’, was built on the lake’s 90-150cm…

Architect Edwin Mintoff has been awarded one of the world’s most prestigious design awards: The European Prix Versailles Special Prize for the design of the Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour in Senglea, Malta; in the category of Exterior Hotel Design. The Prix Versailles World Architecture and Design Awards are compiled at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, and encompasses several categories, with the winners being selected by…

In Australia, tuna, salmon and kingfish are commonly used for sashimi in Japanese restaurants however in tropical North Queensland, coral trout, Spanish mackerel, tropical crayfish and scallops can be used. While you’ll need to ask your fishmonger for sashimi grade, ultra clean and fresh fish, preparing sashimi is not overly complex – just a freshly sharpened knife and a careful hand should assist in some well presented cuts. A few secret ingredients like Fresh As (brand) freeze dried…

New Zealand freeze dried ingredient company Fresh As are culinary leaders in capturing the intense flavours of fresh fruits, herbs and many other food delicacies – literally frozen in time. Their products including freeze dried food segments and powders, give chefs a new set of creative powers – enhancing dishes with both flavour punch and great textural accompaniment. This recipe presents a little taste of its freeze dried magic. Plum and Pistachio Semifreddo with Fresh…

Mat Picone, proprietor of Mansfield Coffee Merchant, has a solid hospitality background matched with a sense of creative business flair. He’s done his time working in both Melbourne cafés and coffee roasters like North Melbourne’s DiBella Coffee, plus has worked a string of winter seasons (2004-2009) at Mount Buller’s illustrious Chalet restaurant in Victoria’s high country, which is known for its contemporary dining and extensive list of 250 wines. It was through the eyes of…

The first exhibition of its kind to be presented in Australia, Northern Exposure – Stories from Lockhart River and Fitzroy Crossing launches later this month at Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery at Rutherglen Estates. Opening to the public on Friday June 21, the exhibition showcases works from three celebrated Aboriginal artists and will connect viewers with the joys of life on Country, Dreamtime spirits and Aboriginal culture; also showcasing all the colour, movement and textural feel of…

New Zealand freeze dried ingredient company Fresh As are culinary leaders in capturing the intense flavours of fresh fruits, herbs and many other food delicacies – literally frozen in time. Their products including freeze dried food segments and powders give chefs a new set of creative powers – enhancing dishes with both flavour punch and great textural accompaniment. Thanks to Essentials’ in-house chef Megan Chalmers, and an Essentials collaboration, several Fresh As products have recently…

In terms of wineries with a view, premium soils and brilliant cellar doors, Tallis Wine in Dookie, Victoria is one of my personal all time favourites. The modernist corrugated iron-clad cellar door architecture features sweeping views from its interior floor-to-ceiling glass, with the simplicity of the layout and sleek furnishings only adding to the wonderful feeling of calm. Perched in the rolling hills of Dookie and with around 30km of cropping and grazing land between…

While it might appear tiny, it’s amazing how vast and striking the contents of Beechworth’s Arcadia Gallery are. Owner Susan Reid describes the collection as pieces that are each connected in spirit; ‘hands, heart and mind,’ is a statement she uses to explain the feeling we experience upon stepping inside. ‘Everything here is made by one pair of hands,’ she says. ‘There’s also a lot of plant and botany in here but not necessarily botanical…

It’s deceptively simple in appearance yet there are delicately nuanced flavours that take me by surprise – it’s a rare delight. This is my first little tasting plate at Botanic Wine Garden, Port Macquarie; it will be one of a pleasurable many. The dish is presented in an elegant shallow bowl that’s painted with ingredients: sashimi kingfish, buttermilk, apple, basil oil, green chilli and fennel – it looks beautiful and the wine match is stellar.…

In late 2018 Mansfield winemaker Ros Ritchie opened a new cellar door within the historic Magnolia House – a late 1800s American Victorian-era kit home that was shipped to Melbourne as ballast, and on to the High Country via steam train by then owner Harry Amor of the Mansfield Courier. Constructed in 1908, the venue today is a fascinating place for sampling Ros’ premium cool climate wines. Complimenting these European varietals Essentials’ Megan Chalmers has put together…

To get a true taste of luxury, visiting Eldorado Road’s newly expanded Beechworth cellar door and cantina is a destination to underline on your itinerary’s list. A tasting of their ultra premium wines, local and imported artisan cheeses and charcuterie presents a gourmand’s dream, all delivered effortlessly in a relaxed and somewhat micro storefront tastings room and courtyard eatery complete with charcoal grill. While Beechworth is well known for its granitic soils, steep hillsides and…

The Whitsundays’ newest resort Elysian Retreat, Long Island recently opened for business. Adding a little tropical warmth to your week, we celebrate by sharing one of their in-house specialties: Fresh As Tropical Muesli with mascarpone, fresh tropical fruits, macadamia nut, Fresh As freeze-dried rhubarb batons and banana powder. Ingredients Toasted granola Fresh As Freeze-dried rhubarb batons, freeze-dried banana powder The Wild (lime & coconut muesli) used as a granola topping Your choice of quality Australian-made…

When it comes to rieslings, Australia has some fantastic regions now producing wines that in their own style match the quality and finesse of some of the most renowned wines from the Rhine River and Alsace regions of Europe. Aussies are also spoiled for choice, with winemakers experimenting with a wide variety of differing styles, some featuring youthful clean acidity with floral characteristics bursting from the glass, and others that present with a more layered…

Aboriginal artist Billy Doolan joins this weekend’s La Fiera Festival, set within the bustling country town of Myrtleford, situated on Victoria’s Great Alpine Road. Celebrating the Italian way of life in the Ovens Valley, the festival this year expands to include an Italian/Aboriginal art connection. The festival will this weekend host a selection of artworks from visiting Queensland Aboriginal artist Billy Doolan. Work from his Sicilian Dreaming exhibition – a touring show that was launched…