GT tableware

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

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Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection tableware by Robert Gordon

We’ve teamed up with pottery house Robert Gordon to create a range of tableware – introducing the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection.

Lebanese-style snapper

"This dish is Lebanese-peasant done fancy with all the peasant-style flavours you'll find in Lebanese cooking, but with a beautiful piece of fish added," says Bacash. "The trick to not overcooking fish is to be aware that it cooks from the outside inwards and the centre should only cook until it's warm, not hot. If it gets hot in the middle, it will become overcooked from the residual heat. It takes a little practise getting to know this - be conscious of the inside of the fish and not the outside. Until you get it right, you can always get a little paring knife and peek inside the flesh when you think it's ready; it won't damage it too much."

12-hour barbecue beef brisket

"Texas is world-renowned for barbecuing a mean brisket, the flat and fatty slab of meat, cut from the cow's lower chest," says Stone. "Cooking a simply seasoned brisket low and slow on a smoker (or kettle barbecue when barbecuing at home), gradually rendering the gummy white fat while simultaneously infusing smoky flavour into the meat, is a labour of love. Although time-consuming, briskets are not difficult to cook. And while you'll note that this one takes a whopping 12 hours to cook, don't be alarmed if your brisket needs another hour or so - this timing is an approximation, and greatly depends on the size of your brisket and heat of your barbecue." The brisket can also be cooked in an oven (see note).

Sweet valley high

Get the five-star treatment at Emerald Valley Villa, an Ubud-style eco-retreat in the Byron Bay hinterland, replete with waterfall and concierge.

Located in the hinterland of Byron Bay, at the crest of a dramatically twisting road, Emerald Valley Villa resembles a sumptuous retreat in Ubud. Teak furniture, marble floors, thatched cabanas and stone friezes depicting Hindu deities evoke the kind of exotic headiness that typically requires an international flight - and the offer to have your hair braided. The fact that such splendour comes in an eco-sensitive package makes it even more appealing, as judicious travellers search for ways to pamper themselves and preserve the environment at the same time.

The exclusive estate, which has four bedrooms and is available for lease on a weekly basis, is located on 80 acres of verdant landscape. All the building structures and grounds have been conceived with minimum impact on the locale. More climate neutralisation stems from the planting of native vegetation, while delectably fragrant blooms such as gardenias, jasmine and champaka scent the air. Forward-thinking creator Michael J Robison, who unveiled the aerie in late 2007, sought a convergence of high design, technology and ecology, and then embellished it with luxurious add-ons including your own on-site concierge.

The extremely affable and capable Varney Magill has a seer's ability to identify what you want before you've even thought of it. (She arranged for a deep-tissue massage in the villa's spa room before I'd arrived.) Magill has a database of new-age virtuosos, reiki healers, yoga gurus, acupuncturists and organic chefs among them, accessible at will. Blissed out by day two, I was ready to sample the best of Byron's renowned produce. Magill had already stocked the pantry with local goodies that inspired several transporting meals - and several runs into town for refills (the villa comes with a Range Rover on request).

After three days of gustatory highs, and endless rounds of caipirinhas, the kitchen compost was starting to look like a lushly decomposing Gauguin. Beyond recycling, the villa relies entirely on green power. The floors are made from recycled or plantation timber, while almost all of the furniture is fashioned from old teak. No matter whether you're showering in the polished marble bathroom or paddling through the chlorine-free swimming pool, the water all stems from an ancient aquifer. The dwelling is also equipped with solar design and solar hot water.

Guests enter the abode through an alfresco square-shaped courtyard, where iridescent koi dart around a pond. The master bedroom boasts a spacious walk-in wardrobe, a mounted butterfly collection and plush furnishings. The sleek kitchen is equipped with an Ilve duel fuel stove, while a flat-screen television in the living room offers seemingly endless satellite channels. But then outside your door is your very own wildlife documentary: platypuses, wallabies, goannas and a chorus of chattering birds.

The villa hovers above a spectacular rainforest accessed via a Polaris mini-Ranger, a kind of motorised rickshaw. Alongside a picturesque river is a pavilion used by guests for picnics, wedding parties or zazen reflection. In fact, there are countless places for quiet contemplation at Emerald Valley Villa, but, for me at least, curling up in one of the twin Javanese rice barns by the pool trumps them all. That afternoon, I felt like the king of the mountain.


THE FINE PRINT

GETTING THERE
Emerald Valley Villa is a scenic 25-minute drive west from Byron Bay. Brisbane International Airport is 2 hours to the north, with domestic airports Coolangatta (45 minutes) and Ballina (35 minutes) nearby. Airport transfers can be arranged by the concierge. 

STAY
Villa (8-share) from $1000 per day (with a minimum 7-night stay). 84 Jarretts Rd, Goonengerry, NSW, (02) 6684 9398, emeraldvalleyvilla.com.

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Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

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THE FINE PRINT

GETTING THERE
Emerald Valley Villa is a scenic 25-minute drive west from Byron Bay. Brisbane International Airport is 2 hours to the north, with domestic airports Coolangatta (45 minutes) and Ballina (35 minutes) nearby. Airport transfers can be arranged by the concierge. 

STAY
Villa (8-share) from $1000 per day (with a minimum 7-night stay). 84 Jarretts Rd, Goonengerry, NSW, (02) 6684 9398, emeraldvalleyvilla.com.

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