The Highball Express, Canberra

December 21, 2015

Oh how I love a bar that celebrates all things easy, breezy and relaxing about a tropical holiday! When that said bar is right in the middle of your hometown which is anything but tropical, that love becomes a serious case of lust. That’s how strong my feelings towards The Highball Express are.

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When you enter the somewhat grungy Odgers Lane and go up the rickety external stair case you really don’t have much of a clue as to the glorious space that awaits you. The first thing I fell in love with was the beautiful all white interior with accents of greens, yellows and blues. This is of course the total opposite to pretty much every bar I can think of in Canberra where the general consensus amongst design folks seems to be bar = dark and moody. Call me crazy but drinking in a dark den isn’t to everyone’s taste or mood! Not to mention it’s not Instagrammable either but I digress.

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Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney

December 17, 2015

Celebrity chef David Chang and his empire of Momofuku restaurants sporting the lucky peach logo are well known culinary institutions around the world. Seiobo, opened in 2011, was the first Momofuku restaurant to open outside of New York City and it has been a consistent high performer in the Sydney fine dining scene from day one. Seiobo managed to stay in the coveted three hats category for four years running but slipped down to two hats in the latest SMH Good Food Guide awards. So my timing in finally deciding to dine here may not have been perfect but given the reputation, my expectations of this dining experience were still very high.

momofuku seiobo

Right from the outset Seiobo is rather different to all the top end restaurants I’ve dined at in Australia. First of all the location- in a rather unloved and uninspiring part of The Star, at the end of a busy food court and across from the bright neon lights of Zumbo Patisserie doesn’t exactly scream fine dining to me. And inside, it’s not your typical fine dining set up either. There are no crisp white table clothes and soothing background music. Most of the action happens around the bar seats that wrap around the open kitchen. The lights are bright, the vibe is on the hectic side and the music is loud. And then there’s the issue of restrooms, or rather the single unisex restroom. To get to said place one must walk through the kitchen and through the dishwashing area and there is every chance you may have to wait in line to use the facilities. This was a definite point of conversation amongst my three dining companions on the night and not necessarily in a good way.

So have I painted a bad picture of my experience at Momofuku Seiobo? I hope not because the experience was just different as far as my preconceived notions of fine dining went. The food, as you would expect at $185 for 15 courses, was wonderful with the exception of a few courses that left us feeling a little puzzled. But it was still honest, non-pretentious food that respected the ingredients without putting on too much fanfare. Slightly unconventional but definitely a memorable experience.

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The Paradise Retreat – Luxury Yoga Retreat in Sri Lanka

December 3, 2015

As you may know, over the last six months I’ve been working on a side business that specialises in luxury small group tours to Sri Lanka. And now it’s time to announce another side of that side business, The Paradise Retreat, a little collaboration with an amazing Canberra based yoga instructor friend of mine!

ramone bisset

The Paradise Retreat is a 6 nights, 7 days yoga, meditation and sightseeing retreat in the beautiful south coast of Sri Lanka. If you like the sound of a tropical escape where you can truly relax, unwind and re-balance your state of mind in the lap of luxury then this is for you!

We will have a wholesome program of twice daily gentle and restorative yoga and meditation as well as sightseeing and cultural activities, loads of free time and of course lots of incredible food. The retreat is held in the most beautiful and serene private villa in Tangalle, Sri Lanka. We only have eight places available because we really want to make this a calm and exclusive retreat for a very small group of like-minded people.

From 1-7 May or 18-24 September 2016 I would love to have YOU join us for 7 days and 6 nights of gentle yoga, meditation, delicious and healthy food, cultural exploration, and restorative time out at a stunning villa in paradise!

All the details are on the website so I do hope you will check it out!

the paradise retreat sri lanka

Locale Pizzeria, Deakin

November 25, 2015

Deakin’s had a new local for sometime and the word on the street from those who know authentic Italian food has been very positive. Locale Pizzeria is owned by a pair of well known Canberra restaurateurs who also own Urban Pantry in Manuka and Double Shot Cafe in Deakin. Locale promises an authentic and traditional Italian experience and they have employed chefs and pizzaiolo fresh from Italy to deliver just that. I’m always on the search to find Canberra’s best this and that (food related of course) so I was rather keen to put Locale’s pizzas to the test.

locale deakin

The menu is very Italian starting with boards of salumi and crowd pleasers like porcini arancini and moving on to modern takes of traditional pasta favourites like gnocchi, ravioli and pappardelle. The woodfired oven is the hero at Locale and the pizza menu is reflective of that with an impressive choice of pizza rosse (tomato base) and pizza bianca (white base) available. But remember, this is a traditional pizzeria where less is more when it comes to toppings so the idea is to enjoy the base just as much as the toppings. Overall, Locale has put together a menu of old favourites that deliver in taste as well as value for money.

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Tipo 00, Melbourne

November 19, 2015

A good pasta can make my heart flutter. When a pasta bar names itself after the fine ground Italian pasta flour and that said establishment wins The Age Good Food Guide Best New Restaurant of 2016 you go to dine at this place with serious expectations. You expect your most wildest carb-loaded, butter-drenched food dreams to come true. You expect pasta so silken and fresh that it’s practically alive. You expect genuine Italian hospitality and to roll out of the restaurant after your meal feeling well and truly blissed out. Tipo 00 delivered on all these fronts and then some.

Tipo 00 is a tiny little pasta bar on Little Bourke Street. It’s intimate, inviting and was bustling even at 11.30am when we arrived for an early lunch. The one page menu is all about clever cooking and techniques that respect the cornerstones of Italian cuisine. Don’t expect rustic dishes from Nonna’s kitchen but Tipo 00 delivers a refined menu that is pleasing both aesthetically and gastronomically. And whilst pasta will be high on everyone’s list when dining here, my very strong recommendation is to go with the chef’s menu at $60/person. This gets you not just a couple of pastas, but also a great selections of starters, salads and desserts that will have you well and truly satisfied.

You know you are in for a good time right from the get go when the complimentary house-made rosemary foccacia served with a generous dollop of fresh ricotta arrives at your table.

tipo 00

From there, the rest of the dining experience was a dreamy, carby affair.

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