Li­cens­ing laws enough to drive peo­ple to drink

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

FOODDe­tec­tive ’ s Melbourne col­league, Ge­orge Me­ga­lo­ge­nis, who re­ports this week on the new Nobu at Crown Casino ( Ta­bles , p10), has sniffed out a fresh surge of in­ter­city ri­valry, set in mo­tion by global Nobu co-owner Robert De Niro’s visit to the Melbourne open­ing. This time the envy is from the Syd­ney side, and it’s not about De Niro.

One Syd­ney com­men­ta­tor has seen Nobu’s choice of Melbourne over Syd­ney as fur­ther en­dorse­ment of Vic­to­ria’s lib­er­at­ing liquor li­cens­ing laws and their civil­is­ing ef­fect on the city’s din­ing scene in gen­eral. Since the early 1980s, Mel­bur­ni­ans have been able to take a quiet drink in small Euro­pean-style bars, more or less when they feel like it, and with­out nec­es­sar­ily eat­ing.

Brent Sav­age, chef at Syd­ney’s Bent­ley Restau­rant & Bar, tells De­tec­tive that Syd­ney restau­rant bars must pro­vide food for about 70 per cent of their bar cus­tomers. For in­de­pen­dent bars there are also strict time frames; very few have night­club li­cences, oth­er­wise 1am is about the limit.

Sav­age be­lieves restau­rant bars such as the Bent­ley would nei­ther gain nor suf­fer from changes, but that Syd­ney would be a bet­ter place for res­i­dents, tourists and late work­ers if peo­ple could go into a cafe in the mid­dle of the day and have a glass of wine, for ex­am­ple. As it is, Syd­ney drink­ing is dom­i­nated by pubs and clubs.

Syd­ney’s TheDai­lyTele­graph re­cently re­ported a move to ban dan­ger­ous drink­ing prac­tices in the hot-spot beach­side sub­urb of Manly, to ‘‘ re­duce the level of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour’’ and ‘‘ make pubs more friendly’’. Need De­tec­tive say more?

AF­TER a long­stand­ing love af­fair with Italy, Rob Fairall, the owner of di Lusso Es­tate wines in Mudgee, is tak­ing his love to town.

Al­though not Ital­ian, Fairall spends a lot of time in Italy and makes lus­cious Ital­ian va­ri­etal wines at di Lusso. He has been host­ing quar­terly food events at the vine­yard, and has now for­malised the food side of the busi­ness with the open­ing of Cucina di Lusso, on the cor­ner of Glebe Point and Par­ra­matta roads in in­nerSyd­ney Glebe.

Rob’s son, chef James Fairall, comes via Arm­strongs, Bathers’ Pavil­ion, Rouge and ex­tended stints cook­ing and eat­ing in Italy. Cucina’s ban­quet-style menus will fea­ture alto-borgh­ese cook­ing, eaten by the mer­chant classes of the re­nais­sance. Open for break­fast and lunch, Tues­day to Sun­day; din­ner, Wed­nes­day to Sun­day. www.dilusso.com.au.

PAUL Wil­son, chef at Botan­i­cal, Melbourne’s much-lauded brasserie, re­leased a beau­ti­fully pho­tographed book of his recipes ( Botan­i­cal ) ear­lier this month. Next Wed­nes­day, Wil­son will pre­pare a spe­cial de­gus­ta­tion menu of dishes from the book: warm poached egg with reg­giano, truf­fles and soft po­lenta for starters. Dishes will be matched with Hen­riot cham­pagnes. Four cour­ses plus wine, $95 a head.

While there, din­ers will be able to buy a copy of the book, signed by the chef, for a 10 per cent dis­count. (03) 9820 7888; www.the­b­otan­i­cal.com.au.

TASTES of Gold Coast still has a week to run, fi­nally pack­ing up its pots and pans on Septem­ber 2. Lo­cal food, wine and din­ing is the fo­cus. This week­end watch chefs from across the re­gion com­pete in a Gold Coast sig­na­ture dish cook-off, on stage at Ted­der Av­enue, Main Beach (Satur­day); on Sun­day there’s a Slow Food and Wine Hin­ter­land Trail to hit, as well as a day of food and fun at Coolan­gatta’s Queen El­iz­a­beth Park (free en­try, food plates from $3-$8), with cook­ing demon­stra­tions, Bol­ly­wood dancers and more (10am-4pm). On Mon­day night the sig­na­ture-dish win­ners will be show­cased at a three-course din­ner at Vi­sions Restau­rant, Ash­more. More: www.taste­sof­gold­coast.com.au.

CLOS­ING moves: Nhut Huynh chef at five-year-old Syd­ney restau­rant RQ, in Crown Street, Surry Hills, and co-owner Jeremy McNa­mara, are go­ing out in style.

Clos­ing in mid-Oc­to­ber to pur­sue other paths (Asian travel and cook­book re­search, for ex­am­ple), Huynh will be of­fer­ing a se­ries of spe­cially cre­ated five­course menus of the restau­rant’s best dishes, with match­ing wines. Week one (Septem­ber 4-9) in­cludes such RQ favourites as ba­nana-flower salad with prawn, chicken and co­conut, and oven­roasted ba­ton of blue eye with lilly buds and morn­ing glory; $120 with matched pre­mium wines. Un­til Oc­to­ber 14. www.rq­food.com.au.

On their re­turn from Asia, Huynh and McNa­mara will fo­cus on their take­away ven­ture Snake­bean (Ox­ford Street, Dar­linghurst) and an ex­panded cater­ing busi­ness.

BRASSERIE class: Melbourne’s Elec­trolux Kitchen has launched its new cook­ing se­ries. With French chef Philippe Mouchel, for­merly of Paul Bo­cuse’s global set-up and now head of his own The Brasserie at Crown, learn how to whip up your own ca­sual bistro food. Queen Vic­to­ria Mar­ket Cook­ing School, 69 Vic­to­ria St; Septem­ber 2 at 12.30pm, $85. Book­ings: (03) 9320 5835.

The se­ries con­tin­ues through­out the year, with ses­sions as di­verse as high tea and dessert cakes, Thai and sushi. www.qvm.com.au.

ADE­LAIDE’S bi­en­nial food ex­trav­a­ganza, Tast­ing Aus­tralia, has re­leased its 2007 pro­gram. Plan for eight days of feast­ing for the mind and body, Oc­to­ber 13-20. Mad­hur Jaf­frey, Rick Stein and An­to­nio Car­luc­cio will be among the guests. There will be win­ery lunches in the Ade­laide Hills, spe­cial din­ners at lo­cal restau­rants, cook­ing classes, talk ses­sions (hear Will Studd on cheese), tast­ings, mar­kets and more. www.tast­ing-aus­tralia.com.au.

MEAN­WHILE, tastes of Ja­panese takoy­aki, Peru­vian ce­viche, Viet­namese goi cuon and more will fea­ture at Syd­ney’s Pa­cific on a Plate fes­ti­val, with food stalls from coun­tries across the Pa­cific basin (dishes $10 and un­der). There will be mi­grant-re­lated mu­seum ex­hibits and non-stop en­ter­tain­ment. Aus­tralian Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum, Dar­ling Har­bour, Syd­ney; Septem­ber 1-2, 11am to 5pm. www.anmm.gov.au.

FIND of the week: For­get the des­per­ately dim im­age of dark, old­fash­ioned rum, suit­able only for the medicine cabi­net; 10 Cane Rum is a pale golden liq­uid that comes in a long-necked bot­tle, em­bossed with an el­e­gant coat of arms and tagged with a nar­row orange la­bel like a lug­gage tag. It’s from Trinidad via Moet Hen­nessy; the col­lab­o­ra­tion is the last word in sub­tlety. It’s made of first­pressed sugar cane (most rums are made with cane mo­lasses). It is then fer­mented, dou­ble dis­tilled and aged in French oak. Your mo­ji­tos will never be the same. www.10cane.com.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: The newly re­leased 2004 Rymill Coon­awarra mc2, a plummy, berry-rich blend of caber­net sauvi­gnon, mer­lot and a touch of caber­net franc. This fine South Aus­tralian maker says 2004, with its long, cool sum­mer, was a great year in the Coon­awarra: the ready-to-drink ev­i­dence is here at a rea­son­able $17. www.rymill.com.au.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Syd­ney’s stitched-up laws on the li­cens­ing of small bars and cafes. Just who does the stitch­ing? The pubs and clubs are surely the only win­ners.

New book: Wil­son

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