Travel News

The Hot 100 2012, 26-50

What do ice-cream sandwiches, amphora-fermented wines, hip London hoteliers and cashmere eye-masks have in common? They’re among the new stars in this year’s Gourmet Traveller Hot 100. Consider this (in no particular order) your global hit list, from the latest in travel tips to emerging food and drinks trends.

By GT Staff
26 GO, GADGET, GO Now that your iPhone holds your travel reading, guidebook, itinerary and boarding pass, you can't afford for it to go flat. Mophie's Juice Pack Air is a rechargable iPhone battery that doubles as a light, durable case. Then there's the do-good factor of the BRIKK iPhone 4 protector: a solid titanium shell of aerospace quality that edges your precious smartphone. Buy one (prices start at $2950) and BRIKK will donate one metric ton of rice to the United Nations World Food Program on your behalf. Available from Sydney's Vendome.
27 BALI HIGH The views afforded by Uluwatu's clifftop vantage points make you feel a thousand miles from care, or at the very least from Kuta. There's something about the southern tip of Bali that cossets in the best possible way. Supporting evidence? The quiet luxury of the Bulgari Bali and the grandstand location of Alila Villas Uluwatu. The new kid on the block is Anantara Bali, on track to open this month. The new retreat's location is pure drama, set as it is into the side of the mountain with private pools jutting out towards the ocean.
28 WINE BUZZWORD OF THE MOMENT Sitting somewhere between Champagne and still wine, pétillant naturel wines - often abbreviated to pet-nats - look set to be one of the next big things in vino. Essentially all-natural wine that's bottled part-way through fermentation, pet-nats continue evolving rapidly in the bottle. While the style is all the rage in Europe, local examples - Jauma and Sutton Grange - can be counted on one hand. Expect a sharp spike in Aussie pet-nat numbers, however, following vintage 2012.
29 BEST COUNTER TO SQUEEZE UP TO IN PARIS'S 11TH Named for its owners, the raucous, postage-stamp-sized Aux Deux Amis is the finest of the food-slinging (natural) wine bars ruling the roost in Paris. While David-Vincent Loyola keeps guests' glasses full of the good stuff, chef Mathieu Perez cooks affordable bistro staples with care and smarts, from cheval tartare and truly excellent grilled onglet to a dense olive oil-finished chocolate mousse. +33 1 5830 3813
30 HOTTEST CHOCOLATE Valrhona? Love it. Amedei? Can't get enough of it. And Zokoko is pretty darn good too. But there's something about Mast Brothers' (pictured above) single-estate and single-origin chocolate that's getting us excited about cocoa all over again. Perhaps that it's been handcrafted by two bearded brothers in Brooklyn from the best organic and direct-trade cocoa beans from around the world, or maybe it's the sophisticated range of flavours they pair it with - vanilla and smoke, pecan and maple, and Maine salt, to name a few. Whatever it is, it's taken our love for chocolate to a whole new level.
31 FROM RATTLING THE PANS TO FLIPPING THE SHAKERS It looks like 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the chef-owned cocktail bar - in the US at any rate. Hot on the heels of Grant Achatz, chef at Chicago's Alinea, who opened Aviary in 2011, Daniel Patterson of San Francisco's Coi has upped the cocktail ante in Oakland with Plum Bar, where Dry Rye Negronis vie with smoked fries and aïoli for your attention. At Booker and Dax in Manhattan, David Chang has joined forces with food science guru and cocktail enthusiast Dave Arnold in a boozy offshoot from Momofuku Ssäm Bar. A centrifuge and rotary evaporator sit alongside the bottles, but so far it's the drinks with hot pokers stuck into them that have captured our imagination. That and the country hams.
32 MOST CREATIVE USE OF A BANK It was originally a bank, then it was Amsterdam's main music academy, and now The Conservatorium has been reborn as a 129-room heritage hotel in the city's culture and fashion quarter. (PC Hooftstraat, Holland's most exclusive shopping strip, is on the doorstep. Hello Valentino.) Milanese architect Piero Lissoni oversaw the restoration, which marries inherited herringbone parquetry, exposed beams and brick featurework with a dramatic use of black and a glassed-in conservatory that floods interiors with light. Almost half the bedrooms have been converted to duplex apartments to make the most of their lofty origins. In a novel twist, guests are assigned a personal host to streamline their stay. The hotel hopes clients will think of them as friends in a foreign place.
33 GLITZIEST NEWCOMER TO SOUTH BEACH SLS Hotel South Beach, the long-awaited Miami counterpart to the Los Angeles glamour-magnet, is finally on track to open its doors this month, and our money says it will be one of the year's red-hot tickets. The property - set on Miami's most glittering stretch of sand - will feature 132 rooms, 10 luxury pool-side bungalows and a series of restaurants, including a reprise of star chef José Andrés's Spanish-inspired hit eatery Bazaar, and a pool-side food truck co-designed by Andrés, Philippe Starck and a Latin graffiti artist.
New York? Check. San Francisco? Definitely. New Orleans, Los Angeles and Portland? Why not? But Charleston? It might not have been on your destination-dining radar before (except maybe for barbecue), but the American South is heating up. The names to drop: Husk, in Charleston, is top of the tree, while The Catbird Seat has heads turning in Nashville.
35 THE TWO-STAR PUB Pub food has undergone a revolution in the UK, something recognised by the Michelin inspectors, who even publish a UK pub guide. Walk into The Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and you'll see why it's been awarded two Michelin stars - chef Tom Kerridge's dishes are all beautifully presented, from the duck-fat chips in a tiny copper saucepan to the miniature passionfruit soufflés cooked to order.
36 MOST CONFIDENTIAL SWIMWEAR SHOP Mere mortals don't have to worry about photographers lurking outside their change-room doors, but the paparazzi are just one reason the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman log onto Clickini when shopping for beachwear. Irishman Jonathan McKeever has built a savvy e-empire that stocks some of the world's best beach-side kit. Clickini was one of the only retailers worldwide to recently receive edgy French fashion house Balmain's first foray into swimwear, and its line-up of authentic Panama hats and cover-ups, plus shipping to Australia, earn a big tick from us.
37 BEST REASON TO SAY NO TO WINE We're tipping juice pairings to be one of the next big things in drinks at restaurants. The pedigree is certainly there: Noma probably wasn't the first place to do it, but it's certainly the most famous, giving diners the option of pine or sea buckthorn juices as an alternative to its aligotés, chenins blancs and rieslings. Locally, Sydney's Momofuku Seiobo leads the charge. That means parsnip and apple juice with the buttery mud crab and Yorkshire pudding, and beetroot juice with the wagyu, watermelon, black bean and radish, while the sea mullet with warrigal greens and furikake could be teamed with either Sato pet-nat riesling or cucumber juice. Will chamomile tea knock off the more popular pairing of Fernet Branca with the caramelised pork shoulder? Only time will tell.
All hail the rise and rise of the lightweight sneaker, the best thing to happen to those of us for whom eating (and thus also training) is a key part of the journey. The raft of new low-profile and flexible "barefoot" shoes from all the big brands - running specialist Brooks releases its new slightly more supportive Pure Project range next month - means your trainers no longer take up the lion's share of valuable suitcase weight. We've suddenly got room to move. Praise be.
Hang on to your espresso or you may find you're drinking an entirely different kind of shot. Brisbane's bar mania sees everything from cafés (Jamie's Espresso Bar, Fortitude Valley; Foxy Bean, Woolloongabba) to dégustation-only restaurants morphing into watering holes where you can quench a thirst with anything from a locally brewed craft beer to a rum-focused cocktail. Like it small, intimate and not a little quirky? For starters, check out The End at West End and, in Fortitude Valley, Black Bear Lodge, Our Place and Kerbside. At Milton, drop into the craft-beer-toting The Scratch or swish back the beaded curtain at The Junk Bar, Ashgrove, where you can help yourself to the vinyl.
40 URBAN RENEWAL The harbour views from Sydney's Shangri-La Hotel were always breathtaking enough to induce a little light-headedness. However, the recent overhaul of 477 of its rooms and suites has made the prospect of a stay here even more swoon-worthy. The new-look rooms with their thick botanical-themed carpets, subtly glimmering metallic and timber surfaces, and sensor air conditioning and lighting strike the right note of relaxed luxury. But the masterstroke is the wide, upholstered window seats where you can stretch out, drink in hand, and watch the Opera House sails change colour and the Bridge light up as the sun goes down.
41 NEWEST GRECO-ECO DESTINATION Local Messinian boy turned billionaire shipping magnate "Captain" Vassilis Constantakopoulos had a dream to turn his little-known homeland into a global destination. The result is Costa Navarino, a wildly ambitious development of luxury resorts and world-class golf courses that appears poised to transform this sleepy south-west corner of the Peloponnese into Europe's newest riviera. The captain, a staunch environmentalist, reserved 90 per cent of the area for natural and cultivated greenery. The Westin, The Romanos and two 18-hole golf courses are already welcoming visitors, and The Banyan Tree is slated for next year.
42 THIRST, SLAKED Terroirs, a wine bar near Charing Cross station, is one of the most acclaimed places to eat in central London for its gutsy, affordable French country cooking; terrines and meat dishes are a particular strength. Brawn in east London was the same team's second branch. But their latest, Soif, near Clapham Junction, is possibly their best. It's worth breaking the train journey to Gatwick Airport just to try their natural wines, perhaps with some pig's cheeks.
43 STOCKHOLM SYNDROME The closure of Stockholm's leading new-Nordic restaurant, Oaxen Krog, in 2011 was a loss that's been softened by chef Magnus Ek's latest project. Unlike Oaxen Krog with its island setting, Oaxen Skafferi is in the heart of fashionable Södermalm - a name that fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will recognise as the setting for Mikael Blomkvist's Millennium offices. But Oaxen Skafferi's souvenirs are a lot more savoury than Stieg Larsson's murder mysteries. Oaxen's own cold-smoked sausages and cured meats, plus other Swedish goodies such as pickled herrings and crispbreads, are all perfect for picnics or gifts.
44 TRUMPETING TRUMPETER Greg Doyle feted it years ago at Pier, and Fish Face chef Steve Hodges has long been a fan, but it seems that striped trumpeter is now having its day in the sun. The sweet, white-fleshed fish caught primarily in Tasmanian waters has become the must-have menu item for scores of leading restaurants around the nation.
45 BEST CURE FOR BIG-SHIP PHOBIA And you thought ocean cruising was big. River cruise ships, the boutique hotels of the floating holiday scene, are full to the gunwales as passengers discover the pleasures of intimate, all-inclusive itineraries. Exhibit A: Australian-owned Scenic Tours has just built and launched its sixth "space ship" in four years. The 85-stateroom Scenic Crystal will tour Europe with larger-than-average staterooms and balconies that close to become sun lounges at the press of a button. Exhibit B: Uniworld's SS Antoinette debuted last year with a 20-seat cinema, swimming pool and rooftop bar, signalling a new designer edge to river cruising. Exhibit C: Colorado-based Avalon Waterways has gone from one boat plying Europe's waterways to 11, in just eight years. And when it launched the Avalon Panorama last year, half the berths were sold to Australians. As always, we can't wait to get on the water.
46 THE SOUND AND THE FURI(KAKE) "We're serving a seaweed cracker which is topped with burnt eggplant that has been whipped with sesame, with a judicious sprinkling of our own house-blend of furikake, black sesame, ground toasted rice and dried sea lettuce," says Andrew McConnell of one of his favourite new dishes at Cutler & Co. which happens to deploy one of his favourite ingredients. Furikake, a mix which typically contains toasted seaweed, salt, sesame seed and ground dried fish, is traditionally used in Japan as a topping for hot rice. It's versatile, and, as McConnell notes, "delicious… with a fried egg for chef's supper."
47 OUI, AUSSI If you're visiting Paris and don't have a slew of addresses in the slightly grungy 11th arrondissement on your hit list, then you're off the hipster pace. At the top should be Au Passage, where young Australian chef James Henry's market-based cooking has everyone talking. +33 1 4355 0752
48 BEST CHANGE IN HOW WE TRAVEL The single strongest travel trend of the past 12 months is the shift to short stays in the homes of locals. How does it work? Decide where you're going and log on to see what's for rent - either places with other people or entire properties - across the world. Rent out your own place while you're away or enter into a swapping arrangement, depending on your needs and wants. The best sites include,, and, all of which offer strict measures to ensure the safety and security of you and your money. So whether your dream is a downtown New York City loft, a Paris pied-à-terre or a classic London townhouse, chances are you'll find it at a cost far less than that of a hotel.
49 B-LIST FISH GET THE A-LIST TREATMENT The idea behind using alternative species in the restaurant kitchen is sound, but in practice, chefs have complained that the lesser-known eating fish - mackerel, flathead and leatherjacket among them - haven't received the same attention to detail from fishermen and fishmongers as the better-regarded snapper, tuna and John Dory. Things are changing, though, and with more careful handling of these under-used species, we're sure to see more of the likes of Quay's sashimi of blue mackerel with smoked eel flowers, scallops, pickled apple and nasturtiums.
50 A NEW DAWN It has always been on intrepid travellers' minds, but with Burma, now known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, back on the tourist map, the deeply Buddhist Land of the Golden Pagoda is preparing for an influx of visitors. For years, many stayed away in protest at Burma's authoritarian regime, but pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (recently voted into parliament) is encouraging tourists. The country resonates with warm, genuine hospitality, gorgeous temples and Buddhas galore. In Bagan especially you'll be lost among the thousands of pagodas, but if you join an Orient-Express tour, a private guide will take you to the most stunning, including an 11th-century monastery complex that's off the regular tourist map. If you're templed out, Yangon city is the place to relax: visit the Inya Day Spa for an aromatherapy oil massage and Thalga hydration facial, and the Acacia Tea Salon for homemade jam with scones.
  • undefined: GT Staff