Tag Archives: Australia

The Daniel O’Connell – Adelaide (South Australia)

One of the best things about traveling (in my humble opinion) is discovering the unexpected. Even though I’m one of those ridiculously organized people who plan out each day before departing (my husband hates this), as an avid traveler, I do appreciate the joys of an occasional, itinerary mishap.

Ox Heart, Oyster, Caper, Cornichons at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide AustraliaA cancelled flight could mean an unplanned excursion to an archeological site in Greece. A wrong turn on a remote Japanese island could lead to a fabulous, hidden izayaka. Even something as simple as an unscheduled, free evening abroad could turn out to be an absolute EPIC experience.

Last September, enroute from Melbourne to Adelaide (start to my Australia trip here), I was informed that after checking into the hotel, I’d be on my own for dinner. I’d had an exhilerating week covering a media preview of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, a non-stop schedule of restaurants, wine events and lectures, so I almost opted to tuck into my hotel bed and catch up on sleep.

Instead, I caffeinated and sent out a tweet to friends on Twitter, “Where should I eat in #Adelaide tonight”?

Social media is a terrific tool for travelers, especially solo travelers. I’ve asked friends online for help with directions, shoe repair suggestions and even reached out when I’ve felt a bit homesick.

I got a few, quick responses to my Adelaide tweet, but the one that intrigued me the most was from Sydney, Australian chef @darrenmfc. He tweeted back, “check out @PhilWhitmarsh @PubAndDining“.

After a bit of research, my heart started racing. @PubAndDining aka The Daniel O’Connell, was quite the “nose to tail” restaurant, a la Fergus Henderson’s St. John, which is my favorite spot in London.

From The Daniel O’Connell website:

“Nose to Tail” is both a menu style and philosophy for us at the Daniel O’Connell. Traditionally it is a term used to describe whole beast dining where both the primary and the secondary cuts of a beast are utilised in the dining experience.

Believing that it is responsible and sustainable for us to use all that is fresh and available at any given time we take a more holistic approach and adopt a “no waste” philosophy to all that we do.

About the chefs via FaceBook:

The Two Chefs

Head Chef, Aaron Gillespie, started off his career in Adelaide pubs, at the age of 16. Now after stints at The Manse, The Science Exchange and Grace the Establishment, Aaron is excited to get behind the stoves of The Daniel O’Connell to continue to build his reputation by creating an iconic dining destination.

Joining him is Sous Chef Phil Whitmarsh, a loveable rogue, who was trained in some of the most notable kitchens of London and Paris, experiencing what it takes to earn Michelin hats. Phil is now home in Adelaide, and after a stint as Head Chef at Lochiel House, he brings his unique blend of global understanding and passion for the local produce available to him to The Daniel O’Connell.

The Daniel O’Connell was first licensed in 1850 as the Commercial Inn. The current building was built in 1881 at the same time as the many of the other buildings that were proudly situated in North Adelaide’s “High Street” by the town planners. The hotel changed its name from the North Adelaide Hotel to the Daniel O’Connell at the time of a refurbishment in the late 1990s and proudly maintains the Irish connection of North Adelaide’s heritage.

PHOTOS: My EPIC Meal at The Daniel O’Connell

Ox Heart, Oyster, Caper, Cornichons at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
“Dead Romance” Ox Heart, Oyster, Caper, Cornichons

Tartar of salmon belly w puffed wild rice at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Tartar of Salmon Belly with Puffed Wild Rice

Pig Head torchon, gribiche, quince, leaves at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Pig Head Torchon, Gribiche, Quince, Leaves

Morels, Egg (hidden), Asparagus at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Morels, Egg (hidden), Asparagus

Ox Tongue: Fresh, fermented #kohlrabi & horseradish at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Ox Tongue: Fresh, Fermented Kohlrabi & horseradish (additional photo)

Blood Orange Soufflé, Malt Chocolate parfait at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Blood Orange Soufflé, Malt Chocolate parfait

The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
BadAss (and super talented) Chefs Phil Whitmarsh and Aaron Gillespie.

A few wines I tried at The Daniel O'Connell, Adelaide Australia
Wine (and Scotch!) paired beautifully by Cameron Frost.

Thanks you so much for the suggestion Darren!

Fergus Henderson & Phil WhitmarshAbove Tasting Menu from September 14, 2013

The Daniel O’Connell Pub
165 Tynte Street, North Adelaide,
South Australia 5006
Website

Follow the Daniel O’Connell on twitter

Follow Aaron Gillespie on twitter

Follow Phil Whitmarsh on twitter

Facebook

Fergus Henderson visited the Daniel O’Connel Pub in May 2014. Photo by John Krüger (used with permission).

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ATTICA Restaurant, Melbourne

Chef Ben Shewry’s Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, is the ONLY Australian restaurant in S. Pellegrino 2014 World’s 50 Best list. Located in Ripponlea (a suburb of Melbourne) the restaurant has won several other awards including Age Good Food Guide’s Restaurant Of The Year and Chef Of The Year.

Attica in Melbourne, AustraliaTo be honest, I hadn’t heard about the restaurant until Jonathan Gold (Pulitzer-Prize winning L.A. Times food critic) emailed me, writing, “if you’re going to Melbourne, you MUST eat at Attica. Dainty Sichuan in Chinatown is worth a visit too.”

On my first day in Melbourne (invited by Tourism Australia), I headed straight to Chinatown, finding myself lost in narrow alleys and laneways, but eventually tucked into Dainty Sichuan’s numbing Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken. But finding a coveted reservation at Attica, ranked (at that time) 21st in THE WORLD? … Not a chance.

Until I started begging. Politely begging mind you, but still, it was shameless begging. Anytime a representative from the tourism board asked if there was anything I needed, I would mention Attica. I also noted that I would happily pay for this tall order myself, and even offered to rearrange my travel schedule (on my own dime) in case a reservation became available while I was Down Under.

When the great Jonathan Gold says I MUST eat at a restaurant… I simply MUST.

As luck would have it, Nyree Mcfarlane, a writer from New Zealand (where Chef Ben Shewry grew up) also requested a visit to Attica and joining forces (more begging), a few days later… WE WERE IN.

Jo Bites Oz, Part Five - An Extraordinary Meal at Attica

Born and raised in rural North Taranaki on the rugged west coast of the North Island, New Zealand, Ben believes that food can have a deeper meaning than just another item to consume; it can be evocative, emotional and thought provoking, appealing to all of the senses. Of course the key to all this is that it tastes of the purity of its ingredients and is something delicious to eat.

For inspiration, he often draws from his childhood; from the volcano, rivers, ocean, and native bush that make up Taranaki, as well as his current Australian surroundings. (Attica Website)

"Leaves From Our Garden", Attica
“Leaves From Our Garden”. Spicy Ruby Red Steak Mustard Leaf dipped in the Fermented Corn Juice topped with Alpine Pepper and Forest Anise.

Fermented Corn Juice
Closeup of the Fermented Corn Juice topped with Alpine Pepper and Forest Anise.

Hand-Churned Jersey Cow Butter
Hand-Churned Jersey Cow Butter w Salt Flakes (Whipped Olive Oil in background), served with wattle seed sourdough rye (no photo).

Whipped Olive Oil
Whipped Olive Oil topped w Black Sea Salt.

The Walnut
The Walnut dish is brought to the table.

The Walnut
Inside The Walnut (Biodynamic walnut) is a walnut purée with shavings of pine mushrooms and rosemary flowers.

Pickled Jerusalem Artichoke
Pickled Jerusalem Artichoke (turmeric, honey & cider).

"Lance Wiffin Watches His Mussels"
“Lance Wiffin Watches His Mussels”: Sea Bounty Blue-Lip Mussels Flash-fried in Rye Crumb and Sea Succulents with hand-painted portrait (on mussel shell) of Lance Wiffin. About Sea Bounty’s Lance Wiffen.

Steamed Crab & Sorrel, Wild & Cultivated
Steamed Crab wrapped in Sorrel, Wild & Cultivated.

Marron, Kale, Sauce of Onions & Pork Fat
Sauce of Onions & Pork Fat being poured over the Marron & Kale.

Marron, Kale, Sauce of Onions & Pork Fat
Closeup: Marron, Kale, Sauce of Onions & Pork Fat.

"A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked In The Earth It Was Grown" at Attica
“A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked In The Earth It Was Grown” with smoked goat curd, coconut husk ash, salt bush, ground coffee.

Just a potato right? No. This was one heck of a potato and all these months later, I still can’t stop thinking about it. Watch a video of the chef making it here. It will help you understand why it’s such a special dish. I also love what Adam Sachs wrote about it (and Ben Shewry) for Bon Appetit:

Today is his day off, and we’re up early to “lay a hangi” in a friend’s yard. A hangi, for the uninitiated, is a New Zealand Maori ritual in which vast amounts of food are buried over searingly hot rocks in the ground and steamed to perfection in that slow cooker called Planet Earth.

Waiting for the bonfire to die down, I ask him about something I’d eaten at Attica the night before. On the menu, it’s listed as A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked in the Earth It Was Grown.

Chang (David Chang), who recently tweeted that Shewry’s potato in dirt was one of the best things he’d eaten last year, tried to describe why. “It’s hard to explain, but Attica’s a very personal dining experience,” he told me. “When I eat there I feel like I’m eating what Australian food should taste like.”

The dish is a hangi in miniature and essential Shewry: a humble potato, buried in dirt and shrouded in personal narrative. (Read the full article)

Cucumbers, Holy Flax, Sauce of Burnet at Attica
The dinner continued with Cucumbers, Holy Flax, Sauce of Burnet.

King George Whiting In Paperback
King George Whiting with Butter & Lemon Myrtle In Paperback

Flinders Island Wallaby, Scorched Macadamia, Ground Berry
Flinders Island Wallaby (tasted like venison to me), Scorched Macadamia, Ground Berry.

"Plight of the Bees" at Attica
WOW. “Plight of the Bees” dessert (New Zealand honey) arrived in a beehive box made of Tasmanian oak. One for each of us.

"Plight of the Bees" at Attica
Opening the lid to “Plight of the Bees”. Two types of New Zealand honey combined with meringue, frozen lemon, wild thyme. The honey comb pattern was created with freeze-dried apple on top of the thin layer of pumpkin.

"Plight of the Bees" at Attica
Digging in… “Plight of the Bees”. Again, WOW.

Native fruits of Australia
Native fruits of Australia (Plums, Muntries, Riberries, Lime, Quandongs) with Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt & Native Currant Shaved Ice.

Vinegar Ice Cream at Attica
Apple Vinegar Ice Cream with Candied Oats.

The Pukeko's Egg by Chef Ben Shewry, Attica in Melbourne, Australia
Along with our Attica menu, we each received a copy of Ben Shewry’s artwork. On the back he explained why he is inspired by the Pukeko:
“The New Zealand Pukeko is quite a character and has often provided my family with first class entertainment… Like me, Pukeko are often seen foraging for food beside roadside ditches, but unlike me they had been forced to adapt because their natural habit, the swamplands, have almost disappeared with human proliferation.”

The Pukeko's Egg
The Pukeko’s Egg: Hand-painted, Chocolate & Salted Caramel Eggs.

Attica in Melbourne, Australia
Tourism Australia and Tourism Victoria went above and beyond to make this meal happen. Many thanks to Madeleine Blake (above left) for organizing the phenomenal evening for myself and Nyree McFarlane.

Read Nyree’s fantastic piece on Ben Shewry here.

Read more about Ben Shewry on Bon Appetit.

Marshmallows in the garden with Chef Ben Shewry! Attica in Melbourne, Australia (Nyree Mcfarlane and Madeleine Blake)How to Get a Reservation at Attica in Melbourne, Australia by Eater

Attica
74 Glen Eira Road
Ripponlea, VIC 3185
Website
Bookings: +61 3 9530 0111

This meal was paid for by Tourism Victoria.

Jo Bites Oz, Part One

 

 

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Gladioli Restaurant – Jo Bites Oz, Part Four

For the past few months I’ve been sharing photos from my wonderful trip to Australia here on the blog. Previous “Jo Bites Oz” posts include a Virgin Australia surprise upgrade (part 1), spectacular salmon in Melbourne (part 2) and a caffeinated Coffee and Café Culture Tour (part 3).

As a guest of Tourism Australia, most of my time was spent in Melbourne (with fellow writers and journalists) previewing the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, which was held in February and March.

An excursion to the Bellarine Peninsula included a beautiful lunch at Gladioli Restaurant, in the sleepy township of Inverleigh. It’s only an hour’s drive from Melbourne (just 20 minutes west of Geelong) and definitely worth experiencing if you’re planning a trip Down Under.

Chef Matt Dempsey’s food at Gladioli is described as “modern Australian” with a “focus on local produce”. He began cooking at seventeen and his lengthy work experience includes a stint at Heston Blumenthal’s renowned Fat Duck in Bray, England. Numerous awards include best new regional restaurant in the 2013 The Age Good Food Guide.

Jo Bites Oz, Part 4
PHOTOS from lunch (5-course tasting menu) at Gladioli Restaurant

Gladioli Restaurant
Gladioli Entrance

Watermelon w Beetroot jelly, chèvre mousse, chicken cracker at Gladioli Restaurant
Watermelon with Beetroot Jelly, Chèvre Mousse, Chicken Cracker

Carrots, Raisin, Olive Oil, Chestnut at Gladioli Restaurant
Carrots, Raisin, Olive Oil Powder, Chestnut

Prawn, Mussel, Radish, Miso, Green Tea at Gladioli Restaurant
Prawn, Mussel, Radish, Miso, Green Tea

Pork, Horseradish, Pear, Mustard at Gladioli Restaurant
Pork, Horseradish, Pear, Mustard

Chickpea Croquettes w Radish and Lentils at Gladioli Restaurant
Chickpea Croquettes with Radish and Lentils

Pumpkin Filo at Gladioli Restaurant
Pumpkin Filo

Apple, Scones, Cream at Gladioli Restaurant
Apple, Scones, Cream

Farrside by Far Pinot Noir (2011) at Gladioli Restaurant
Farrside by Far Pinot Noir (2011) at Gladioli Restaurant

Gladioli Restaurant
Strolling through the beautiful back garden

Gladioli Restaurant

Gladioli
14 High Street
Inverleigh VIC 3321
AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 3 5265 1111
Website

Follow the chef on twitter @MattDempseyChef

Gladioli on twitter

Gladioli on FaceBook

All my Gladioli photos on flickr

Read about Chef Dempey’s Tulip restaurant here.

Dining date: 9/11/13 (the meal was gratis).

Many thanks to Melbourne Food and WineTourism AustraliaTourism Victoria

Jo Bites Oz: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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Australia Someday

A FREE TRIP to Australia?

Now, this is something I want to share with friends and family ASAP. Friends and family in the United States that is, as this Tourism Australia Contest is just for lucky Americans.

Visiting the Great Ocean Road, Australia“I’ll get to Australia Someday and see the Great Ocean Road!”… It’s something I used to say often, along with, “I’ll get to Singapore someday” (to eat chicken rice at a gritty Hawker Center), or “Leningrad someday” (to practice the Russian I’ve been learning for 30 years).

Travel is the thing I save up for most in life (yes, even more than dining out). The cost of traveling abroad is the thing I measure all pending purchases against. If I’m pining for a new pair of $250 boots I think, “that’s a quarter of a ticket to Tokyo.”

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)My “Australia Someday” came last September, when Tourism Australia invited me to a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival preview

A highlight of my Oz visit came even before I arrived, when Australian Chef Luke Mangan (the airline executive chef) had me upgraded on my Virgin Australia flight from Los Angeles. 

Experiencing Australia, eating (and drinking) Australia was an absolute dream come true. Photos of my trip (with many more to come) are posted here on Flickr.

How can you visit Australia this year? Here’s the scoop (via Tourism Australia):

Virgin Australia, Delta Air Lines and Tourism Australia have teamed up to encourage Americans to visit Australia now.

Head on over to AustraliaSomeday.com and take a visual journey through videos and pictures related to each of the 52 experiences. These act as clues that hint to where in Australia the experience is enjoyed.

Place a “pin” on the map of Australia at the location and – if you get it right – be entered to win that “Someday” trip. You can enter each of the weeklong experiences for 52 different chances to win an Australian holiday.

KOALA!Each trip comes complete with a week’s hotel, roundtrip airfare for two and the featured Australian experience.

Note: The “Australia Someday” competition ends April 21, 2014 so get going!

Tourism Australia

Virgin Australia

Australia Someday

Delta Airlines

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AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part 3

Jet lag. I’d like to say I don’t suffer from it, and as an experienced traveller I could simply shake it off and reset my body clock when I arrive in a different time zone. But it seems like the older I get (I’m 50 this year), the harder it is to recover from lack of sleep.

In the past I’ve tried melatonin and prescription sleeping pills, even dozing off for hours on a long, international flight, but I’m still exhausted upon arrival. The last thing I want to do is waste time catching up on sleep when I’m in a new city (or country).

When I’m fighting jet lag, a good attitude helps. Plus I always get a rush of adrenaline when I begin a new adventure. And coffee… lots and lots of extraordinary coffee.

Australia Part 3: Melbourne Coffee and Café Culture Tour
Not many cities take their coffee as seriously as Melbourne does.  Since the first espresso machines landed in the 50’s, the city’s reverence for the coffee bean has continued to prosper.  The third wave coffee movement has taken hold, with a number of cafes serving cold press, siphon, filter and clover methods, with locally roasted beans.  Today, it is difficult to turn a corner in the city centre without enjoying the aroma of fresh brews. (Tourism Australia)

 

Along the Yarra River, Melbourne
Our Melbourne Coffee and Cafe tour was organized by Walk Melbourne, with our group meeting near our hotel on the Yarra River. We spent almost three hours walking around, tasting coffee, eating lunch and also exploring Melbourne’s lane ways with Hidden Secret Tours.

Alice Nivens Cafe, Melbourne, Australia
First stop, Alice Nivens Cafe located on Flinders street. Owner Janet Wong named the café after Tim Burton’s white rabbit, Nivens, and brings her love of baking, liquids and fantasy alive in this small inviting space.

Alice Nivens Cafe, Melbourne, Australia
Peeking into Alice Nivens.

Alice Nivens cafe, Melbourne
Pastries at Alice Nivens.

Alice Nivens cafe, Melbourne
Janet Wong, the charming owner of Alice Nivens Cafe.

Alice Nivens cafe, Melbourne
Alice Nivens Cafe.

Alice Nivens Cafe, Melbourne, Australia
Alice Nivens Cafe.

Alice Nivens cafe, Melbourne
Wall art at Alice Nivens.

Alice Nivens cafe, Melbourne
I tried Los Planes (El Savador) coffee at Alice Nivens Cafe. It tasted floral with hints of sweet candied citrus, pomegranate and cocoa.

Alice Nivens Cafe, Melbourne, Australia
Alice Nivens Cafe.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Dukes Coffee Roasters on Flinders Lane. Dukes features a dedicated filter bar and is made largely using reclaimed and recycled construction materials. A percentage of annual sales from the coffee house is pledged to environmental causes.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Dukes is very serious about coffee. I felt like I was in a coffee test lab!

Walk Melbourne Tour
Brother Buba Budan (on Little Bourke Street)  is named after the world’s first coffee smuggler. BBB uses some of the best coffee in Australia, roasted by Melbourne’s own famous coffee smuggler, Mark Dundon.

Brother Baba Budan in Melbourne, Australia
At Brother Buba Budan I tried Finca La Soledad (Guatamala) with notes of nectarine, toffee and mandarin.

Walk Melbourne Tour
After several cups of coffee, my new pal (fellow writer Nyree McFarlane) and I grabbed a quick Dinkum pie to soak up all the glorious caffeine.

Dinkum Pies is located in one of Melbourne’s magical hidden laneways, Block Place (off the Block Arcade.) For over forty years, they’ve been making traditional meat pies, pasties and other Australian goodies.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Steak Curry & Rice Pie.

Walk Melbourne Tour
More touring, then brunch at Silo by Joost, Melbourne’s first ‘zero-waste’ café.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Near the kitchen of Silo by Joost.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Spring Vegetables, Hens Egg, Olive Brine, Buttermilk at Joost.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Jerusalem Artichoke, Cumin and Yogurt Soup at Joost.

Walk Melbourne Tour
More walking in beautiful Melbourne.

SheBeen in Melbourne, Australia
We past Shebeen cafe after eating brunch. I would’ve loved have gone back but I just didn’t have the time. From the website: We donate 100% of our profits, and your choice at the bar determines where they end up. Here’s how it works… Every beer, wine, cider and margarita sale sends funds back to that drink’s country of origin. We’ve made sure your money ends up in the right pockets by scouring the globe to find some of the smartest organisations tackling poverty in the developing world.

Walk Melbourne Tour
Beautiful old tram. Melbourne’s first electric tram began operation on 14 October 1889 between Box Hill and Doncaster. The service was abandoned less than seven years later and it took until October 1906 for another electric service to begin. (Yarra Trams)

Walk Melbourne Tour
Touring lanes and arcades.

Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Melbourne street art. Hosier Lane is the iconic street art laneway in between Flinders St and Collins St.

Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Ganesh on Hosier Lane.

Bar Americano 20 Presgrave Pl, Melbourne, VIC
Bar Americano, “situated in a laneway, off another laneway” in Melbourne. My favorite photo of the day.

Many thanks to  Tourism AustraliaTourism VictoriaMelbourne Food and Wine.
Melbourne Part TWO here.
Melbourne Part ONE here.

Walk Melbourne
www.walkmelbourne.com.au

Hidden Secret Tours
www.hiddensecretstours.com

Alice Nivens
www.alicenivenscafe.com

Dukes
www.dukescoffee.com.au

Brother Buba Budan
On FaceBook

Dinkum Pies
On FaceBook

Silo by Joost
www.byjoost.com/silo/

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AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part Two

Part Two: Atlantic Restaurant – Melbourne, Australia

Part ONE of my Australia adventure here.

This year, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) will celebrate all things water. As noted on the official website, “In 2014 we honour water; soaking, dousing, steaming and fishing our way through a veritable ocean of information from sous vide to sustainability, from the Amazon to the Arctic.”

If you missed my last post, in September I was invited by Tourism Australia to preview some of the festival restaurants, in and around Melbourne. MFWF programs begin on February 28th and run through March 16th. Click here for details.

The Atlantic Restaurant, MelbourneMy first night in Melbourne I attended a dinner at Chef Donovan Cooke’s Atlantic Restaurant, an “ocean to plate” concept that fits in perfectly with the upcoming festival’s water theme. After an early-morning arrival from Los Angeles, plus an afternoon exploring Sichuan food (aka getting lost) in Chinatown… I was ready for an elegant, fine-dining experience.

Yorkshire-born Donovan Cooke has quite a distinguished culinary pedigree, honing his skills under the likes of Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux.

From the Atlantic website:
“He has worked at The Savoy Hotel and the Waterside Inn in London and La Cote St Jacques in Roigny, France. Donovan was Head Chef at the age of 23 at Harvey’s. Donovan came to Melbourne in 1996 where he was co-creator of the influential Est Est Est in 1997. Luxe was next was awarded The Age Good Food Guide three hats in its first year. Ondine followed and it was awarded Best New Restaurant in 2002. From 2004, Donovan was chef de cuisine at Derby Restaurant and Bar at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. In 2005, he was recognized as Honorary Commander, La Commanderie des Cordon bleus de France for outstanding culinary achievements.”

In 2010, Donovan returned to Melbourne to become Executive Chef and partner of The Atlantic. The restaurant theme is inspired by the “hustle and bustle of the fish markets of years gone by, in New York and Chicago.” It’s a beautiful, waterfront location, set on the banks of the Yarra River.

Melbourne Food & Wine describes Donovan as “Intense, earnest and knowledgeable, Donovan Cooke has a reputation for his uncompromising approach to impeccable seafood and the best way to handle it. His Michelin pedigree is undeniable; his skill and technique, faultless.”

And yes, he’s also been on MasterChef Australia!

For this MFWF preview dinner, Chef Scott Pickett (Estelle Bar & Kitchen) was also manning the stoves along with Donovan Cooke. Pickett also has an impressive cooking background, winning Two Chef Hats in the Age Good Food Guide.

Photos – Dinner at The Atlantic Restaurant (9/8/13)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
The Atlantic on the banks of the Yarra River.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
“Ocean to Plate”. Seafood on display, like a fish market!

The Den (at the Atlantic Restaurant) Melbourne
Cocktails before dinner at the The Den, downstairs from the restaurant. (This photo from Atlantic website)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Wagyu Bresaola, Quail yolk, Heritage Cauliflower by Chef Scott Pickett. You can’t see the quail egg in this photo, but this was such a gorgeous dish. The crunchy chips added a great texture.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Truffled “Chicken Wings”, Hand-Rolled Macaroni, Broccoli Crumbs by Chef Scott Pickett. Pure comfort food. De-boned wings made into sausages. More please.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Olive Oil Confit Ora King Salmon, Spring Vegetables, Diamond Clams, Artichoke Essence, Confit Tomatoes, Soft Herb Emulsion by Chef Donovan Cooke. PERFECTION. He has spent TWO DECADES refining this salmon dish. A fact that’s even posted on his twitter profile.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
I had the absolute pleasure of dining (and drinking) next to Coldstream Hills Winemaker, Andrew Fleming. He explained each pairing and made the evening so much fun!
Wine: Coldstream Hills Chardonnay Notes of grapefruit and stone fruit and a creamy mouthfeel.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Wine: Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz  Black fruits with subtle hints of pepper.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Just getting started.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Kitchen Tour (Chef Donovan Cooke at right)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Chef Donovan Cooke (and his tasting spoons)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Hanging out on the line…

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Mixed Berry Cheesecake Trifle: Raspberry cheesecake foam, cream cheese ice cream, vanilla cookies, strawberry jelly, berry marmalade by Pastry Chef Rhiannon Voros. Such a shame I only had room for one bite.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
More sweets! Nougat, Valrhona White Chocolate, Pistachio Nuts, Cranberries by Pastry Chef Rhiannon Voros. Loved the pistachio.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Scott Pickett (left) and Donovan Cooke. Bad Ass Chefs.

Note: Donovan Cooke will be appearing at the MFWF 2014 Langham Melbourne MasterClass. Info and Tickets

The Atlantic Restaurant
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
Tel: +61 3 9698 8888
www.theatlantic.com.au

Follow Donovan Cooke on Twitter, FaceBook

Scott Pickett’s Estelle Bar and Kitchen
243 High St, Northcote VIC 3070, Australia
+61 3 9489 4609
www.estellebarkitchen.com.au

Follow Scott Picket on Twitter

Melbourne, Day 1Many thanks to Melbourne Food and WineTourism AustraliaTourism Victoria

If you’re on Instagram, I posted photos every day while in Australia. Just search for #JoBitesOz

Check back soon for more Australia!

Part ONE

Part THREE

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AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part One

Part One: Melbourne Food & Wine Preview, Flight to Oz (upgrade!), Searching for fire (Sichuan-style) in Chinatown.

Twenty-five years ago, I pretty much travelled non-stop for both work and pleasure. My ex-husband (we split in ’93) was a pilot for United Express and we took great advantage of free passes with its parent company, United Airlines. Back then (pre-9/11 of course) we had a stack of blank tickets and wrote in any, international (or domestic) destination.

Not only did we fly for free on United  (always on standby), but other major airlines honored the tickets as well. Yearly vacations to Europe (usually the Greek Islands), the U.K. and Japan were peppered in with work expeditions to Africa and the Arctic. My job as a field assistant to an award-winning nature photographer took me from safari tents in Tanzania to polar bear camps near Nunavut, Canada. Yeah, I know… I got PAID for that.

These days I don’t travel abroad too much, at least not as much as I used to. Once a year I visit my dad and step-mum in Scotland, and usually stop off to see friends in London. My husband Peter travels for work on occasion, and although we don’t have children, we DO have a house full of loving dogs.

My limited globetrotting is a separation-anxiety issue. Mostly mine, but the dogs suffer from it too. I hate leaving all of our dogs (currently we have Woody, Ziggy and Maxie), but it’s especially hard being away from my “baby” Maxie. He sleeps next to me every night, so when I travel… it simply has to be worth leaving him.

When Tourism Australia contacted me last summer, inviting me on a ten-day (all-expenses-paid) trip to be a “corOZpondant” (OZ + correspondent, get it?), I thought, “Well okay… THIS IS WORTH IT.”

MelbourneFoodAndWineLogoThe ten-day adventure began with previews of the 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine chefs and restaurants, which runs February 28 to March 16.

If you live near Melbourne or are planning a trip to Australia, you still have plenty of time to get tickets. This year, the Festival will celebrate all things water, with special events like MasterClasses led by international chefs including Christopher Kostow from Meadowood in Napa Valley. 

- Good Food Australia has a nice roundup of the upcoming event here.
– Melbourne Food and Wine video here.

In addition to the food and wine preview, I also got to browse local markets, wineries and coffee shops, travel the spectacular Great Ocean Road, and spent an afternoon on a beautiful farm with Dolores the truffle pig!

My Australia wine education continued with a short flight to Adelaide, South Australia to attend the Savour Wine Forum. Before flying home I attended a dinner in the Barossa Valley and shared wine with the legendary Maggie Beer.

NOTE: This is just PART ONE of my Australia adventure. I’ll be posting details and photos of the entire trip here on the blog, so please check back again soon!

Australia – Jo Bites Oz, Part One

My introduction to the generosity of Australia (and it’s people) actually began BEFORE I left Los Angeles. Whenever I travel, I’m especially organized and start packing weeks before the departure date. Guidebook? Check. Passport? Check. “Travel Maxie”. Check. Neck pillow for uncomfortable economy seat? Check. Healthy snack (usually almonds) to eat instead of crappy, airline junk? Check. Sleeping mask, for when your seatmate insists on leaving his reading light on the entire flight? Check!

After arriving several hours early at LAX (Los Angeles Airport), I walked around the terminal preparing myself for fourteen hours in a cramped, economy seat. While I waited to board the Virgin Australia flight to Melbourne (via Sydney), I logged on to Twitter to pass the time. There, a direct message was posted from Aussie chef Luke Mangan. We were introduced online via a mutual friend, and I was hoping to meet him while in Oz, but my trip did not include any time (except the plane change) in Sydney.

Luke asked if I had already checked in for the flight. I replied that in fact I had checked in two hours earlier. He quickly messaged me back and told me to check with customer service because he had me upgraded. It turns out that Luke Mangan was (and still is) Virgin Australia’s official chef.

As boarding announcements began, I ran up to the counter and asked the gate agent if she could check on my seat, which was printed 49G on the boarding card. She asked me why and I explained that a friend might have had me upgraded. With a tilt of her head, and an “in your dreams” rise of her eyebrow; the agent grabbed my back-of-the-plane boarding card and entered my name.

There was a pause, a blank stare, then a forced smile and, “you’ve got SOME friend at the airline” comment before printing out the new boarding card. Seat 1H… that meant I got to turn LEFT when I entered the plane… a rarity for me. Excited, I quickly photographed the two tickets before boarding the plane.

Neck pillow? Not needed. Healthy snack? Untouched. Sleeping mask? The down duvet covered my head just fine. What a way to arrive in Oz!

Photos – Travel to Oz and Day 1 in Melbourne (9/7/13)

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Travel Maxie warming up my upgraded seat on Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Chef Luke Mangan’s Menu, International Business from L.A. to Australia

Untitled
Delicious, rich mushroom soup with porcini and tarragon. Pure comfort.

Barramundi fillet w bok choy, ginger soy by Chef Luke Mangan
Barramundi fillet w bok choy, ginger soy. How did they get the skin so crispy in the air? So good!

Muenster cheddar, Chatelain camembert, Fourme d'Ambert blue
Cheese course: Muenster cheddar, Chatelain camembert, Fourme d’Ambert blue. Cheese over dessert anytime.

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Scotch w a movie. Love the Sydney Opera House salt and pepper shakers on Virgin Australia. I did NOT steal them, but I thought about it!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
The FULL BAR!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
See? Stocked!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
In case of turbulence… “Sit on the floor and hold on to bar stools”

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Ready for bed? The lovely air hostess reclined the seat (fully), fitted a pad over the seat, then offered a sleep suit or duvet. HEAVEN.

Along the Yarra River, Melbourne
Arriving in Melbourne, the Yarra River

View from Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
View from my room at the Crown Metropol Hotel. No time for Jet lag!

Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
The bed in my room looked inviting… but I actually SLEPT on the plane! Time to explore…

Chinatown, Melbourne
I jumped in a cab, headed to Chinatown and began searching for Dainty Sichuan restaurant. I first learned about it on an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Jonathan Gold also suggested I eat there. Using my phone GPS I found the address posted on the Travel Channel website, but no luck. 

Fact: Chinatown Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world, dating back to the gold rush days of the 1850s.

Searching for Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne's Chinatown
Dainty Sichuan had MOVED and the current occupants (another Sichuan restaurant) had absolutely no desire to help me. I couldn’t blame them. How many other Bourdain fans had come knocking with dissapointment?

Searching for Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne's Chinatown.
I tried searching for the new address on my phone, but several addresses popped up and suddenly I was very confused AND jet lagged. So, I turned to my friend Twitter and asked if anyone knew where the original Dainty Sichuan had moved… and yes… a response in minutes!

Dainty Sichuan, recommended by Jonathan Gold (and Bourdain)
Now situated upstairs in a mall, the address for Dainty Sichuan is Level 1, 2A Cambridge Street, Box Hill, Victoria. Tel +61 3 9041 4318

Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken at Dainty Sichuan, Melbourne
There were SO many dishes I wanted to try, but since I was by myself I went for the Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken. “As seen on Travel Channel”, the server noted! Incredibly spicy, I was suddenly OVER my jet lag.

Chinatown, Melbourne
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring and photographing Melbourne’s delightful ChinaTown.

Pool at Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
Back to the hotel for a refreshing swim before heading to dinner.

Part 2

Many thanks to  Tourism Australia, Tourism Victoria, Melbourne Food and Wine… and Luke Mangan of course!

If you’re on Instagram, I posted photos every day while in Australia. Just search for #JoBitesOz

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Down Under

Travel Maxie and I are headed to Australia for a food and wine tour of Melbourne and Adelaide!

We’d love for you to follow our adventures over on twitter and instagram. This is our first visit to Oz, so of course we’ll be posting LOTS of food and travel photos using hashtags #JoBitesOz and #corOZpondent!

Headed Down Under!

Many thanks to Tourism Australia for this incredible opportunity!

AustraliaLogo1

(Real Maxie isn’t so thrilled, but I know Peter will be taking good care of him, Woody and Zig while I’m abroad!)

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