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The Australian wine and dining scene

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30 May 2012 by Luke McCormick

Sydney wineThe Aussie experience is not just about sparkling harbours, red deserts and exotic native wildlife.

The cities also provide ample world-class dining options for the travelling gourmand. Whatever the global trendsetters dish up, talented antipodean chefs can match it with Aussie flair.

Australia produces some of the world’s best premium beef, lamb, tuna and gourmet produce, including cheese, truffles, saffron, scallops and coffee.

Immigration from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and surrounding islands has inspired a fusion of food styles and flavours that are found nowhere else in the world.

"Australians are so passionate about coffee, they invented their own - the flat white. There is an absolute smorgasbord of regional produce reflecting the clean environment, multicultural population and climatic diversity."

In 2010 three Australian restaurants were named in the world’s top 100 in The Restaurant Magazine Awards. In Sydney, Quay restaurant came 27th and Marque 67th, while Melbourne’s Attica ranked 73rd. Elsewhere the cellar at Lake House in Daylesford, in country Victoria, has been listed as one of the world’s finest by the US’s Wine Spectator magazine.

In Brisbane the newly revamped inner city Eagle Street Pier has reopened after flooding with a multicultural mix of restaurants and cafes all vying to make the most of the location’s expansive river views, while close-by, Queensland’s very first Bavarian Bier Cafe has opened, featuring a dazzling glass stein chandelier suspended over the main bar and Bavarian-inspired delights, including crackling pork belly and an impressive range of Pure Biers.

An Aboriginal catering company will soon be cooking up a storm at Jabiru Safari Lodge at the Mareeba Wetlands from early April. The meals will feature indigenous flavours and will be prepared by a qualified chef and assisted by members of the local community.

The Mareeba Wetlands is a 2,000-hectare reserve, which is home to prolific wildlife and birdlife, offering an all-inclusive Outback experience in luxury African-style tented safari cabins.

Beach diningAround 150 leading chefs, iconic winemakers, restaurateurs and serious foodies will take over Noosa from 13 to 15 May for one of Australia’s premier food and wine events, the Noosa Food and Wine Festival.

The three day programme offers a feast of experiences including degustations, food trails, leisurely lunches, guest chef demonstrations, food and winemakers’ exhibitions, live entertainment, food and wine kiosks and cooking competitions. One of the highlights is the ‘Best Dinner in the World’, featuring seven chefs from San Pellegrino’s Top Restaurants in the World creating a degustation menu.

The 2011 Australia Good Food and Travel Guide has named Appellation South Australia’s top restaurant. Additionally, in ranking the Top 14 restaurants in Australia, Appellation was the only restaurant outside Sydney and Melbourne to make the list.

Appellation is located in The Barossa Valley and is situated within The Louise, an award-winning 15-suite luxury vineyard retreat. This acclaimed restaurant is run by British-born executive chef Mark McNamara.

Nearby, the Saturno Brothers from Longview Vineyard are about to make their mark on South Australia’s wine industry after returning to Adelaide from New York by planting a test block of the Austrian grape variety, Gruner Veltliner.

They are happy returning to the Adelaide Hills from New York, saying, "Where else in the world can you find five major wine regions within a few hours of a capital city?"

fish and chips

Australia’s best gastronomic experiences

Enjoy three days of tasting and discussing Tasmania’s finest food and wines at Cradle Mountain Lodge. Indulge in a gourmet extravaganza, rated among the country’s best food and wine experiences. Cradle Mountain Lodge has hosted Tasmania’s premier culinary event, ’Tastings at the Top’ for the past 15 years.

A stellar line-up of providores this year includes boutique winemakers, beer brewers and specialist growers from various regions in Tasmania. From degustation dinners and wine tastings; to wilderness walks and decadent spa treatments at the famous Waldheim Alpine Spa, Tastings at the Top encompasses the very best Tasmania has to offer.

Experience ’Wineglass to Wine Glass’. Walk from Freycinet Lodge to Wineglass Lookout then down to the white-sanded shores of Wineglass Bay where a banquet awaits. Indulge in Tasmania’s finest food and wine near the turquoise waters of the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s pristine east coast. You will be served local produce and cool-climate wines, including the freshest seafoods, salads, Tasmanian beef, quail and Tasmanian cheeses.

VineyardRetreat to The Louise, an idyllic vineyard retreat in the heart of shiraz country with breathtaking views, 15 luxury suites and a highly acclaimed on-site restaurant, Appellation. One of Australia’s top regional dining experiences, it is the perfect haven for food and wine connoisseurs, surrounded by hundreds of acres of vineyards in the Barossa Valley.

Take a cooking lesson with award-winning Executive Chef Tony Howell at his cooking school at the five-star Cape Lodge in the Margaret River region. A three-hour class in the gourmet kitchen of Cape Lodge’s magnificent Private Residence, is followed by a five-course dinner in the Cape Lodge Restaurant where Howell changes the menu daily and uses only the finest local produce. Located on its own vineyard on the banks of a private lake, three hours south of Perth, Cape Lodge is one of Australia’s finest boutique hotels.

Head east from Melbourne, to the rolling hills, contented cows and fabulous food of the famous Yarra Valley, an easy hour’s drive. The Yarra Valley is now the home to over 140 wineries. Visit Domaine Chandon, the Australian arm of French champagne giant Moet et Chandon. Stop for lunch at Yering Station, the site of the valley’s oldest winery, with sensational views and delicious food. Then stay the night at Chateau Yering where you can continue the gastronomic journey.

Follow your appetite to the region that takes indulgence to another level, Daylesford, a leisurely 90-minute drive from Melbourne. With tranquil rural atmosphere, spas and wonderful food, dinner at the multi-award winning Lake House is a ’must’ destination for lovers of good food and wine.

Daylesford is the gourmet heart in a region known for its highly-rated restaurants and food so fresh it comes straight from the paddock to your plate: chestnuts, wild mushrooms, morello cherries, wild berries, rabbits, venison, duck, free-range chickens and eggs, trout, yabbies, lamb and beef. The Lake House is part of the Small Luxury Hotel complex complete with six acres of manicured gardens, stylish accommodation and the Salus Day Spa.

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