I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 

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The dish we missed: chefs name their most delicious travel memories

After two years of lockdown here in Australia, where we couldn’t leave our country, what’s the dish you missed the most? I chatted to 10 of Sydney and Melbourne’s top chefs about those delicious travel memories they hold dear, and where they’re heading when they’re back on a plane this year.

I reckon I’m booking a ticket to Spain to take Brigitte Hafner’s recommendation for slow-cooked lamb in Rioja. Or maybe I need to go back to Turkey for Iskander kebab, which Paul Farag reminded me of. Or snapper cerviche on a beach in Lima, Peru.

If you’re not heading overseas, chefs including Shannon Martinez, Christine Manfield and Scott Pickett also shared some favourite dishes closer to home, within Australia, from dumplings at Supernormal in Melbourne to arkhe in Adelaide, for the Parfait Tartlet a la Burnt Ends.

Click here to read the story, published in the Traveller section of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.

 


Down on the farm, Bhutan style

My farmhouse, Phobjike valley
It’s seven o’clock at night and the family has sat down for dinner. I can’t say the Jones
family, because Bhutanese don’t use surnames. But to draw you a picture,
there’s four generations in the room: granny and grandpa, mum and dad, their
daughter, her two-year-old daughter and seven-year-old niece.
They sit in a large circle that includes me, my guide Tshering and driver Tensing.
There are no tables or chairs in the Bhutanese house. Everyone sits on thin mats around the bhukhari (wood stove), and I admire the effortless half-lotus position that the 79-year-old grandfather, Tshewangla, adopts for his light dinner.
The white rice is sticky and is rolled with your hand into a tight ball and daubed with chilli cooked in
cheese sauce. Chilli is not a flavouring, chilli is a vegetable to be eaten at every meal, including breakfast.
Until 18 months ago, the women did all the cooking on a two-ring gas burner and on the wood stove. There was some light from the solar panels, but electricity has
changed all that. The warm kitchen is all very comfortable, with a fluorescent light above and a home-grown soapie on tv. A little cat sleeps by the wood
stove, and I spot a rice cooker, microwave, toaster and fridge. Butter and cheese are still often wrapped in rhododendron leaves to stop it from going hard.
Namgay Pem and her husband Phub Gaytshey.
“Electricity has changed our lives,” says Namgay Pem, the mother of the house. It’s helped them to have better sanitation and everyone loves the soap opera, which won an international award for its role in educating people about the dangers of HIV.
That night, as a special guest in a full house, I sleep in the altar room. Namgay’s husband, Phub Gaytshey, is a lay monk, and the room’s walls are covered in
elaborate paintings that pulsate with colour. One complete wall is taken up with a deep altar which Phub attends carefully each morning.
After Phub demonstrates his ritual of offering tea, incense, water and three prostrations to the altar, the two little girls show me their new three-day-old calf, safe
in a manger attached to the kitchen, and we pop a few arrows: archery is Bhutan’s national sport, and their obsession is comparable to, say, the AFL or English league.
We clamber in the 4WD to slip and slide up the muddy driveway, waving to the family. There is no word for ‘goodbye’ in Dzongkha, only ‘see you again’.

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