Exclusive: Where to eat in New York

I asked Masterchef’s Gary Mehigan about where to eat in New York City. Without blinking an eye, he told me to get my iPhone out and start recording.

Here are Gary’s tips on where to eat in New York:

  • Ssam Bar, 207 Second Ave (at 13th street) NY. Tel: +1 212-254-3500
  • ABC Kitchen, 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003, Tel: +1 212-475-5829
  • Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 East Houston Street, NY 10002. Tel: +1 212-254-2246
  • Blue Bird Coffee, 72 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003. Tel: +1 212-260-1879
  • Fette Sau BBQ, 354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Tel: +1 718-963-3404
  • Shake Shack, Various locations: Southeast corner of Madison Square Park near Madison Ave. and E.23rd St: +1 212-889-6600
  • The Burger Joint, 119 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019. Tel: +1 212-245-5000
  • Per Se, 10 Columbus Cir #4, New York, NY 10019. Tel: +1 212-823-9335

Foodies – have you got any tips on where to eat in New York?  Please share them in the comments below or on Facebook.

We’ll be there for a few nights in July. Can’t wait!

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Australia invites you to dinner

Tourism Australia has unveiled the latest evolution of its global campaign – ‘There’s nothing like Australia’ ‐ with exceptional food and wine experiences from around the country playing a starring role in an effort to convert the global appetite for Australia as a travel destination into more visits.

As a contributing copy writer, I was invited to the launch today in Sydney at Peter Gilmore’s award‐winning Quay Restaurant.  The new $10 million campaign is based on the idea that Australia is the world’s greatest restaurant, ‘Restaurant Australia’, and includes:

  • New advertising creative including broadcast ad (for TV, cinema and online) and print;
  • A dedicated online hub (http://www.australia.com/restaurantaustralia) for Australian businesses to share
  • their food and wine experiences with the world;
  • A strong focus on using digital channels, social media and advocacy;
  • Consumer promotions in a dozen key international markets;
  • Attendance by 80 international media and key food and wine influencers at the ‘Invite the World to Dinner’ gala event at Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania.

The reason for this campaign is that after visitors come to Australia, they rate our food and wine on par with France, Italy, and other great culinary destinations. However, Australia is not known overseas for it’s food and wine, hence the new campaign.

Here’s the video clip that will be shown in cinemas around the world. I love it!

Below are the photos that will be used in the campaign – one from each state.ACT_Poachers Pantry WA Rottnest VIC Balloon Yarra TAS Oyster Shucking Freycinet SA Barossa Picnic QLD Dining with the Tides NT Uluru Dining NSW_Quay

Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan said the roll‐out of the campaign would occur in stages, starting firstly with the ‘Rally Cry’ to encourage Australian operators with a food and wine focus to get involved ahead of ‘Ignite the World’ consumer promotions in international markets and culminating in a spectacular ‘Invite the World” gala dinner in Tasmania in November.

“Restaurant Australia is all about bringing together the incredible stories of our people, place and produce to demonstrate to the world that every day, unique and exceptional food and wine experiences are being served‐up in remarkable locations, and then sharing these stories through the creation of rich and compelling content,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

Mr O’Sullivan said the best way to get the world to notice was by Australia’s tourism, food and wine businesses working together to tell the country’s stories, something that had never been done before.

Tips for Taste of Perth 2 – 4 May

Perth has joined the ranks of Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, Rome and London with its own Taste festival.  Touted as ‘the world’s greatest restaurant festival’, Taste of Perth featured ten of Perth’s top restaurants that each offered four dishes in tasting-size portions, allowing punters to put together their own progressive lunch or dinner. 

How it works

The festival is broken into afternoon or evening sessions of four hours duration on Friday and Saturday, and a five-hour afternoon session on Sunday. Entry starts at $32 per person for general admission and from $115 for VIP tickets.

Get your wallet out. You need to do this as soon as you walk in to purchase the festival’s currency, Crowns: 1 crown = $1.  Tasting dishes started at $8 and ranged upward to $30 – that was for El Público’s icon dish Fried Crickets and Artisan Mezcal.  They sold out quickly before I got a chance to taste the chilli salted insect. Those that did said the crickets tasted “nice and crunchy” and “okay”. I’m guessing the novelty factor had something to do with this dish’s popularity. I’m not sure I would have paid 30 crowns ($30) for a tasting plate of insects.

Crowns are not refundable, making it better to load up less and top up during the session or you can find yourself racing around the in final minutes of the session (there are two four-hour sessions daily) to spend unused crowns. Forget buying a drink because there’s no alcohol tastings or sales in the last 30-minutes with the exception of take-away sealed bottles. Part-payment with crowns and the balance in cash is not permitted either.Music stage2

Participate and learn

The best thing about Taste of Perth, besides the central location, city skyline backdrop and pretty event set up, are the information sessions and demonstrations. Book into these as soon as you arrive because the popular sessions fill up. Some sessions cost, others are free. From cocktail mixology to rum masterclass, special skills sessions, the art of oyster shucking, and cooking demonstrations, choosing what to attend is difficult.

The best free session I went to is Fun & Informal Wine Matching hosted by Gourmet Traveller’s Max Veenhuyzen and presented by Emma Farrelly. With over ten years experience in the restaurant industry, Emma consults to help restaurants build and maintain a balanced wine list. Her clients include Must Wine Bar, Beaufort Street Merchant, the Trustee and Divido.  We tasted three matchings: riesling with chicken and pistachio terrine, chadonnay with proscuitto, melon and bacon jam, and pinot paired with spanish cheddar and quince paste.  All were wonderful pairings.

The key tip to food and wine matching: match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food.Wine match riesling and terrine


The wine certainly brought out the flavours in the food, and the food highlighted the flavours of the wine.

Wine match Chardonny proscuitto The bacon jam with the proscuitto was magnificent, and an event highlight for my taste buds.

Wine match pinot and cheddar

The other session I went to is the Wine, A Natural Alternative at the Grape and Grain stand (entry 6 crowns).  We tried five natural wines, that is wines made naturally without preservatives, filtration or fining. Just some sulphur is added after the wine is made to ensure it doesn’t spoil. Si Vintners winemaker owner, Iwo Jakimowicz, hosted an engaging session thanks to his passion and knowledge of natural wine making. I bought a bottle of his chadonnay ($50) that was one of the most amazing chardy’s I’ve tasted, syrupy like a sweet wine without it being overly sweet.

Eat your way around

Bib & Tucker suckling pig slider, 10 crowns

Bib & Tucker suckling pig slider, 10 crowns. Beautifully balanced thankfully, which made it worth the wait.

Bistro Guillame Beef Daube on a bed of Paris mash 14 crowns

Bistro Guillame Beef Daube on a bed of Paris mash 14 crowns. Tender beef that just fell apart. 

Bistro Guillame salted caramel macaroon, 8 crowns

Bistro Guillame salted caramel macaroon, 8 crowns. Share one as it is quite rich but perfectly made

Greenhouse Black Valley beef cheek, 10 crowns

Greenhouse Black Valley beef cheek, 10 crowns

The friendly service from Lalla Rookh stand

The friendly service from Lalla Rookh stand

Lalla Rookh Tortello of mushroom, ricotta and chestnut butter, 8 crowns

Lalla Rookh Tortello of mushroom, ricotta and chestnut butter, 8 crowns. Gorgeous silky pasta, flavour packed. 

New Norcia Bakery cupcakes

New Norcia Bakery cupcakes

Restaurants present:

  1. Bib & Tucker
  2. Bistro Guillaume
  3. Co-Op Dining
  4. El Público
  5. Greenhouse Perth
  6. Lalla Rookh
  7. No4 Blake Street
  8. Nobu
  9. Print Hall Dining Room
  10. Silks


I love the event set up. It’s easy to navigate, there’s room to move, places to stand and eat or sit and relax, and enough exhibitors to keep one amused for four hours.

There’s music on the Virgin Stage in the centre of it all that creates a lovely atmosphere. Little details such as covered garbage bins made the site clean and appealing. Hay stacks, giant tee pees, rugs, a ping pong table, and the instagrammer’s favourite ‘taste’ letters near the entry all contribute positively.

Tasting the Honey Cake on my way out was a definite highlight. This traditional bohemian recipe is a winner. It’s a natural light fluffy honey cake with layers of caramel and ground walnuts.

Honey cake

Honey cake

The lowlights would be the waiting time for some of the dishes, the liquor licence that prohibits alcohol tastings and drink sales 30 minutes before the event closes, and the prices of some tasting plates.


Taste of Perth is foodie heaven, and cashed up foodies will have a brilliant day out. It is not a cheap day out, then again, it’s rare to have the chance to taste dishes from some of Perth’s premium restaurants in one place.

Tips for Taste of Perth

  • Arrive on time, you only have four hours (3.5 hours to order drinks)
  • Put a reasonable amount on your crown card and top up if needed – there’s no refunds and plenty of crown stations if you need more
  • As soon as you arrive, book into the demonstrations / lessons you want to attend
  • Organise transport to and from. Closest taxi ranks are outside Hyatt Hotel or Pan Pacific Hotel


Taste of Perth is held at Langley Park from Friday 2 May until Sunday 4 May
Tickets start at $32 and are available at the gate, or from Ticketek

Bellingen Community Markets

The Bellingen Community Market is one of the largest regional markets in Australia and held on the third Saturday of every month at the Bellingen Sports Oval off Church St.  A gold coin donation to the local Rotary Club will gain you entry and from there, be prepared for a sensory overload.

Everything and anything is for sale at the Bellingen Community Markets.  From copper pots to chainsaws, to sculptures, hand made clothing, fairy floss, fake sunglasses, polished stones, beautiful wooden boards and trivets, pet supplies, home made condiments, hand crafted skin care, interior soft furnishing, junk jewellery, knitting supplies and everything in between.

Here is my photo essay of the colourful and eclectic Bellingen Community Markets:

Bellingen Mkts 01 Bellingen Mkts 02 Bellingen Mkts 04 Bellingen Mkts 05 Bellingen Mkts 06 Bellingen Mkts 07 Bellingen Mkts 08 Bellingen Mkts 09 Bellingen Mkts 10

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Need a box? They even sell boxes at the Bellingen Markets

Local fresh produce, relishes, fine art and craft, antiques, plants, pottery, hats, bric’n’brac, new and second hand clothing, books, bags, toys, jewellery, gemstones, music, candles, soaps, beauty and alternative products, pamper yourself to an outdoor massage or take a sneak peak at destiny with astrology and tarot.

Bellingen Mkts 19 Bellingen Mkts 15 Bellingen Mkts 14 Bellingen Mkts 16 Bellingen Mkts 17 Bellingen Mkts 09 Bellingen Mkts 10 Bellingen Mkts 13 Bellingen Mkts 21 Bellingen Mkts 22 Bellingen Mkts 24 Bellingen Mkts 25 Bellingen Mkts 26

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Just two ingredients in this peanut butter – roasted peanuts and salt. The peanuts are ground when still warm after roasting – and it’s good, so, so good

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This stall is called ‘Shelf Respect’ – love that!

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It’s the perfect place to play, shop, eat, drink and be happy. With a smorgasbord of multi‐cultural culinary delights, tantalise your taste‐buds with delicious Italian wood‐fired pizza, German goods, Indian dishes, Mexican meals, healthy wraps, pastas, Buffalo products, Moroccan food, Asian cuisine, seafood, traditional sausage sangas, bacon and eggs rolls, pancakes, scrumptious homemade cakes, sweets, donuts and chocolates, gelato and sorbet, ice‐cream, ice treats, juices, smoothies, espresso coffee and boutique ale.

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Bellingen Mkts 33 Bellingen Mkts 34 Bellingen Mkts 35 Bellingen Mkts 36

Bellingen Mkts 38 Bellingen Mkts 39 Bellingen Mkts 40

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Lift one side and you have two trivets for your table. Clever design made with beautiful local wood


Bellingen Mkts 47 Bellingen Mkts 48 Bellingen Mkts 49

Bellingen Mkts 46

There’s entertainment for young and old alike at the Bellingen Community Markets

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photo essay of the Bellingen Community Markets.


Bellingen Community Markets
Church St Bellingen Football Oval, Bellingen, New South Wales
Held: Third Saturday of every month

A taste of Asia – and a great way to travel solo

Here’s a fun info graphic that explains the basics of cuisine in Asia. Thanks My Adventure Store!

Vietnamese food is an absolute favourite of mine – and only so after I travelled in Vietnam last year. I can’t wait to explore more of South-East Asia


I have a few friends who don’t like the idea of travelling on their own – it’s not that they are scared or worried, but rather, they prefer to have a buddy to share experiences with. There’s a part of me that agrees. Whilst I’ve loved solo travel, that liberating feeling of knowing I can do what I want, when I want, without having to consult a soul, is the ultimate freedom. When it comes to eating out, especially dinner time, I don’t like to dine alone. That’s when doing a tour with a cool crew like Intrepid and My Adventure Store is a great option. Tours for people that don’t do tours. That’s what I tell my friends to do.  Best of both worlds – you’re on your own, but have company. Win-win!

What to cook when there’s nothing in the house – Pasta!

I love pasta. Not because I’m Italian, but because it’s my go-to dinner when there’s nothing in the fridge.

In our fridge there’s always a chorizo, and in our pantry is always pasta, canned tomatoes, and chickpeas.

Barilla sent me a sample parcel to try, but I already had a box of casarecce – a Sicilian short twisted pasta that was in the gift bags at the opening night of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival last year. This pasta is great because the sauce gets trapped in the twists.Barilla Casarecce pasta

For a fab midweek dinner, try this simple pasta dish:

Pasta with chorizo and chick peas

Chop 1 onion and 1 clove garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add a whole chopped chorizo and cook for about 3-4 mins until it starts to brown. Add a drained and rinsed can of chick peas, or two cans if you want a chunkier sauce. I like the organic ones. Cook for a minute, stirring. Deglaze the pan with a glass of red wine and reduce to half. Should only take 6-7 mins. Add a can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Season with salt and pepper. You can add some chilli if you like just before adding the wine. Taste and check seasoning.Chorizo & Chickpea sauce

Meanwhile, cook pasta following cooking guide on box. For the casarecce, 9 mins in salted boiling water.

Off the heat, add half the sauce to the drained pasta and a few glugs of olive oil and stir to coat the pasta.

Serve and top with extra sauce. Too with cracked pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not the packet stuff from the supermarket please!)

Buon apetito!

Chorizo and chickpeas casarecce pasta, with a side of roast pumpkin

Chorizo and chickpeas casarecce pasta, with a side of roast pumpkin


This dish takes about 30 minutes to prepare and the chickpeas take on the flavours of the rich tomato sauce and spicy chorizo. It’s a quick and easy tasty pasta dish to prepare – and if like me you often have chorizo in the fridge, just in case, then this dish is a great one to keep up your sleeve. A pantry winner.


Aravina Estate: Tony Howell’s new kitchen

I gladly accepted an invitation to dine at Aravina Estate in Margaret River, keen to try the food of one of my favourite chefs in his new kitchen. Aravina’s new executive chef Tony Howell made a name for himself winning a legion of fans and numerous awards overs 15 years at Cape Lodge, listed in Condé Nast’s 2012 Gold List and named Best Boutique Hotel in Australia.

The Grounds:

From the moment I arrived, I knew I’d be impressed with Aravina Estate. A red Ferrari in the car park, a cute wooden walkway leading to lush lawns lined with eucalyptus, pretty gardens with two dams beyond, vistas of the vineyard, and a magnificent cellar door and restaurant that would not look out of place in the Hamptoms or on the set of hit television show ‘Revenge’. Outside white wooden railings surround a large alfresco terrace dining area that takes advantage of the stunning view. The beautiful grounds have hosted many weddings, including that of winery owner Steve Tobin just a couple of weeks ago.Aravina Estate15

Families will love lunching at Aravina. Eat in peace while your kids run around climbing, swinging and playing.


From the terrace, parents can easily keep one eye on the fenced children’s playground that would be the envy of many local councils I’m sure.

Aravina Estate13

My favourite part, the kitchen garden. Executive Chef Tony Howell was almost frothing at the mouth as he talked about the massive ten-bed garden growing seasonable produce including all manner of herbs, several types of lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, beetroot, chilli, capsicum and much more. More fruit trees have also been planted.Aravina Estate21

“That’s the great thing about working here, [owner] Steve [Tobin] is open to suggestions and when I said I’d love a kitchen garden, he made it happen. Check it out!” Tony said.

“Everything in the salmon dish, except the salmon, comes from this garden, freshly picked just hours before it is served.”


Walking in, the classy white interior, large windows letting in an abundance of light, high ceilings, lantern-style light fittings, Italian tiled floor and French inspired decor is chic, elegant, and inviting.

Indoor dining

Indoor dining

The wine tasting counter takes centre stage, as it should.  Towards the back of the building is an opulent private dining room, perfect for a party of ten.

Private dining or wine tasting room

Private dining or wine tasting room

Shelves containing cookbooks, vases, photo frames, table ware, kitchen accessories and ornaments are gorgeously displayed around the wine tasting area and also in shop floor area beyond.Aravina_shop1

The restaurant and cafe is beautiful. White linen, fresh flowers, elegant glass ware, and quality cutlery and crockery instantly set the tone for the dining experience to come.

The surprise:

Enter the building, walk past the wine tasting area, past the cafe, through the stunning gift and home ware shop and you’ll find yourself in a sports car gallery. High school memories  raced through my head as I clocked a yellow S/LR 5000 Torana, a 1972 Valient Charger, and 1973 GT Ford Falcon.

Aravina Estate05

There’s also vintage Citroen, Aston Martin, and a Daytona Ferrari as well as several of sexy modern Italian makes. The rev-head in me was squealing with delight. Who would’ve thought a posh-looking winery would appeal to car lovers or those of us that keep our inner bogan suppressed?

Aravina Estate03

The wine:

Wine maker Jodie Opie joined Aravina in 2011 after gaining experience at Lenton Brae and Voyager Estate. I liked all the wines, having said that, tasting wine is so subjective.

The vintage sparkling was light and clean. The Vermintino, and Italian varietal, was clean with an acidic finish. My palate has gone off Sauvingnon Blanc Semillon in recent years, but I really enjoyed the citrus and fresh qualities of Aravina’s. The Chardonnay was my favourite.  

Of the reds, I was delighted to see an Italian varietal Nebbiolo on offer. The tannins were tight but with time it will open up to be a beautiful wine to enjoy with winter Italian dishes. The Cabernet Merlot was easy drinking, the Cabernet Sauvignon left a beautiful plummy taste in my mouth, and I really enjoyed the Shiraz Tempranillo blend. Aravina Estate23

“We’ve planted a special varietal of Tempranillo and Malbec – it’s good to have different varietals on offer, as well as the classic ones the region is known for. It makes us different to the other wineries,” Jodie said.

James Halliday named Aravina Estate as “one of the ten best new wineries” in the 2014 Australian Wine Companion.  The wines have also won a multitude of medals at wine shows across Australia.

The food:

I put my diet on hold and threw my gluten-free ways out the window when whipped truffle butter accompanied freshly baked bread arrived at the table. We shared a number of dishes so we could try as many things as we could possibly fit in.  Aravina Estate06

The pork terrine, mustard fruits, pickled walnuts and persian feta was fantastic. The terrine on its own was rich, but perfect when mixed with the mustard fruits and the phenomenal pickled walnuts.

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The seared Esperance scallops avocado tian, tomato and chorizo crumb were delicate, and cooked perfectly. Everything married beautifully.

Aravina Estate08The special of the day, ricotta stuffed zucchini flower and house smoked salmon – it was divine.

Aravina Estate07King fish sashimi, asian omelette and ginger jelly was sensational. The asian flavours were perfectly balanced, it was fresh, light, and I could eat that dish every day and not tire of it. It didn’t look as pretty as some other dishes, that look like art in comparison, but taste-wise, it was perfect in every sense.

Aravina Estate11Smoked goats cheese. Who smokes goat cheese? Chef Tony Howell, that’s who. And it was nothing short of amazing. I’m told he uses local off cut jarrah wood chips, not oak ones that are used in the wine marking process, to smoke things in-house. Teamed with beetroot carpaccio, sous vide celery, orange and some crunchy brioche, this dish is visually stunning. The smoked goats cheese was so delicious, this wins dish of the day for originality and presentation.

Aravina Estate17The Shark Bay king prawn, compressed pineapple, green papaya, herbs and won ton was crunchy, fresh, and perfect for a hot summer’s day. The Asian flavours were beautifully balanced with the sweetness of the pineapple. It felt healthy to eat.

Aravina Estate12

Time for a refreshing mouth cleanser. Lemon sorbet with lemon and lime sherbet and citrus peel.Aravina Estate16

Feeling absolutely full after sharing the above, we just had one main dish, steamed duck yellow curry, crispy skin, fried peanuts, pickled chilli and herb salad. It looked beautiful on the plate, and smelled fantastic too. One of my lovely dining companions, Sandra, loved this dish – for her, it was the dish of the day. For me, it was too spicy and hot for my chilli-intolerant palate. I don’t mind a bit of heat, but I’m a weakling in that department.

Aravina Estate18

How pretty is this dessert? Compressed watermelon, coconut sorbet, herb syrup, lychee foam, seasonal fruit and sesame crisp. Every element was fantastic and it was beautiful and light. The perfect ending to a decedant lunch.


Aravina Estate just completed a new function room that can seat 160 comfortably. It features a bar at one end, crystal chandeliers, Italian travertine tiles, cathedral ceilings, and large bi-fold doors so the room can incorporate the outdoor terrace. Off the function room, past the guest toilets, is a bridal suite, complete with a lounge area, dressing area, and bathroom with plenty of mirrors and bench space for the all important hair and make up touch ups.  It’s a stunning space.


Add Aravina Estate to your Margaret River itinerary. Not only are there award winning wines to taste and buy, but you can shop, kids can play, you can wander amongst the vines, admire the vegetable garden, and best of all, have a meal you won’t forget.

Tony Howell is producing food as good as he ever has. Despite the increase in covers, the food comes from the same quality local suppliers, is treated with the same respect and attention to detail is evident in every dish. Do yourself a favour and book in now.

My score: 9.5/10 (just lost half a mark because the curry was too hot for my palate)

Disclosure: Dianne Bortoletto was a guest of Aravina Estate and all reviews are based on merit.


Aravina Estate
61 Thornton Road, Yallingup WA 6282
Tel: 08 9235 4600

The Cellar Door and Cafe are open everyday 10am-5pm and the restaurant is open for lunch everyday 11.30am-3pm. Bookings recommended.

Aravina Estate Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Free Burgers in Cottesloe Friday

Grill’d will celebrate the opening of their newest restaurant in Cottesloe this weekend by offering unlimited free burgers to all guests on Friday 14 March from 5-9pm.

There are 30 different Grill’d burgers on the menu including 100% grass fed, free range beef and lamb, lean chicken trimmed of all fat or vegetarian burgers.


Wash your burger down with a selection of local craft beers, ciders and wine.

Sculpture by the Sea is on at Cottesloe Beach the moment, so before or after a free burger, wander through the sculpture park.

What a great free night out! Cottesloe is the place to be this Friday to get your weekend started.


Free burgers Friday 14 March, 5-9pm
Grill’d Cottesloe, 6 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe

Rocky Horror Show, Crown Perth

Guest post by Kylee Symes

Richard O’Brien’s, Rock n Roll Musical interpretation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Crown Theatre in Perth is a condensed version of the original, a sort of highlight package that was light on the horror.

The sci-fi cult classic overflowed with lashings of drag-tastic clichés, delivered with plenty a smirk and giggle. The casual, relaxed performances of the talented and collectively very attractive cast encouraged audience interaction and the costume-party atmosphere.

The simple cartoonish sets gave the production a kind of pantomime feel. The bedroom scenes in particular were given a new unique angle, and were the source of some great belly-laugh-out-loud moments.

Craig McLachlan was simply fantastic, bringing both star and ‘old-pro’ qualities to the role with joy and ease.


Kylee Symes with a couple of eager audience members

Kylee Symes with a couple of eager audience members

Costuming met all bawdy expectations, but I couldn’t help but feel the opportunity to go completely over the top might have been missed. Had an actual drag queen been included in the hair and makeup team perhaps that element of fierce drag authenticity could have been added.

There was no lack of authenticity in the amazing efforts of the opening night crowd! The outrageous and raunchy outfits worn by members of the eager audience would have been difficult for any ensemble to compete with.

The enthusiasm and energy of the opening night audience, created an atmosphere and electricity often only found at theatre sport or improv nights. It was a fabulous night out.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is now 40 years old and so much fun I can imagine it will still be playing for another 40 years, but, I can’t help thinking, if Brad & Janet did have a mobile phone on that fateful cold and rainy late October evening in 1974, they would never have found themselves at the doorstep of that castle, filled with those characters, holding that Annual Transylvanian Convention……

Kylee Symes is an aspiring writer, voracious reader, mum of two and guest blogger.


Rocky Horror Show
From February 14 to March 9
Crown Theatre, Burswood, Perth
Tickets available, visit here for more info

How to choose the freshest seafood

We all know that the Queensland’s coast is synonomous with seafood.

Just after ProBlogger, the most awesome blogging conference on the planet, I was invited by the host city tourism office, Tourism Queensland, to participate in some of the Gold Coast’s best food experiences.

We visited Peter’s Fish Market, around the corner from Palazzo Versace.  Under expert Japanese chef Yukio Itaba from the Palazzo Versace, I learned how to choose the freshest seafood.


Look at the eyes of the fish. You want the eyes to be plump, not sunken.

Is the fish fresh? Check the eyes

Is the fish fresh? Check the eyes

Is this fish fresh? This fish has a nice plump eye

Is this fish fresh? This fish has a nice plump eye

Is this fish fresh? This sunken eye tells me no

Is this fish fresh? This sunken eye tells me this fish is not the freshest

Next, look at the skin. Is it shiny? Or does it look dull?  Dull skin means the fish isn’t fresh. Look at the gills also, they should be a rich red colour. The older the fish, the darker that colour goes. Avoid fish with dark brick coloured gills.

Smell it – the fish should smell clean like the ocean. If it smells a bit rank or fishy, leave it.


Buys prawns in their shell with the heads on. This prevent the meat of the prawn drying out. It’s okay to buy frozen prawns too.

Look at the prawn head. If it’s dark colour under the shell, leave it, it’s not fresh. You want it to look clear, or in the case of cooked prawns, nice and pink.

Fresh prawns do not have dark colouring under the shell of the head
Fresh prawns do not have dark colouring under the shell of the head. This prawn is relatively clear and it’s one I would buy
Fresh prawns do not have dark colouring under the shell

Fresh prawns do not have dark colouring under the shell – this prawn is not so fresh

Like fish, smell the prawns. They shouldn’t have a strong smell. If they do, don’t buy them.


When buying cooked crab, same rules apply.

Look at the crab, it should be a bright pink colour.  Smell the crab, it should have a slight ocean smell but not reek. And check the gills of the crab – lift the flap on the underbelly of the crab to find the gills – if is it discoloured and dark, the crab is not fresh.

Chef Yukio Itaba from Palazzo Versace

Chef Yukio Itaba from Palazzo Versace

Checking the gills of the crab - lift the flap underneath the crab and if it is dark and discoloured, it is not fresh

Checking the gills of the crab – lift the flap underneath the crab and if it is dark and discoloured, it is not fresh. This one looks good.

A great place to eat seafood on the Gold Coast if you don’t fancy cooking it yourself is Palazzo Versace.  They have four restaurants at the hotel. We ate at Vie Restaurant and Bar. A great location with views over the water. The food focus is locally sourced fresh food prepared simply and elegantly. The food was excellent. I was thrilled to see a Western Australian wine  Leeuwen Estate Art Series Riesling on the list. They have a great selection of food and wine.
Vie Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chef Yukio has 21 years experience making sushi and sashimi. The seafood he serves is beautifully fresh. They also run cooking master classes at Palazzo Versace – if you like sushi, then take a class to learn under this Japanese expert. 

How to roll sushi

How to roll sushi – Chef Yukio teaches us how

I won’t share photos of the sushi I rolled – put it this way, if this was an exam, I’d have failed! I’m not ashamed to say that I prefer to eat sushi than make it myself.


Palazzo Versace
Sea World Drive
Main Beach QLD 4217 Australia

Toll Free (Australia) 1800 098 000
Tel +61 7 5509 8000
Fax +61 7 5509 8888

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