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Droughts over: buyers to go on banana bender

The banana drought appears to be on the verge of breaking, with tens of thousands of cartons arriving on the market from Australia’s north. Five months after Cyclone Larry wiped out most of Queensland’s banana crop fruit growers an wholesalers are say the state is again beginning to dominate banana production. The arrival of thousands of Queensland bananas means prices could drop to $7 or $8 a kilo over the next two months and as low as $3 a kilo by January.

The Sun-Herald (Sydney) August 27

Sour taste to mall eatery

Adelaide City Council is both divided and under fire amid fears it will lose money on a new restaurant in Rundle Mall. Critics want to know how council's closed-session moves to spend $350,000 on a 60-seat restaurant were made - resurrecting memories of the council's involvement in the spectacular failure of the Round the Square restaurant in Victoria Square. Lord Mayor Michael Harbison's dogged persistence to see the project through has created rifts in a Rundle Mall advisory board, with one member resigning in disgust this week. But Mr Harbison - who has publicly championed restaurants in Rundle Mall - has rejected the criticism saying the council had done ''extensive research'' on the proposal and had selected an experienced operator. The council this week began construction at the western end of the mall on a seven-day alfresco restaurant that will be leased and operated by Glenelg Oyster Bar owners Jason Bernardi and Eddie Taylor. Sunday Mail (Adelaide) August 27.

Luxury option for aged care

An Australian-first $90m development aimed at the over-70 age group will be unveiled this Saturday. Stage one of Ashbrook - South Australia's largest aged living apartment development - is being promoted as ''cutting-edge aged accommodation''. People own their own apartment in the complex, but have access to its health care professionals as well as life's little luxuries such as a restaurant, rooftop al fresco dining, private cinema and sports bar. The Ashbrook offers pay-as-you-go services for everything from meals, housekeeping, medical, personal care to chaperone and handyman services. Sunday Mail (Adelaide) August 27.

Hotels stub out smoking

That sinking feeling non-smokers experience when they're hit by the odour of stale tobacco smoke in their hotel room is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. More and more hotels are increasing the number of non-smoking rooms in their properties, or banning smoking altogether. Westin hotels and resorts in our region have joined the chain's 77 North American hotels, which in January introduced a smoke-free policy that includes all rooms and public areas. Specially designated outdoor areas have been set aside for smokers. Westin studies had shown that 95 per cent of its guests in Australia requested non-smoking rooms and didn't smoke anywhere in hotels, including public areas.The world-wide chain Accor has no global policy on smoking, yet five of its Novotel properties in Australia are already smoke-free. When Ibis, another member of the Accor family, went smoke-free in Europe this year, it realised the decision meant more than simply announcing a change of policy. The Sebel Pier One Sydney has become smoke-free, although a few of its rooms have access to the pier, where smoking is permitted. Marriott is reviewing its policy on smoking. In the meantime, only three of the Marriott Brisbane's 27 floors are set aside for smokers and smoking is banned in public areas. At the Marriott Surfers Paradise, it's six smoking floors out of 26, but smoking is allowed on the lobby terrace. Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) August 27.

Steer way to heaven for Japan's top meat

They graze on the best pasture, breathe the cleanest air on earth and have several pristine private beaches for a spot of paddling. They are wagyu beef—Japan's natural living treasure—but it's Tasmania where they live like emperors. Since 1992 brothers Keith and John Hammond have been breeding the rare and highly sought-after cattle on their property at Montagu, 18km from Smithton. The property includes Tasmania's largest freehold island, Robbins Island, which during the 1930s had a permanent population of 70. Today it is reserved for the wagyu cattle, who spend most of their life in an island paradise where, apart from each other, there are only birds, wallabies and the occasional extremely healthy Tasmanian devil to bother them. In Japan, where all of the Hammonds' herd ends up, the wagyu's light red meat with its distinctive veins of white fat marbling can fetch $500 a kilo. Sunday Tasmanian, August 27.

Learning curve for winners

Over the next 12 months, eight young Tasmanian chefs and senior apprentices will spend a month working in the kitchens at Tetsuya's in Sydney. As Brand Tasmania's ambassador, Tetsuya Wakuda will generously provide each with free accommodation and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of seeing how one of the world's top restaurants runs. They will also get hands-on experience in helping to produce the restaurant's acclaimed food. The lucky participants were announced last week at Brand Tasmania's and Australian Gourmet Traveller's launch of Tetsuya's Taste of Tasmania DVD at Coal Valley Vineyard. They are: David Flukes, apprentice at Moorilla Estate; Scott Walker, apprentice at Glo Glo's; Iain Todd, chef at the Henry Jones Art Hotel; Richard Hensens, chef at the Republic Bar; Patrick Weeks, apprentice at Angasi Restaurant; William Elvey, chef, ex-Lebrina; Scott Heffernan, apprentice at Fritto Misto and Elizabeth Williams, apprentice at Lipscombe Larder. Sunday Tasmanian, August 27.

Contemporary shiraz gets the nod; Here's cheers to the best drop in the state

South Australia just can't take its eyes off the shiraz grape. Not only did the variety make up close to a quarter of all entrants in the 2006 Hyatt/Advertiser Wine of the Year Awards, McLaren Vale's Fox Creek 2004 Reserve Shiraz was last night named the wine of the year. It was a clear winner with two separate panels of judges—one made up of highly regarded industry professionals and the other comprising consumers without any wine industry experience—voting it the best wine of the show. Fox Creek winemakers Chris Dix and Scott Zrna collected the trophy for their winning drop last night at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in front of a capacity audience celebrating the award's 20th anniversary. The Advertiser (Adelaide) August 26.

Pubs fired up on smoking clamp

Regional pubs and clubs have been hit hardest by new anti-smoking laws, with some recording a downturn in customer numbers. But clubs in metropolitan areas have seen their food revenue increase, as more non-smoking patrons return. Geoff Parker, the acting chief executive officer of Clubs Queensland, which represents 95 per cent of licensed clubs in the state, said regional and remote areas were the hardest hit by the laws. Some of the clubs in regional areas had a higher proportion of smokers than those in metropolitan areas. But there were indications some people who had stayed away from pubs and clubs were returning after the changes to smoking regulations. The Courier Mail (Brisbane) August 26.

Huge liquid gold minesProfits on tap for canny players today's pubs

The champagne glasses clinked and images of models in swimsuits flashed on large screens this week as about 2000 people toasted Brisbane's latest hotel venture—a $5m renovation of an old pub at South Bank now known as The Fox. Previously The Terminus Hotel, the leasehold on The Fox has been acquired by youthful businessmen Paul Johnston and Austin Ward, both in their 30s. The pair also own the Willow Hotel at Moorooka, a greenfield freehold site acquired about three years ago and the leasehold on Tingalpa Hotel, bought from Coles Myer. Johnston has no qualms about their latest spending spree, arguing the market has never looked healthier. ''I think the industry has a lot of legs, the market now being 50 per cent controlled by Woolworths and Coles.' While spending such a large sum on renovating a leasehold property, analysts and publicans point out that today pubs are huge money spinners offering massive returns. The Courier Mail (Brisbane) August 26.

Chicago ban shifts threatened foie gras to restaurants' free list

FOIE gras, that delicacy much cherished by gourmands, is facing a fight for its status in sophisticated kitchens after Chicago this week became another city to ban it. Yes, ban it, meaning it can no longer be sold anywhere in the city, although it is, apparently, still legal to eat it. The ban follows a similar moratorium in California on the meltingly rich and fatty liver that is produced by force-feeding geese and ducks. According to Chicago alderman Joe Moore, who sponsored the ordinance: ''Our city is better for taking a stance against the cruelty of foie gras.'' Predictably, the restaurant community in the great prohibition city is in uproar over the new rules, with many chefs throwing serious foie gras feasts this week to mourn their loss. Weekend Australian, August 26.


 

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