Tasting the kapow factor of baijiu

Baijiu

There’s a few flushed faces in the room as China’s national firewater is downed in tiny gulps. It has a BANG the baijiu virgins aren’t expecting. Bloggers, Instagrammers and the curious are crammed into the elegant Moutai Baijiu showroom in Sydney’s Chinatown. We’re listening to marketing managers Imogen Hayes and Ed Xian explain the 2000-year-old art of […]

300 years of Wine O’Clock in the Rhône

Château Les Quatre Filles

It’s exactly 300 years since these 40 acres on the baking hot floor of the Rhône Valley were first settled for the purpose of producing wine. In 1715 the Granier family decided this was a good spot, and planted vines. I’m in the Château Les Quatre Filles vineyard in the south of the valley. From […]

Coffee snobbery dissolved in an instant

coffee beans 2

“Damn, you people take coffee seriously,” said the visiting American staying in our apartment. We do. So so seriously. Especially in our state capital cities. We spend more time in cafes, buy more fancy home coffee machines than we used to and buy more coffee beans than we used to. We love it when visitors […]

New Greek food at Athens’ oldest restaurant

Mille feuille

WHAT: Vassilenas claims to be Athens’ oldest restaurant opening its doors in 1920 and introducing a degustation menu as early as 1928. Serving traditional Greek food, seafood and no meat, it comprised only three tables in 1920, owned by Istanbul-born Thanasis Vassilenas. It quickly morphed into an established taverna. Among the rich and famous to […]

Hot chocolate in Athens at Le Petite Fleur

Le Petit Fleur

A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine Wintery weather in Athens demands hot chocolate on a Sunday. But not any old hot chocolate will do. We’re at the elegant Le Petite Fleur in the upper crust suburb of Kifissia. The tiny interior is pink, white and pastel girly chic, with splashes of pillar […]

My iPhone’s solo globe-trotting adventure

Mai tai

Departing Greece bound for Australia, I left my iPhone in a friend’s car when I was dropped off at the airport. I went into a clammy iPhoneless panic. As you do when you and your mobile are inseparable travelling companions (pictured above enjoying freddo cappuccino together on Mykonos) and suddenly realise you’ve lost each other. […]

I’m an Athenian

Athens towards Lycabettos

I’m an Athenian. I first came here in 1980. No other city has ever challenged me so much. It’s richly cultural yet abrasive and tumultuous. I’ve had my fair share of love-hate with the ancient Greek capital. My Athenian-born children spent most of their childhoods in Australia. But I keep coming back. So do they. Many visitors […]