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Around the World in 80 Dinners

Around the World in 80 Dinners

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Around the World in 80 Dinners

543 pagine
3 ore
Oct 31, 2016


Around the World in 80 Dinners is a gastronaut's guide to the globe. It's for those who book their restaurants before their air fares, and food lovers who want the lowdown on the most exciting places to eat at home and abroad.

This sumptuous book opens the travel diaries of two seasoned food journalists. It takes you into 80 of the world's very best and most timeless dining destinations, and divulges hundreds of food adventures in more than two dozen countries, plus delicious detours and places to stay. It's stuffed with tips on how to snag a reservation, and inside knowledge that might save you a fortune or help you eat like a local.
Oct 31, 2016

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Around the World in 80 Dinners - Janne Apelgren


Set out hungry if you’re planning to eat your way around Australia. There are truffles to be dug, wineries with fine lunches to explore, beach picnics of fish and chips with crisp white wines to enjoy, and spectacular dinners-with-a-view to revel in—and that’s just for starters.

Australian food has never been better. And the outside world increasingly feels the same way. Sixty per cent of travellers who’ve visited rate Australia third behind France and Italy as a food and wine destination. And our top chefs have a global profile among their international peers and devoted gastronauts.

Sydney is Australia’s largest city (only just) but definitely its most look-at-me. Here the global and local intersect, interweave and inspire. And whether beside rolling surf, by sparkling harbour or tucked under the iron-lace balconies of the terraces of the inner city, eating out in Sydney is a daily obsession.

Chefs like Sydney’s Neil Perry and Tetsuya Wakuda encouraged the globalisation of our palates and put modern Australian on the map of world cuisine. Their legacy is reflected in new generations of clever cooks, smart servers, and serious drink-nerd somms and bar staff.

Whether upscale or down, at a counter, shared bench or linen-clothed table, we reckon dining in Sydney is a marvellous thing.


If our story of great dinners (and lunches and breakfasts and snacks) has to start somewhere, then perhaps it should be here in Australia’s most recognised building, on one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Under the cream-tiled sails of the Sydney Opera House is a soaring concrete restaurant space over three levels, ribbed in ochre steel, lit by shiny golden lamps and quietly humming from top to bottom.

Bennelong first opened when the House did in 1973. The entrepreneurial Fink family (owners also of Quay, ‘across the water’) took over in 2015. Bennelong is a landmark, a singular destination for grazing and drinking in the upper bar areas or for settling in with three or four courses of immaculately delicate, and pretty damn delicious fine dining.

You can enter through the bowels of the House or climb those grandiose ochre granite stairs to the upper end of the restaurant and the bar proper. One of our favourite perches inside is the somewhat curiously named Cured and Cultured bar counter, in the middle of the action. It’s here you can start with a little champagne and then tuck straight into just-opened South Coast oysters; a gorgeous, many-textured, multi-coloured carrot salad; or fat little yabbies served with lemon jam, soured cream and soft, warm buckwheat pikelets to wrap ’em in. Heaven. You might even venture towards the sausage roll or, in winter, the cheese and truffle toastie. Or settle for a little tuna crudo with enoki or a crunched-up smoked eggplant and falafel salad.

The main dining room is best experienced during daylight—if you want to appreciate the sheer visual pleasure of all those dapper little plates before you. At night, of course, the harbour and city lights take over: ferries gliding past, the Bridge gleaming, office towers twinkling. Meanwhile, you discover a delicate mix of textures: a firm prawn raviolo with radishes and fermented chilli, or soft yet crisp quail with macadamias and the bite of Davidson plum, or maybe an amazing roasted john dory on the bone, with native coastal greens and a delicious ‘umami butter’.

And definitely have dessert. Whether it’s (Bennelong and Quay) chef Peter Gilmore’s lamington of frozen coconut cream flakes and cherry jam, the famous ‘chocolate cake from across the water’ or a seductive passionfruit curd-based pav that replicates the sails above—it’s a show stopper.

Booking advice

Easy online system, although weekends are busy and tables upstairs limited to two hours. You can also book four seats in The Kitchen, looking out at the harbour from the heart of the action.

Insider’s tip

The bar takes walk-ins for snacks. There are pre- and post-theatre menus, too.


While we’re on the harbour, let’s go for broke and book into one of Australia’s greatest restaurants, in one of Sydney’s front-row locations. Smack bang on the water and an Iggy’s sourdough roll’s throw from the Bridge, Quay is all glass and light and harbour blue, a little beacon on the western edge of Circular Quay.

It already feels like a treat, walking across soft carpet to a table with a view. And what a view! The sense of occasion never dissipates as you contemplate three (or four) courses of Peter Gilmore’s textural, ‘nature-based’ cooking—a delicacy of touch and flavour in each extremely gorgeous-looking dish.

Mud crab congee is hard to resist—a fixture since Quay’s earliest days. This fine yet densely flavoured spoonful of sweet, flakey crab is suspended in an egg yolk emulsion over the most aromatic broth. For an exercise in crunch and cream, crisped Jerusalem artichoke and pepitas flirt with sheep’s curd and Oloroso sherry caramel.

The seasonal and increasingly Australian-accented menu might include wild abalone with a shiitake chawanmushi and sticky, smoked pig jowl; XO crayfish (the spicy, jammy sauce is Gilmore’s creation); or the heavenly stone-pot green rice with silken tofu, mountain spinach, spring cabbage stems and seaweed. It’s all highly original with a strong Asian and Australian undertone.

Gilmore has a talent for combining comfortable tastes and textures with sharper, zingier counterpoints here and there, layering smooth creams with chewy crust and tangy crumb.

Dessert is a must. We recall each sensation of eating Gilmore’s famed snow egg—the dish that prompted floods of calls (‘Do you do takeaway?’) the night millions saw it made on the first series of MasterChef. Perched over a slushy, fruity granita, it’s a fluffy meringue-like ball wrapped in the slenderest toffee-like crackling crust. Break in to discover a soft-frozen spoon of fruit ice-cream. But, hang on, there’s also soft custard cream underneath it all, for added joy.

Then again, if rich, dark stuff is your idea of eternal bliss, go the eight textures chocolate cake. Crunchy chocolate on fluffy chocolate on crisp chocolate on meltingly smooth chocolate on iced chocolate on warm melting chocolate … You get the idea.

There’s a reason this is one of Australia’s most lauded restaurants. Consistent three-hat rating, multiple times Restaurant of the Year, ranked on the World’s Best Restaurant list … We’re proud to call it our own.

Booking advice

Bookings for six months ahead are released on the first of the month. Friday or Saturday dinner? Allow at least four months. Go for lunch. It’s much easier to get in.

Insider’s tip

Check whether a cruise ship is in dock. There are plans to move the berth, but a giant vessel can block the views.

Bar dining

If you’re a commitment-phobe, you can flirt with several menus in one night. Many Sydney bars do great eating and many restaurants do good bars.

Start in the city with Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill (, where the bar menu is a window onto Perry’s great steakhouse style (get the burger), then pop across to Pyrmont for Momofuku Seiobo’s ( heartily divine Caribbean-inspired bar snacks. Busted roti and jerk lamb chop, anyone?

On the way you might head to 121BC ( in Surry Hills, a wee slip of a convivial wine cave with great Italian bottles and small-plate eats, or Bar Brose ( in Darlinghurst for snacks that will turn into dinner if you’re not careful. The chicken in vin jaune with foie gras butter is sheer indulgence. Stick to a giant cheesy gougere.

If you want The Hotspot of the Moment, take a look at Automata ( in the new Old Clare Hotel, where a possie at the tiny bar (four stools) gives you a chance to see what the fuss is all about. But if Bondi glamazons, waves and the most Instagrammed surf pool in Australia are more your style, there’s always Icebergs ( for a Negroni or two. Alternatively, join the hipster tribes of Enmore and Newtown and dig into a can of Spanish razor clams, or a plate of sliced-to-order smallgoods with pickles at fun and funky Continental Deli (from the Porteno crew—see page 13) (

Hubert ( and Bennelong ( do bar-and-food beautifully. As does Bentley ( from the Monopole crew, for Nick Hildebrandt’s excellent wines and Brent Savage’s food …

So much to drink and eat—you might need a week.

Billy Kwong

So many things are special about this deep, slender Potts Point eating house, coloured with the ochres of Australia’s heart and hung with fragments of contemporary art and Chinese artefacts. Its chef is a fifth-generation Australian–Chinese. And she cooks a very personal combination of homestyle Cantonese and native Australian.

If prompted, owner-chef Kylie Kwong is articulate and generous with her story, delving into the moments that brought her to this point. From eschewing bottled water to throwing out preservative-laden Chinese sauces and making her own, over the years her philosophy has shifted, matured, deepened. Then came the moment when she realised that the source of a truly original cooking style lay all around her: in the native plants, fruits and herbs of Australia.

Chewing, wilting, sniffing, braising, experimenting with salt bush, Kakadu plum, finger limes, riberries and native greens of all descriptions and flavour profiles, she gradually adapted the dictates of Cantonese cooking to include an indigenous edge. It was a revelation. And as we tuck into her crisp wallaby cake with Kakadu plum, the wilted, saline-tinged slipperiness of salt bush in a fried pancake ring, and stir-fried yabbies with sticky XO overlaid with sea succulents and the pop of finger limes, we understand her thinking.

Caramelised pork belly with fresh muntries (tiny, apple-like berries) and riberries (pink, crunchy, sugar-sweet fruits) is sweet, sour, crunchy, juicy, so Chinese and so Australian.

At heart, this is quite simply an excellent Chinese restaurant—dim sum-steaming and wok-flashing chefs on display along the central counter, Kwong with an earpiece dispensing orders. Drinks are often custom-made for Billy Kwong, all of a minimum intervention/orange persuasion.

Whether at the counter, the quieter tables down back or in the lively front section, the mood’s upbeat, everyone fascinated by the range of flavours. All that is left is dessert: generous quenelles of deep-red Davidson plum sorbet and a creamy macadamia nut gelato. As for that little pot alongside? It holds a bunch of wriggling green tree ants. Recalling the words of an Aboriginal guide: ‘Just pick ’em up and bite their bums’—the juicy, lemony hit in our mouths brings it all together.

Booking advice

There’s an online calendar but

Sundays are walk-ins. Pop by then for a BK-style yum cha.

Insider’s tip

See Kwong in action on Saturdays at the Carriageworks Market in Redfern, steaming dumplings and soft pancakes (

Sydney favourites

Ester ( Chippendale is the neighbourhood of the moment. For proof, scope out the snappy old-new Kensington Street/Old Clare hotel precinct, the futuristic Central Park and cucumber-cool White Rabbit Gallery. And then come to this airy simple room, complete with wood oven. Plates come small, medium and large, prices stay low and the wines lean towards the natural. Must-do dishes include the blood sausage sanga, a whole roasted cauliflower with almond and mint, and wood-roasted chook on garlic sauce.

Sean’s Panaroma

( Way before most, Sean Moran was cooking from the land—notably his Blue Mountains farm. Picture the best roast chicken, poached yabbies with avocado, cress and finger lime, a salad of squash, and golden beets with a blue cheese and walnut dressing, or a fabulous dish of pork, three ways, with fennel and fuji slaw. A mango tart with ginger and passionfruit curd is summer on the beach. Which is where we are, by the Bondi waves. It’s our show-off Sydney place.

Monopole ( Like its sexy dark room, the concept is seductively simple: small plates and a glass or two from co-owner-sommelier Nick Hildebrandt’s eclectic collection. Much lauded chef Brent Savage oversees the menu with up-to-the-minute tid-bits like house-cured meats, eel brandade with beetroot, apple and almond, or a tartare of kangaroo with Jerusalem artichoke, rhubarb and macadamia. Vegetarians will love meat-free Yellow, down the road—another Hildebrandt–Savage project.

Three Blue Ducks ( The founding Ducks were surf-lovin’, casual-cool chick-magnets who could cook—most ex-Tetsuya’s. They’ve now expanded to Byron Bay and Rosebery. But their Bronte original remains an emblematic cafe and night-time restaurant, all about creative flavours. Mornings typify the Sydney Breakfast with barista coffee, excellent eggs, juices, avo on sourdough (from the amazing Iggy’s bakery nearby), signature smoked salmon, corn fritters and dangerously good muffins.

Hubert ( Descend wood-panelled stairs to a swinging basement with bar, restaurant tables, another bar, even a stage and theatrette. The look is timeless Manhattan, with low lights, jazzy soundtrack, switched-on servers, great drinks. The menu is retro French: oeufs en gelee, Malakoff (deep-fried mustardy gruyere balls) and terrine. Best of all are shared mains: a whole baked Murray cod or a whole stuffed and roasted duck.

Lumi ( Federico Zanellato does Italian with Japanese touches. It works. Imagine chawanmushi flavoured with parmesan, elegant agnolotti filled with pancetta dashi, beetroot slicked with a shimmering black sesame oil and spiked with horseradish, or more traditional chitarra pasta with sardines, raisin and fennel. This glass-sided dining room is hung with pendant lights, sparkling like the water beside it.

Ormeggio ( Amid gleaming white yachts on a harbour marina, Lombardy chef Alessandro Pavoni offers a re-imagined Italian menu, working by regions. So vitello tonnato and eggplant parmigiana come out as crisp little snacks; tagliolini are red with capsicum, served with hazelnuts and sand crab. The Lombardy beef all’olio is done with wagyu and black garlic. Chiosco on the boardwalk is Ormeggio’s casual, lively and straight-up Italian offsider.

Mr Wong This elaborately Old Shanghai den of dining rooms, duck displays, old bricks and faded Sino nostalgia provides a fresh view on the best of the Aussie-Chinese repertoire. Dumplings are mighty, the duck is divine, and steamed fish with ginger and shallots shows how it should be done. And there’s deep-fried ice-cream for pudding. Very Canto cool.

Porteno ( They wowed us when they opened this Evita-kitsch Argentinian shrine to meat, smoke and fire. Rockabilly chic combines with good food (and a good number of non-meat dishes) and Argie wines in a convivially cool dining space. Have suckling lamb or pig after its eight hours over glowing coals on the cross-shaped asador. And brussels sprouts with lentils.

Pilu at Freshwater ( Want a strong ocean breeze and a little surfside languor with your pecorino broth and fregola, culurzones (potato, rosemary and goat’s cheese ravioli) or porcetto (suckling pig)? In a heritage weatherboard house high above the waves, Giovanni Pilu and wife Marilyn Annecchini run a welcoming, sun-filled modern Italian with strong Sardinian notes—from Pilu’s home island.


Asian food is in Sydney’s DNA. It was one Tetsuya Wakuda who showed us the way, back in the 1980s. Bringing together the subtlety of his culinary heritage with the equally familiar techniques of France and Italy, he conjured a truly original style. Others now carry the torch. Foremost is Martin Benn, one-time Tetsuya’s head chef and acclaimed culinary genius with his superb, Japanese-inspired cooking.

The mood is all dark tones, soft music, booth seating, chequer-tiled floor and statement floral arrangements, with formal-friendly service. Benn’s partner Vicki Wild runs a seriously smooth front of house, right down to the warm, open-door welcome as we dash in, away from the weaving taxis in the street outside.

Dinner is a tasting menu, kaiseki-style. As it rolls out, we can’t help but pause at each little course to snap a photo of its sheer beauty. Everyone’s doing it. We should, though, be absorbing the delicacy of every little flavour note, the immaculate, just-caught seafood (Sepia’s restaurant partners are seafood providores) and Benn’s conceptual brilliance.

The first three small bites, shiny globes on a plate, hide a surprise: salmon smoothed over smoked roe, sudachi, chrysanthemum; a smoked prawn alive with pickled daikon and shiso; bonito wrapped around water chestnut and dashi jelly …

There’s a wonderful dish of abalone, charcoal grilled, with juicy sea succulents, a dashi cream, a little lardo, a hint of wakame—umami central. We salivate over marron as only Benn can do it: straight off the charcoal, with a hint of yuzu, an intensely sea-briny powder of crustacean shell and a rich shellfish and shiso butter.

Benn’s nigirizushi is unforgettable: an assembly of raw fish, flavoured gels, puffed sushi rice and rice cream. Three perfect pieces, sushi upside-down, with a pink ginger gel and dark soy dotted beside it.

Dishes change with the season and inspirations, but years of cunning desserts have left indelible imprints on our food brain: the Japanese stones, smooth grey pebbles filled with sorbet and ice-cream; the golden egg, cracking into coconut, yuzu and persimmon; teeny pink-red Alpine strawberries with a fluff of salted white chocolate chantilly, tickly strawberry sherbet, the green pepperiness of shiso.

When Sepia cooked lunch at New York’s Le Bernardin (see page 102), a New York Times critic wrote to us: ‘Tasting menus can all too often degenerate into elaborate, operatic, seemingly endless ordeals that food writers secretly dread. Sepia feels like the opposite—it delivered delight.’

Booking advice

Bookings open three months out. Plan at least six weeks ahead for dinner—lunch is easier. Phone and ask about lounge area bookings.

What to drink

Sommelier Rodney Setter is one of the best drinks-pairers in the business. His selection includes Japanese wines and several intriguing sakes.


Don’t overlook the national capital when it comes to food and drink. Apart from the fact that the Canberra region produces some of the best wines in the country, feeding pollies and public servants places a certain expectation on the hospitality crowd and results in some punter-pleasing options.

In the hip NewActon area on the Lake Burley Griffn foreshore, the funky Hotel Hotel ( has made its design-driven mark and houses more than just upscale travellers. In its foyer, the modern mash-up, all-day menu at Monster ( is the work of a young McConnell—Sean, the brother of Melbourne stars Matt and Andrew—and ranges from Spain to Japan without a blink. While you’re in this very cool part of town, have a truly excellent coffee at the cyclists’ haunt on the

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