Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Sandalford sets the national standard for cellar doors

The consistency of excellence at the Sandalford cellar door and restaurant in the Swan Valley has been rewarded with the West Australian wine producer winning gold in the category of Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries at the Australian Tourism Awards.


Sandalford chief executive officer Grant Brinklow said the accolade was all the sweeter as it was a milestone that the winery had been actively chasing. 

“To all of us, it represents the realisation of Peter, Debra and Garry Prendiville’s vision that Sandalford would become the very best at what we do," Brinklow said. "While we have been a gold winner in this category at state level on 10 occasions previously, this was the
first time we have been awarded the national prize. 

"We are feeling ecstatic; having won bronze and silver at these awards the past two years to now be taking the gold trophy back to our winery is simply fantastic.”

Brinklow said the company loved being a part of Australia’s tourism industry and was very proud of Sandalford’s history and heritage.

“There is an outstanding team at Sandalford who strive every day to deliver truly world class wine and wine tourism experiences to more than 160,000 visitors a year from around the globe," he said.

"The Swan Valley gives visitors a connection to wine in a memorable way which I feel is unique in the world, and we are delighted that our regional partner, Swan Valley Visitor Centre, was also recognised with gold status at these awards.”

Sandalford Estate Swan Valley offers several cellar door tasting experiences, multilingual winery tours on suspended walkways, al fresco dining under the vines, luxury cruises to and from the estate and world class concerts with international acts. 

Head off the beaten track to explore boutique Tasmanian wineries

Fancy a look behind the scenes at Jim Chatto's Isle Vineyard, or a chat with Nick Glaetzer at his urban winery about how Glaetzer-Dixon Family Wines is expanding its operations? 

This weekend, March 3-4, vineyards in the south and east of Tasmania open their doors to the public for wine tastings, food, entertainment and sales. Many of them are not open at other times. 

So pop into Resolution Vineyard to find out how new owners Daniel and Caroline Lamont are progressing, or check out Inverquharity at Richmond, or Every Man and his Dog (formerly Palmara).

Wine and cider producers in the Derwent, Coal River and Huon Valleys, as well as the East Coast, will be showing off their wares.

 
In the Far South, Vineyards Open Weekend venues include: Windrush at Kingston, Willie Smith’s Apple Shed (live music both days) and Kate Hill Wines' new cellar door at Huonville (above); Chatto (Jim Chatto's first open wine weekend) at Glaziers Bay, and cider producer Pagan Cider just outside Cygnet. 

At Gardners Bay you'll find both Two Bud Spur’s new winery and cellar door, and Hartzview Vineyard, with vineyard platters and desserts all day, plus well-known Flamenco guitarist Paul Gerard playing both days from 12-3pm.



Big names involved include Stefano Lubiana Wines and Derwent Estate at Granton, Pooley at Richmond, Riversdale Estate at Cambridge and Freycinet and Craigie Knowe on the East Coast.
   

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

New direct air route between Melbourne and Manila unveiled

The Philippines' leading airline, Cebu Pacific, today unveiled a new direct service between Melbourne and Manila. 

The new route, which will be the airline’s second destination in Australia after Sydney, will commence on August 14.

To celebrate its newest international route, Cebu Pacific is holding a seat sale for the Melbourne-Manila route from February 27 until March 3, 2018, valid for travel from August 14 to October 31, 2018. 

The special promo fare for the Melbourne launch is $109. After the seat sale, year-round low fares between Melbourne and Manila start as low as AU$328, about 50% to 60% lower than prevailing fares of other airlines.

CEB will fly three times weekly (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) between Melbourne and Manila. 

“We’re thrilled to add more direct flights to Manila, opening up greater opportunities for Victorian jobs and businesses," said John Eren, Minister for Tourism and Events in Victoria. 

"Securing this new Cebu Pacific route means we’ll soon have 35 international airlines flying in and out of Melbourne Airport – and that’s great news for our airline industry and economy.” 

Boasting of thousands of islands, pristine beaches and marine biodiversity, the Philippines is gaining popularity among Australian travellers as a holiday destination. 

Cebu Pacific is the only low-cost carrier flying directly between Australia and the Philippines. 


Monday, 26 February 2018

Moorilla Estate adds Domaine A to its wine portfolio

After several weeks of rumours, Moorilla Estate today announced the purchase of one of Tasmania's leading vineyards: the internationally acclaimed Domaine A / Stoney Vineyard in the Coal River Valley.



This is the first winery that Moorilla, owned by MONA founder David Walsh, and located at the world-renowned museum site in Berriedale, north of Hobart, has purchased.

“We recognise Domaine A / Stoney Vineyard as a cornerstone of quality Tasmanian winemaking and are delighted to now have it join our portfolio,” said Conor van der Reest, winemaker and general manager at Moorilla said.

“Moorilla and Domaine A are both very much focused on making wines that truly show what Tasmania and our individual vineyards have to offer. We look forward to working with Peter and Ruth Althaus to make sure we protect the integrity of this brand that has such a loyal and well-deserved customer base.”



The additional stock that comes with the ownership of Domaine A / Stoney Vineyard will help cater to Mona’s increasing demand on-site, such as that which will come with Mona’s 172-room hotel development, set to open in 2022.
“We see the strength in the unity of these two significant Tasmanian brands,” van der Reest said. “We will, however, operate them as separate entities, ensuring Domaine A is made using the same great techniques Peter and Ruth have developed and implemented over the years.”

Peter Althaus, departing owner, Domaine A / Stoney Vineyard, said: “We remain enormously invested in all we have built at Domaine A / Stoney Vineyard.

“My retirement and the decision to sell the business was certainly not an easy one, but from many interested parties (both local and international) I am confident I have chosen the right organisation, winemaker and people to maintain my label’s integrity and qualities.

"In keeping with my ethos of winemaking and business, this decision had very little to do with money! It was, most importantly, about feeling assured that the legacy I have built will be in the hands of the appropriate custodians.”

Effective March 1, Moorilla’s purchase of Domaine A includes the vineyards and Coal River Valley winery. Moorilla will make no changes to Domaine A’s existing employees.

Claudio Alcorso founded Moorilla in 1958. It is now one of Tasmania’s oldest contemporary wineries. Moorilla produces three ranges of wine on-site at Mona: Muse, Praxis and Cloth.

Van der Reest, originally from Canada, joined Moorilla in 2007. He has studied and worked extensively in old and new world wine regions.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Keep drinking red wine - it can do you good

New research has boosted the theory that the polyphenols found in red wine can help fight tooth decay and gum disease. 

Results of a new study suggest the benefits of drinking red wine in order to maintain oral health are strong. Other drinks rich in polyphenols include coffee, green tea, cider, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, cherries and beans.

Previous studies have suggested that polyphenols protect the body from harmful free radicals due to their antioxidants properties.

This most recent study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggests that  polyphenols might also boost health by working with “good bacteria” in our gut, while also fending off harmful bacteria in the mouth.


Researchers tested the effects of two polyphenols from red wine – caffeic and p-coumaric acid – on bacteria that stick to teeth and gums and cause dental plaque, cavities and gum disease. They found the wine polyphenols reduced the bacteria’s ability to stick to the cells.

When combined with the streptococcus dentisani – an oral probiotic that stimulates the growth of good bacteria – the polyphenols were even more effective at inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

Dr Blessing Anonye, research fellow at Warwick Medical School, Microbiology & Infection, Biomedical Sciences, said the findings were not a “green light” to drink more wine, but could contribute towards treating oral disease.

“Previous research demonstrated that red wine and grape seed extracts prevented the growth of different bacteria that causes oral disease,” she said. “This new research went further to show that wine polyphenols inhibited the ability of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth to attach to gum cells when used alone or in combination with an oral probiotic."

Minimal fuss; maximum value. A great place to stay in Sydney.

I'd heard good things about the boutique Tank Stream Hotel in Sydney - and finally had the chance to stay last week. 



With a minimalist approach and a perfect central location, it is well worth adding to your list of potential hostelries when visiting Australia's biggest and most frenetic city. 

I was lucky enough to be on level 14, far above the hustle and bustle. I cannot remember a quieter city centre experience. Yet the Tank Stream is five minutes from Circular Quay, right above Pitt Street and brisk 20-minute stroll from Darling Harbour. 

Sydney Opera House, Hyde Park, The Rocks and Barangaroo are all close by, with trains, buses and ferries located within easy access of the hotel.

The rooms are crisp, fresh and clean, white with a minimum of fluffy cushions and wall art. The check-in and check-out process is fast and painless and the staff helpful.


That's good news, but even better is the hotel's aversion to gouging guests with extra charges. In-room movies, a mini bar with soft drinks and snacks and very fast wifi are all complimentary. Full marks. 

There is a very good buffet breakfast (with eggs made fresh to order) and the hotel’s restaurant Le Petit Flot offers relaxed contemporary bistro style dining with an emphasis on share plates and local produce. The new laneway eatery Dave’s Deli is open at lunchtime only. 

If you fancy an Easter getaway, the 4.5 star property is offering some exceptional Easter deals of up to 40% discount on full rates, along with the chance to win one a special Vivid Festival packages.

Each guest booking the Easter Package will receive a mystery Easter egg upon check-in with one of the eggs delivering more than just a chocolate feast: a prize of a night’s accommodation with full breakfast to enjoy the Vivid Festival in May/June 

The Easter package comprises two nights accommodation, including breakfast, for just $399 per roomIt also includes The Tank Stream’s ‘all-inclusive concept’, which provides guests with the previously mentioned freebies and in-room Nespresso coffee/T2 teas.

The package is available over the Easter long weekend from March 30-April 2 making it ideal for visitors coming to Sydney for the Royal Easter Show. Bookings need to be direct to the hotel via the website quoting the booking code Easter2018. 


The Tank Stream Hotel is part of the international St Giles Premier Hotel collection, with the Sydney hotel joining St Giles’ hotels in cities such as London, New York, Kuala Lumpur and Manila.

Bookings and further information: www.tankstreamhotel.com, (02) 8222 1211 or enquiry@tankstreamhotel.com

# The writer was a guest of The Tank Stream Hotel 

Texas calling. How to fly direct from Australia to Houston

United Airlines was one of the sponsors of this week's International Media Marketplace in Sydney spruiking its new daily, non-stop service between its Houston hub and Sydney. 

The new flights started on January 20 and offer the only non-stop service to Australia from Houston in Texas. Sadly, I missed out on the IMM competition prize of a free business-class flight. 
United also serves Sydney from its West Coast hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States - and the perfect destination for music lovers looking to cover Memphis, Austin and Nashville. 
"For nearly 50 years, the City of Houston and United Airlines have built a wonderful relationship and we are thrilled that United continues investing in its operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and throughout our community," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
"This new route is just one of the ways United is demonstrating its commitment to its customers and employees in Houston. We are looking forward to visiting Sydney and welcoming our Australian visitors with open arms to Texas."
United's flights between Houston and Sydney are operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft with a total of 252 seats - 48 flat-bed seats in United Polaris business class, 63 economy plus seats and 141 seats in economy.
The Dreamliner delivers operating efficiency, comfort and lower emissions. 
"Australia is one of the most important international markets for United and we are delighted to offer this new direct service," said United senior vice-president of worldwide sales (Americans do love a title) Dave Hilfman. 
United has operated for nearly 50 years from its hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. United and United Express offer nearly 500 daily flights to more than 170 destinations around the world, including business and leisure markets in AsiaEurope and the Americas. 
The Houston hub is United's premier gateway to Latin America, serving 51 nonstop destinations across Latin America and the Caribbean. United is also one of Houston's largest employers, with more than 14,000 Houston-based employees.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Total refurb for iconic Mornington Peninsula hotel

Victoria's Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia's finest wine and food destinations and gracious Lindenderry has for two decades been one of the best places to stay. It even has its own vineyard.

The last time I visited, however, it was looking a little tired (I'm being kind). 

A massive recent refurb is aimed at reigniting Lindenderry's popularity.

Australian design firm Hecker Guthrie (I've never heard of them but am assured they are hot stuff) has completed the multi-million dollar refurbishment for boutique hotel group Lancemore.

A key element is the revamp of the restaurant, now described as having "a cool, unstuffy take on a traditional English estate".


Located in the heart of Red Hill and only an hour from downtown Melbourne, Lindenderry is well positioned as a base to explore the entire Mornington Peninsula. 

Paul Witherington, formerly of London’s Soho House and Port Phillip Estate, is executive chef across all dining at the hotel with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients worked into rustic assemblages. 



All 40 rooms and four communal gathering spaces have been re-worked to highlight the property's undoubted country charm. 

There are handsome couches in dark leather, wood floors and fireplaces and side-tables cast from marble. The 34 hectares of gardens feature a sculpture by acclaimed Melbourne-born artist Michael Cartwright.

“We have been in Red Hill for almost 20 years now and have come to understand the sensibility of the people who love this region," said Lancemore CEO Julian Clark. "The reincarnation of Lindenderry is for them.

“Hecker Guthrie have delivered a contemporary fusion of European country hotel design features with a distinctly Australian touch, that we hope will become something special in the Australian hotel landscape.”

Lindenderry’s extensive renovation comes hot on the heels of another rejuvenated Lancemore property, the Larmont Sydney (formerly The Diamant), which is just around the corner from the iconic King’s Cross Coca-Cola sign.

Lindenderrry at Red Hill, 142 Arthurs Seat Rd, Red Hill, VIC 3937. 
www.lancemore.com.au/lindenderry

Friday, 23 February 2018

Quality wine in a can makes a comeback Down Under

It's been tried before, but with technological advances and changing tastes, wine in a can is back in focus. 

"Wine in can is, of course, not new, but we think we have brought a new level of dedication to bringing dry, varietal bottle-. quality table wine to a can – plus some cool labels," says Nick Crampton from Fourth Wave Wines.


Fourth Wave has just launched a full range of tinned wines through 1300 BWS and over 200 Dan Murphy stores nationally.

Campton points to value and flexibility as two major reasons for sampling canned wine: you can get 1/3 of a bottle of wine for 1/3 of the price, which is not remotely possible in commercial small glass bottles; and cans are versatile for using outdoors and when travelling. 

"And, as per craft beer, the can is an excellent vessel to store wine – chilling faster, avoiding light strike or taint and packing more effectively plus with the Vinsafe patent over two years' of shelf life."

Crampton adds: "Consumers want to drink better but less and the can is perfect for this – just the amount you want and not temptation to drink more that an open bottle brings." 

I've tried two of the range so far. One was delicious, the other dreadful. I'll report back after sampling the rest. 

The Take it to the Grave Pinot Noir and Shiraz, Hootenanny Sauvignon Blanc have a $7 shelf price per 250ml, $5.50 on promotion and the Le Chat Noir Rose, Mascareri Prosecco and Elephant in the Room Chardonnay and Pinot Noir a $6 shelf price per 250ml, $4.50 on promotion.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Elsewhere Vineyard a name to watch in Tasmania

Elsewhere Vineyard, tucked away in the deep south of the Huon Valley, overlooking the sleepy Huon River - is a name to watch among the rising stars of Tasmanian wine. 

The vineyard has been through several incarnations but is undergoing a revival under new owner Owen Knight, who has put a lot of work into the vines and had striking new labels designed. 

The first six hectares of vines were planted in 1984, with another four hectares planted between 2003 and 2005.

The Elsewhere vineyards grow pinot noir (the region's standout), chardonnay, riesling and gewurztraminer - and the 2017 aromatic whites are standouts, the riesling crisp and linear, the gewurz impressively varietal. Impressive work from Winemaking Tasmania.


Neighbouring vineyards include Jim Chatto's Isle vineyard, Sailor Seeks Horse and Stefano Lubiana's Panorama vineyards, so all the signs are good.

All the wines are dry grown and made exclusively from estate fruit. The cellar door is open Friday-Sunday, or ring ahead for an appointment. Look out for detailed tasting notes shortly.

Elsewhere Vineyard is at 584 Silver Hill Road, Glaziers Bay, TAS. 0401 975 195. www.elsewherevineyard.com.au 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Massive investment as Auckland gears up for major events

Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city, is gearing up to host a series of major events - including the America's Cup yachting regatta - in 2020 and 2021.
A number of large-scale conferences have already been secured to be held in the new New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) when it opens in 2019 or 2020.

The following year all eyes will be on Auckland, and New Zealand, with the America's Cup defence and a number of events associated with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) including the penultimate Leaders' Week in November, 2021.
Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) general manager Steve Armitage says Auckland is no stranger to hosting world-class major events, and maximising the opportunities they present to create a lasting legacy.
“We know how hosting major events can be catalysts for change and how to leverage the power of them to transform a city," he says. "This does not just extend to the public and social amenities of a city but we've also seen the same impact for the business events sector.
“A significant transformation of Auckland is already underway and a lot of development is in the pipeline including the infrastructure which will be needed to support the growth of the business events sector and the America's Cup regatta.”
Between now and 2023 more than $23 billion of new strategic investment across the region is planned, funded and underway.
This includes the world class NZICC on track for completion in 2019, a number of new hotel developments such as the new SkyCity Hotel, Sofitel SO, Four Points by Sheraton, Park Hyatt, and the recently announced expansion of Cordis, which once completed will have the largest number of rooms in New Zealand.
NZICC general manager operations, Callum Mallett, says: “We are seeing a growing appetite globally for bringing events to New Zealand.
“Auckland's increasing infrastructure, more frequent flight paths, and now the 4,000 pax capacity of NZICC means that the perceived barriers for the larger scale business events coming to New Zealand are now gone. Our teams are in market and winning some really exciting business.”
There is also a number of other significant transport, commercial and urban projects which will compliment or support Auckland's business events offering, that are underway.

Monday, 19 February 2018

"Hospitality" industry gets it horribly wrong again


Hard on the heels on the bruise cruise PR disaster comes news of another hospitality industry faux pas

News aggregator Travel Mole reports that Travelodge in the UK has apologised to a father who was mistakenly accused of being a paedophile after he checked into a room with his teenage daughter.

Karl Pollard, 46, was travelling with his 14-year-old daughter Stephanie, to visit his mother in hospital, when they checked into the Travelodge in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

They took the four-hour journey from South Wales to Cheshire so his daughter could see her grandmother before she started treatment for cancer.

He told the Daily Star the receptionist gave him a "weird look" when he said he'd take the double bedroom, which he was told was the only room left.

Shortly after he went to the room to unpack, police knocked on his door saying staff had dialled 999 believing he was a paedophile.

"One minute I was brushing my teeth, the next I was being told I was a paedophile," he said, explaining he chose the hotel because it was within walking distance of the hospital. 

He alleged the policewoman said: "We've had a call from Travelodge, they believe you are a paedophile grooming underage girls."

He added his daughter was 'distraught' after being interviewed by police and was terrified her dad was going to be taken away.

A Cheshire Police spokesman said: "Staff at the Travelodge did the right thing by reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity to officers, although thankfully there was nothing untoward and it turned out to be a misunderstanding."

A Travelodge spokesman said: "We are sorry for any distress caused to Mr Pollard. We take our responsibilities towards protecting children and vulnerable young people extremely seriously."

What was not explained was why the Travelodge did not ask for ID from the young girl when she checked in (which would have saved all the kerfuffle), or why the policewoman behaved like a complete plod rather than using some tact.

The hotel did, however, apologise and refund their "guest" for his stay. 

Qantas shines at international wine awards

Seb Crowther and Neil Perry
Australian national airline Qantas was one of the stars at the annual Cellars in the Sky wine awards in London overnight.

Qantas' policy of listing only Australian table wines paid dividends with the Qantas Group winning a total of nine medals, including four golds.

Qantas won golds for best first class cellar, best first class white, shared gold for best first class sparkling wine, and for best business class fortified.

The airline also received three bronze medals and Jetstar received two silver medals.

The Qantas wine lists are curated by Neil Perry and his Rockpool Group team.

“We are immensely proud to be recognised for our wine," Perry said." The awards are a testament to the dedication and hard work of the Rockpool sommeliers and the Qantas beverage team who
select the best wines from across Australia and the finest Champagnes for our customers.

“As Australia’s national carrier, we play an important role in showcasing the best of Australian wine to the world. We pride ourselves on offering a selection of wine that celebrates both boutique and classic wine styles, grape varieties and regions.

“Australians today are incredibly wine savvy. They love exploring food and wine regions around Australia and overseas and they expect to see great food and wine made by passionate locals in-flight and in our lounges.”

The individual gold medals went to Best First Class White - Penfolds Reserve Bin 15A Chardonnay 2015; Best First Class Sparkling (joint): Qantas, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne blanc de blanc 2006 and Best Business Class Fortified for Baileys of Glenrowan Founder Series Classic Muscat.

Qantas received bronze medals for best overall wine cellar (won by Singapore Airlines), Best First Class White for Flametree SRS Wallcliffe Chardonnay 2016 and Best First Class Fortified for Seppeltsfield Paramount Rare Tokay.

Investing over $25 million dollars in the Australian wine industry every year, Qantas is the third-largest purchaser of wine in Australia.

Qantas customers drink their way through five million bottles of wine and Champagne every year, selected by Perry, Master Sommelier Seb Crowther and their team.

Every year over four days, the sommeliers blind taste and review 1,300 Australian wines and Champagne that go on-board domestic and international flights and in the lounges.

Around 250 different wines are chosen from more than 150 different producers.


Participating airlines were: Aegean, Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Air Canada, Air France, Alitalia, American Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Finnair, Iberia, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, Jetstar, KLM, Korean Air, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Sri Lankan, Tarom, United and Virgin Atlantic.

Cellars in the Sky is in its 32nd year, having been running since 1985.

Why art lovers will be flocking to Hong Kong in March

Hong Kong will be the "go to" destination for art lovers in March with Hong Kong Arts Month running from March 1-30.
The event will feature internationally acclaimed artists, as well as neighbourhood exhibitions and community performances from traditional styles through to the more modern and contemporary.
Here's just a taste of what's in store: 
The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) runs from February 23-March 24 and will feature over 1,700 international and local artists across 130 performances. Highlights include: the American Ballet Theatre's Whipped Cream; National Theatre of Great Britain's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; and the Welsh National Opera's performance of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande.
Art Central Hong Kong will be held in the Central Harbourfront Event Space from March 27-April 1, introducing 30 new galleries and more than 100 international galleries, many of which are from the Asia-Pacific region. 
Art Basel Hong Kong (below), now in its sixth year, will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 29-31. The globally renowned art fair will feature works from 248 leading galleries from 32 countries and territories.
In addition, authentic and inspiring events in local neighbourhoods will feature a range of exhibitions and performances.
Hong Kong's first international sculpture park, Harbour Arts Sculpture Park, will feature sculptures by 18 emerging and renowned local and international contemporary artists while ArtisTree of Taikoo Place will host a musical exhibition, Notating Beauty That Moves, from March 3-29.
For general information on Hong Kong visit www.discoverhongkong.com/au

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Return of the prodigal son. Star chef returns to Tasmania

Standout chef Massimo Mele has returned to his home state of Tasmania after several years pleasing palates in Sydney.

"Given the last 18 months I've been flying back and forth from the island state - and the opportunities that have arisen - it's time," he says.
“My little boy is growing up so fast and I am getting married in the last week of February and there is so much happening in Tassie at the moment.”
Mele has spent the last decade building his reputation in Sydney, with his ‘no fuss’ and simple approach to cooking. That included a stint as head chef at La Scala on Jersey.
He has dived straight into a project in the north of the state, consulting on the new The Silos hotel development in Launceston. That, too, is something of a return as his first head chef job was in Launceston at Mud Bar and Restaurant in 2004.
"It has been a nostalgic trip down memory lane,” he says.

Over the last two years Mele has been collaborating with local businesses and wineries, creating events in Tasmania.
The events were to not only to rediscover Tassie’s quality local products but to show that he is serious about being back home.
Tutti a Tavola at Stefano Lubiana was the first event in August 2015, followed by a pop-up at Wiling Brothers, Lunch in the Vines at Home Hill winery, a Cradle Coast Tasting trail dinner in Smithton and featured at Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast grilling cheese over fire and more recently collaborating with Matt Adams from Timbre for the Farmgate Festival dinner celebrating the Tamar region.
Next on the horizon is touring around the Apple Isle to seek the best produce for the launch of The Silos in May.  
Cooking experiences are also a possibility in his new home later next year. He says: “I love food, I love cooking and connecting with people through these experiences.”
Mele and his wife-to-be have recently purchased a new property in Hobart, where they plan to create a destination foodie experience.
Stay tuned.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Why a cruise ship company should reconsider its compensation offer

If I was on a "relaxing" cruise that was punctuated by punch-ups and scuffles I would be wanting a complete refund on my ruined holiday. 

That's why passengers on the Carnival Legend cruise ship this week have every right to feel aggrieved not only at the way the violence was handled but by Carnival Cruise Lines derisory offer of 25% off their next cruise with the company as a "goodwill gesture" refund. 



That's an insult and very poor PR indeed. 

The 10-day cruise through the South Pacific went haywire soured as multiple members of a large family threatened and assaulted other passengers and clashed with security staff, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

At least 26 members of the family were kicked off the ship on Friday after a "vicious brawl" forced the vessel to make an unscheduled stop in Eden on the New South Wales South Coast. 

Passengers disembarking from the Carnival Legend in Melbourne told the ABC they had to lock themselves in their cabins to avoid the violence. The carnival turned into a circus.

An internal investigation into the incident has been launched, said Carnival president Sture Myrmell. He knows that is nowhere near good enough.

I received a response from Carnival Cruises: "We offered everyone on the cruise a general 25 per cent future cruise credit as a goodwill gesture. However, we are addressing on a case-by-case basis issues involving those guests who were directly impacted and where there were extenuating circumstances."

So unless you were actually punched or kicked there go your chances of compensation.


Discover one of the newest wine labels in Tasmania



Boutique wineries are booming in Tasmania right now - and one to keep an eye on is Bell & Gong - with a cellar door and boutique vineyard at the historic property of Valleyfield, outside Longford.

The vineyard is family owned and operated and guests are welcomed for an intimate wine tasting experience with complimentary tasting plates. There are also facilities for visitors to bring a picnic or have a barbecue in the rose garden or vineyard.

The on-site vineyard produces pinot noir while riesling and sauvignon blanc are currently brought in - with plans to plant them soon.

The wines are limited to small quantities of individually numbered bottles available at the cellar door or online.


Owners Simon and Frances Stewart and their family purchased the storied Valleyfield property in 2005 and the name Bell & Gong is a nod to Simon's Merchant Navy background.

The wines are extremely well made by consultants Winemaking Tasmania, making Bell & Gong well worth a visit.

Bell & Gong, 878 Illawarra Road, Longford, Tasmania, 7301. 0417 423 889. 
www.bellandgong.com. Wine tastings and sales Thursday-Momday 10am-3pm.