A Russian influencer has apologised after posing naked on top of an endangered elephant in Bali for Instagram likes.
Alesya Kafelnikova, 22, who is the daughter of Russian tennis great Yevgeny Kafelnikov, shared the video last week with her 541,000 followers, with the caption “natural vibes”.
In another post, Kafelnikova posted a picture with the elephant telling her followers that “to love nature is human nature”.
While some followers posted comments such as “for the first time ever, I want to be an elephant”, others were furious.
One fumed on Instagram: “Poor elephant. Aren’t you ashamed to lie naked on an elephant? This is a living creature. Money overshadows everything.”
Another condemned the photo shoot as a “violation” against the animal.
But while Kafelnikova said she was sorry for causing offence, she also claimed her critics mistakenly saw “vulgarity” in “wonderful beauty”.
In a new post, the Russian tried to justify the nude escapade, saying she had made a donation to animals and locals in the Balinese village where she did the shoot.
“It is a pity that people see this as vulgarity, and not as beauty and love for nature,” she said.
“I love animals, I love elephants.
“And I love Bali so, so much.”
Kafelnikova called on her critics to “awaken” in themselves “an aesthetic love for my post and the beauty”.
She wrote in English: “I didn’t have a purpose to hurt the feelings of local people at all.
“We love Balinese culture and respect Indonesian rules.”
But she realised she needed to apologise in the wake of the anger over her pictures, and posted: “Please, sorry if you see something else in this.”
“My intention with these pictures was to show you that I love and respect animals and especially elephants more than anything,” she said.
“I would wish that all those who are so negative will awaken an aesthetic love for my post and you will see the wonderful beauty in it.”
Bali Tourism Agency Chief Putu Astawa criticised the tourist.
He said her shoot, which included a video clip, “surely does not meet the norms that we are promoting as part of tourism in Bali”.
Kafelnikova’s Grand Slam-winning tennis star father has not commented so far.
A spokesperson from the charity Save the Asian Elephants told the SunOnline: “Yet another tragic trivialisation of the majestic Asian elephant when the species is fighting for its very existence against brutal abuse in tourism and human ‘entertainment’.
“Save The Asian Elephants stands for a ban by law on the advertising and sale of unethical venues where these special creatures are commercialised with beating, stabbing and every kind of torture to break them for easy commercial exploitation – genuine sanctuaries only.”
In 2012 the Sumatran elephant was changed from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ by the WWF due to deforestation and the degradation of its natural habitat.
Despite Kafelnikova posing on a Sumatran elephant in Bali, where she currently lives, the animal is not native to the Indonesian island. Instead they are kept captive to serve the tourism industry.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
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A road trip to Currumbin Valley, the hidden jewel in the Gold Coast Hinterland, is the quintessential country drive, and one of those trips where the journey is as exciting as the destination.
Heading out on Currumbin Creek Rd from Currumbin Beach, in less than 10 minutes you’ll experience a ‘Through the Looking Glass’ moment as the beautiful beaches of Currumbin and the canals of Currumbin Waters give way to rolling green countryside. Take the time to explore and you’ll find waterfalls, bubbling streams, rock pools, grazing kangaroos, rustic cafes, markets and stunning luxury retreats.
There are so many stops that you’ll want to make along the way and one of these is the famous Currumbin Rock Pools – an iconic beauty spot that for decades has been a drawcard for swimmers and day trippers. The stunning rock formation and cool clear waters are the perfect spot for a picnic or a dip before driving on.
Cougal Cascades are another highlight of any visit to the Currumbin Valley – in the far inland reaches of the valley is this picture perfect rainforest waterfall which is reached via an easy short creekside trail. The path takes you along the bubbling crystal clear waters of Currumbin Creek, past more swimming holes and the remains of an historic logging mill.
Part of the fun is simply driving along the winding country road that is Currumbin Creek Rd, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the sights. Hemmed by creeks and streams on each side, the road passes by fields of grazing kangaroos and groves of lush rainforest and rolling green hills dotted with barns, farms and rambling estates.
A couple of farms along the way are open to the public on weekends to buy produce, including Currumbin Valley Harvest, a biodynamic farm where you’ll find premium grade fruit, vegetables, herbs and organic coffee. There’s also Freeman’s Organic Farm (a family farm since 1915) providing fresh seasonal produce including avocados, paw paws, custard apples, mangoes and award-winning bananas. On weekends and Mondays, you can also enjoy a coffee and delicious snacks at the cafe at Arthur Freeman Lookout. Take a seat on the lawn, bask in the sun and drink in the rich views of the valley below.
Currumbin Valley is also known for The Ecovillage at Currumbin, an international award-winning sustainable community set on 270 acres, just 7 minutes’ drive from Currumbin Beach. Hundreds of native animals share the site with residents, including some 65 kangaroos, some of whom can be regularly seen grazing by the roadside. Visitors are welcome to visit the eco village’s Pasture and Co cafe, the perfect place for a leisurely brunch made from fresh, local ingredients.
There’s no better place for a relaxing stay than Currumbin Valley, with the best of both worlds – beaches and picturesque countryside – on your doorstep. A Perfect Stay is one option, that lives up to its name, boasting luxury eco cabins with bespoke outdoor baths. Or go for the full relaxation package and rejuvenate at the famous Eden Health Retreat, Australia’s longest running luxury health retreat, nestled in 400 acres of lush rainforest.
Hidden away on the road back to Currumbin beach, just past Currumbin Waters, is Balter Brewing, a local secret that makes for the perfect end to a day in the Valley. Don’t be deceived by the plain unassuming exterior of this popular Gold Coast craft brewery, for inside you’ll find a funky warehouse style space adorned with street art and filled with locals who come here for the excellent food and premise-brewed beer.
This feature was produced in partnership with our friends at Destination Gold Coast.
For more great things to do and see in Currumbin Valley and the rest of the Gold Coast, visit Destination Gold Coast HERE.
Thank you for spending time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed seeing this post on “What’s On in the City of Brisbane” named “Road Trip through Currumbin Valley”. This news article was brought to you by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our QLD holiday news services.
From mega rock festivals, wine tastings and a BBQ & Beer roadshow to a hot new Italian bar and a unique Gold Coast day trip, some top things to do this weekend:
Trip the Switch
Join some of Australia’s most iconic rock stars for an unforgettable day of high octane rock’n’roll at Willowbank Raceway
Vintopia – Welcome to the Valley
Take a trip around the famous wine valleys of the world at Cloudland’s Welcome to the Valley Vintopia tasting session
The BBQ & Beer Roadshow
The BBQ & Beer Roadshow is rolling into Warwick for two barbecue and beer-fuelled days on this Sat & Sun, and there’s camping available
2020 Archibald Prize Tour
Don’t miss the 2020 Archibald Prize now on tour at the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre
RAVE is a pulse-pounding cinema experience at GOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque, that explores rave counterculture
Summer Wedding Showcase
A fabulous showcase of the best wedding venues the Sunshine Coast Hinterland region has to offer
An exhibition by one of Australia’s most colourful, collectible and controversial artists is showing in Brisbane
MUST DO COMING UP
World Science Festival Brisbane 2021
World Science Festival returns to Brisbane bigger than ever, taking science to the extreme for 5 days in March
Brisbane Ballet returns in March with the stunning contemporary dance piece, Dichotomy
City of Science
Brisbane will be the City of Science this March with a free 5 day science extravaganza, part of the World Science Festival
Beyond the Sand Arts Festival
Surfers Paradise is transformed into a captivating beachfront gallery of colour, movement & music across 9 days and nights
Two Man Tarantino
After leaving audiences rolling in the aisles, the 2018 smash hit comedy play returns to Brisbane for a strictly limited season
World Science Festival Brisbane 2021 Events
Queensland Museum will be the beating heart of World Science Festival Brisbane when it takes over the city in March
Women in Walrus
A unique and fun celebration of International Women’s Day at The Walrus Club, Regatta Hotel’s speakeasy bar
Aerospace Experience Day 2021
Aviation High is hosting its annual Aerospace Experience Day on Saturday, March 6 with rocket launching & more
WHAT WE LOVED THIS WEEK
Best Things to do in Tugun
Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic relaxed beach holiday or some adrenaline-packed adventure, Tugun has it all
Victoria Park Bistro
Victoria Park Bistro serves breakfast that’s as impressive as its spectacular views, in a charming alfresco setting
Mario’s Aperitif Bar & Restaurant
This charming little Italian bar and diner serves the some of the most creative and delectable Italian food
Trevallan Lifestyle Centre
A gorgeous green oasis, part nursery, part homewares and lifestyle store, tucked away in a suburb of Ipswich,
The Foxes Lair
The Foxes Lair in Wooloowin is a triple treat – coffee, plants and vintage – housed in a 100-year-old corner shop
An old Queenslander has been given a new lease of life with the opening of Namu, a cosy child & dog-friendly cafe in Lutwyche
BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park
This family and pooch-friendly holiday park is like staying in a fun-filled adventure park
Family Adventure by JW Marriott
Embark on an enriching & luxurious family adventure with JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
Cedar Creek Lodges
This stylish bush retreat can be found nestled within a world of adventure and surrounded by natural beauty
Thank you for visiting My Local Pages and checking out this story involving “What’s On in the City of Brisbane” named “This Weekend Feb 26-28”. This news update was shared by MyLocalPages as part of our local events & news services.
The design of the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre has been unveiled, after the public was encouraged to vote for their favorite. The successful design, a whale-shaped building, will be partially submerged in the sea and located two hours south of Perth.
The center aims to be Australia’s largest natural marine observatory, and will be situated at the end of Busselton Jetty, 2km out at sea. The underwater discovery center will come complete with an underwater trail and dining, and should give visitors a thrilling view of life below the sea’s surface. Construction is expected to begin in 2021, with the center open by December 2022.
There were two other designs in contention for the $30 million center, aside from the ultimately victorious Cetacean design, which reflects the shape of a whale raising its head over Geographe Bay. The Rock was inspired in shape and colour by Castle Rock in western Australia, and the Voyage mimics the silhouette and lines of a ship moored against the pier. Baca Architects are the lead architects on the project.
The interior of the center has openings that act as the eyes of the whale in order for visitors to see beneath the water. They will be guided through art galleries and exhibition spaces on the way to the large observatory floor. “This is as authentic as it gets, because people are in the tank and the fish are looking in,” says Busselton Jetty chairman, Barry House. “By adding underwater dining, underwater sculptures, marine art and other features, this project will enhance Busselton Jetty’s 155-year-old experience.”
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Thank you for checking this news article regarding travel titled “Australia’s whale-shaped underwater marine observatory will rise from the ocean”. This news release was posted by My Local Pages as part of our national holiday news services.
One bite, and everything changes. One mere morsel of food. One tiny portion of a meal, and all of a sudden your world is turned upside down, your idea of what is good and bad, your opinion of what is delicious and what is inedible, your entire notion of life and what it can be – everything changes.
This is the beauty of food and the glory of travelling to enjoy it. Food is transformative. It’s alchemical. It should be something so simple, the combination of a few products and ingredients handed to you on a plate, and yet it’s so much more than that. It’s such a vital display of identity, such an important representation of culture, of history, of passion and of skill.
So many of us can track our travels by the dishes we’ve eaten and the places in which they were consumed. Food becomes memory so cherished and real: that first crackle of a French baguette smothered in demi-sel butter; that first sip of broth from a bowl of Saigon pho; that salty, fatty, cheesy slip of pasta at a Roman trattoria. Spectacular experiences. Otherworldly joys.
Food, when you travel, can be so many things to so many people. It can be disappointing, of course. It can be challenging. It can even be disgusting. But then it can be tasty. It can be fulfilling. It can be mind-boggling. And on occasion – on a beautiful, memorable, rare occasion – it can be life-changing.
These are the meals and the moments that the Traveller team is celebrating today: the times when food has surpassed its function as mere sustenance or even as experience and caused our writers to rethink everything they know, to see not just cuisine but the world as a whole in a different light. For some that has been the product of a deceptively simple meal; for others it’s been a journey to modern gastronomy’s outer limits. What links those experiences is the shock, the wonder, the revelation. One bite, one morsel, one meal – and everything changes.
– Ben Groundwater
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Dinner among the food shelves at Roscioli in Rome
When in Rome, I tend to do as the Romans do. I go to Roscioli for spaghetti alla carbonara, the most Roman of pasta dishes, in the most Roman of restaurants. Except it isn’t really a restaurant, and that’s what changed me.
Roscioli has always reinvented itself, beginning as a traditional Roman bakery opened by Marco Roscioli in 1972, at the suggestion of his entrepreneurial uncle, Franco. The Antico Forno Roscioli in via dei Chiavari was built on the site of a bakery dating back to 1824, and the tiny store grew and grew, as if powered by yeast. By 1993, Roscioli also opened a salumeria and grocery store nearby that sourced the finest produce from all over Italy.
It didn’t take long for local shoppers to beg for some of the mortadella or provolone to be sliced and stuffed into a panini, and maybe for a glass of wine to go with it. In 2002, Marco’s sons, Pierluigi and Alessandro, added a tiny basement kitchen and wine cellar to the deli, and squeezed a few small tables and chairs into the shop. A new Roman tradition was born.
I was walking past one fine day soon after, and stopped to peer in to this magical place, its walls lined with giant tins of salted anchovies, whole wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano and dozens of bottles of fine Italian wine, with tables taking almost all the available space. My laughable Italian got me a table for dinner, squeezed up against the refrigerated glass deli counter under hanging legs of prosciutto di San Daniele. It changed the game for me.
Why? The carbonara. It was chewy, resilient, challenging. It was salty, rich and peppery. I’ve had good pasta before. I’ve even had great pasta. But this really felt like I was eating Rome. The spaghettoni (like thick spaghetti) was coated in an emulsion of sizzled guanciale (pork jowl) fat, aged pecorino and the yolks of rich, golden eggs from celebrated poultry producer, Paolo Parisi, under a shower of freshly ground Sarawak pepper. The flavour came in waves, and the al dente nature of the pasta forced me to slow down, chew every mouthful, take my time. It’s probably the first time I ever really understood the principles of the slow food movement.
That pasta became an instant benchmark against which all other pasta has been measured. It helped me understand that magic happens when tradition is not considered sacrosanct but built upon – respected and yet updated, like Rome itself. I am forever looking forward to going back to Roscioli to relive the moment. See salumeriaroscioli.com
Live baby eel at Mugaritz, Spain
It’s a trick. There’s no way this is what we think it is. They’ve used some sort of gel, I tell my partner, to make the eel look as if it’s still moving. It’s meant to play with our perceptions. It’s supposed to mess with our minds.
The dish is placed in front of us with no comment or explanation. It isn’t even a dish, in fact, just a folded napkin upon which sits a perfect sphere of clear liquid, a bubble twice the size of a 50-cent piece. Inside that bubble is a single elver, a baby eel, a delicacy here in the Basque Country when it’s sauteed with olive oil and garlic. But this one seems to be moving.
My partner spies a waiter hovering nearby. “Is this alive?”
He just nods a “Yes.” We let that news settle over us as we stare at our “plates”. The eel inside is alive. We’re expected to eat it. Now.
The restaurant is Mugaritz, an avant-garde eatery in the mountains above San Sebastian. Its chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz, is known for pushing boundaries, for leading his diners on thrilling journeys through texture, aroma and taste.
This is not supposed to be just another delicious meal. You can have one of those anywhere in the Basque Country. Food at Mugaritz is adventure and experience, it’s gastronomy in all its glory, experimental and esoteric and wild. It challenges you. It tests you. And there’s nothing as testing as the live baby eel encased in seawater. We find out later that the dish is simply called “Origins”. No kidding. It looks like the very beginning of every life. It is a life. It is alive.
This is Aduriz talking to us, challenging us. When you choose to eat an animal, he’s saying, you take its life. So, here is an animal. Take its life. Maybe you’re not OK with that. But then, why were you OK with the last dish of steamed grouper? Why are you OK with the plastic packets of chicken breasts you pick off the supermarket shelf at every week? This is the reality of eating. This is what you do.
This single dish has changed my life. It’s changed the way I think about food, changed the consideration I have for eating meat, for taking life. I still do it, but I’m conscious of it. I think more about what’s on my plate and where it came from. I make decisions based on that.
There is a trick to Origins, and the message it sends. The elver, though, is real. It’s alive. I lift up the napkin and pop the sphere in my mouth and chew as the seawater explodes and the eel crunches and my partner and I stare at each other wide-eyed, having reached the zenith of a white-knuckle gastronomic ride.
Eight ingredients or less at Uri Buri in Acre, northern Israel
I like to think I know by now that when it comes to food, appearances can be deceiving. But then here I am in the magnificently dilapidated port city of Acre (Akko) in northern Israel, in a seafood restaurant called Uri Buri that I’ve heard people raving about across the country, looking down at my plate and getting, well, judgy.
A dozen slices of kingfish, swimming in a mix of olive oil, lime and garlic, topped with shaved onion. This, so said the ravers, is supposed to change my life? I look across at my host, chef-owner Uri Jeremias, whose spectacular waist-length white beard is outdone only by his spectacular round belly, and he nods his encouragement. So, I taste and, basically, my mouth explodes.
Here’s the thing about Jeremias. He isn’t a trained chef, just a guy with a deep love of the ocean and food, who taught himself to cook back in 1989 when he opened this restaurant. The result is the minimalist cooking style that has made Uri Buri such a success, and a menu full of fresh, unpretentious dishes.
There’s salmon sashimi sitting simply in soy sauce, topped with a dollop of wasabi gelato, that hasn’t left the menu for 20 years. There’s an elegant fish soup made with amberjack, coconut milk, curry, lime and ginger, followed by a plate of melt-in-your-mouth anchovies, perfection with a glass of chenin blanc from the nearby Golan Heights region.
“I have two cooking rules,” says Jeremias while I stuff my face. “The first is buy the best ingredients, the second is don’t spoil them … I never use more than eight ingredients in any dish.”
And that’s it. My whole concept of what defines a good meal, changed forever. Focus on quality produce, work some miracles with olive oil, garlic, chilli and lime, and food will always taste this fantastic. Well, maybe if you live somewhere like Acre, one of the oldest continually inhabited places on Earth, where Jeremias buys his fish direct from the wizened fishermen by the seaside each morning and everything else from the local market, which sources its produce from the abundant small farms this region is known for.
My meal ends with Uri Buri’s famous OMG, a trio of orange, mandarin and grapefruit (get it?) sorbets, made from organic fruit from Jeremias’ daughter’s garden, topped with a splosh of olive oil. It’s a sensation.
Luckily, I only have to roll a few hundred metres down the road to the Efendi Boutique Hotel afterwards, an opulent 12-room hotel that merges two restored Ottoman-era palaces, also created and owned by Jeremias. Too full for bed, I head up to the rooftop terrace and, looking out over the crowns of the city’s mosques and synagogues to the sea, vow never to let appearances deceive me again. See efendi-hotel.co.il
A nameless neighbourhood trattoria, Sicily
I find the restaurant quite by accident, down a side street near the cathedral. It has no sign – that would attract the attention of Marsala’s tax collectors – but the owner is hovering outside. For €8, he says, I can have a set menu, including mineral water and local wine. “And no service charge either,” he adds. He’s a thin man with a neat moustache and relaxed manner that suggests he doesn’t much mind whether I eat here or not.
Eight euros? I shrug off my hesitation when I peer inside and see local businessmen, jackets off and ties loosened, reading pink sports pages and rumbling about politics. The walls are panelled in pine. Chequered tablecloths cover rough trestles.
I’m offered a small plate of antipasti: fat crunchy olives, good salami, dry grana cheese. The olives are the enormous southern-Italian Bella di Cerignola variety, cured in ash and magnificently blue-green. The cheese is hard, with a nutty flavour well matched to the semolina bread from a basket.
“This bread is the best made in town,” says the trattoria owner in unexpected English, blushing into his moustache. He pours me a glassful of amber-dark marsala, twisting the neck of the bottle when finished so none of it drips. The fortified wine is a bit sweet but, at this price point, passably pleasant.
After I’ve polished off the last olive I’m served spaghetti with a strong, rich tomato sauce flecked with pink fingernail-sized prawns hauled out of the sea that morning. The secondi is superb: lightly fried squid in batter, so tender it dissolves in my mouth, and dribbled with fresh lemon juice. My dessert is a mini-cassata decorated with marzipan, icing, lurid quarters of preserved fruit and a glace cherry.
I recall this meal again and again in the decades that follow, after every overhyped Michelin-starred meal and overpriced, Instagram-conscious dish; in every posh restaurant from Barcelona to Bergen. It has been a constant reminder that cheap food can be great food, and that unknown back-alley restaurants can provide lovely dining experiences.
Marsala sits amid red earth and prickly pears on Sicily’s sun-beaten western coast. It’s a no-nonsense place of baroque buildings and cobwebby wine warehouses bathed in blinding North African light. It has an inconsequential loveliness, and so does my meal. I slump in the heat, in the trattoria’s shadows, listening to the kitchen’s clatter and inhaling the aromas of tomato sauce and lemon.
This simple meal has forever put Marsala on my mental map. Ever since, I’ve always sought out bargain local eateries, and mostly been satisfied. Places with no awards, no likes and no hype, but dishing up delight. See visitsicily.info
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Shortly after being seated in Highlands Bar & Grill, our server, Justin, swaps our white napkins for black ones. It’s a small gesture, executed wordlessly, but it speaks volumes about the restaurant’s attention to detail. The reason for the change? My dining companion and I are both wearing dark outfits and the black napkins are a better match.
Frank Stitt was just 28 years old when he opened Highlands Bar & Grill in 1982 on a rundown street in Birmingham, Alabama. His aim was to utilise the finest local ingredients and apply the cooking techniques he’d learnt in the south of France to his native Southern cuisine.
It’s an approach that hasn’t wavered in almost four decades. Although the menu changes daily to showcase the best seasonal produce, there are several dishes that are so popular Stitt daren’t remove them. One such stalwart is the stone-baked grits, an often-bland Southern staple that’s been transformed into a cloud-like pillow of cheesy perfection. Doused in a rich, buttery sauce with wild mushrooms and country ham, it’s one of the most divine things I’ve ever tasted.
The menu is brief – just nine appetisers and eight mains – but Justin’s descriptions of each dish are so detailed and evocative, I want to order everything.
The only dinner reservation we can secure is when the restaurant opens at 5.30pm. But already it’s brimming with a well-heeled crowd of tourists and locals. The atmosphere is upscale without being formal – think white tablecloths, dark wood panelling and vintage French prints. Contemporary music plays in the background while patrons at a marble-topped bar eat oysters while watching an NFL game on a small TV.
What made this meal life-changing? Well, for a start it was an experience that actually lived up to the hype. Four months before my visit, Highlands was named America’s most Outstanding Restaurant in the prestigious James Beard Awards. And this was no fluke – it had already been a finalist nine times. Its pastry chef, Dolester Miles, was named the best in the country, too.
So often these awards are bestowed on pretentious, flash-in-the-pan outfits that are more style over substance. Highlands earned this accolade through hard work and perseverance and by relentlessly obsessing over quality and service. There is something life-affirming about these old-fashioned virtues being rewarded, particularly when they’re accompanied by a refreshing dose of humility. When I ask Justin why such a prestigious award isn’t mentioned on the menu or alluded to by the staff, he simply replies: “If you don’t bring it up, we don’t bring it up.” See highlandsbarandgrill.com
Breakfast in Iran
Other people might look at the table and see breakfast. I see riches beyond measuring. There are bowls of feta cheese, watermelon, walnuts, and cucumber. There are jams in a profusion of flavours: sour cherry, fig, peach, carrot. There are soft omelettes with fresh tomatoes, and rich lentil soups. And above all, there is bread: large round loaves, flatbread with its edges pleasantly singed, and longer, chewier loaves.
I haven’t seen such bounty in months. Before arriving in Iran late last night, I had spent months travelling through the Middle East. I wandered through medieval souks and formidable desert castles, explored Roman ruins and hiked rolling hills. And I have eaten falafel – more falafel than is entirely reasonable. It feels as if every meal I have eaten on this trip has consisted of some combination of falafel, hummus, tabbouleh and pita bread, with skewered meats making an occasional thrilling appearance.
My first Iranian breakfast, simple as it is, announces the truth as unmistakeably as a fanfare of trumpets: last night, I didn’t just cross a political border. I also crossed a culinary frontier. No more subsistence dining: things are about to get interesting.
As we criss-cross the country over the next few weeks, every meal brings new revelation: the delights of duck fesanjan, an intoxicating mix of walnut and pomegranate; the tang of gormeh sabzi, a sour, herb-filled stew; and above all else, the just-one-more-spoonful seduction of tahdig, crunchy rice that has deliberately been allowed to crust onto the bottom of the pot. (The only thing better than tahdig is potato tahdig, when sliced potatoes are slipped underneath the rice to create an irresistable carb-laden classic.)
I’ve eaten delicious food before, of course, and analysed recipes to understand how ingredients work together. But as I eat my way through Iran, for the first time I start think about how every meal you eat comes with an invisible side serve of geography and history.
The diverse landscapes we are travelling across are reflected in things we eat, from the shores of the Caspian Sea, where we feast on smoked fish and the last of the season’s caviar, to hilltop hikes where we gaze down on the leafy orchards that supplied the fruit on which we’re snacking.
Even the long-vanished Persian empire has left its mark on the country’s cuisine. Persia’s emperors may have got the glory, but perhaps the most lasting imperial achievement came courtesy of the empire’s engineers. They are the ones who created the gravity-assisted irrigation systems that transformed once-arid areas of the country into fertile gardens. That makes the rich flavours of Iranian food – the pistachios and pomegranates, the oranges and mint – the empire’s most delicious legacy.
Lentil Soup In a medieval ghost town In Abruzzo
The soup was thick with lentils, chickpeas, barley and white beans; a nutty, earthy, wintry soup cooked by two elderly woman in floral aprons, and served in a tough, hollowed-out bread roll. It was winter, 2004, and I was hungry and cold, with shoes soaked through from snow. Every spoonful brought me back to life, infusing me with warmth and strength.
This was my introduction to the medieval town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, perched high on the panoramic mountain range of Abruzzo’s Gran Sasso National Park, an hour and half’s drive from the coastal town of Pescara. The solemn little village, with its tall, limestone houses, twisting, cobblestoned alleyways and circular fortress, dates back to the 11th century. Discovering it was like walking through a portal in time.
It was also my introduction to Swedish-Italian architect Daniele Kihlgren and his passion for saving this ancient hilltop town from falling into rubble. Since 2005, Kihlgren’s Sextantio foundation has been slowly and painstakingly buying abandoned buildings and restoring them using purely local and regional materials and crafts.
“Italy isn’t only the Coliseum, Venice and the Uffizi Gallery” says Kihlgren. “It’s a whole distinct world of traditions and sensations that is at risk of disappearing.”
It could so easily have been lost to the ravages of time. Once part of an estate belonging to the Medici family, Santo Stefano was a thriving township devoted to the production of carfagna, a coarse wool used for military uniforms and monks’ cowls. For thousands of years, shepherds moved their flocks from the mountain pastures down to the wide plains of Apulia in a rhythmic seasonal process known as transhumance. The inevitable march of progress led to the younger generations deserting the village to escape the poverty of rural life, and the population fell from 1500 people at the start of the 20th century, to around 50 today.
Thanks to Kihlgren, you can now stay in the exquisite Palazzo della Loggia, furnished with hand-crafted mattresses, blankets and antiques. You can also dine on lentil soup in the atmospheric Locanda Sotto Gli Archi, where original recipes are recreated using locally grown crops.
This tiny little village, and what it has become, taught me as a traveller to never take for granted the beauty that we find. I am now far more conscious of the commitment and passion that lies behind many of the wondrous sites we visit as tourists. So often, the tradition, the heritage or the natural beauty we seek, only exists because one (usually quite mad, often ridiculed) person is sufficiently obsessed with saving it, protecting it or restoring it. It’s fair to say I came home changed, with an overwhelming craving for lentil soup. See sextantio.it
MORE DRINKS AND DISHES – HONOURABLE MENTIONS
VINCISGRASSI, LE MARCHE
You grew up on lasagne – nice, creamy, comfort-food lasagne. Now it’s time to go next-level and step up to vincissgrassi ( vin-chiss-grarsy), a proudly regional dish from Italy’s mountainous Le Marche region, of pasta layered with creamy calves’ brains, chicken livers, wild mushrooms, prosciutto, white wine, and herbs. Once you’ve had it, you’ll look at lasagne and laugh.
CASSOULET, SOUTH-WEST FRANCE
To call cassoulet baked beans and sausages is to call Dom Perignon a nice little bubbly. This is the king of all stews, a hearty, rustic and yet sophisticated baked dish from the south-west of France that brings together white beans, sausage, and pork with duck or goose confit under a golden crust of breadcrumbs. Pass the red wine, please.
SHOYU RAMEN, JAPAN
This is Tokyo’s classic ramen-noodle dish, a soup made from chicken bones or dried fish, seasoned with soy sauce and then added to chewy noodles, fermented bamboo shoots, and a marinated boiled egg – sensational.
It doesn’t get much more simple or delicious than this: a bone-in rib-eye steak, cut as thick as your arm, doused with salt and then seared until it’s barely rare over open fire at an “asador” high in Spain’s Basque Country.
BANH MI, HOI AN, VIETNAM
This might just be the world’s best sandwich, a short, French-style bread roll smeared with pate and butter and filled with various pork products, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a secret chilli sauce that is the stuff of instant addiction.
Is there a greater joy than being able to dig into your food with your hands, to mixing up curries with rice, to scooping it up with bread, to adding chutneys, to crackling pappadums, to doing all this with the simplest eating tools imaginable? Surely not.
SOLE MEUNIERE, FRANCE
One of the often-unsung heroes of French cuisine, sole meuniere has an otherworldly greatness, the delicate meat of the fish perfectly balanced by the richness of lightly browned butter with lemon and parsley.
SCHNITZEL IN VIENNA
This dish might be considered a greasy pub filler, but the real deal has a succulent veal interior, crunchy coating and accompaniment of potato or cucumber salad that raises it to a simple but elegant meal fit for an emperor. See wien.info
NISHIMURAYA HONKAN, JAPAN
The winter snow-crab season in venerable hot-spring town Kinosaki Onsen is a must for gourmets. Stay at this ryokan and your kaiseki meal might include crab sashimi style, boiled, grilled and in a hotpot. See nishimuraya.ne.jp
MORE RESTAURANTS AND BARS – HONOURABLE MENTIONS
THE AMERICAN BAR, THE SAVOY HOTEL, LONDON
With its white-jacketed mixologists, black-and-white Chanel colour scheme and warm and clubby atmosphere, this is a bar – at nearly 130 years old, the oldest in London – in which you could move in and live on cocktails all year round. And as its legendary bartender, Harry Craddock, said in the 1930s, cocktails are “the finest appetisers around”. thesavoylondon.com
BAR DESY, SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN
This is the local bar of your dreams, a plain, unfashionable little joint in the San Sebastian suburbs where the food is excellent, the craft beer is top-notch and the welcome from the father-son team of Jose and Gorka Perez makes you feel instantly like part of the family.
UOSHIN, TOKYO, JAPAN
There’s nothing fancy about Uoshin, a seafood izakaya in Tokyo’s Ebisu neighbourhood – but that’s its attraction, the perfect demonstration of just how relaxed and enjoyable and yet incredibly tasty a Tokyo bar can be. See uoshins.com
ASADOR ETXEBARRI, AXPE, SPAIN
This Basque restaurant is no secret – it’s currently No. 3 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – but it’s well worth the trouble to secure a booking: the food here, each dish grilled over hot coals, and yet cooked with surprising delicacy and finesse, is cuisine at its absolute pinnacle. See asadoretxebarri.com
HARWOOD ARMS, LONDON, ENGLAND
England has extremely good food: allow that to sink in as you sit at the Harwood Arms, a “gastro-pub” in west London, and enjoy traditional fare that has been given a gentle nudge into greatness, expertly handled and perfectly presented. See harwoodarms.com
CORIANDER LEAF, SINGAPORE
Odd fusion cuisines are usually better for shock value than flavour, but this modest, mid-range restaurant proves otherwise. Pan-Asian influences range from Turkey and Iran through to India, Korea and Japan, and every dish is sensational. See corianderleaf.com
HIGH NOTE SKYBAR, ARIA HOTEL, BUDAPEST
Voted No. 1 hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017, this gorgeous music-themed property’s crowning glory is a stunning rooftop bar with gasp-inducing views of the city and St Stephen’s Basilica. See highnoteskybar.hu
CONNIE, TWA HOTEL, NEW YORK
The standout feature of JFK’s new TWA Hotel is Connie, an intimate ’60s-themed cocktail bar located in a refurbished 1958 TWA Lockheed Constellation Starliner. See twahotel.com
France’s first family of food has held three Michelin stars for more than 50 years, but everything about their restaurant, from the conceptual design to the fresh flavours on the plate, is ultra-contemporary. troisgros.com
DIRT CANDY, NEW YORK
Three cheers for chef Amanda Cohen. In addition to launching New York’s first vegie-based restaurant 12 years ago, she has abolished tips and curated a wine list consisting exclusively of female winemakers. See dirtcandynyc.com/
D.O.M., SAO PAULO
Long before everyone was a locavore, Brazilian chef Alex Atala’s showcased Amazonian ingredients – from heart of palm to ants – in ambitious degustation dinners at his Sao Paulo restaurant. See domrestaurante.com.br
LE COMPTOIR, PARIS
It’s the bistro of your dreams, as you sit inside or out on the street, elbow-to-elbow, with platters of terrines and cheeses by day, and an adventurous set menu at night. Former fine dining chef, Yves Camdeborde, is the poster boy for France’s “bistronomy”, with an aim to make traditional bistro cooking relevant to today. See hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com
SWAN OYSTER DEPOT, SAN FRANCISCO
For the past 74 years, three generations of the Sancimino family have been behind the marble counter of this gussied-up seafood diner, serving up local oysters and cracked Dungeness crab with sauce Louis, Anchor Steam beer and wise-guy humour. The counter, however, is short, and the queue is long. Visit 1517 Polk Street, San Francisco.
THE LONG BAR, RAFFLES, SINGAPORE
The Long Bar does what a bar should do … transport you to another place. With its rattan ceiling fans and potted palms, this is a glimpse of old colonial Singapore. The Singapore Sling cocktail, first created here in 1915, is no longer as sweet as it was ( a good thing), but you’re really here for the illicit pleasure of cracking open peanuts and strewing the shells on the floor. See raffles.com
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“I’m going to continue, at national cabinet, to press the issue of internal borders within Australia now that the vaccine rollout has started and (because) we‘ve seen no community transmissions in NSW for a serious (37 consecutive) number of days,” she told reporters at Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast.
“Even when do have (a case) we have managed it well. We should not shut down borders just because there are a few cases we might be worried about. That is no way to run our nation, internally.”
Domestic borders have reopened following various closures during the past few weeks. South Australia had banned travellers from Victoria during the Holiday Inn outbreak.
Western Australia only allowed travellers from NSW back in the state on February 16 for the first time since the outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches in December.
Ms Berejiklian warned that if a national approach was not adopted, the economic effects would be crippling.
“I understand the international borders (being shut), but I don‘t understand the internal borders,” she said.
“We need to start thinking about the future because we run the risk of being left behind.
“We (Australians) have done incredibly well on the health side, but we also need to do well on keeping the economy going, keeping jobs going because the rest of the world is opening up.
“We do need to think about how we treat each other as states. ”
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With more than 10,000 beaches around its shores, Australia leads the way when it comes to incredible sand and surf. Some beaches are playgrounds for marine and other wildlife, and the most beautiful beaches are so expansive or remote that you don’t have to fight for towel space. Here’s an at-a-glance – but by no means exhaustive – list of some of Australia’s top beaches, exceptional for their surfing, swimming, wildlife and beauty.
Editor’s note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.
Surfing and swimming
Many of Australia’s surfing beaches are great for both professional surfers and beginners.
Bells Beach – Victoria
Bells Beach is the spiritual centre of surfing and renowned for its epic swells. Bells is the top surfing beach for experienced surfers. However, it’s dangerous to swim here; for safer swimming conditions, head to the nearby surf beach at Torquay. Torquay itself is the longstanding capital of Australia’s surfing scene, original home to Rip Curl and it’s where you’ll find many outlets of top surf brands.
Byron Bay – New South Wales
Byron Bay used to be known for its beach hippy culture. These days, the town and surrounds are on the upmarket side, but you’ll still see plenty of dreadlocks, communal drumming collectives and waxheads (surfers). Byron’s beaches, including Tallow Beach, Watego’s and Main Beach, are great for swimming, surfing and windsurfing.
Noosa – Queensland
Noosa is a favourite, if popular spot. While surfers hit The Point – where longboards are particularly popular – swimmers can catch their share of decent waves on the main beach. After that, you can join the glitterati in one of the town’s chi-chi cafes. (Hot tip: for those who love getting their gear off for the all-over tan, Alexandria Bay in Noosa National Park is the area’s nudie spot. You won’t hear about it much; it’s the local “secret” and a short trek away. The surf’s pretty hot here, too).
Many Aussie beaches feature backdrops of bush and forest. This means wildlife is an added bonus to a sunbathing experience – eucalypts, koalas, kookaburras and other fauna and flora. Beaches in Northern and Western Australia in particular often feature their own fauna – think saltwater crocs and jellyfish – in which case, visits here may be seasonal; always check!
Rockingham Beach – Western Australia
An hour from Perth, the region hosts a group of around 150-plus bottlenose dolphins in its clear waters. Organised swimming tours depart from the Rockingham jetty (note: not all naturalists agree with this practice).
Bremer Bay – Western Australia
Bremer Bay about 180km (112mi) east of Albany, is a favourite spot for Southern right whales to calve (July to October). You can watch mothers and babies lolling in calm waters metres from the shore.
Clarkes Beach – Byron Bay, New South Wales
North-facing Clarkes (read sun aplenty) not only has a fabulous surfing break at The Pass nearby, but sea kayaking trips leave from here to paddle with dolphins. Whales sometimes make an appearance, too. Grab a surfer breakfast or lunch at the fabulous Byron Beach Café that’s wedged into the dunes behind.
Beauty and remoteness
When it comes to soft sand, bush backdrops or isolated hideaways, Australian beaches come up trumps.
Whitehaven Beach – Queensland
This pearl of remote – yet accessible – beaches hugs one of the deserted islands of the Whitsundays. Whitehaven is renowned for its squeaky, clean white sand. Boat, luxury yachts or ferry tours depart from all the Whitsunday Islands, including the mainland Airlie Beach.
Hyams Beach – New South Wales
Hyams Beach holds the honour in the Guinness Book of Records for comprising the whitest sand in the world. Located south of Sydney in the Jervis Bay area, it is by no means remote (it’s a popular destination for cashed-up Sydneysiders), but is one of the most stunning stretches around.
Squeaky Beach – Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria
Squeaky Beach is named for obvious reasons. And – you guessed it – every step is accompanied by a high-pitch squeak. To get here, you head along a track through stunning bushland. Massive granite boulders frame the beach.
Cape Tribulation – Queensland
Cape Tribulation is surrounded by tropical rainforest and is the beach Paradise with a capital P, at least for the scenery. Beware: saltwater crocodiles also love this place, so check the season before you visit.
Sawyers Beach – Flinders Island, Tasmania
Located near the main village of Whitemark, this lesser-known favourite is as postcard-perfect as you can get: white sand, gin-clear water, pretty boulders to snorkel around, zero people… you get the picture.
Cable Beach – Broome, Western Australia
Cable Beach is world-renowned for its looooong stretch of sand and bathwater tub-style ocean temperatures. Sheer bliss.
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Andre and Edouard Michelin had a problem. The French brothers had opened a tyre manufacturing company in Clermont-Ferrand, but back in the late 1800s there were only about 3000 cars in France, and the pair needed to give the drivers of those cars a reason to use them – and a reason to need new tyres.
So they had an idea. They would distribute free guides for drivers, listing petrol stations, mechanics, hotels and – most importantly – restaurants along France’s most popular driving routes. And it worked. Those guides went on to become the famed Michelin restaurant guides, the Bibles for lovers of good food.
Though the Michelin guide has now morphed into a very different beast to Andre and Edouard’s original idea, it’s that sentiment that I want to hark back to here. Because Australians now have a reason to use their cars: we’re stuck on this island, and there has never been a better time for a road trip. Australians also love to eat, and a stopover at a classy restaurant to break up a long drive sounds like a very good thing indeed.
So here it is: the original Michelin guide, as applied to modern-day Australia. High-quality regional restaurants that require barely a detour. If you’re driving one of these popular routes, here’s where to dine. (Note: Some of these places are very popular, so plan your stop and book a table in advance)
If you’re driving… Sydney to Canberra
Chef Bee Satongun at Paste in Mittagong. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
It’s only a three-hour jaunt from Sydney to the capital, but it’s worth stopping over in Mittagong, about an hour and a half out of Sydney, to eat at Paste. This is one of Australia’s best Thai restaurants, where chef Bee Satongun (whose Bangkok iteration of Paste is listed as one of Asia’s 50 Best) is cooking up some seriously high-quality South-East Asian cuisine.
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If you’re driving… Sydney to Melbourne
The Sir George in Jugiong.
This drive will require several stops, so why not make them all about good food? Take your first break about 3.5 hours in at the Sir George in Jugiong, just two minutes off the highway. Here you’ll find classic pub atmosphere paired with “locavore” modern Australian cuisine. Your next stop is an overnighter in Beechworth to dine at Provenance, chef Michael Ryan’s two-hatted, Japanese-influenced eatery. There’s accommodation on site.
If you’re driving… Sydney to Eden
Rick Stein at Bannisters, Port Stephens. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers
Plenty of Sydneysiders are flocking to the South Coast this year, and with good reason. If you’re making the trek to the likes of Bermagui, Merimbula or Eden, make time for a lunch stop at Rick Stein at Bannisters, about three hours south of Sydney. Here, the well-known British chef is turning out a menu groaning under the weight of high-quality local seafood.
If you’re driving… Sydney to Dubbo
Lolli Redini, Orange Photo: Simonn Hawke
Heading west from Sydney? Take the chance to eat at Lolli Redini in Orange. These guys do dinner only, from Thursday to Saturday, which means you’ll have to stay over, but it’s worth the effort to sample Simonn Hawke’s Italian- and French-influenced fine-dining food.
If you’re driving… Melbourne to Port Fairy
Brae. Photo: COLIN PAGE
You can’t have a list of great regional restaurants without mentioning the greatest of them all, Brae in Birregurra. This is a perfect stop for those planning to do the Great Ocean Road in reverse, taking the inland route from Melbourne to Port Fairy before heading back along the coast. It’s only a brief foray off the Princes Highway to get to Brae, Dan Hunter’s three-hatted fine-diner. Simple. The hardest part of this whole experience will be securing a reservation.
If you’re driving… the Great Ocean Road
On the Great Ocean Road itself, begin with a sensational meal and a glass of wine at Merrijig in Port Fairy, and towards the end of your journey (or beginning), call into the Lorne Hotel to choose from hatted Melbourne transplants MoVida (on the first floor) or Coda up top.
If you’re driving… Melbourne to Lakes Entrance
Heading up the coast from Melbourne? Call in for lunch (from Wednesday to Sunday) at the Tinamba Hotel in Gippsland, about 2.5 hours out of the city. The cuisine here is pub food made fancy, and done extremely well. Your local probably doesn’t do a 20-hour slow-cooked Scotch fillet with potato galette – but it should.
If you’re driving… Melbourne to Mildura
Masons of Bendigo. Photo: Dianna Snape
Those making a northerly sojourn from the Victoria capital have the perfect place to take a break: Masons of Bendigo, well worth the quick detour into town. Masons does lunch Thursday to Saturday, and it’s the sort of seasonal, local cuisine you’ll wish you could have every weekend.
If you’re driving… Melbourne to Bendigo
If you’re only going as far as Bendigo, there’s still a chance to stop somewhere for lunch along the way. Try Source in Kyneton (open Thursday to Sunday), a cracking little bistro that has hung onto a coveted Good Food chef’s hat for six years now, and it’s very easy to see why.
If you’re driving… Brisbane to Sydney (New England Hwy)
The Tattersalls Hotel Armidale.
With borders between Queensland and NSW now gloriously – if shakily – open, it’s time for travellers to hit the road. And though the Pacific Highway is the fastest way from Brisbane to Sydney, the inland New England Highway does have its charms, including the chance to stop at Tattersalls in Armidale. This is world-class cuisine served in friendly surrounds, seven days a week. You want to stop here.
If you’re driving… Brisbane to Sydney (Pacific Hwy)
The regulation drive from Brisbane to Sydney will take you down the coast, where, about two hours down the highway you’ll have the chance to pull in to Fleet at Brunswick Heads. With tasting menus that go for a cool $130 a head at this two-hatted, 14-seater bar-cum-restaurant, a relaxed overnight stay will help ensure full enjoyment. Fleet is open Thursdays to Sundays.
If you’re driving… Brisbane to Hervey Bay
The Spirit House, Yandina.
The Bruce Highway going north from Brisbane is bound to be busy as Easter approaches, so why not exit at Yandina for a meal at Spirit House? This beautiful, one-hatted restaurant does three-course “prix fixe” meals for $95 per person, featuring the sort of Thai food that will make you realise just how impressively complex – and delicious – this cuisine can be.
If you’re driving… Mackay to Eungella
This is kind of a joke. The Mackay Eungella Road is not exactly Australia’s busiest thoroughfare. But it’s worth making an exception to mention The Flackyard, a sensational fine-dining restaurant in the town of Pinnacle, population 214, about 45 minutes outside Mackay. What former Vue de Monde chef Nik Flack is doing here is anyone’s guess, but there’s no doubt his eatery is destination dining.
What’s your favourite regional dining experience in Australia? Where do you stop off on your road trips? Where would you travel to just to eat?
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On Twitter, several Denver citizens have shared footage of debris falling from the sky. This included large portions of the plane’s metal skin and charred exterior.
Police in the Colorado city of Broomfield also reported scenes of “dropped debris in several neighbourhoods around 1.08pm”.
Extraordinary footage taken by Mike Brown, a passenger on the plane showed the right-hand side engine continuing to operate, with flames, smoke and debris spurting from the plane.
According to air traffic control communications obtained by CNN, the pilots issued a mayday call shortly after takeoff.
Broomfield resident Kieran Cain told CNN he heard a “big explosion” while playing with his children, before seeing “black smoke” in the sky.
“Debris started raining down, which you know, sort of looked like it was floating down and not very heavy, but actually now looking at it, it’s giant metal pieces all over the place,” he said.
“I was surprised that the plane sort of continued on uninterrupted, without really altering its trajectory or doing anything. It just kind of kept going the way it was going as if nothing happened.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have confirmed they will be investigating the incident.
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JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa offers a world of inspiration and exploration for young and multi-generational travellers with its new specially curated Family by JW program.
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