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The Royal Mail Hotel is changing
28.03.2017

Executive chef Robin Wickens has a stronger influence at the Royal Mail Hotel's upcoming restaurant, slated to open later this year.

Adventuring along America's north-west rivers
28.03.2017

The rivers of America's north-west running through Washington state and Oregon form the arteries of epic landscapes and bold discovery routes. Emma Sloley follows in the wake of Lewis and Clark.

The World's Best sommeliers are coming to Australia
28.03.2017

For the first time, the world's top international sommeliers will take part in the World's 50 Best Awards too.

Seven Italian dishes that shaped fine dining in the 2000s
28.03.2017

Italian food in the restaurants of Australia blossomed into maturity in the new millennium, as the work of these trailblazers shows – dazzling and diverse, a successful balance between adaptation and tradition.

Steam ovens: a guide
27.03.2017

Billed as the faster, cleaner way to cook, are these on-trend ovens all they’re cracked up to be? We take a close look at their rising popularity, USP versus the traditional convection cooker and how each type rates in terms of form, function, and above all, flavour in this buyer’s guide.

Our chocolate issue is out now
27.03.2017

Our April issue is out now. In his editor's letter, Pat Nourse walks you through what to expect.

Roast pork with Nelly Robinson
27.03.2017

Nelly Robinson of Sydney's nel. restaurant talks us through his favourite roasting joints, tips for crisp roast potatoes and why, when it comes to pork, slow and steady always wins the race.

Water carafes
24.03.2017

More than mere vessels, these pieces bring a cool breeze of style from the fridge to the table.

Flour and Stone Recipes

Baker extraordinaire Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone cooks up a sweet storm for Easter, including the much loved bakery's greatest hit.

Fast autumn dinners

Autumn weather signals the arrival of soups, broths, roasts and more hearty meals.

Roasted cauliflower salad with yoghurt dressing and almonds

The cauliflower is roasted until it starts to caramelise, which adds extra depth of flavour to this winning salad. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

1980s recipes

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

New cruises 2017

Cue the Champagne.

All Star Yum Cha

What happens the morning after the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards? We treat the chefs to a world-beating yum cha session, as Dani Valent discovers.

Melbournes finest meet Worlds Best

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

Savoury tarts

Will your next baking project be a flaky puff pastry with pumpkin, goat's curd and thyme, or a classic bacon and Stilton tart? As autumn settles in, we're ticking these off one by one.

Agave Love, Sydney

Phillip Bayly

Phillip Bayly

Phillip Bayly first discovered tequila in 1980 when he was employed to paint palm trees on the wall of a Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam. "I went to Mexico after that," he says, "and the history right back to the Aztecs just embraced me." It was agave love.

Bayly was the original owner of Sydney's dearly departed Café Pacifico, the bar he tended for some 16 years, liquoring up Darlinghurst with Mexican street food and top-shelf tequilas. Since Pacifico closed two years ago, Bayly has been busy travelling to Mexico, tasting tequilas and planning Agave Love - a conference being held this weekend in Sydney to celebrate all things tequila and mescal.

Bayly is keen to promote tequila as something far more than a party drink. For starters, like Champagne and Cognac, its production is governed by an appellation (which very few spirits are), so only spirit distilled from blue agave in particular states of Mexico can now be sold as tequila.

"A lot of people think they can't drink tequila but they're wrong," says Bayly. "It may have said tequila on the label, and was a white spirit, but chances are there was absolutely no agave in it, which is why it brings back bad memories."

Agave Love features more than 25 international guests, many of them friends from Bayly's 35 years in the tequila, mescal and (lesser known but equally interesting) raicilla and sotol industries. Conference attendees will be able to meet producers, distributors and other enthusiasts across a program of more than 46 events. Hangovers notwithstanding, it's going to be big.

International speakers include Julio Bermejo (the tequila ambassador to the US and creator of The Tommy's Margarita), Tomas Estes (tequila ambassador to Europe), and master distiller of Olmeca Altos, Jesus Hernandez. Events include cooking with tequila workshops, tastings, talks on sustainability, and bar-stool discussions such as Agave 101 and a session on mescal titled Mexico City's New Hipster Drink.

As for the look and feel of Agave Love, Bayly was inspired by New Orleans' Tales of the Cocktail festival, so don't expect any over-airconditioned conference halls or monologues here. "I wanted small, intimate talks in close proximity," he says. "I love the energy that that creates."

To that end, Agave Love venues include Shady Pines, Casoni, The Cliff Dive, Hello Sailor and The Winery, which are all within walking distance of one another. The Old Cell Block building at the National Art School will also host The Agave Central, where over 60 different tequila expressions can be tasted on Sunday 22 March.

And what will Bayly be drinking over the weekend? "Blanco tequila, from a big red-wine glass."

Agave Love, 22-23 March, Darlinghurst, NSW; tickets from $20

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