Driving through the rolling hills of South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region, surrounded by vines planted by 19th-century European settlers and cellar doors of Australia’s oldest wineries, the last thing you’d expect to find is a multi-dimensional, five-story-tall Rubik’s cube. But at d’Arenberg winery, that’s exactly what you’ll find. The architectural marvel of bold shards of mirror and glass and metal is home to one of the world’s most immersive, anticipated wine-tasting experiences, and it is set to finally open this November.
Dubbed the d’Arenberg cube, this $14 million AUD project dreamed up by d’Arenberg’s lovably eccentric, fourth-generation winemaker, Chester Osborn, will be equal parts cellar door, art gallery, immersive tasting room and fine-dining destination. Each of the elements have the explicit intent of shattering your senses and heightening them to the optimal sensory place for wine tasting.
If there is one dish that best exemplifies Australia’s native ingredients movement’s most current evolution, it just might be a piping hot bowl of kangaroo pho. “I encourage people to try the different plants before adding them to the broth,” Rebecca Sullivan explains as she places an array of indigenous plants and herbs upon our table. She points to succulent sprigs of coorong seablite, leaves of lemon and anise myrtle, shimmering bunches of iceplant and pods of finger limes spilling out tart green pearls. “I like to squeeze them just straight into the broth,” she says, pointing to the chubby citrus bombs.
This is Warndu, a pop-up restaurant and well-being brand from Adelaide, Australia brought to life by Sullivan and her partner, Damien Coulthard. Named for the word “good” in the Adnyamathanha language—the language of Coulthard’s Aboriginal heritage—Warndu is aiming to bring native Australian ingredients to consumers through dinners that educate and inspire, as well as selling a line of packaged foods (like kangaroo broth and native teas) to cook at home, with the goal of helping to build up sustainable farming and foraging systems within Aboriginal communities for economic growth.
“Indigenous food is food that’s grown in Australia, comes from Australia and that Aboriginal people ate and utilised during their time on the land,” renowned Aboriginal chef Mark Olive told the Daily Telegraph this year. “When people start using these foods with these flavours they’re blown away. Chefs around the world are embracing it and are so curious about it.”
With over 24,000 different documented species of plants, Australia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, but while this flora situation may seem like a chef’s foraging paradise, much of Australian mainstream cooking has yet to embrace some of the delicious, healing, uniquely Australian native ingredients of the land. But thanks to a new generation of chefs, these native Australian ingredients, ranging from the caramel-y akudjura bush tomato to the wonderfully nutty wattleseed, are finally getting the mainstream attention they deserve—and, in the process, completely revolutionizing Australia’s food scene.
There are certain desserts that some pastry chefs fall back on at a typical modern Asian restaurant. We all know them: the lychee sorbets, tropical fruit tarts, and matcha cheesecakes of the world. If I never see another chocolate spring roll it will still be far too soon.
There are usually two pitfalls for such dessert menus. If you’re lucky, you might find a few watered-down versions of more traditional desserts, the chef likely hoping to temper some of the flavor profiles some diners may be unfamiliar with, like mung bean, anko (red bean paste), ube (purple yams), and the like. Otherwise you’re likely to see desserts that incorporate Asian flavors pushed through the sieve of French technique, a formula that seems to be used as an excuse to not innovate further.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Enter Zen Ong, the head pastry chef of LA’s modern Asian hotspotE.P. & L.P., who is turning out finessed desserts that are as carefully thought-out, unique, and delicious as their savory counterparts by chef Louis Tikaram.
If you base your whole trip around what you’re going to be eating, then these hotels are the perfect place to stay to satisfy your foodie wanderlust. For the food obsessed these hotels are destinations worth traveling to in themselves. From delicious and rustic to isolated and quaint and even fine dining, get ready to pack your bags and your appetite!