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Gazebo Sydney Unveils New Look

6 Feb

Cucumber cured kingfish - smoked oyster dressing, apple, lime copy
It’s a fact that getting around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs you’re going to see a facelift or two. Some bad, some good. A few trout pouts and surprised expressions, a few very discreet nips and tucks. Gazebo Sydney, in Elizabeth Bay, has just booked herself in for a little facelift and the results are in – she looks fab!

I went for dinner last week with a few other foodies to try out the new menu by Head Chef Jason Dean (ex Gastro Park) and take in the new look. After a bit of a hiatus from these sort of dinner (thanks to my little man!), it was great to get out. I’d been waiting for the right invite, and as soon as this one dropped, I was keen to try. I’d been for lunch a while ago so it was going to be fun to see the development.

We started with a Negroni. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan, due to a disastrous relationship with gin shots (seriously, who does gin shots? Not a great idea!), so I had a couple of sips to be social then another foodie took it off my hands. The Four Pillars gin, I’m told, was good. I loved the De Illuis Semillon that replaced it much better though! This Hunter Valley winery shows such heart, and they’ve struck a winner with this Semillon. It’s not a hugely popular grape, like a Sauv Blanc or Chardonnay, but if you aren’t a regular Semillon drink, then one from the Hunter Valley should be your starting point.

First up we had what our table described as a deconstructed green curry. Generous sized prawns, coconut snow, green chilli (which looked like a scarily large blob of wasabi) and daikon. Delicious. This was shared with the cucumber cured kingfish served with a smoked oyster dressing, apple matchsticks and lime. 


Next up we had a really interesting pairing of duck and honeycomb. I love honeycomb and have tried to make it at home with mixed results. Sometimes it’s been foul (burnt sugar!) and sometimes delicious. But with duck? I wasn’t too sure about it but always keen to try a new combination. It definitely worked, and especially well with the lovely red wine it was paired with – a Gamay – Nugues Beaujolais Villages Rouge 2012. Gamay, again, is underrated and if you haven’t tried it yet, do. It’s earthy with a really subtle sweetness to it. The glazed pork with carrot puree (little man would’ve loved the puree!), coriander and sweet & sour turnips was soft without being too fatty. I think I’m the only person who doesn’t like fatty pork belly!



Desserts came in two stages – pineapple with coconut and tarragon followed by cookie dough parfait with raspberry and yoghurt caramel. The pineapple was like a pina colada and the parfait was a satisfying end to the meal, even if the cookie dough chunks were a bit small for this cookie dough fan. 

Gazebo 2014-16 copy

Gazebo 2014-02 copy

Gazebo Sydney is open Monday-Friday 4pm-12am, and weekends 12pm-12am.


Scoot: Craft Brewing Hotspots

14 Jan

Scoot The Pulse

It’s just a little piece, but it was no less fun to research! Check out my craft brewing hotspots snippet that appeared in the Scoot inflight magazine, The Pulse, recently.

The Long Lunch at Deja Vu, Airlie Beach

30 May
Deja Vu infinity pool

The blissful infinity pool at Deja Vu in Airlie Beach.

I recently travelled to Queensland to check out the multi-million dollar facelift that Airlie Beach had recently undergone. I was up there just before the work started so it was great to be able to do a ‘compare and contrast’ exercise to see how far  it had come. In the past you’d be forgiven for thinking Airlie Beach was backpackers haven and all others should give it a wide berth. Now, it’s a whole different story. In the couple of years since my last visit I was really pleased to see some fabulous cafes and restaurants as well as great accommodation options.

We’d heard about Deja Vu Restaurant and their locally famous Sunday Long Lunch, so after a beautiful facial at Airlie Day Spa, we sat down to the 8-course degustation lunch around the gorgeous infinity pool, with a delicious mojito to start.

Sweet and tart mojito

Sweet and tart mojito

Over the course of about two hours, our table of four was treated to eight fabulous (and very generous) courses of share plates from the husband and wife, chef and front of house team. On a Sunday afternoon the place is packed so it’s a good idea to make a reservation. Ask for poolside seats to really take advantage of the tucked away location, with a view that gives a completely different perspective over Airlie Beach. You’ll definitely want to dip your toes in the pool so wear shoes you can kick off under the table, even take your swimmers! Some diners have been known to end up in the pool after lunch (and a few chilled sauv b’s no doubt!).

First course was a generous antipasto platter.

First course was a generous antipasto platter.

The salt and pepper calamari was tender and the batter crunchy.

The salt and pepper calamari was tender and the batter crunchy.

Slow cooked lamb shoulder. Dish of the day!

Slow cooked lamb shoulder. Dish of the day!

The dish of the day award goes to the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder. It had beautifully charred bits and perfectly tender, melt in your mouth, textbook lamb shoulder, served on vinegar rice with snow peas. The vinegar rice really lightened the dish up, bringing it back to being a light, summery take on slow cooked lamb.

I didn’t get pics, but we also enjoyed a lovely salad, chicken pizza and mussels in a thai broth. All delicious. You can check out the current long lunch menu here.

But you know what the best part was….the 8-course menu is $44.50pp! This really is a steal and the perfect place for a long, lazy lunch. Next time you’re in Airlie Beach, make this your go to for a Sunday afternoon.

I travelled as a guest of Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited.



All hail Bishop Sessa

15 May

Bishop Sessa barA few years back I lived in Melbourne and a venue called The Botanical was in my neighbourhood. The Bot, as we called it, was a Melbourne institution – known for long lunches, even longer dinners and a good night out in the champagne bar out the back. One of the things that made The Botanical so great was the service, and that was led by Erez Gordon. Erez’s style of service is exemplary, but delivered with such ease it’s like you’re catching up with an old friend…who likes to pour you generous glasses of wine! Chef Paul Cooper hit Erez’s radar when he hired him to work the pans at The Botanical, just as Erez was exiting. Paul spent time in the kitchen at London’s Pied a Terre and is considered a nose to tail specialist.

The guys now live in Sydney with young families and have teamed up to open Bishop Sessa in Surry Hills. I had to try it.

I’ve never really put it out there online, but I’m pregnant at the moment. All the good stuff seems to be off limits to me at the moment, so I called ahead to let them know. It was clear from the beginning that they understood what a pregnant woman needs, as well as her dining companion!

We decided to try the six-course degustation, mine at $69 food only, and my partner’s at $119 with matched wines. Over the six courses, only three were modified for me, but the modifications were spot on. I started with an heirloom tomato salad and my partner had wild Yellowtail Kingfish, green beans, crème fraiche and smoked eel veloute, matched with a glass of Manzanilla (sherry). I had a sip of the sherry and my god it was good. Even with my tomatoes it worked.

BS_entreeThe scallop ceviche with cucumber, avocado and ginger beer sorbet (mine had avocado instead of scallop), so fresh with the icy, freshness of the ginger beer.


The Roasted Ayelsbury duck breast (mine was cooked a little longer so it wasn’t rare) with beetroot, turnip and a delicious mulled wine dressing was succulent and well matched with the very interesting 2012 O’Leary Walker Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills.


Technique shone through in the final savoury dish, the potato wrapped, red wine braised Wagyu with mushroom and bacon ragout and a rich smoked tomato sauce. This completely sells it short, but it felt like a very grown up, very refined sausage roll. And I mean that as a MASSIVE compliment. Who doesn’t love meat delivered in a crispy shell? It was wintery, satisfying and a beautiful combination with a few sips of 2012 Mandoleto Nero d’Avola from Sicily.

BS_dessertI love honeycomb, especially homemade honeycomb so the dessert of upside-down bitter chocolate tart with honeycomb and salt caramel ice cream was well received.

We sat down stairs where I felt we benefitted from Erez’s attentive service and got to watch all the comings and goings and the bar. Tthere’s also a room upstairs which was really lively, and jumping on the Friday night we were there. I highly recommend dinner at Bishop Sessa and can’t wait to head back myself.

Bishop Sessa
527 Crown Street (The old Tabou restaurant)
Surry Hills, NSW
Phone 02 8065 7223

The New Daily: Rick Stein’s Slice of Heaven

18 Feb
Rick Stein

Rick Stein in the lobby of his Mollymook restaurant.

I took a trip down to Mollymook a few weeks back to try out international chef, Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant at Bannisters Lodge. Everything was gorgeous, from our luxury suite to the Madras snapper curry I’d been craving since I saw him cooking up a storm on his India series. The New Daily have published my review and you can read it here. Is this Australia’s Wackiest Courtesy Car?

20 Nov


I love food and I particularly love Mexican food. It’s so fresh and the heat Mexican style food has is just perfect. One of the best Mexican restaurants in Australia has got to be Rojo Rocket at Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast. But perhaps the funniest thing about their whole set up is the courtesy car – for a small fee Sabrina the ex-hearse will come and pick you up for dinner. Love it.

Anyway, I wrote a piece this week for about Sabrina and Rojo Rocket which you can read here.


Mat Knobel talks all things SpringOut

8 Nov



Mathew Knobel is the Canberra based owner and director of Typeyard Design & Advertising and committee member of Canberra Pride who organise the SpringOut festival each year. In the light of the recent Marriage Equality Act, I spoke to Mat recently about SpringOut and why it matters to the local community.


Why is an event like this significant for the Queer community of Canberra?
SpringOut brings in to focus the Queer culture of Canberra. It is a festival for everyone. It will showcase more than 20 events and reveal as many facets of queer culture as possible. It not only celebrates Canberra’s GLBTI community, it informs, educates and inspires. It’s one of those festivals where people reunite; bringing them out of the suburbs and bringing them together at social events rather than the local token gay bar. It holds a special place in the hearts of the community and its significance in that respect is major.

The thing that’s unique about SpringOut is the community aspect. In larger cities, you don’t get that sense of ownership at a festival, you’ll always be a guest, whereas in Canberra you get a sense of ownership of this project. SpringOut connects with Canberrans.

What is the history of the event? How did it start?
Launched in 1999, SpringOut Festival began with, literally, two volunteers, and now has an enthusiastic team of six, who spend about four months of each year planning. This team has brought a renewed sense of optimism and celebration to the festival. From 1999 to today, it’s become a more mature festival and this year the festival is bigger and better than ever before. There’s a real sense of excitement within the community.

What are your highlights for SpringOut?
Topped and tailed by signature events Fairday this Saturday 9 November and Bushdance on Saturday 23 November, the two-week festival is crammed with events for people of all ages. Highlights include dance parties, bake-offs, a talk by Sydney barrister and author Mark Tedeschi regarding transgender issues, and a performance by ARIA-winning pianist and former Canberra girl Sally Whitwell. Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who met his now-husband at Fair Day, leads a tour of wineries in the Canberra region. Check out the details at the end of this post.

How did you get involved in the Spring Out festival?
I was passionate and eager to be more involved in the community and through my business, Typeyard Design & Advertising, offered the SpringOut guys the prospect of rebranding and designing materials for the promotion of the festival. From there, I was invited to be on the board of Canberra Pride (responsible for the managing and developing of the SpringOut festival and the rest, as they say, is history! I’m pleased and proud to be involved in the development of what I call ‘an organic beast’ – each year the festival changes, continues to grow and becomes its own creation. It’s very exciting!

What is the Queer community like in Canberra?
Our community is very diverse. Not only that, but proud. There’s a renewed optimism in the Canberra community, especially since the passing of the Marriage Equality Same-Sex bill in the ACT Legislative Assembly in October. I would also say that it’s a very close-knit community that always shows support and kindness.

Canberra has its own gay bar, a local gay mag and several other LGBT-owned businesses and social networks. It’s a very friendly gay scene.

Any tips for people coming along to the events?
Book, book, book! LOL…We encourage people to book for the events like Sally Whitwell, Wine Barr, and the cinema events. An Evening with Mark Tedeschi will also be popular so we encourage people to book early for this event as well.

Fairday will have food and beverage stalls but feel free to bring a picnic and sit on the lawns of Westlund House and enjoy the day.

We are so proud of this year’s festival. The range of events we think will cater for many groups in Canberra’s GLBTI community. We encourage everyone to come along to some of the events and see what Canberra’s Queer culture is all about.

Fairday Saturday 9 November Set in the leafy and shaded grounds of Westlund House. Colourful stalls, musicians, artists and fabulous food stands are spread around the green lawns of this hub for Canberra’s queer community.

Victor Victoria Tuesday 12 November Screening of the classic 1982 musical comedy about gender perceptions, discrimination and the battle of the sexes.

BAKE Saturday 16 November Deliciously good and heaps of fun! Grab those aprons and make a difference in the kitchen. Canberra’s inaugural LGBTI charity bake off.

Big Gay Champagne Breakfast
 Sunday 10 November Eat, drink and be merry on a beautiful spring mooring with all your fabulous friends. It’s on again, the FUSE SpringOut big gay champagne breakfast.

Wine Barr
 Sunday 17 November at Tilley’s Devine Café

Sally plays a gig Tuesday 19 November Concert by pianist Sally Whitwell whose most recent album of music by Michael Nyman won the 2013 ARIA Award for best classical album.

QUILTBAGS: a queer night of storytelling Thursday 21 November Queer; Unidentified; Intersex; Lesbian; Transgender; Bisexual; Asexual; Gay; Straight. A group of generous Canberrans captivate their audience through the timeless tradition of storytelling.

Galaxy Club Retro Friday 22 November – Galaxy Nightclub, Casino Canberra A fun night of dancing to 80s and 90s retro classics. Madonna, Kylie, Pet shop Boys, all designed to have you dancing the night away with friends. Tickets are $10 at the door.

In conversation with Mark Tedeschi Saturday 23 November Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi talks about one of the least known criminal trials in Australian legal history.

Bushdance Saturday 23 November A fun night of dancing with people of all flavours. There is a bar, BBQ and a live band to lead you through those dances that you might remember from primary school – like Strip the Willow, The Waves of Bondi, crazy polkas and some more genteel promenades. By the end of the night you’ll have danced with everyone, caught up with old friends, made some new ones and helped raise cash for the GLBTI community.

For more festival information head to the SpringOut website or check the listings above.

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