Cal­i­for­nia’s dream­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

SAN Fran­cisco savoured a taste of down un­der this week with Mon­day’s open­ing of Luke Man­gan’s South Food and Wine Bar at 330 Townsend St. Chef-owner of Glass Syd­ney and Salt Tokyo, Man­gan is tak­ing our food and wines to San Fran with a vengeance. He tells FoodDe­tec­tive the most pop­u­lar open­ing night dishes were ‘‘ barra, salmon and lamb. All sourced from back home.’’

Man­gan says: ‘‘ We opened the doors at 5pm on Mon­day and were packed all evening.’’ South was full of lo­cal restau­rant peo­ple, he says, ‘‘ who had come in to check us out’’. The SanFran­cis­coChron­i­cle was there and he’s hop­ing for week­end cov­er­age.

Man­gan’s part­ners — West Aus­tralian Liz O’Con­nell, for­merly of wine com­pany South­corp, and New Zealan­der Anna Wein­berg, for­mer owner of New York restau­rant Stella — have in­flu­enced the mix.

There is a 5mcom­mu­nal ta­ble of Aus­tralian jar­rah and, in the 60-seat din­ing room, Maori-in­spired tiles, cus­tom-de­signed by New Zealan­der David Trubridge. The wine list ded­i­cated to Aussie, NZ and South African wines will be one of the few in the US.

De­tec­tive’s cruise around the blog­gers finds an en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse to South—‘‘great ser­vice, liked keyhole view of kitchen, won’t be shar­ing my bar­ra­mundi next time’’ — and gen­eral ap­proval. www.luke­man­gan.com; www.south­fwb.com.

ONE clo­sure, two fresh paths: Howqua Dale Gourmet Re­treat in Mansfield, north of Melbourne, is no more. The pow­ers be­hind the 30-year en­ter­prise have gone their sep­a­rate ways. Marieke Brug­man tells De­tec­tive that she and for­mer part­ner Sarah Ste­gley have headed off to fol­low their own in­ter­ests, di­vid­ing up the travel busi­ness that had be­come Howqua Dale’s main fo­cus. Brug­man’s baby has al­ways been the cook­ing and gas­tron­omy. Re­treats and In­dia are her pas­sions. Both are fu­elling a rich pro­gram of tours and over­seas stays now un­der way (www.marieke­sartofliv­ing.com). Ste­gley’s move is more travel fo­cused, with Africa and Italy favourites.

Brug­man tells De­tec­tive her old friend Phillip Searle (chef and co-owner at Vul­can’s, Black­heath, in the Blue Moun­tains west of Syd­ney) is the only one of her gen­er­a­tion left in the kitchen; by the way, she would love to or­gan­ise some­thing with him, she says, maybe a one-off event. Watch this space.

CHOCO­LATE lovers head­ing for Syd­ney will need to know that Lindt opened its third cafe there last week; it’s also only the third in the world. Lindt Choco­late Cafe in Syd­ney’s Martin Place was the ground­break­ing first, Cockle Bay Wharf at Dar­ling Har­bour fol­lowed and the new cafe, with its gleam­ing glass and sub­tle cafe creme decor touched with dark choco­late (no, not fin­ger­prints), is now open on the cor­ner of Ge­orge and Jamison streets in the city.

Lindt’s spring cake col­lec­tion is at the cafe, with some of the fresh­est and best choco­lates in town.

THIS week­end, Vic­to­ria’s Heath­cote show­grounds (112km from Melbourne) hosts the sixth an­nual Heath­cote Wine and Food Fes­ti­val. More than 40 lo­cal wine­mak­ers are pre­sent­ing their wines, with food and en­ter­tain­ment. A day pass is $20 or $10 with­out wine; un­der 18s (free) must be ac­com­pa­nied by an adult; two-day pass $35. Satur­day and Sun­day, 10.30am5pm. www.heath­cotewine­grow­ers.com.au.

AURORA lamb, raised on nat­u­ral grains and the pris­tine wa­ters of Tas­ma­nia ( FoodDe­tec­tive, May 12-13), is mak­ing its mark across Asia, in Canada, Rus­sia and the United Arab Emi­rates. It’s on the menu at Shang­hai’s Mon the Bund and Raf­fles Grill in Sin­ga­pore’s Raf­fles Ho­tel. Lead­ing kitchens around the coun­try are buy­ers but off­shore mar­kets now ac­count for 80 per cent of cus­tomers. www.au­ror­agourmet­pro­duce.com.

TOMATO files: De­tec­tive’s lament over the dis­mal state of toma­toes ( FoodDe­tec­tive, Septem­ber 22-23) has brought im­pas­sioned re­sponses. Janet Tay­lor found toma­toes in Dili, East Ti­mor, ‘‘ far from per­fect to look at, and beau­ti­fully tasty’’; the seeds were from orig­i­nal Por­tuguese toma­toes and had not ‘‘ been doc­tored to look great’’. She says she’s heard ours are go­ing to be ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied to re­store the taste. Karen and Rob Gough of Set­tlers Tav­ern in the Mar­garet River ate fab­u­lous her­itage toma­toes on a re­cent San Fran­cisco trip: ‘‘ Big, lit­tle, green, pur­ple, black, ze­bra and all of those crazy shapes.’’ They’ve bought heir­loom seeds to grow their own.

FIND of the week: Thai Trade Cen­tre’s Thai Se­lect card of­fers 15 per cent off food bills at se­lected east coast restau­rants through­out Novem­ber. De­tails and full restau­rant list at www.thais­e­lect.com.au.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: The del­uge of great food books flood­ing in for Christ­mas; pre­pare for re­laxed read­ing with the oc­ca­sional kitchen foray. Travel& In­dul­gence’s spe­cial food and wine edi­tion, Oc­to­ber 13-14, will in­clude a list.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Unin­su­lated bare floors in restau­rants that turn ta­ble talk into a shout­ing match.

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