Travel News

The Hot 100 2014: 1-25

Whether you’re looking to take wing or merely take fork in hand, our team of hardened luxury travellers, fearless culinary thrillseekers and finely tuned aesthetes has combed the globe for a year’s worth of juicy inspiration. Dive into our take on 2014’s most intriguing places and people, trends and ideas.

Bar H, Sydney

Scott Hawkins & Marcel Aucar

1 Bread & butter

In these carb-conscious times, bread is increasingly in the firing line. On the plus side, though, many chefs have used this perspective to treat good old bread and butter as more of a luxury than ever. We’re particularly taken with the example chef Hamish Ingham serves as a course on its own as part of his new menu at Sydney neighbourhood favourite Bar H. The bread is hot Chinese-style steamed buns, accompanied by what Ingham likes to call “pork butter”, a mixture of butter and lard, spiced with fennel pollen and a suggestion of chilli heat. Take that, Atkins dieters.

2 Turkish delight

Turkish Airlines has gone from zero to hero since CEO Temel Kotil began shaking up the national carrier in 2005. It’s now the world’s fourth largest airline, serving 241 destinations (the biggest, United, serves 373) and has won Skytrax’s Best Airline in Europe award for three consecutive years. A savvy ad featuring superstar athletes Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi in a selfie shootout has been viewed 137 million times on YouTube. By 2017, the first stage of one of the world’s biggest airports will open in Istanbul. The hub – clearly aiming to out-Gulf the Gulf – will have six runways and serve 150 million passengers. That’s 80 million more than Heathrow.

3 Dead Rabbit

Named for an infamous Five Points street gang, The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog is a throwback Irish-American saloon headed by a pair of expat Belfast barmen in lower Manhattan. Cocktail culture revivalists head straight for the parlour upstairs where toddies, slings, punches and nogs are updated from nearly forgotten manuals such as Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks (1869) and The Gentleman’s Table Guide (1871). Order the fiery Empire Club from a new whiskey-soaked graphic novel-menu immortalising Dead Rabbit lifer John “Old Smoke” Morrissey and toast the bad old days.

4 Mayfair debut

Two of London’s most celebrated restaurateurs, Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, are trying something new: The Beaumont Hotel, a 73-room luxury hotel in Mayfair scheduled to open later this year. The duo’s restaurants, including the highly regarded Wolseley and Delaunay, are known for polished service, Art Deco styling and continental glamour. Expect the hotel – with restaurant and bar, of course – to take service seriously. 

5 Smart luggage

Every year more than 25 million checked bags are reported lost or missing – that’s about a one-in-100 chance of your luggage going astray. A new gadget, Trakdot, helps reduce those odds by travelling inside your checked bags and sending a text message to let you know how – and where – it’s travelling.  

6 Cameron Krone ofSmith and Carmody, the Sydney design firm behind the looks of some of the city’s most appealing café spaces (Cornersmith, Gumption and Brickfields, among them), describes his work as being “sympathetic to the site” in an effort to “blur the line between what’s new and old”. It’s also clean, fresh and meticulously detailed, and you can expect to see more of it at Mecca Espresso’s upcoming Alexandria roastery-café later this year. 

7 Most impressive by-the-glass offer

It takes moxie to serve Jacques Selosse by the glass ($66), but confidence is something Print Hall beverage director Dan Wegener in no way lacks. Pouring cult-grower Champagne is but one of the former Quay sommelier’s contributions to good drinking at his newish Perth post. From the rich detail of the master list (now with representation from each of Italy’s 20 wine regions) to the all-WA beer and wine list at Apple Daily Bar & Eating House, Print Hall is a great place to be thirsty.

8 Face-sized chicken

Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken started out as a stall in Taipei’s Shilin Night Market, quickly spread throughout Asia and is now intent on colonising the west, starting with Melbourne and Sydney. The fried-to-order chicken comes as a hefty quarter-kilo breast cross-section (served on the bone, for added juiciness), about the size of your face, as several million selfies can attest. Coated in tapioca and spices that pack heat, it’s crunchy, salty, fried addiction at its best. 

9 Grown underground

The Japanese did it first, growing rice in tower blocks. In London, World War II bomb shelters are being put to use as greenhouses for growing hydroponic herbs and premium greens for the capital’s restaurant kitchens.  

10 Doctor’s orders

In India, one expects best-practice Ayurvedic spas and meditation. Vana, Malsi Estate, a new luxury ashram in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Himalayan foothills, takes its treatments to another level, matching spa menus to doctors’ orders – Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese doctors, to be precise. Highly recommended are the Tibetan detoxifying treatments and the creative spa cuisine. 

11 Candy land

Here’s an irresistible sweets store to pop on a NYC shopping map. CuRious Candy by New York designer Cynthia Rowley sells fairy floss spun daily in watermelon, blueberry, rose, liquorice and salted caramel, sprinkled with edible glitter. Nibble on candy cones or flower bouquets (the large size) and shop for lollies and edible teacups and plates. 

12 Move over, sabrage

The latest in flamboyant bottle-opening trends? If you’re over slicing the tops of your drops off with a sabre, consider Port tongs. An 18th century invention, they were used to cleanly sever the bottleneck below the cork to prevent contamination by fragile or damaged corks. In Manhattan, Eleven Madison Park’s wine director Dustin Wilson has revived the technique, using it to open old vintage wines and add just that little bit more theatre to the experience.

13 Bottura in Istanbul

Massimo Bottura, the chef-patron of the three-star Osteria Francescana in Modena, will open his first restaurant outside his native Italy this month. Ristorante Italia, a contemporary fine-dining venue located inside Istanbul’s Eataly, a massive Italian food hall, will celebrate regional specialties and draws on 100 classic and historical recipes. Bottura’s menu will conjure nostalgia while pressing decidedly into the future by employing modern techniques to achieve the flavours of the past. Dishes such as osso buco, risotto alla Milanese, pesto alla Genovese and spaghetti with squid-ink will be transformed by Bottura’s forward-looking staff.

14 Nikkei, Peru’s Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine

With the opening of Pakta, former El Bulli chef Albert Adrià’s new 32-seater in Barcelona, Peru’s Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, Nikkei, is set to have its time in the sun. Fire up your palate with avocado tofu with sea urchin, yuzu and wasabi, suckling pig gyoza and fried rockfish with escabeche sauce.

15 Chifa, Peru’s Chinese-Peruvian fusion cuisine

Speaking of fusion Peruvian-Asian cuisines, we’re also expecting to see more of Chinese-Peruvian cooking, which came to be in the kitchens of Peru’s Chinese migrants in the 20th century. Signatures include chaufa, a Peruvian adaptation of fried rice; lomo saltado, a Chinese stir-fry and Peruvian steak and potato hybrid; and Peruvian-style wonton soup.

16 To Iran

In a further sign Iran’s nuclear-sanctioned isolation is easing, Austrian Airlines has resumed direct flights, five a week in fact, from Vienna to the capital Tehran. 

17 Ultra-sensory

Eco-resort group Six Senses is expanding into six new countries in the next three years. Highlight properties include the group’s first ski resort, at Saint-Gervais-les-Bains on Mont Blanc, and a circuit of five lodges in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Stay tuned in September when Six Senses puts its stamp on China’s Qing Cheng Mountain, one of Daoism’s holiest sites.  

18 Flipping the Switch

Representing and aiming to please a new generation of Australian wine drinkers, winemaker Vanessa Altmann casts organic wines in a fresh light with her bold Switch Wines. The labels have arresting graphics, the wines are innovative small-batch expressions of friends’ organic vineyards – Adelaide Hills chardonnay, Eden Valley pinot noir, Riverland vermentino and more. Having learned her craft from old-school organic diehards Temple Bruer in Langhorne Creek, Altmann’s private label – her “after-hours wine empire” – is in its fifth vintage. It includes such curios as cloudy natural wines Orange Wallflower (hints of apricot, tropical fruits, banana and spice) and Autopilot (licks of cherry, spice and soy).

19 Haute Mexican

The latest food frenzy in New York City is Mexican or, more specifically, hip and haute Mexican. Sloughing off its reputation for terrible taquerias, the city is aiming to rival the west coast with openings by star chefs. Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina, which opened late last year, will soon be followed by Enrique Olvera’s Cosme and a new restaurant by Daniel Ovadía of Mexico City’s Paxia, both rumoured to be opening in Manhattan this northern summer.

20 House of the rising suds

While there are cocktails, dumplings and décor to love at David Zhou’s new South Yarra bar Zhou Zhou, it’s the beer list that really gets us steamy. Nearly 30 Japanese craft beers – from pilsners to stouts and IPAs – are the main pull but there’s a strong showing from the rest of Asia, too, alongside Japanese cider and Australian rice lager.

21 Dish decoder

From Chengdu to Guangzhou, if you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve got the meal you want. Hold it over a menu written in Chinese characters and Waygo translates the dishes into (usually) intelligible English. Currently available on Apple devices only. 

22 The kefir factor

Whether you buy into its reputed health benefits or not (kefir originated in the mountains of Caucasus, has been around for 2000 years, and there are a lot of claims), this probiotic-laden, lightly spritzy, fermented milk drink punches above its weight in the kitchen. It’s easy to make at home using kefir grains and milk. Use it as a starter for bread making or to make labne.

23 Let there be Luz

Creamy, fresh and cold-pressed from pesticide-free almonds, Luz almond milk is nutrient-dense, lactose-free and suitable for vegans. The drink has a short shelf-life and is made to owner Kevin Chin’s mother’s recipe. The Brisbane start-up is the pet project of venture capitalist Chin and he’s already started supplying to Sydney. A cold press is on order from Spain, part of a plan to target the US market by the end of the year.

24 Jelly wrestling

In a sweet nod to its topless-bar heritage, rebooted inner-western Sydney pub the Oxford Tavern offers a dessert called the Jelly-Wrestle. It consists of ice-cream, waffles, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, chocolate sauce, caramelised popcorn, sprinkles and, of course, jelly (three kinds, in fact). Best of all, it’s served not with forks and spoons, but simply with disposable rubber gloves. A fine mess indeed.

25 Luggage check

Louis Vuitton has shrunk its classic monogrammed trunks – or malles – into pint-sized versions, complete with removable covers. Un petit plaisir! Louis Vuitton Petite Malle bag, POA. 1300 883 880

Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken

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