Sunday, 4 December 2016

For those who would rather sip their wine than drink it

When I first looked at this, I thought it was an odd joke - a wine glass designed to look like a kangaroo. 
Then I thought that it would be extremely uncomfortable to hold - and it looks rather fragile. 

It's a thing, though, apparently. This "revolutionary new invention" is called a Wine Sipper. 

I think there is a pretty good reason why people have been using versions of a cup or glass to drink wine for thousands of years - and I, certainly, have never had a desire to drink wine through a tube, or a straw. 

Winex, the company responsible for this "breakthrough", says: "The Wine Sipper, with its three steady legs and inbuilt straw, is the perfect way to sit back and enjoy your favourite glass of wine. 

"The wine glass not only stands steadily on three legs to prevent toppling over but has an inbuilt straw to safely guide the wine straight to the lips so as to not miss a single drop of the delicious beverage. The sipper fits comfortably in the palm of the hand and sits firmly on a table."

I've certainly never suffered from wine glasses toppling over - or from missing a precious drop through dribbling - but Winex insists: “The Wine Sipper is really changing the way we drink wine. It is quirky, fun and a great alternative for those that like to avoid cleaning up after a few drinks. 

"The product is easy to use, all you need to do is pour the wine into the glass and take a sip from the glass straw. No fuss, no spills and more entertaining.” 

It's a new take on port sippers, so if you want more entertainment when drinking you know what to do. 

The Wine Sipper comes in sets of two and is made from hand-blown glass. It will certainly be a conversation starter. 

Available at leading kitchen and homeware retailers, wineries and liquor
stores or online at $29.95 for a set of two.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Simply splendid! A new Tasmanian gin collaboration

Take Spring Vale winemakers Tim and Kellie Lyne, add designer Michael Travalia and country music star Ange Boxall and add the booze-making talent of former Jansz winemaker Nat Fryar and you have a formidable collaboration. 

The quintet has combined to create a new Tasmanian gin, The Splendid Gin, to be launched next weekend.

The Splendid Gin will be unveiled at The Christmas Craft Spirit Market at historic Narryna, 103 Hampden Road, Battery Point, from noon-6pm on Saturday, December 10. 

The new gin features the flavours of plump and zesty mandarins, Tasmanian spring water, quadruple-distilled grape spirit and essence of bergamot and rosemary along with traditional juniper and coriander botanicals and is billed as a new style of drink that is uniquely Tasmanian. 

The Splendid Gin is designed as a stand-alone drink for the connoisseur, or as a mixer with tonic and citrus. 

Direct enquiries to 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

It's not just cricket: the perfect gift for adrenaline junkies.

Did you notice some blue-clad spectators on the roof of the Adelaide Oval during the third cricket test between Australia and South Africa last week? 

The view was great; the adrenalin rush even higher. 

If you are keen to climb to the roof of the stadium during a match you are in luck - and the RoofClimb deal might also make a great Christmas present for those with adventurous friends or relatives. 

Climbs are also available for the KFC Big Bash League matches over summer, starting with the Adelaide Strikers vs Brisbane Heat match on December 21.

Participants with a head for heights can watch big hits and catches from a bird's-eye view behind the bowler's arm. 

The experience costs $225 per person and includes: a 2.5 hour match day experience, including watching 6-7 overs from the Riverbank Stand viewing platform during the first session; a printed group photo, achievement certificate, RoofClimb Cap and what is described as an "Ultimate USB Photo Pack including all your photos from your RoofClimb". 

But talk about sneaky - an entry ticket to the match is not included in the package. Which is like buying a hotel room but being told you have to pay extra to walk through the foyer. Cheapskates! 

All participants will be breathalysed at the time of check-in and must register a blood alcohol level under 0.05 to participate. 

As an extra-special treat, there is also a RoofClimb & Dine experience, which includes a RoofClimb followed by a three-course meal at the Hill of Grace Restaurant overlooking the pitch. Just add $190 per person to your bill. 

Ditch the tick: how Australian airlines try to trick their customers

Ever tried to book a cheap flight online and found yourself mysteriously paying for extras you did not want, like insurance or carbon offsets? 
Good guys this time around
Consumer advocacy group Choice has welcomed Virgin Australia’s decision to stop forcing consumers to opt out of potentially expensive pre-ticked travel insurance when they’re purchasing a flight online and is calling on Jetstar and Tiger to also ditch the ticks. 

That's good news given reports of online customers removing ticks and then finding their fares immediately increased.
Bad guys for now
“Pre-ticked optional extras can see travellers paying up to 40% more for things they don’t want when all they’re trying to do is book a flight,” says Choice head of media Tom Godfrey.
“It’s great news that Virgin has decided to let its customers actively opt-in to these online add-ons but it’s time for Jetstar and Tiger to stop tricking people into buying extras they may not need.”
Choice has been campaigning for an end to pre-ticked optional extras on the online booking pages of Australia’s four major domestic airlines.
A Choice investigation found pre-selected extras potentially increased the price of a flight by up to 40%, with Jetstar the worst offender, as three of Australia’s four major domestic airlines added in extras such as standard seating, travel insurance and even charity donations.
“In much the same way that a supermarket wouldn’t get away with handing you a trolley full of groceries you don’t want, every time you arrived at the checkout, an airline shouldn’t be able to opt you in for products you don’t want or need,” Godfrey says.
“Signing you up for these extras is little more than marketing trickery. It’s particularly concerning that airlines try to push one-size-fits-all travel insurance, which is unlikely to meet the needs of all consumers.”
Virgin Australia decided to end the practice of pre-selecting travel insurance during the online booking process following discussions with the ACCC - making life much easier for the less computer savvy among us.
For more info go to:

Star chef Bryant the Festivale drawcard

Simon Bryant, star of  The Cook and the Chef TV series, has been signed as the star attraction for the Festivale food and wine festival in Tasmania early next year. 

Tickets for a special pre-event lunch go on sale this morning for the lunch at Stillwater in Launceston on Friday, February 10. 

Bryant’s 25-year-career includes cooking in Thai, Indian and award-winning fine dining restaurants, as well as a brief stretch as a butcher. 

From 2003-2010 he was executive chef at the Hilton in Adelaide and from 2006 to 2009 co-hosted ABC TV's hit show The Cook and the Chef with food icon Maggie Beer. 

Bryant is the author of Vegies and the newly released Vegetables, Grains & Other Good Stuff published by Penguin Lantern, with both books including a collection of seasonal vegetarian recipes. 

He is also a providore of single origin non-GM Australian foods and believes in using his profile to highlight ethical food issues, including paying fair prices to producers for ethically produced food; using local, seasonal, fresh ingredients with minimal environmental impact; the responsible and culturally appropriate use of Australian native foods; and, in particular, the ethical treatment of animals in the food chain. 

Working Stillwater executive chef Craig Will and his team, Bryant will design and cook a lunch menu showcasing Tasmanian produce. Each course will be matched with a glass of Goaty Hill wine.

Lunch tickets are on sale from this morning from Ticketbooth and Festivale runs from February 10-12 in Launceston's City Park. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

A new luxury accommodation option in Orange

For several years now, the de Russie Boutique Hotel has been the best place to stay in the gourmet centre of Orange; a popular weekend destination for Sydney food and wine lovers. 

On a tree-lined street within walking distance of Orange's best bars and eateries, including Ferment, Lolli Redini and the Union Bank Wine Bar, de Russie offers a range of accommodation options from studios to family suites.

This upmarket all-suite hotel is set in a low-rise property just a five-minute walk from Cook Park. 

The upscale, beautifully decorated suites number 25 in all; some with balconies, have free wifi, flat-screen TVs and kitchenettes. Several units have separate sitting rooms and/or whirlpool tubs and one has a four-poster bed. 

Amenities include free continental breakfast, which, to be quite honest does not cut the mustard. Fortunately, there are several very good caf├ęs just a short stroll away.  

Impressive touches include a friendly, helpful front desk, bathrobes and slippers and ultra-comfy beds.

 The latest addition to the de Russie accommodation offerings is The White Room, which is at the back of the building and entered via a private courtyard. 

A separate dining/lounge room and full kitchen are ideal for those planning longer stays and the vibe is simple luxury. The bathroom has a free-standing tub, twin basins and rain shower.

Facilities include air-conditioning, alarm clock, bathrobes, cable/satellite TV, dishwasher, clock radio, DVD Player, full fridge, hairdryer, iron/ironing board, king bed, microwave, mini bar, wireless internet and free bottled water.

Despite being close to the centre of town, de Russie is blissfully quiet and highly recommended. The only problem might be getting a booking. It is frequently sold out.  

De Russie Boutique Hotel, 72 Hill Street, Orange, NSW 2800. (02) 6360 0973.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Australia set for massive hotel boom

A building boom is set to change the face of Australia’s hotel industry, with some 120 hotel projects in the pipeline which will grow accommodation availablity by 30% between 2016 and 2021.

This year saw Australia pass the 100,000 room mark and it is forecast that over 4000 rooms will be added in 2017, and 5000 rooms in 2018, giving every capital city across the country new properties ranging from 500+-room internationally branded luxury properties to intimate boutique hotels.
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour  
To overcome the lack of land in cities and high cost of construction, hotel developers have become savvy, often converting existing buildings to hotel use. For instance, the stylish QT Hotel in Melbourne was created out of the owner’s Greater Union cinemas on Russell Street, while the art-deco Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board building in Sydney’s Pitt Street now has a far more salubrious role as the city’s newest five-star hotel, the excellent Primus.

The last time Australia saw such increases in hotel accommodation was prior to the 2000 Olympics, when there was growth of 7,500 rooms between 1998 and 2000, but the room boom was followed by a dramatic bust, with faltering international and domestic economic conditions, wars and airline collapses contributing to the downturn.

On this occasion, Australia’s peak accommodation body, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) believes that a unique combination of circumstances will not only soak up the supply but enable Australia to attract a vast new audience of high-end tourists, business travellers, and conference and incentive groups.

The chair of TAA, Martin Ferguson, was Minister for Tourism in 2010 when he announced Australia’s Tourism 2020 goals. The addition of 40,000 new rooms over the decade was identified as a crucial ingredient in achieving the targets set for the industry.

“We recognised at the start of the decade that we needed to significantly revitalise and rejuvenate the tourism industry’s infrastructure and upgrading hotel stock was a key priority,” Ferguson said.

“With almost double-digit growth in visitor arrivals – particularly from China – we are well on the way to achieving our visitor targets, and this growth will be sustainable in the long term with such high-quality new accommodation being added across the country, complemented by major infrastructure projects such as airports, convention centres and urban redevelopment.”

Tasmania has enjoyed some of the strongest increases in leisure travel in recent years, built on what is being termed the ‘MONA effect’ – the influence of the uber-trendy Museum of Old and New Art. Such has been in its impact on tourism that owner David Walsh has proposed a new 160-room hotel cheekily dubbed HOtelMOna, which would also contain a function centre and spa.

A focal point for the dramatic hotel growth is Darling Harbour in Sydney, where one of the largest new hotel developments in over 20 years – the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour – will open in the final quarter of 2017, while the $700 million Ribbon Hotel and Residences project (which will include a W Hotel) is under construction on the former IMAX site.

On the city side of Darling Harbour, Australia’s largest hotel – the Four Points by Sheraton – is adding 222 rooms to increase its inventory to 892 rooms, while also rebranding to Hyatt Regency.