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Jamie Durrant

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Melbourne’s most exclusive Japanese restaurant is genuinely hard to find. It’s down a laneway off Bourke Street that seems to become invisible when you start looking for it – however Essentials has the secret instructional discovery details listed here. And for good reason, because on Monday, 23 September 2019, Ishizuka will present a special eight-course kaiseki dinner celebrating the world’s most sought after beef, showcasing both locally sourced David Blackmore 9+ score and imported Japanese…

We had to do a double take when we first saw this product and we think it has to be Australia’s best. This non-dairy brie cheese is a first for world production, non-dairy perfection – the colour, texture and taste are a serious win for vegans and those on selected diets. The plant-based ashed cashew brie is handcrafted in a completely traditional manner; inoculated and aged to produce the distinctive aroma and flavour of artisan…

Earlier this week, British airport lounge operator No1 Lounges launched its latest airport lounge together with airline partner Virgin Australia at Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal. Essentials spoke to No1 Lounges COO John Upton about their concept in airport lounging and how the new Brisbane offering is a game changer for the Australian market. Inside the Lounge My Lounge is a fresh take on the regular flight lounge model. With a clean and free-flowing appeal it…

There comes a time when a decadent dessert is the order of the day and this sweet extravagant bread and butter brioche pudding is designed to warm hearts and minds. Makes 4 individual puddings 4 eggs ¼ cup caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract ¼ tsp cinnamon 2 cups full cream milk 300ml thickened cream 4 small brioche buns 50g softened unsalted butter 1 small punnet of raspberries 1 small punnet of blackberries ½ cup…

If you admire fine rieslings from Europe then the award-winning Whistle and Hope label from Central Victorian winemaker Matt Kilby is one to watch. We spoke to him about his time working a vintage in Germany, and where he thinks the Aussie market is headed. We hear you worked a vintage in Mosel, Germany a few years back? I worked the vintage in Germany in 2015 for Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller. As an avid drinker and…

The secret to a good Café de Paris Butter, lies in a balance of fragrant herbs, curry powder, anchovies and of course a quality cultured French butter. The following recipe is inspired by one of Australia’s best, Neil Perry of Rockpool Bar and Grill; and is icon of his Rockpool’s culinary history. Café de Paris Butter 150g unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature 2 anchovies, finely chopped 2 tbsp finely chopped chives 2 tbsp finely…

Fish Ceviche is one of the most simple dishes to prepare, yet remains one of the most rewording. It’s great during the longer and lazier spring and summer days and is designed to delight the fussiest of foodies. Fish Ceviche 200g semi-firm, white-fleshed ocean fish, cleaned, sliced into small fillets (we used small spangled emperor fillets, skin on) Juice of 4 large limes 1 tsp commercial pickling mix spice 1 tsp freshly chopped dill ¼…

Nine craft breweries now officially make up the High Country Brewery Trail with two newcomers joining the ever-expanding fold – Mitta Mitta Brewing Co. with its new range including a cracker Belgian-styled farmhouse ale and Billson’s Brewery Beechworth, a brand that’s relaunched a series of historic beers using original recipes taken from a recently discovered secret brewer’s diary. Earlier this week all member brewers travelled to trail’s most north-easterly point Mitta Mitta, for the annual…

With more than two decades of experience in the coffee industry, Sydney based coffee aficionado and book author David Rosa has crafted what can only be described as the world’s most comprehensive coffee everything book The Artisan Roaster: revealing trade secrets, roasting tips, practical advice, hilarious anecdotes, tech specs, plus brief history on coffee – the book is a rewording and insightful new release. Some consider the self published book a modern bible, designed for…

The Buds have burst in the high altitude wine region of Orange, NSW and to celebrate the region’s winemakers and foodies have launched the 2019 Orange Wine Festival program; and it looks to be packed with adventure. Running from Friday, October 18 through to Sunday, October 27, events include behind-the-scenes access to wineries, meet-the-maker opportunities, a range of quality culinary experiences paired with the region’s award-winning wines and wine education sessions across a 10-day a…

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, Essentials spoke to founder Trevor Knaggs about which wine pack makes Epic Wines Online a good choice for premium red wine lovers. 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…

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…