Indiaphiles rejoice. Forget the interminable queues and weeks-long visa waits - the Indian Government is about to introduce visas on arrival for residents of some 180 countries, including Australia. Visitors will be able to register and pay online and then collect their visas after touchdown at one of 26 Indian airports. The scheme phases in from October, just in time for peak tourist season.
When it comes to unbridled Sichuan flavours, Victoria Park is Perth's lateral and literal hotspot. Along the suburb's main drag of Albany Highway, chilli fiends have options galore for getting their ma la ("numbing and spicy") fix. At Hao Szechuan Steamboat, it's all about fiery hotpots while nearby Amazy specialises in all things meaty and delicious. Up the highway, Red Chilli Szechuan puts in bravura performances across the board, from fine dan dan noodles to exceptional cold tripe dishes. Finally there's Lin's Cuisine, as notable for its late-night hours as its yabby hotpots.
While the city is known for its party vibe, the Pérez Art Museum Miami confirms Miami as a global cultural hub. Set in the city's newly gentrified downtown, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed museum is compulsory viewing, with an unrivalled Latin American collection that includes works by Cuban painter José Bedia and Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, donated by patron and real estate developer Jorge Pérez.
Paperbark can't be said to be a truly new trend when it's been part of Australian medicinal and culinary culture for a few thousand years, but it's definitely having a moment in our top restaurants. It imparts a subtle herbal smokiness - at Attica in Melbourne, pale whiting fillets dressed with pearl meat arrive wrapped in lightly blackened parcels; in Brisbane's BlackBird Bar & Grill it's Murray cod, with lemon aspen and pepperberry. Brooks of Melbourne uses the native melaleuca's bark to slow-cook potatoes for use in a dish featuring Victorian eel, consommé and edible "bark" shards made from squid ink-dyed lavoche.
One of the world's highest hot-air balloon ventures, Balloons over Bhutan, takes off early next year over the kingdom's remote central Phobjikha Valley. It will be the second balloon operation by Melbourne-based Eastern Safaris, which runs the highly regarded Balloons over Bagan in Burma. In preparation for flights, partners Khin Omar Win and Brett Melzer opened a 12-bedroom luxury lodge, Gangtey Goenpa, in the region late last year. Balloons over Bhutan will take a maximum of six guests per flight before and after the endangered black-necked cranes arrive on their annual migration.
The snark that greeted activated almonds may morph into a hum of pleasure as the idea of soaking, fermenting and sprouting grains starts moving out of the vegan ghetto and into the mainstream. Yes, there are a million health reasons to eat them (full of enzymes, aids digestion, blah blah blah) but the taste and texture of sprouted grains, an earthy-crisp-refreshing mix, is strangely appealing as evidenced in places like The Press Club (sprouted lentils with tarama butter-poached marron) in Melbourne.
One looks a little like the Sydney Opera House, encased in glass; the other resembles a spaceship parked at the junction of the Rhine and Saone rivers. Both are set to turn travellers' heads when they debut in France this year. The Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, a remarkable barque whose 12 glass sails soar above the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, will showcase the art collection of LVMH chief Bernard Arnault. After a difficult eight-year gestation, it should be sprung by spring. Meanwhile, the arresting Musée des Confluences is the star turn of Lyon's ambitious riverfront redevelopment. Its cerebral collection will explore questions of science and society against a backdrop of titanium and glass.
Kelly Wearstler describes it as "a soulful and spirited homage to iconic west coast style", but we just love her surfboard's complex puzzle design (pictured above) featuring a spectrum of rich nutty woods - walnut, cherry, koa, ash and Russian birch plywood, to name a few. "Mulholland" surfboard, $10,300.
Oz-meets-Asian green beans becomes a must-have menu treat thanks to Jock Zonfrillo's inspired treatment at Street-ADL in Adelaide. Blanched and lightly wok tossed, the crisp, firm beans are dressed in an Aussie-accented XO sauce made with a base of bush tomato and native pepperberry to create a dish that's irresistible.
Yep, it's about time. Sydney is the epicentre (Moon Park leading the charge, with Kim and Danjee close behind) but you can taste the K-influence spreading out all over the country.
From chicory to chocolate and craft beer to cocktails, the presence of bitterness can be as satisfying as the more celebrated salt or fat. Australian-born Canadian author Jennifer McLagan celebrates the acquired taste in her forthcoming book Bitter (Ten Speed Press, 2014), which aims to pull this historically dangerous flavour to the fore.
Old India hands are heading to the oft-overlooked east. For its part, Kolkata has become more accessible thanks to a new airport terminal, an expanded underground network and more hotels; the Great Eastern Hotel has been refurbished and new Radisson Blue and Novotel hotels are slated to open this year. Browse the world's largest second-hand book market, visit the home of India's poet laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, cruise down the Brahmaputra. Never heard of any of it? Precisely.
Layered, fermented and then cut by very sharp machines to make for an arresting pattern, grained konbu is now the umami-rich garnish of choice at the likes of Rockpool, Billy Kwong and Quay.
It will be bumper to bumper on European rivers this northern spring, as a flotilla of river-cruise vessels set sail with new itineraries to meet record demand.
Carrots, parsnip, and artichokes don't immediately shout dessert but they've been popping up at the tail end of the meal with greater frequency recently, following hot on the heels of that noughties favourite, beetroot. At Saint Crispin, co-owner/chef Joe Grbac has a small repertoire of vegetal desserts that include this carrot number (pictured below) that combines pickled (in a sweet vinaigrette) and roasted heirloom carrots, carrot sorbet, espuma and cake. He also does a rice pudding that includes Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips. Down at Brae, in regional Victoria, meanwhile, one of the fine dégustation moments is a fried parsnip and freeze-dried apple dessert. Surely turnip crème brûlée can't be too far away?
Its borders were thrown open barely a year ago and already the madding crowds are thronging to Burma. Head down south, however, and you'll find a remote region of more than 800 islands whose white sands and crystal waters welcome fewer than 2,000 visitors a year. To describe the Mergui Archipelago as untouched is almost understating its sense of seclusion. But the smart set are slowly discovering its charms thanks to savvy charter outfits such as Burma Boating, which offers five-night itineraries aboard a classic two-masted yacht. Days are spent beach-hopping, blue-water sailing and meeting indigenous Moken people in their dugout canoes. Abercrombie & Kent also has a 12-night Burma trip that includes nine nights cruising the Mergui.
As Claus Meyer was selling most of his share in Noma, the famed Copenhagen restaurant he co-founded, he was opening his new joint across the water. From the custom-designed chairs to the jazz club within, there's nothing standard about The Standard, a dining destination (three restaurants, two bars) set in an Art Deco gem that was once a ferry terminal. With former Noma chef Torsten Vildgaard as a partner, a new Nordic restaurant was expected; unexpected was the Michelin star that Vildgaard's studio collected just four months after its opening in October. There's also a modern old-school restaurant and a high-end Indian overseen by Karam Sethi, of London's one-star Trishna. Another partner, renowned jazz pianist Niels Lan Doky, came home from Paris to run a jazz club that also sets new standards. Havnegade 44, Copenhagen K.
Finally, the gamay grape is sloughing off its cheap Beaujolais image and gaining the respect it deserves. As well as a plethora of top natural gamays from France, you can now find terrific local examples such as the sinewy 2012 Sorrenberg from Beechworth, the plummy 2012 Eldridge Estate from Red Hill, and the juicy 2013 Rippon from Central Otago.
Once strictly cloak-and-dagger, secret-password affairs, underground supper clubs are becoming less, well, underground. The evolution is largely due to popular start-ups such as Tel Aviv-based Eat With and Washington DC's Feastly offering more accessible ways for adventurous diners to experience home-cooked meals by strangers. The sites make it easy: choose your city and type of cuisine - from Punjabi Sunday brunch to English roasts - and browse the listings of home cooks opening their kitchens.
The Happy Motel team of young foodists Jordan Jeavons, Andy Nowell and designer James Brown (of Mash Graphics) have changed the model for impressive dining events in Adelaide by specialising in innovative and fun-filled pop-ups, from Adelaide Festival's Barrio performance plaza to Alpha Box & Dice winery in McLaren Vale. They have the canny ability to embrace timely food trends, from Mexican to Korean - and the focus at Adelaide Festival's 2014 riverside pop-up venue Lola's Pergola (curated with Bistro Dom chef Duncan Welgemoed) had a strong South Australiana theme, celebrating what's in our backyard, with a walk-in smokehouse shed and a central barbecue zone rigged from a converted Hills Hoist clothesline.
A drinks list categorised by kilometres? Hidden down a laneway in the city, John Mills Himself is Brisbane's most niche watering hole, and it's also the country's first "drinks miles" bar. All the beers are sourced from within 200km and wines from 250km. Spirits are Australian-made apart from the Tromba Tequila, which is Mexican (gap-in-the-market alert, tequila fans), but partly Australian-owned.
Eschew the shallow selfie and embrace instead the gravitas and permanence of ink. Think soft Moleskine covers, think a Mont Blanc nib, think a table outside a café on the Rue de la Paix. Consider your next words carefully.
The appearance of a pinnie makes at least half the room's guests (usually the male half) go "phwoaarr!" As well as engendering visitor satisfaction, Melbourne's Ovolo is demonstrating a certain rocker chic, attention to soundproofing and a proper understanding that Gen X never really grew up. Exhibit A: the Ovolo's penthouse has the '80s pirate classic, Black Rose (complete with rotating cannon). Expect more. Please.
The luxe SLS hotel group is adding Sin City to its growing list of properties in America's hotspots. The 5,500-square-metre casino, scheduled to open in September, is seeking to please food-conscious gamers with restaurants such as The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya by Starck, Umami Burger and LA institution The Griddle Café.
Italy's most famous export is undergoing a renaissance. No longer satisfied with pizza's reputation as a cheap, ubiquitous fast food, the nation's best pizzaioli are redoubling efforts to source fine ingredients and are returning to hand-kneading. In Campania, Franco Pepe, of Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo, and Ciro Salvo, of 50 Kalò in Naples, are the movement's southern ambassadors, while Simone Padoan of I Tigli near Verona is leading the charge from the north.