Osteria di Russo & Russo

On the surface Enmore looks like a old rundown street filled with take out stops. One fun fact is that behind some of these facades are a few restaurant gems, Osteria di Russo & Russo for one. The strange curtains and excessive plants hide the fine dining restaurant.

Food isn’t cheap but the service and atmosphere make up for it in spades. It is no wonder that it is a favourite amount foodies. A much covered secret and a place where people go to regularly because it is delicious and easy to frequent.

It does seem a bit of a stretch for an Italian restaurant, where the pizza or pasta section are noticeably missing. Not that you mind that much when the food is exquisite. The food is designed to share and you can pick your self or let the chef decide for you.

The native ingredients like crystal ice plants, riberries and native myrtle are unique. The balance of textures with crunchy toppings go perfectly with the puree. The creative team don’t lack any inspiration for updating the menu at a whim. The Italian wine was perfect and the sommelier and waitress advised us and got it right – nothing worse than a bad bootle of red.

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Local Burrata, Pumpkin, Candied Black Olive, Native Thyme, Crystal Ice Plant

 

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Char Grilled Market Fish, Cannellini Bean Puree, Roman Beans, Riberries, Coastal Greens, Native Lemon Myrtle

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Fresh Pasta, Prawn & Chervil Mousse, Fresh Peas, Prawn Reduction, Mustard Fruits, Prawn Head Pangritata

 

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Char Grilled Rangers Valley Rump Cap, Anchovy and Bread Sauce, Braised Tomato, Agrodolce Eshallots & Capers

 

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Zokoko 68% Chocolate Granita, Malt, Passion Berry, Honeycomb & Cocoa Nib

 

 

Address OSTERIA DI RUSSO & RUSSO 158 ENMORE ROAD, ENMORE they never answer the phone russoandrusso.net.au (book online in advance)

Open Tuesday – Sunday Dinner

Best Local Burrata

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The Press Club Awaits

Swinging along the streets of Melbourne and behind the golden gates unlocks the Press Club. It is George Calombaris’s fine dining establishment and had undergone a major transformation over its 10 years of existence. The ceiling is lined with gold organic shaped light fittings with light wood and leather booth seats. It was much smaller but cosier than what I had expected. Its got glamour with the runway decorated with shiney plates of glorious food. Luke Croston’s creations – that is. There isn’t really a reason to move, the waitresses tend to your every need and wonder if they would pick up my dry cleaning too.

The cocktail trolly is something from the 50’s and brought back from the past. They come in pre mixed bottles either the Ice Tea or Mastiha. One has bourbon, pico and peach liquor while the other comes with sour cherry ice along with cherry liqueur. The whole experience is innovative, where dishes integrate so well with each other. Subtle Greek influences with hummus drops but keeping the flavour pumping at each dish. The quality of food is something rear to find outside of top restaurants and even simple Salmon with fennel hits the spot. The masters grow the herbs upstairs on their roof and experiment with flavours in the kitchen below only popping up to greet the guests to receive a shy ‘thank you’. There is a book where you can leave a message for the chefs to read later and I genuinely feel that they want to get to know their diners on a personal level rather than just on a transaction – in typical Greek custom.

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Pork neck with carrot

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Atlantic Salmon with fennel

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Basil sorbet with roasted pineapple

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Haloumi with peach

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Address 72 Flindlers St, Melbourne 03 9677 9677 thepressclub.com.au

Open Dinner Monday to Saturday and Lunch Monday to Saturday

Best Roasted pork neck with carrots

TRAVEL PACKING CHECK LIST

Its a little daunting when your big holiday that you have been looking forward to for a almost a year is a few weeks away. Panic often sets in with all the things that you need to get organised before you board the plane.

My golden rule is that if you have these three things you can get by with anything. So if you are running out of your door and you have nothing but your travel visa, then all you need is this.

  1. PASSPORT

  2. PHONE

  3. WALLET

When I travelled through India I failed on all three accounts several times. Leaving my wallet at home and almost missing my flight when going back home to get it. While about to leave the country and forgetting my phone accidentally on the hotel charger all meant a lot of stress. Planning better and putting in simple checks and balances means that most of this can be avoided. Spending those precious holiday hours enjoying your time instead of drama is something to work towards. After all nothing always goest to plan, flights are delayed, mistakes happen and but there are still thing to help avoid things going terribly wrong. Some of this is being responsible and checking all the details like flight times especially the day before incase there are unexpected changes.

Passport, phone and wallet – is a great safety net. There are still some more checks you can do beyond that to be more organised beyond a minimum level. A great place to go a few months before you fly is travellers checklist where you can enter in where you are going, the season and how long. It will automatically generate a list of what you need to bring including any vaccinations that might be needed in tropical places.

Otherwise for the ladies below is a more comprehensive list to skim though to avoid forgetting your toothbrush or smartphone charger.

 

Its always a great habit to make a list of your favourite things that you like to travel with like your jewellery, socks, pashmina or pillow. That way your essential comforts will be at hand and you will have a more stress free travel experience.

 

If in doubt remember your, passport, phone and wallet – then you can’t go wrong.

 

Press Reset in Kaga Onsen, Japan

Completely switching off from the world around you is a near impossible task. The answer is a small town set amongst snow capped mountains near Mt Fuji filled with natural hot springs. Kaga Onsen is the one place disconnected enough from the world that you can find real tranquility. The people in Japan have remarkable appreciation for nature and simplicity. The way food is presented, rooms decorated and buildings laid out, show the perfection in each and every detail.

The nature of a hot spring is ‘fuekiryuko’ one of the teachings of Matsuo Basho, which states that the source of immortality and fluidity are the same.

Reportedly the hot springs were discovered by monks 1300 years ago and since have become a favourite activity to locals and visitors alike. You might be rattled to learn that women and men bathe completely nude in public baths; with a lone towel to keep the stream from your eyes. It’s really offensive to wear a swimsuit but comforting to know that its perfectly acceptable to look the way you do, after all its natural. There are often separate times for men and women to take their precious soak but if you are not that culturally brave there are hotels you can stay at that come with your own private onsen.

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Onsen and sake

Beniya Mykau is one of the hotels that includes your own private onsen through the shower in your room. Filled natural mineral water believed to have healing properties in either granite or marble base. To keep the water as pure as possible the Japanese wash on stools with invigorating natural brushes to get any dirt off your body before stepping into the onsen.

It is truly luxurious to sip sake in a floating cypress tree bucket and glance at the trees surrounding you. There would’t be much competition to find a faster way to come away fully recharged that spending a weekend in these remote mountains enjoying onsen, yoga, fine dining and nature walks.

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Wooden geta clogs
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Restaurant at Beniya Maykau
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Sashimi

 

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Snow Crab

 

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Ice cream in a wafer container
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Art in front of restaurant
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Tea ceremony
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Gardens
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Bamboo

 

 

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Futon
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Bar
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Japanese Breakfast

 

The hotels are very good at receiving guest and you are picked up by the hotel shuttle from the train station and greeted with fragrant juices. They will explain how things work like wearing a provided Yukata and Japanese thongs at dinner. You will quickly see there are some definite things you can and cannot do but strangely the limits are quite comforting in a new experience.

Participating in a Japanese tea ceremony is quite special as that is traditionally were all walks of life gather to share something simple. The tea is always a powdery green tea whisked in a bamboo brush and poured with the utmost care. Its interesting to watch the order and how the tea is poured slowly.

Visiting the small towns is really where you can see the rich cultural history and tradition of Japan that would otherwise be crowed out in the larger cities.

The food in Japan is out of this world and being adventurous to try new things will be rewarded by discovering unexpected things that you actually like. Its quite fun to get out of your comfort zone and challenge what you are accustomed to. You will thoroughly enjoy the abundance of fresh seafood and all the little treats wrapped up in special little packages.

Its easy to get to Kaga Onsen by train in Japan where trains are not comparable to other countries. If you have seen the movie Hunger Games, they even have luxury carriages with bars similar to the film. They are also national treasures and used by everyone so you will feel right at home. What’s nice is they offer beer and wine or even bento boxes by staff coming around with their service trolleys. Its easy to pick up something delicious in the convenience store before you board also and the selection is often better. You do have to book your seat and visiting a Japan Rail office will make sure you are set for your journey.

 

STAY


Blissful luxury at Beniya Mykau ($1000 pn)

Most natural hot spring in ultimate luxury at Araya Totan ($1000 pn)

Everything that you need at Hatori ($200 pn)

DO


Onsen

Tea ceremony

Nature walks

Appreciate stillness

Visit Kanazawa Castle

Explore an old town filled with ceramic arts and learn Japanese writing

Eat at your hotel as the rates include breakfast and dinner

GET THERE


Hire a car and drive if you are really brave

Easily get a rail pass and stop by a Japan rail office to book your seat 

Maylasia: Kuala Lumpur Eccentric Fusings

A mix of cultures makes Kuala Lumpur (KL) a vibrant destination fill up on market food and enjoy the surrounds of luxurious hotels. The name originally meant ‘muddy confluence’ from Chinese tin miners, Indian migrants and British colonists to make this spot in the jungle a hive of activity for all.

Stop first at the Batu Caves where you will find a popular Hindi shrine. Be greeted by the deity which stands 42 meters high and covered in gold paint. Climb to the top of the stairs while walking past macaque monkeys who entertain the flowers locals lay out as offerings to their gods.

My favourite restaurant in KL is Rehung by the celebrity chef Ismail Ahamed. You will the testing ground for culinary arts in an affordable and casual setting that locals frequent.

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Next on the agenda is usually a shopping trip to KLCC or one of the many malls including the Petronas Towers which were the tallest buildings in the world up until 2004. You will find all the typical high street retailers to add that extra bag, jewellery or piece of clothing to remember your trip. Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Prada and many others are all there to choose from.

The perfect way to wind down from a busy day is to go and have dinner at Marini’s on level 57 of the Petronas Towers. Intertwined in the spectacular view of the bedazzling towers you can enjoy cocktails or your favourite beverage. The Italian restaurant next door also offers a fine dining experience not to be missed. Our starters were presented on a miniature tree to pick off along with a salad with over 12 types of dressings in scientific dropped to make for some fun in experimenting.

 

The weather in KL is hot and humid, averaging 29 degrees. All the malls and hotels have air-conditioning if it gets too much. You can get around easily in taxi’s and there are also trains but are best avoided during peak times. There is a huge amount of people living in KL and it is not uncommon to be pushed about on the trains with the lack of space. However the airport train to international airport is a dream. There are so many business travellers making their way to the city constantly from this financial centre of Malaysia. You may also like to travel onto Penang, Langkawi and Borneo from there for beaches and tropical surrounds.

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The best thing in KL is the affordable luxury hotels and the incredible market foods that make for an easy escape.

STAY


Mandarin Oriental for the best hotel in town ($270 pn)

Prince Hotel for a luxury room and everything you could want ($80 pn)

Traders hotel for a central location and a great pool with a skyscraper view ($160 pn)

EAT


Try the local markets as that is where the best food is found

Rehung for local flavours

Marino’s for fine dining with a view

SkyBar at the traders hotel for where the jet set mingle looking onto the Petronas Towers

DO


Shopping at KLCC

Batu Caves

Enjoy your hotel

Maldives: Breathtaking Beauty

Wrapped in a series of over 1000 ring shaped coral reefs or atolls ,you will find the Maldives. The perfect escape to find rest surrounded by unparalleled beauty. Landing on one of the small islands near the capital Male you are greeted by a stand of one of the many resorts. Its just a boat, sea plane or jump to get to your hotel room.

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From there your island resort awaits you. Warm greetings, delicious treats and cocktails are soon to follow. The list of activities include snorkeling, diving, fishing, water sports, yoga, fitness, and indulging in spa treatments. Most of these items on your to do list are a short stroll away and often just in front of you. You can snorkel right off the beach to find amazing tropical fish or completely harmless reef sharks. There are very few poisonous fish and the local guides can steer you clear of any dangers.

After a full day of activity it is time to wind down with some cocktails by the ocean. The light brings up small sharks and sting rays to keep you entertained while you recap on the days events. There is nothing like the peaceful tropical breeze and distant music from the band as you take an evening walk around your small island. We walked around ours completely in 20 minutes.

The fresh seafood is to die for and most memorably flame grilled lobster. There is also a wide variety of foods to choose from including Indian curries, Italian or bistro type dining at your resort.

It is easy to get used to the resort luxuries like outdoor showers, day beds and beach bars. You will be planning to make annual trips back like most of the guests.

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Staff are mostly from overseas countries living on the island for a short space of time. Our hosts were from New Zealand so that was a very familiar feeling for being far away from home. Flying in and out is seamless with your every need catered to. That does come with a price tag but worth every cent.

 

STAY/EAT

KURUMBA is conveniently located close to the airport and has an about nine restaurants to make your way through along with scuba diving right off the beach ($500 pn)

SIX SENSES for a quick connecting flight and the ultimate island experience with island hopping excursions, water sports and restaurants where you can relax on the waters edge ($1400 pn)

PARK HYATT  for a everything that you would expect from a modern luxury hotel ($1480 pm)

PER AQUUM had an under water restaurant and a wide range of pavilions with your own pool to choose ($1800 pn)

ANANTARA KIHAVAH to be seduced by underwater and above water dining in the utmost luxury. Find privacy and perfect peace in your very own water world ($2600 pn)


TIPS

Hotels will provide you plenty of drinking water free of charge

Breakfast or half board is typically included in the room rate

Allow around $600 for a return boat or sea plane transfer to your hotel pp

Weather can be really hit or miss and fronts coming off Sri Lanka bring rain to the islands surrounding Male. Staying in the outer islands often has different weather that can be better

There are extra gratuities automatically added to your bill like a 10% service charge, bed tax and so forth

Wi-Fi is patchy and works mostly in hotel reception areas

Male is predominantly Muslim but the resorts are filed with international staff and guests

It is rear to visit other resorts so make sure to pick one that have everything that you are looking for in a beach holiday

Food isn’t cheap and it is really easy to order cocktails, lunches and various dinners. Make sure to check your bill halfway during your stay to avoid any nasty surprises

Staff are used to helping large volumes of guests arrive and catch their outbound flights. They can be relied upon to make sure you don’t miss your flight

Flights to the Maldives are often delayed if coming from India be prepared to allow an extra day or so to get there or even to spend on Male if arriving after 4:30pm

APPS

Tripomatic allows you to see hotels, tours, car hire all in one user friendly map. The site is pretty quick so you can save time by having all the information you need in one place. You can get a pretty good idea of what a particular place offers from this overview tool. There are also some handy details like opening hours of museums, entry fees and so forth.

Trover ideal for trip inspiration and the suggestions come from other travelers. There pictures to highlight what you will be posting on social media if you visit.

TripIt is the best app for keeping all of your travel plans organized and in one place. It takes that huge confusion of confirmation and reservation emails and organizes them into one giant itinerary that you can access from anywhere. Makes navigating our travel plans and finding the reservation number or address of our hostel super easy.

Rome2Rio is  for figuring out how you can get from point A to B easily.  It shows you all the different options so you can pick the best one. That might just be the cheapest depending on weather you have a generous budget. It is really useful for figuring out tricky connections and if it is even possible to go a particular route.

Google Maps & Pocket Earth  are perfect for getting around, especially if you are lost. Pocket Earth is downloadable to use whole maps offline while you’re walking around. There also some handy travel guides.

Around Me shows you where toilets, money exchanges, restaurants, trains, busesor points of interest are in relation to where you are standing.

Gate Guru offers flight information if your flight is delayed or has changed gates. Instead of having to constantly check the monitors or listen to the loudspeaker you can have the information in font of you. It is also useful to navigate the airport to find a nice cafe, the shop you are looking for to get that covered item duty free or even lounges.