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.