Absolutely Positively Wellington

AGFG in Harbour city, exploring the sights, tastes and smells of a growing foodie hub. 

Affectionately known as the “coolest little capital in the world,” by locals, Wellington has much to offer the over enthusiastic tourist. Passion is the first word that comes to mind when you walk the streets of Wellington, from the local barista at the corner cafe to the bustling Moore Wilson’s fresh food market, with an eclectic mix of fresh produce to speciality items. If you’re lucky you might just bump into a head chef or two while doing your own shop.  

There is no greater time to experience Wellington then now, during the annual Visa Wellington on a Plate Festival (August 15 – 31), the perfect two weeks of food, beer and coffee. Whether you enjoy a whole pigs head for dinner (check out pigfish@prefab) or a more refined three course meal in a sophisticated setting such as Artisan Restaurant and Bar, Wellington has everything on offer. Along with more refined dining, Garage Project (craft beer rock stars) presents Burger Wellington, where Wellington’s finest eateries go head to head, to showcase their originality and creativity in creating the humble burger. Over 70 have participated this year and have matched their burger to one of Garage Projects locally brewed beer. 

Brat in a Burger - Park Avenue venison bratwurst with ParrotDog IPA-infused mustard, braised onions, slaw and Kapiti smoked havarti on an Arobake bun, with caraway-salt dusted fries. Only @ Cafe L'affare.

Taking the lead, is Leeds Street, with craft beer, chocolate, locally brewed coffee and locally made soda syrup all together on the one street. It’s truly incredible the choices that are within a few minutes reach of each other. Six Barrel Soda Co makes small batch soda syrups and supplies some of our very own restaurant such as Atticus Finch Cafe, Cookie and Markov. The syrup is made out of all natural ingredients and is perfect for any Spring or Summer afternoon, or all year round – you can even use it at home if you have a soda stream. Make sure to head around the corner to Flight Coffee Hanger on Dixon street, the choices are eclectic and the cold drip speaks for itself (we suggest Sidama).

Don’t forget that foodie heaven can also be found in the suburbs around Wellington, particularly Petone, where innovation and style meet the growing trend of dining out. We visited Taylor's on Jackson (Jackson St) where Perth raised Chef Glen Taylor brings a very modern twist to the concept of paddock to plate. Think wagyu steak tartare with fried chicken oysters an appetiser to mouth watering perfect wagyu served with a deliciously smooth carrot and buttermilk remoulade. It really was a treat to behold. 

The BFG dessert @ Taylor's on Jackson, Petone. 

Glen is one for imagination when it comes to desserts and likes to take you back to your childhood, the BFG dessert was brought to our table, in what can be aptly described as a mystery jar, expectantly we opened the jar thinking to see something resembling a black forest gateau (BFG) but we were greeted with apple crumble cheesecake with popping candy and meringue pieces as well as a sprinkling of dark chocolate cookie chards. Glen had created “dream country” a place spoken about in the 1982 popular children’s book “Big Friendly Giant” (BFG).  

Create your own journey at www.wellingtononaplate.com and enjoy all that Wellington has to offer.

AGFG was guest of Positively Wellington and Bolton Hotel.

Team Effort Can Mean Value Buying

By David Ellis from vintnews  

An interesting company called Travelling Vineyards Australia has teamed up with the prestigious Australian Good Food Guide to provide that organisation’s substantial following with premium drops from some 500 Australian wineries at prices that can be substantially below those wineries’ very own.

One such of their offerings that we recently tasted was a more-ish 2009 Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz from Signature Wines, whose forward berry and blackcurrant flavours, and beautiful richness, virtually shouted an ideal match with spicy foods.

Normally selling at $336 for a 12-bottle case, through AGFG its presently on discount at $295 – but hop onto www.ourwines.com.au and you’ll also find a bonus $50 Gift Coupon that brings it down to an even lower $245… and with free delivery Australia-wide as well. That’s an overall saving of $7 a bottle on the winery’s own price.

That website also links directly to an extensive range of other reds and whites available at discounted prices through the Australian Good Food Guide.

One to note: If you have a Dad with a more than a passing interest in wine, a thought for Father’s Day (September 7) is the 2015 edition of Australian Wine Vintages that goes on sale on September 1. 

Author Rob Geddes, one of just a handful of Australian Masters of Wine, tasted his way through an extraordinary 8,000 wines for this 32nd edition of the pocket-size guide that’s packed with incisive tasting notes, vintage reports and indicative prices for over 6,000 wines from 317 of Australia’s best makers... and Rob’s judgment on what he considered the Top 100 of all those thousands that he tasted.  

There’s advice as well on cellar doors worth visiting, and an App that’s available also includes interactive maps and tips on where to eat and stay in Australia’s wine regions. Priced at $34.95 it’s a must-have for aficionado and enthusiastic novice alike; available at bookstores or www.australianwinevintages.com.au

5 Reasons Why Darwin Should Be Next On Your Bucket List


With a small town feel and cosmopolitan city style, Darwin offers visitors a blissful blend of old and new, tied in fittingly within a balmy tropical climate.

Closer to Bali than Bondi, it’s no wonder you’ll feel a world away when trekking to the Top End. Rest assured, once arrived you’ll feel right at home, immersed amongst a miscellany of street side restaurants, galleries, museums, historic sites and natural wonders. With more than 50 nationalities represented here, Darwin’s rich culture is evident in every facet of living, where the traditional land owners (the Larrakia people) still adhere closely to traditional Indigenous beliefs and customs.

Keeping it short and sweet, we have listed 5 reasons why Darwin should be on everyone’s bucket list – crocodiles, cruises and cocktails included.



5. You’re immersed in a nature lover’s heaven


With the tranquil waters of the tropics on three sides and the beauty of lush rainforests, dusty red plains and rocky ranges gracing the remaining, a trip to Darwin lands you in the epicentre of Mother Nature’s wonder world. Also known as the gateway to Australia’s ‘adventure playground’, Darwin is centrally located to some of the nation’s greatest natural sites, including the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, the Tiwi Islands and Litchfield National Park.





4. The wet season will instantly add to your Insta cred.


Think long, hot days followed by a cool sweep of glorious evening storms that will captivate your eyes and make you sleep like a baby. Running from November through to April, the Northern Territory’s wet season often leaves tourists at bay, so if you’re feeling like a little adventure (and don’t mind getting caught in the rain), this is the time to take to Darwin with your camera in hand.

Basically, get all up in everyone’s feed with pictures like this...




Or this...




With a final...




Bear in mind that Darwin’s wet season is also synonymous with possible cyclonic activity ... so, uh ... don’t get too blown away with the views?


3.  ...And following that, your pictures will make everyone sick (with jealousy)



Famed for spectacular beach panoramas, Darwin’s Mindil Beach and its evening sunset markets are a hotspot to be – think balmy weather and a carefree ambiance combined with live entertainment, handmade goods and a banquet of 60 international food stalls to choose from. Weave your way through the palm lined boulevards, soak up the sights and snap a few pictures worthy of causing severe social media envy. A bit like this...





2. You get to cosy up with crocodiles


Offering 360 degree views of some of the largest saltwater crocodiles on the planet, Crocosaurus Cove is Australia’s only crocodile dive. With 1 or 2 people inside the cage at one time, you can soak up the serene aerial view (of 200 crocodiles swimming below you) before being plunged into the water to make friends. On site photographers capture your encounter both inside and outside of the enclosures, making for an impressive documented adventure.  



1. Finally, every day ensures a full schedule


Whether you decide to indulge your inner history buff with trips to Fannie Bay Gaol or soak your troubles away at the nearby Tjuwaliyn/Douglas Hot Springs Park, your Darwin getaway ensues all ages and interests will be kept happy.

For an easy beginning, Darwin Hop on-Hop off Bus Tour allows you to soak up the sites throughout the city in double decker comfort. Go at your own pace as you stop off at 10 convenient locations including the waterfront precinct and Fort Wharf Hill, with your choice of either a 24 or 48 hour pass. Finishing up with an evening at the Deckchair Cinema, where you can relax under the stars and recline on your deckchair. Head here to book for our recommended restaurants in the area. 

Irresistibly Indian

In celebration of India's Independence Day and the official last few weeks of Winter, it's time to cook Indian and try some of the cuisine that has made the region famous. 

Butter Chicken:  

Ahhh delicious butter chicken, a staple on every Indian restaurant menu and a very "safe" option for those that don't enjoy spice. However, butter chicken is always made better when there is a bit of spice, so don't be afraid to add a bit more chilli powder and why not garnish with some chilli flakes? 

Sheer Khurma: 

A traditional Muslim festive breakfast and dessert, the Sheer Khurma doesn't disappoint. Vermicelli, milk, sugar and dates are a match made in heaven and any number of flavourings such as cardamom, almond, saffron and rose water can be added to this dish for extra flair. Give it a try now from our recipe section here. 

Lentil as anything Dahl:

Dahl is a staple food for much of the population of India, paired with your favourite flatbread roti and this dish simply comes alive. A perfect way to stay warm, healthy and satisfied in these last few weeks of Winter. 

Traditional Indian Ice Cream:  

If your looking for something a bit different that will wow your party guests, the rose petal and pistachio kufli recipe is the dish you need to make. Created by Reza Mahammad, a TV celebrity chef famous for being on UKTV Food Channel's Delhi Belly, this traditional Indian ice cream will be the perfect send off to any dinner party.

Raise a Flag to India's Independence Day

If you see an army of Indian tricolour flags being waved around on Friday 15th August 2014, it’s not because India has won their Pataudi Trophy cricket match against England (although it would be nice). Rather, it’s because August 15 is the day when India gained independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain after 200 years of British rule.

All over India, millions of people will participate in flag-raising ceremonies and parades. Many more will proudly adorn their attire, homes and vehicles with the national flag. Furthermore, patriotic movies and TV shows will be shown across cinema screens and homes across the country. It is also a time to bond with family and friends.

Closer to home, Indian migrants around Australia will also celebrate the 68th Independence Day. Melburnians, for example, can attend the official Consulate General of India flag-raising ceremony at the Consulate in Toorak at 9:30am.

Meanwhile, Brisbanites can sample an array of Indian treats and view parades, live performances and fireworks at the all-day GOPIO Queensland Independence Day event. The fiesta will be held at Roma Street Parklands on Sunday 10th August 2014, from 10:30am until dusk.

For those who can’t afford to take the morning off, why not fly a kite? Kite-flying is a popular activity on the day – it symbolises the eve of Independence in 1947 when India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru unveiled the Indian tricolour flag on the Red Fort in Delhi.

The special day can also be celebrated by a meal at your favourite Indian restaurant, for your closest restaurant, head to the AGFG Indian cuisine section

GSM a great red meat wine

Chief Winemaker, Matt Koch and his team have done a fantastic job with their recently-released Rosemount MV Collection of top drops from McLaren Vale, a region that’s been an essential part of the company since the 1980s – and the more-so since it acquired the 100-year-old Ryecroft winery and vineyards there in 1991.

They have four wines under the MV label, a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2012 vintage and a Chardonnay and GSM from the 2013 – and it was the GSM that really grabbed our attention: here is a wine that absolutely bursts in the mouth with raspberry and strawberry flavours foremost, followed by some spice and nice earthiness to round out to a lovely soft finish.

Matt Koch readily talks-up McLaren Vale as one of the company’s most dynamic regions, producing fruit of regular consistency and quality. And that certainly was the case for this 2013 GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre,) which came from a particularly hot vintage, but was shielded to a nice degree by a strong leaf canopy resulting from heavy winter rains and a mild spring preceding a hot summer.

A wonderful drop for winter-time red meat or game dishes, and with a good jug on the side of a pepper- or mushroom-heavy gravy. Well recommended at $25.

One to note: Usually thought of as a great slurper on a hot Summer’s day, Rosé in our book is equally one that we like to take along any time of year to share at the table with warm to hot curries at our favourite Indian eateries. 

We found a ripper just recently, a 2011 Cherry Tree Hill label blended from Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc fruit off that company’s vineyard at Sutton Forest in the NSW Southern Highland. Its flavours are a perfect foil when served chilled with our spread of curry choices.  Priced at $18.

So where's Justin North?

As Justin North heads to Lake Crackenback to once again host a spectacular celebrity dinner, we thought we would ask him a few questions about his new position at Hotel Centennial.

You are the head chef of the Hotel Centennial, what do you hope to bring to the kitchen? How will you be developing the menus?

As the executive chef of the Hotel Centennial I hope that the modern, uncomplicated and “comfort food” focused menu will resonate with our Woollahra locals. We have the opportunity to select the best produce from our amazing network of producers and I think it’s a great opportunity to have some fun with some classic dishes. There are some of the tried and true Centennial dishes that we couldn’t mess with – like the waffles, but we have introduced some exciting new flourishes, such as our new flatbreads, roasts and salads.  We have a dynamic young team that I am enjoying working with – including Tom ‘Russ’ Deadman, and it is great to see their energy and verve in action in the Centennial’s open plan kitchen.

You are once again hosting a celebrity chef dinner at Lake Crackenback – what’s on the menu?

I am really looking forward to the Lake Crackenback dinner – it is such a beautiful part of the world. What we are planning is really a snapshot of what we do at Hotel Centennial – so a spotlight on the classics, but with a fresh twist. I am looking forward to sourcing some great produce to prepare a seasonal feast.

What are your feature flavours these days?

I am always inspired by the season – so these days I am very excited by delicious winter citrus fruits and the amazing selection of game meats that are available during these beautiful winter months.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Now that’s a hard one!! I’m sure there is more than one ingredient that I couldn’t live without – but at the moment I am really impressed with the new pressing of Alto Olive oil. Alto Olives are located in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and they have a great selection of products. I love the extra virgin olive oil – and the freshness of the Australian olive oil is fantastic – once you try it, you will be hooked.

What does the future hold for you?

At the moment I am working very hard at Hotel Centennial – I love the environment with the energy and skill of the young staff, so my future at the moment is definitely to remain there. Having said that about my work life - to be honest, my real and immediate future is with my family. I have two beautiful children that I love to spend time with, and I believe the family time that we all spend together is the most important thing for me.   

Top 5 luxury items you can have in your pantry

Earthy, mysterious, exotic, the Australian truffle has been uncovered by farmers and foodies alike. The start of June marks the start of the hype for Truffle season and top Australian chefs like Tetsuya have made truffles more accessible to the home cook. 

Top 5 luxury items you can have in your pantry: 

5. Wine & Truffle Co Truffle Oil:

 A great way to enjoy truffles all year round, at a faction of the price of fresh truffles. A touch of truffle oil can turn the ordinary into something exceptional. 

4. Tetsuya Black Truffle Salsa

Developed by Tetsuya Wakuda and inspired by the recipe used continuously for many years at Tetsuya's eponymous Sydney restaurant, this Truffle salsa is a versatile version for the home cook. 




3. Wine & Truffle Co Truffle Honey:

Mild honey infused with the flavour and fragrance of truffles, you can use this in marinades or drizzle it over thinly sliced prosciutto. 



 2. Tetsuya Truffle Salt


Combining sea salt with Italian black truffles, Tetsuya's Truffle Salt will enhance the flavours of the simplest dishes. 




 1. Fresh Australian Truffle: 


Highly sought after by the world's finest chefs, fresh truffles are often referred to as the 'diamonds of cooking.' They are available for a restricted time only from AGFG and Last chance to order yours here

5 Hot Chocolate Recipes That Take it to the Next Level

Save the guilt for spring time – winter means comfort, and we plan on spending the duration of the cooler weather indulging in all things hearty, rich and decadently wicked. Take your winter drinking habits to the next level by backing off the tea, coffee and chalky cocoa powder and stepping into the world of mind blowing hot chocolate. Generally, a few commandments are key to a quality chocolate concoction – namely, using solid (mostly dark) chocolate, adding a pinch of salt and using whole milk – but experimentation is the spice of life, so get busy with our top five picks.

5. Hot Chocolate with Mint and Marshmallows


Fact: There’s something wrong if you don’t like the combination of mint and chocolate. And there’s something even more disturbing at play if you don’t like the combination of mint and chocolate GANACHE. This recipe by What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today understands the importance of such things and in tune cleverly fuses together cream, dark chocolate, fresh milk and cream to create a drink so decadent that it can only be consumed in thimble sized quantities... joke -it’s so addictive you’ll have to have the cup prized from your sticky fingers.

4. Confetti Cake Batter and White Chocolate Hot Chocolate



Just stop and drink this all in for a second. Cake batter. White chocolate. Hot chocolate. Consuming cake in liquid form has never looked so delicious and Cravings of a Lunatic takes it to the next level with the addition of sweet condensed milk, white chocolate and whipped cream. Turn on your slow cooker, turn up the tunes and get prepared for the party that’s about to take place in your mouth.

3. Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate

Dairy don’t-ers, rejoice! Coconut whipped cream, almond milk and a spice infusion of sweet cinnamon, earthy nutmeg and spicy cayenne have united in your cup to make winter your favourite time of year. Although this recipe by Minimalist Baker does use the aforementioned cocoa powder that we have preached against, you could experiment with vegan friendly chocolate OR perhaps go naughty and indulge in not so vegan friendly dark chocolate (if you’re not a fully fledged vegan, of course). Alternatively, you could just ignore us and go with the recipe as stated.

2. Cardamom & Orange Spiced White Hot Chocolate


Distinctively delicious, this recipe by Will Cook for Friends highlights winter’s signature aromas of crushed cardamom pods, vanilla extract and fragrant orange zest. Drink winter in. Literally. To truly make this something special, a few pointers are to be kept in mind;

-          Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer part of the rind and try to avoid gathering any of the white pith (no bitter, mo’ better)

-          Back away from anything labelled ‘white chips’ when seeking out a white chocolate – they are mostly sugar and hydrogenated oils (think chalky, grainy or bland) – go for a cocoa butter content of about 30% for heaven to appear on your tastebuds.

-           When faced with the decision of green and black cardamom – go green.

1. Coconut S’mores Hot Chocolate



AKA the pièce de résistance of hot chocolates, this creamy concoction takes out the top spot on our hot (chocolate) list. It’s not hard to see why. Creamy, thick, rich, moist, luxurious – it’s an inhalation of melted chocolate goodness and the addition of coconut, marshmallows and cream is the icing on the cake. But we haven’t reached the best part yet – this recipe is TOTALLY HEALTHY! And by that we mean using coconut milk, dark chocolate and coconut cream. Coconut is a fruit, right? It’s practically like drinking a fruit smoothie. A delicious, sweet, gooey chocolate fruit smoothie...  Excuse us. We are off to How Sweet Eats to get our daily vitamin hit.

Taming Angus but Keeping his Bellow

By David Ellis from vintnews 

Hamish MacGowan has done a couple of interesting things with his 2012 Angus the Bull Cabernet Sauvignon: he’s made this one from fruit sourced for the first time purely from Central Victoria, and he’s lowered the alcohol content by almost 1.5%.

Yet while tweaking this vintage to obvious advantage, he’s not taken away from the wine’s primary mission of the past ten years or so, which has been to provide an absolutely ideal accompaniment to prime beef. But rather he’s given it more poise, vibrancy and freshness – as he says, “a little more sophistication.”

Hamish stresses that it’s not a huge and sudden leap in style, but something he and his team have been working towards over the past few years. “Lowering the alcohol (to 14%) is both a considered change in my winemaking philosophy, and an anticipation of where I believe the consumer’s preference is trending,” he says.

“Blending 58% Central Victoria fruit, 28% Goulburn Valley and 14% from the  Strathbogie Ranges has given a wine with lovely varietal ripe black fruits, rich dark chocolate and vanillin smoky aromas,” Hamish adds. “And a full-bodied palate characterised by firm tannins and a savoury, masculine finish. I’d say it’s the most food-friendly example Angus we’ve made to date.”

And most importantly, still that perfect match with prime beef – particularly at $19.95.

One to note: We don’t usually think about wine as something to play around with in terms of mixing with other beverages to come up with in cocktail creations.

However, Italy’s Rosso Antico cocktail base is in fact a dessert wine made from five different wine types infused with 32 selected herbs. And with its bitter-sweet flavour it not only makes for a very agreeable drop on its own served chilled on ice with a slice of lemon, but provides a nice base for a wide range of cocktails when mixed with everything from white or dark rum, to vodka, gin, fresh fruit juices and soda water. 

Pay $22, start mixing – and sharing ideas with fellow cocktail shakers.