When 1888 Hotel in Sydney's Pyrmont opened last year, it dubbed itself "the world's first Instagram hotel", with a dedicated "selfie space", image competitions and a "picture perfect" package. Major hotel chains are joining the social media soirée, offering free nights for popular Instagram users who post images of their hotel. Taking the visual holiday experience even further, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has launched a "Pin. Pack. Go." program, allowing guests to create Pinterest boards to help an online concierge tailor their next holiday itinerary.
Thanks to dynamic booze shippers Brooks & Amos and Pacetti Imports, some of the most innovative and exciting new-wave wines from the US are now available in Australia. Look for The Scholium Project, Channing Daughters, Donkey & Goat and Dirty & Rowdy on hipster wine lists near you.
The glam toasties of Press Food & Wine chef Andrew Davies at the adjacent sibling Proof wine bar have become the choice chomp for late-night drinkers in Adelaide of late. Try the clever inside-out version of Davies' spin on French onion soup - with Gruyère, confit onion and beef stock seeped into a sandwich, grilled in a '70s-era toastie iron.
The Mercury building will be home to Hobart's hottest new restaurant in years when David Moyle, formerly chef at The Stackings, and Ben Lindell, open a new restaurant and bar. The building will also house Betsy, a café, also by Moyle and Lindell, and the excellent Pigeon Whole Bakers. It's all go for June.
It took a counter-cultural revolution led by sommeliers and wine writers to coax this tipple off nanna's sideboard and back onto the world's top tables. But Sherry's extended comeback is thanks to barkeeps who have embraced it as a cocktail component and revived the Sherry Flip and the Sherry Cobbler and given rise to the likes of the King of Spain (rye, fino and vermouth) from the Gresham Bar in Brisbane. The movement is celebrated in Talia Baiocchi's Sherry (Ten Speed Press), out later this year.
Ice cubes that monitor your alcohol intake and even send a message to your friends if you continue to drink have been developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Cheers cubes glow to the beat of music and change colour the more you drink. Their manufacture will be expensive, however, and researcher Dhairya Dand says commercial release is a few years off yet.
Pack shorts but reconsider the thongs. The Queensland capital's hotel scene is poised to become a lot hauter - and cooler, too. Inner-city Spring Hill is earmarked for the state's first Art Series hotel. Due to open in December next year, it will showcase signature artworks in a similar fashion to sister properties The Olsen and The Cullen in Melbourne. Guests can also expect a 70-metre pool, open-air cinema, volleyball court and a golf driving range. The heritage Inchcolm Hotel in Spring Hill is morphing, too, and will reopen in July as Brisbane's first boutique MGallery. At South Bank, a second Emporium Hotel, with cocktail bar-equipped sky deck and spectacular pool, is in the works as part of the $590 million Southpoint development. Feeling sporty? The Gambaro family's plush 68-room Gambaro Hotel, a footy toss from Suncorp Stadium, kicks off this month.
While Virgin Galactic's commercial flights are due to launch later this year, there's a new extreme tourism venture under way at the other end of the spectrum. A carbon-fibre submersible craft, the Cyclops, is set to take deep-sea enthusiasts three kilometres below the ocean's surface. Being developed by OceanGate and the University of Washington, the sea craft is due to dive in 2016.
Some of today's most deliciously different wines are from South Australia's Riverland, a region we normally associate with bag-in-box plonk. Check out the juicy red Amato Vino Nero d'Avola, the pale, dry Bellwether Rosé, the Chalmers Bucketwine project, the vibrant Whistling Kite Montepulciano. All stunning.
London's dish of the moment is an entrée labelled simply "Egg, Ham and Peas" by executive chef Jason Atherton at the glamorous Berners Tavern in Fitzrovia. A crumbed and deep-fried duck egg is held upright by a purée of fresh peas, with pancetta-like Cumbrian ham leaning on the sides.
Next month, one of America's favourite carriers, Jetblue, will bring its upbeat, irreverent style to the front of the plane with Mint, a premium class that promises to revitalise the dreaded New York to LA commute. There will be 16 lie-flat seats (four of them suites with privacy doors) and perks such as small-plates dining courtesy of New York's hip Saxon + Parole restaurant and amenity kits from Birchbox. A New York-San Francisco route will follow later in the year.
Every young winemaker is hawking a super-fresh young red around town these days. The French call this style of red, made using carbonic maceration, designed to be quaffed a few months after vintage, "vin de soif" - "thirst-quenching wine". Aussies, being Aussies, just call their wines "smashable".
Meet elBulli 2005-2011. The last cookbook to be discussed so often in terms of its price ($750) and weight (18 kilos) ahead of its actual content was Nathan Myrhvold's Modernist Cuisine. This new Phaidon edition is likewise one for the true fans (though hopefully not quite so riddled with errors). Ferran Adrià deems the years in question the restaurant's most creative era, and whether your interest is technical or merely ruminative, the level of detail here will stop you in your tracks.
The epicurean pilgrimage to Manhattan's northern nabes continues. The movement was spearheaded by chef Marcus Samuelsson, whose perpetually mobbed comfort-food restaurant Red Rooster (now with basement speakeasy, Ginny's) is one of many reasons to head to Harlem. Try tiny Mountain Bird, featuring chef Kenichi Tajima's French-influenced comfort food - think chicken schnitzel, turkey goulash and cassoulet - then make a beeline for the industrial-chic bar at the Corner Social for an Uptown Mojito and reinvented soul food. Bier International is a new-gen beer hall serving craft brews from near and far. Or head to legendary jazz club Mintons for live music while tucking into "Southern revival" dishes such as lobster casserole with Creole crawfish gravy.
A lifesaver for many a diner who overestimated their chilli tolerance, the "cooling plate" at Melbourne's Chin Chin (pictured below) contains the soothing likes of cucumber, apple, iceberg, ginger and palm sugar. But, yes, they also do a chilli plate.
Not just content with world-class surf, wine and scenery, Margaret River can now add dazzling tempura to its list of attractions. Miki's Open Kitchen, Mikihito Nagai's tempura counter restaurant, is the township's finest place to dine after dark. Elegant handling of local seafood and the offer of well-chosen sake make it a must on any south-west itinerary.
More is more for the New York incarnation of London's Dover Street Market. This version of the DSM concept store created by Comme des Garçons' visionary designer Rei Kawakubo and her CEO husband, Adrian Joffe, has more floors, more art, more brands and, for shoppers weary of Midtown's staid grub, more delicious food in an expanded Rose Bakery. Dover Street Market New York, 160 Lexington Ave
It looks like a weapon from Star Trek, it costs $330, but wine geeks are hailing the Coravin as a revolution. Insert the gadget's needle through the cork of your favourite bottle, and as it draws a pour, it fills the empty space with inert gas to keep the remaining wine fresh for months. And it actually works. Genius.
Chef, food-truck mogul, restaurateur, hotelier and Kogi founder Roy Choi continues to make waves in Los Angeles. He has joined forces with the Sydell Group (owners of NoMad in New York) to help open The Line, a hip new hotel in buzzing Koreatown. The in-house dining options include Korean hotpots and kimchi but also Taiwanese baked goods and other hits from the pan-Asian playbook. The hotel's prime location aside, other features of note include a 24-hour newsagency curated by Poketo as well as mid-century lounge hosted by local funsters, The Houston Brothers.
Follow Andrew Bowden, pastry chef at Sydney restaurant Hartsyard, on Instagram for the latest updates on his increasingly outré variations on the theme of soft-serve (roti, banana cake, shortbread among them).
The Daniel O'Connell Hotel in North Adelaide does its own take on nose-to-tail dining that converts the offal-curious into fans. Venison tartare with "mollie spice" and hop salt gets people interested, but whole roast ox tongue with horseradish and beetroot, or a pig's ear schnitty makes diners swoon. Offal is even in the dessert, with My Bloody Valentine featuring whisked blood.
Can't get a table at Septime, Betrand Grébaut's still hotter than hot Paris restaurant? Next best is Clamato, his recently opened seafood bar and restaurant in the 11th. The shellfish and fish are stunning, the wines are natural and it doesn't take reservations. It's open until late so put your name on a list then bide your time at Septime Cave or the bar at James Henry's Bones, both of which are nearby.
From the opening of Hotel Hotel, the capital's first Design Hotel, and the rebranding of the Lakeside as a QT Hotel to the appearance of hip new eateries such as Temporada and Da Rosario in Civic, to the development of Braddon and the Kingston foreshore as food and drink destinations, and the continuing brilliance of the capital region's wineries, Canberra is now a real and serious contender for your leisure dollar.
The hottest collaboration in Australian wine is A Sense of Compression, a 2013 grenache made by Adelaide Hills grape-treader (and former punk bass guitarist) Taras Ochota and Maynard James Keenan, frontman for hardcore rock band Tool. Released at the Adelaide Festival, the wine is incredibly rare (919 bottles) and costs $100 a pop.
With half the Australian restaurant business, seemingly, powered by Filipino brains and brawn, it seems like a genre-busting restaurant or bar specialising in the food of the Philippines is more than overdue. Bring on the sotol Margaritas, the yam macarons and adobo tacos, we say. (We'll pass on the deconstructed balut, though.)