News: Clipsal 500 Race Begins

February 26 - March 1.  

As you read this the Australian V8 Ute Racing Series practice round 1 is over and you’ll be well on your way to watching the newest addition to Clipsal: the Toyo Tires Super Trucks.

It wouldn’t be supercar racing without the prancing horse as Ferrari celebrates its return to Clipsal 500 this year where it will display its dynamic F1 show featuring international drivers, along with the world’s rarest Supercars: the 288 GTO, F40, F50 and ‘LaFerrari.’(Ferrari Parade Saturday & Sunday morning at 8:30am).

Ferrari has specially designed a Ferrari kidszone, where it will host a special series of Ferrari ‘Drive for Kids’ Cavalcade for charity.

Clipsal 500 runs from Feb 26 to March 1, it’s the perfect day out for the family, race enthusiasts or even the Cold Chisel fans as the remaining members will be welcomed to the Clipsal 500 starters grid on Pit Straight before the commencement of the race. 

From Friday, Channel 10 will be covering Clipsal 500 from 12pm each day, commentary includes Mark Webber, Rick Kelly, Matt White and Mark Larkham. 

For more information head to www.clipsal500.com.au

Adelaide: Cellar Door Wine Festival

NEWS: What's coming up in the Foodie Calendar February 20 -22 2015 

The Adelaide Cellar Door Wine festival is a multi-award winning festival showcasing South Australia’s finest wines and food offerings with over 170 food and wine producers.

Wander through 15 South Australian wine regions, sampling internationally renowned brands alongside niche boutique award winner without the fuss of traveling outside the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Enjoy master classes, interactive tastings, Farmer’s markets and a long table lunch. You can check out the Festival’s what’s on section here. 

For more information and tickets, see their website here.  

Festivale: Game Plan

Heading down to festivale and not sure of your game plan? Well let us suggest a few targets on the stallholder map. 

For those that are looking for an early lunch, head to Josef Chromy restaurant and mini cellar door, with a pork belly baguette in hand and a Riesling in the other, you're sure to start off the day just perfectly. 

 

Pork Belly Baguette - Josef Chromy.

If you're interested in masterclasses, they have unfortunately sold out; however the Tamar valley wine route experiences still have a few tickets left, be sure to check out 'truly sinful,' a paring of handmade chocolate and Tasmanian stickies. See www.ticketbooth.com.au for more information. 

After the dessert, head on over to PX tapas for a little afternoon snack or early dinner, they're serving up delicious paella as well as roast corn, aioli, chilli and manchego.

To perfectly match with paella or roasted corn, see the team at Goaty Hill Wines and try their award winning Chardonnay, or if you're a sparkling fan the MAIA is just as delicious.  

A pour of a Pinot at Goaty Hill Wines by Owner Natasha Nieuwhof. 

Make sure you keep your wine glasses as they are $6 each but can be reused at any wine stall. 

Festivale: Keep the Chill Away with a Whisky

The rain has certainly seeped into the ground at Festivale but it hasn't dampened the spirits of Lonnie residents and tourists that flocked to City Park to enjoy everything on offer. 

We suggest heading straight for Hellyers Road Distillery, right on the path from entry you will see the stall warming hearts with whisky tastings as well as cream liqueurs (may we suggest the coffee... alcohol and coffee you can't say no!)

Their full range is on offer and most importantly so is their original single malt whisky, aged 12 years. If you've forgotten a gift for him this Valentine's Day, this drop would definitely make up for it with a calming softness to the palate and sweet tones of vanilla (no 50 shades here) as well as malt. 

10 Romantic Things to do this Valentine's Day

With your significant other...

1. Binge watch their favourite TV show. Like this romantic moment from How I Met Your Mother... (S3E13). 

2. Take to the park, break out a bottle of red, some great cheese and leave your phones at home. 

3. Try a romantic spot like Ballina Manor: quaint, sophisticated and historic. 

4. Enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner at home; we have some great recipe ideas here

5. If you don’t want to scare them away with your cooking, don’t worry you can always book a table at a romantic restaurant

6. Get creative with some fancy and very alcoholic cocktails

7. If you’ve been together for a while, why not recreate your first date? 

8. Take a road trip to somewhere new, adventure is exciting! 

9. Don’t forget the roses – male or female it’s the thought and care that counts! 

10. Get into your comfort zone – book a couple’s massage.

Festivale wows with Peter Kuruvita lunch

Tasmania's local produce was on show to Launceston gourmands at Festivale's signature lunch event at Stillwater.

With a three course menu boasting Mexican flavours inspired by Peter Kuruvita, the lunch was a delicious success. Full of knowledge, enthusiasm and great stories that had you in stitches, Peter took the crowd through the thought processes behind each dish on the menu. Starting with the three tastes of Mexico, guacamole (with requeson and pomegranate), grilled chicken (with Mexican street salad) and prawn dumplings, Peter made the animated diners aware of just how nationalistic the Mexican nation is, especially with their food.  

"You see how the guacamole incorporates all the colours of their flag?" Peter asked.

The awareness of what Peter was saying swept through the guests as they smiled and laughed in realisation.

The highlight of the afternoon (after Peter's enthusiastically hilarious stories) was the main: seared red snapper with salsa verde (Huachinango con salsa verde) paired with this year's best Chardonnay winner Goaty Hill Chardonnay (2013). 

In commendation to the Stillwater, Peter couldn't be more complimentary of Executive Chef Craig Will and his team. 

"People like me look amazing because of the chefs at the back of the kitchen; Stillwater is an excellent example of professionals in their field," said Peter. 

If you're becoming a little jealous and eager to experience Peter's food as well as the other offerings of Festivale, head on down to City Park tonight through to Sunday, to experience what we're talking about. Peter will be conducting a Seafood & Spice masterclass on Sunday February 15 in the Conservatory. 'Mental As Anything' will be entertaining the Festivale crowds tonight while tomorrow the band list will have you spinning, with acts from Luke Parry, Grace Knight and the Eurogliders.  

For the food and wine lovers at heart be sure to check out these stallholders:

Josef Chromy Wines

PX Tapas 

Goaty Hill Wines  

Hellyers Road Distillery  

For more details and to book tickets head to: www.festivale.com.au also be advised that selfie sticks are allowed and take advantage of the events free wifi thanks to wifi presto (first of it's kind to be used in Australia).

Festivale: Opening Ceremony

Walking into the picturesque City Park you could hear the distant chatter and feel the excitement from the 200 guests attending Festivale's Opening Ceremony. With men dressed in formal black tie suits and women in ball gowns with stiletto's that were certainly sinking into the grass - Festivale has once again proven to be a forerunner in the field of elegant food and wine events. Welcomed with champagne and Hors d'oeuvres the Festivale opening ceremony is where the who's who of the festivale weekend meet and great.

Most importantly the night's function is a prelude to the diversity of gourmet store holders, entertainers and chefs in attendance. If you are umming and arrghing about whether you should attend, let us help you with that decision: umm, what are you waiting for?! You'll be able to taste your way through Tasmania without leaving Launceston and you'll be able to see and meet the likes of Peter Kuruvita, Craig Will (Stillwater) as well as Tasmania's very own My Kitchen Rules contestants Thalia Papadakis and Bianca Johnston (meet them in the Conservatory - see program).

AGFG will see you there! Festivale runs Friday 5:30pm - 10:45pm, Saturday 11:am - 10:45pm, Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm.

18 Facts You Might Not Know About Japan

We all know about Japan’s anime, sumo wrestlers and sushi, but here are some interesting lesser known facts you might not know about the land of soba noodles. 

1. Japan has more than 5.5 million vending machines, selling anything from beer to comic books. Strangely though, it is difficult to find a Japanese vending machine that dispenses chips or confectionery.

2. Make sure you take off those dancing shoes before the clock strikes midnight – late night dancing is illegal in Japan.  

3. There is a restaurant in Osaka that serves only canned food. Called Mr Kanso, the surprisingly popular eatery has no menus – instead, diners are asked to select their meals from the shelves and are given plastic cutlery to enjoy the contents of their can.   

4. Japanese trains are some of the most punctual in the world – on average, they are delayed by only 18 seconds. 

5. There are more pets in Japan than there are children. 

6. Not many people survived the Titanic disaster in 1912 but one Japanese man did – he was branded a coward by his fellow countrymen for not dying with the other passengers. 

7. In many Japanese cities, there are cat cafés where visitors can drink coffee and eat cakes while hanging out with cute little felines for hours.  

8. Japan boasts the world’s shortest escalator. At only 83.3cm high, the five-step escalator sits in the basement of More’s Department store in Kawasaki. 

9. Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald in Japan due to the lack of a clear ‘r’ sound in Japanese. 

10. In Japan, they use more paper for comics than for toilet paper. 

11. The only foreign language taught and mandated in Japanese schools is English. 

12. The world’s most expensive tuna was sold in Japan for USD$735,000. 

13. The fortune cookie dates back to the 1800s and was first made in Kyoto, Japan.  

14. Kit Kats come in many different flavours in Japan. Some of the more outrageous flavours have included sweet potato, red pepper, pumpkin cheesecake and apple vinegar. 

15. Christmas Day is normally spent with your partner rather than your family (think of it as a second Valentine’s Day). 

16. You are unlikely to get into trouble if you doze off at work in Japan. Known as inemuri, the practice of taking a power nap indicates to your boss you’re working very hard. 

17. Tokyo has the world’s largest fish market, handling more than 2000 tonnes of seafood every day.  

18. While it’s common for us to spend thousands of dollars making our teeth straight using braces, many Japanese teenagers do the opposite. There is a growing trend among young women to get yaeba done, which involves capping the canine tooth to ensure a crooked smile. 

5 Essential Tips when Travelling in Japan

Japan is a wonderful country with so many things to do and see (not to mention, eat). The land of cat cafés and strange vending machines, however, can be a confusing place for first-time visitors. Here is a list of tips that are sure to make your Japan experience a lot less confusing. 

1. If you’re planning to explore a few cities, the best way to get around is via Japan's famous and super-fast bullet trains. Called Shinkansen, these trains can move at speeds up to 300km but they are not cheap – a one-way Tokyo to Osaka dash would cost ¥14720 (roughly AUD$140). However, JR passes that enable you to travel through Japan can be arranged prior to leaving Australia. Purchase a JR pass exchange order at an authorised travel agent, swap it for an actual rail pass when you’re in Japan and use it to get you from city to city in a relatively economically-efficient way. For example, a seven-day unlimited pass costs AUD$300 and is great value if you want to do the Tokyo to Osaka trail and stop at a few cities such as Kobe, Nagoya and Tokohama along the way. 

2. English is not commonly spoken in Japan and this is more apparent the further away you get from the major cities. You don’t have to invest in a year-long Japanese course to prepare for your holiday, but learning a few words will get you a long way. Useful phrases include sumimasen (excuse me), arigato (thank you), arigato gozaimasu (a more formal way of saying thank you), Nihongo ga wakarimasen (sorry, I don’t understand Japanese) and oishii (delicious, uttered to your host or waiter after a good meal).  

3. Get to know the subway system in Tokyo as well as other major cities such as Kyoto and Osaka. Taxis are expensive in Japan and unless you’re okay with driving on the same roads as drivers who don’t indicate and stay in their own lanes, commuting by subway is the quickest and most efficient way to go from A to B. The Tokyo subway system can be initially daunting but train station staff are helpful and signs are everywhere so subway travel is easy once you’ve figured it out. If you have a smartphone, Google Maps and apps such as HyperDia will tell you what trains you need to catch to get to your destination and how much the fare will be. And if you miss your connecting train, don’t worry – trains in Tokyo run every few minutes (and are on time).  

4. Booking restaurants in Japan can be challenging due to language barriers – even some of the country’s Michelin-starred restaurants only have Japanese-speaking staff. Want a table at Jiro Sukiyabashi? Rather than practising what you’ve learnt while listening to three Japanese audio lessons, you’re better off getting a Japanese-speaking friend to make the booking for you. If you’re staying at a hotel in Japan, another option is to get your concierge to make the booking for you.  

5. Surprisingly, many public washrooms (especially in shopping malls and major train stations) don’t stock their washrooms with soap and paper towels. This is where a bottle of antiseptic or a packet of baby wipes will come in handy. If you’re pressed for luggage space and can ONLY carry one or the other, then baby wipes are the way to go – you’ll be able to wipe the gunk off your face after a big night out in Shinjuku.  

10 of the Most Impressive Food Experiences in Japan on a Budget

Japan is a food lover’s dream and the only thing more difficult than choosing where to eat for dinner each night is trimming our list of the most impressive Japanese food experiences down to ten.

1. Forget about soggy sugar-laden cereal bowls, start your day with a protein-packed sushi breakfast at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. Whether you choose to go for a platter filled with fresh slices of tuna, salmon and prawn that was caught only hours ago, or a chirashi (essentially a sushi bowl), you’ll find it hard to go back to Fruit Loops. There are plenty of sushi bars to choose from but Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa attract the biggest crowds, with punters lining up as early as 6am to get their sushi fix.

2. If you love your noodles, be sure to check out Yokohama's Ramen Museum. Only an hour by train from downtown Tokyo, the museum is the world’s first food-themed amusement park with a store, race track and ramen stalls covering all three floors. The option to order mini-sized bowls of ramen means that you can sample your way through many different kinds from Men no Bo-Toride’s milky Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen to Shina Soba-ya’s more delicate soy sauce-based ramen, a Tokyo specialty. 

3. Nothing divides Japan more than natto, the Japanese equivalent of Vegemite. Typically eaten with rice, the fermented soy beans have a slimy texture, a pungent smell and a strong flavour which means that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, the beans are full of vitamins and proteins, thus making them a cheap and easy breakfast dish.   

4. Visit a 7-11 or Family Mart. No, seriously, you’ll be surprised to discover what you can find at your local convenience store – and at reasonable prices too. For less than an Aussie fiver, you can get a crispy chicken katsu sandwich or a couple of onigiri (rice ball) filled with dried salmon flakes or egg.

5. Feel like sushi but prefer to avoid paying big bucks for a meal at Michelin-stared Sushi Saito and Sukiyabashi Jiro? Visit one of Japan’s many stand-up sushi bars. Offering a warm and casual atmosphere, these bars serve fresh sushi that’s made-to-order. The usual suspects such as tuna, salmon and mackerel are always available but look out for delicacies such as uni (sea urchin) and otoro, blue fin tuna belly, the fattiest and most buttery cut of tuna. Most of these sushi bars don’t take bookings but turn over is quick, making them a great option for those wanting lunch in a hurry.

6. Another quick and cheap option is a comforting bowl of Japanese curry, perfect if you’re visiting Japan in the cooler months of October to March. Introduced by British traders in the 1800s, the dish became increasingly popular. The Japanese curry is milder than its Indian and Thai counterparts, yet is just as heart-warming and delicious. Common ingredients are potatoes, carrots and chicken though beef or tofu is sometimes used. 

7. Make like Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson by taking a trip up to the New York Bar at Tokyo's famous Park Hyatt hotel. At fifty-two floors up and with the bright lights of Tokyo at your feet, there’s no better way to enjoy a glass or five of Yamazaki whisky with some delicious bar snacks on the side. Their bar nibbles set (smoked nuts, Iberico pork jerky and shrimp popcorn) is amazing and sure beats soggy chips at the local pub back home. 

8. Although it may not be for everyone, horse meat can be found in restaurants around the country. Frequently served in sashimi form (basashi), horse has a very similar taste to lean beef but with a muted flavour and a chewier texture. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but definitely worth trying at least once. 

9. You may not visit Japan expecting to eat foie gras, however Tokyo is home to some of the world’s best French restaurants which are worth exploring if you’ve had your fill of sushi, donburi and takoyaki for the time being. Highly recommended French restaurants include Michel Troisgros’ eponymous restaurant at the Hyatt Regency (try the squash and hazelnut tortellini there) and L’Effervescence where their wild boar, foie gras and fig apple pie will change your mind about the all American dessert. 

10. If you’re lucky enough to stay at a ryokan (Japanese guesthouse) during your visit, you’re in for a culinary treat. Ryokan dinners are elaborate, multi-course meals featuring the best of the region’s seasonal produce beautifully presented and cooked in a unique style. Guests are encouraged to wear the traditional yukata to dinner and sit cross-legged on mats as they work their way through a series of appetisers, rice dishes, pickles and meat. 

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