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Jamie Durrant

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Port Macquarie Hastings River might not be a region that most would associate with grape growing; however it’s a little known fact that the French-American hybrid grape varietal chambourcin began its successful history exactly there, under the Cassegrain family, owners of Cassegrain Wines. Senior winemaker Alex Cassegrain explains that their family’s land had grown chambourcin vines beside the Hastings River from the early 1980s, chambourcin being chosen specifically for its resistance to fungal disease due…

Bills Fishhouse is one of Port Macquarie’s most respected and lively venues, a casual eatery featuring a gleaming open plan galley kitchen, a bar redolent of a coastal beach-hut and windows that open on to Clarence Street, allowing the fresh coastal breezes to flow inside. Tonight we share the dining room with a full house, and enjoy a welcoming and professional service that puts us immediately at ease. Fast become the seafood go-to centre of…

One has high expectations travelling on Qatar Airways’ multiple award winning ‘World’s Best Business Class’. With a focus on putting the passenger’s travel experience first, Qatar has certainly set the benchmark high, with its unparalleled level of service, spacious suites, and the ‘dine on demand’ approach which lets you order anything from the extensive menu at any time during your flight. More recently, Qatar Airways have teamed up with our very own celebrity chef George…

That’s Amore’s stracciatella cheese (made in Melbourne) is a luxuriously textured, fresh delight. This recipe pairing it with Garlicious Grown’s umami rich caramelised black garlic cloves makes a light and delightful flavoursome dip to share with friends. It’s fast and fab. 500g That’s Amore Cheese stracciatella, or try our ‘cheats stracciatella’ recipe (below) using bocconcini and double cream 5-6 Garlicious Grown caramelised black garlic cloves, peeled 2 brioche burger buns, dried in 120C oven for…

The pre-winter ice cold air is already blasting Ballarat, Victoria however the only things cool climate inside the opulent and very warm Craig’s Royal Hotel this Friday were the French and Australian wines. A packed house filled The Gallery Restaurant for Ian Curley’s French Saloon takeover; a staged dinner and wine challenge event – as a part of Plate-up Ballarat – where some of Victoria’s best wines were compared against premium drops from Champagne, Loire…

La Fiera is a six-day 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 takes place in the middle of May at the end of harvest, when the deciduous trees still have their warm autumn colours on show, just before the chill of winter sets in. These final glorious autumn days are shared with spectacular food, wine,…

Kompot is a non-alcoholic sweet beverage of Slavic origin, that may be served hot or cold, depending on tradition and season. 4 whole Davidson plums 150g red currants 200g sliced poached seasonal fruit (see recipe below) 2 tbsp sugar 8 -10 cups water 4 fresh lemon slices, and 30ml juice (optional) Method Over a low heat, warm fruit and liquid to a simmer, allowing sugar to dissolve and fruit to cook and collapse; cook for…

Renowned King Valley baker Thomas Moritz and partner Gabbi have just opened The Oven at Cheshunt in Victoria’s King Valley, and to celebrate, and as a part of the region’s Feast High Country Festival, they have teamed up with the valley’s best food producers to present Bona Fide Valley Brunch: a twin session Austrian and Italian-inspired dining extravaganza, and plus on site fresh food farmer’s market, all happening next Sunday, May 5. Victoria’s King Valley…

Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture and Tathra Oysters have dominated the 2019 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show – Aquaculture Competition, Sydney Rock Oyster & Prawn Classes, at its first-ever public judging, held on 12 April at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Australians love their seafood; it’s a large part of our culture and ongoing lifestyle, and for good reason – we have some of the most pristine waterways and expertly farmed aquaculture products in the world.…

A little over 30 minutes south of Port Macquarie, on NSW’s mid-north coast sits the pristine waterway, estuary and river system of Camden Haven and Dunbogan. These twin tiny hamlets feature a mixture of residential plus holiday and retirement homes, most fronting the water with views also to Dooragan National Park’s North Brother Mountain just beyond Camden Haven Inlet. This nearby peak dominates the scenery with its impressive rainforest canopy to form the perfect backdrop…

Garlicious Grown black garlic starts life as quality hard-necked garlic grown in Braidwood in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands about an hour from Canberra. It’s grown by farming friends and business partners Jenny Daniher and Cathy Owen. The process of producing black garlic involves taking only the best quality garlic and placing it in a special chamber at high humidity but low temperature for 30 days. During this period oxidation takes place and the…

Contemporary quality is the best way to describe this 5 star urban oasis, situated just a stone’s throw from the World Heritage listed Parramatta Park with its 85 hectares of grasslands, mature trees, gardens and river frontage. And though nearby prestigious Church Street offers a wealth of shopping experiences and cultural exchange of food offerings – an enticing mix of Egyptian, Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines, (inclusive of dozens of Halal options); no doubt…

This Salted Chocolate Tart with Burnt Honey and Black Tea Syrup is a treasure to seriously indulge in this autumn. Essentials’ in-house chef Megan Chalmers pairs it with a clever toasted fennel seed ice cream and candied citrus, creating that classic ‘jaffas’  flavour pairing. Salted Chocolate Tart with Burnt Honey and Black Tea Syrup, Toasted Fennel Seed Ice-Cream and Candied Clementines 500g shortcrust pastry (see recipe below) 300ml thickened cream 2 tsp caster sugar 1…

Married to the Sea Ceramics, based in the seaside town of Sunshine Beach, (near Noosa Heads) Queensland, produces handmade stoneware and porcelain pieces using Australian clay. Each piece emphasises  simplicity of design through colour, shape, line, form and texture. The designs are free flowing, natural-toned and textural – crafting an elemental sense of calm. Studio visitors can choose from various collections (Squid Ink, Granite and others) and a range of custom glazes including a clean,…

Step into a life of grandeur at Beechworth’s award-winning Grand Dame. It’s the jewel of Beechworth – a former Oriental Bank, designed and built in the 1860s by architect Leonard Terry, whose other notable buildings include The Melbourne Club on Collins Street and Trinity Chapel at Melbourne University. After time as a convent, a bank and a private home, this grand red-brick lady was reborn as a luxury bed and breakfast – Freeman on Ford.…

Each month Hot Plates Australia – Coast-to-Coast takes a look at some of the most exciting dishes around the nation, created by some of our top chefs. As the autumn produce and colour takes hold, here’s what’s happening this April. The Stunned Mullet, Port Macquarie, NSW Chef co-owner: Lou Perri Dish: Wagyu Short Rib, Japanese mustard, radish, granny smith apple, onion petals (pictured above) Slow cooked for 72 hours and finished in the pan, the…

Fresh off the QantasLink connection from Sydney, and upon arrival at Sails Resort Port Macquarie, the first thing that hits you is fresh salt sea air, carrying the soft calls of the gulls. With fishing boats tied to their moorings and with the sun slowly setting, there are few destination that match the harmony of this setting. Situated on a jutting bend of the Hastings River, with a small marina to one side, and an…

This perfect autumn season dish is a wonderful way to wow guests with all the colour and fragrance of quinces. Chestnut Puff Pastry – Makes 1.2kg puff pastry (enough for 8-10 Tartes Tatin) 300g plain flour 200g chestnut flour 500g firm butter Pinch salt 250ml iced water Method 1. Remove butter from refrigerator and cut into small cubes 1 hour before using. 2. Sift flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the…

Scandinavian design has long held the world in thrall with its clean, considered simplicity. And the cookbook, Nordic Light written by Australian-born, Stockholm-based chef, food stylist and photographer Simon Bajada reflects this to luminous effect. ‘A great way to introduce more grain into your diet is through porridges. Porridges are to Scandinavians what fry-ups are to Englishmen. There are an endless number of toppings and flavour combinations that can be used to vary your porridge.…

View From from the Hill: The city skyline view is sharply lit in the ice-chilled early winter morning sun. Directly below, from the third floor Apartment 30, cars whizz along Melbourne’s original northern arterial Bell Street; and just across the way, lines of terracotta rooftops sit among a mix of tree canopies – eucalypt ghost gums, pencil pine conifers, other deciduous trees; also the occasional date palm. I admire a towering Norfolk Island Pine; its crest…

Few desserts entertain better than a decadent cheesecake bursting with colour and natural fragrances. They may look tricky but we’ll let you in on a secret… they’re a cinch! Here’s how to whip your own delectable dream cheesecake into shape. New York Cheesecake with vanilla-poached rhubarb and lavender honey syrup 1 x Cheesecake Biscuit Crumb Base (see recipe below) Note: For the New York Cheesecake, add one small knob of grated ginger to the biscuit…

Famous for its Gross National Happiness (GNH) – a philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan – Six Senses, one of the world’s leading operators of luxury hotels, resorts and spas, tomorrow (March 31, 2019) celebrates the opening of its first three lodges in the Himalayan Kingdom: Thimphu, Punakha and Paro. The lodges seamlessly combine the brand’s commitment to wellness, sustainability and out-of-the-ordinary experiences with the country’s rich culture, warm hospitality and omni-present spirituality. If…

Situated among Southbank’s big city brands like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Sake and Rockpool, a quiet achieving Argentinian-inspired eatery has popped up amongst the glam. It’s the new flavour of the month and we’re mighty pleased to be dining here. Uncomplicated, cleverly thought-out menus offer a great choice in tempting and deliciously flavoured, aromatic starters and sides. But the hero here at Asado Melbourne is unmistakably the meat… or so we’re told. The showpiece of the…

She’s been considered a bright new shining light in Aboriginal art, yet only a few art curators and collectors have ever seen her paintings. At 32 years of age, far north Queensland-born Kuku Yalanji (language group) Tarsha Davis, a highly modernist painter, is creating new Aboriginal themes that are destined to become important teachings for future generations. As I interview her at Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery (Rutherglen, Victoria), seated among some of Australia’s finest collection of…

As the Whitsundays’ newest resort Elysian Retreat Long Island opens for business this week, we celebrate by sharing one of their in-house specialties: a Plated Prawn Cocktail with roasted tomato Marie Rose sauce and avocado cream. The key to this plated prawn cocktail is the ultra fresh Whitsundays grilled King prawns combined with chilled, whole half baby cos lettuce sitting atop a roasted tomato Marie Rose sauce, dusted with quality smoked paprika. A side of…

Designed to win over even the fussiest of gourmet guests, this Chocolate Fondant with cacao jelly and chocolate crumble is  a winning and decadent dessert . Chocolate Fondant Makes 6 fondant ramekins Melted butter for greasing ramekins Cacao powder for dusting 100g butter 200g dark chocolate 4 whole eggs 4 egg yolks 100g caster sugar 150g plain flour, sifted 100g cacao powder Chocolate shavings and freshly-picked rosemary flowers to garnish Method Pre-heat oven to 180C 1.…

It’s been a long focus of Essentials to celebrate the many landmark icons of Melbourne, Australia – its sensational cafés, historic restaurants and art galleries; including its people: chefs, artists, designers and all the creative minds who have collectively shared in building the culturally rich tapestry that is the city we know and love today. British-born, Melbourne-based chef Ian Curley, like many before him, brings a wealth of knowledge and artisan colour to the region.…

There’s something I just love about Andy Pye’s work. He paints with a style that is sometimes unusual, and often highly accomplished – delivering beautiful and striking work in one moment, and work that challenges in another. I, like many others, am drawn to his Australian landscapes showcasing imperial-like powerful colours combined with wild composition – unrestricted and gutsy. Encompassing all the chaos, drama and loneliness that the Australian bush can present, I feel like…

Modern Siberia has arrived, embracing culinary flourishes from as far afield as France. Essentials discovers one of a new breed in Siberia’s capital city, Novosibirsk. Pardon My French, a wine bar located in Siberia’s bustling industrial hub, Novosibirsk, is a positive light, a beacon of civilised modern-world creativity and style. But for chef and owner François Fournier it didn’t come easy. Launching a French-inspired wine bar serving modernised Russian classics alongside wines from around the…

Preheat oven to 160C 500g sweet pastry (see recipe below) 750g frangipane ¼ cup good quality fig jam 10 ripe fresh figs, thinly sliced Poached figs and fresh raspberries to garnish Raspberry vinegar caramel to glaze and drizzle Frangipane 1 cup caster sugar 200g unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature 2 cups almond meal 2 eggs 2 tbsp Tokay (topaque) wine ¼ cup plain flour Method 1. Using an electric mixer, beat together caster sugar,…