A restored 1832 homestead, 40 elegant suites each with its own pool, and a World Heritage-listed wilderness setting make a formidable first outing for Emirates Resorts in Australia. Its Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa somehow manages to meet the expectations of wealthy guests while having minimal impact on the surrounding environment; the resort has been certified carbon-neutral thanks in part to windmills and solar panels, rainwater tanks and a 175,000-strong native species plantation. 2600 Wolgan Rd, Wolgan Valley, NSW, (02) 9290 9733
Automated check-in and luggage-drop kiosks, progressively introduced at major New Zealand airports since 2008, show Air New Zealand has got it right again. The kiosks are a godsend to queue-haters. Simply present yourself and your bags, print out boarding passes and baggage tags, and put your tagged bags on a conveyor belt that spirits them to the aircraft. The airline says the kiosks should cut average queue times from 15 minutes to one.
It's an increasingly badly kept secret that some of the tastiest moments at Cutler & Co don't happen in the main dining room. Andrew McConnell's bar menu is a blueprint for things that go well with drinks, whether you're talking twig-like anchovy pastries, wood-grilled wagyu rib, krupuk-like parmesan crackers or instantly addictive steamed pork buns with Shanghai chilli vinegar. Some stylishly restrained cocktails and an exciting list of wines by the glass may have you feeling a little sorry for those fancying it up in the restaurant. Cutler & Co, 55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic, (03) 9419 4888
Sure, Brisbane's Nectar stocks a fab selection of hard-to-get boutique and organic wines, but most of us are here for the beer - 350 at last count, and still not enough, says co-owner Nathan Heng. Some of the more unusual offerings on the shelves at this pocket-sized hoppy paradise are beers from sought-after Norwegian brewery Nøgne, a chipotle beer by Oregon's Rogue Ales (one of a handful of chilli beers in stock), a miso beer from Morita Kinshachi and the collected handiwork of celebrated roaming brewer Mikkeller, including his 13 per cent Black Hole imperial stout. Local bounty features bottles such as Fusion's Firefly, designed to be quaffed with a hot curry; concoctions from the Sunshine Coast - Noosa premium ale, anyone? - plus scads of micro-pours from New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia that Heng and his mates often transport back themselves. Nectar, 114 Boundary St, West End, Qld, (07) 3846 4655
We can't stop thinking about the duck scratchings at Terroirs, London. And for good reason. Try a glass of distinctly cloudy, characterful, preservative-free sparkling trebbiano (Terroirs specialises in "natural" wines from small European producers) with a bowl of these crunchy, salty nuggets of duck skin, fried to a crisp in the bird's own fat. Indulgent, yes. Probably very, very naughty. But totally delicious, terribly moreish and wonderful washed down with this rustic wine.
As chefs and diners have developed a taste for jamón and chorizo, providores and importers have stepped in to meet demand. In addition to bringing in mojama, the famed cured tuna loin from the Costa Blanca, Nomad Feasts produces everything from revilla to morcón ahumado, while El Mercado now stocks jamón de pato - yes, duck ham. More interestingly still, perhaps, is the appearance of the Ortiga by Quattro Stelle range - lomo (cured lean pork loin), morcilla (the classic rice-leavened Spanish blood sausage), chistorra (a short, thin sausage fried for a popular tapa), sobrasada (a spreadable, pâté-like pork paste, red with paprika), cantimpalo (a big-bore fully cured pork sausage dense with chilli and spice), plus fresh and cured chorizos - by Sydney salumaio Tony Sgro to the family recipes of Pablo Tordesillas, chef of Brisbane Latin hot spot Ortiga. Expect to see the range in select retail outlets soon.
William & Son (as in Asprey, seventh-generation descendant of the Bond Street jewellery dynasty) in London's Mayfair is just the shop for those hard-to-buy-for travel enthusiasts. You're sure to please with a reverse-sided chess and backgammon duo, complete with velvet carry bag, for just $1700.
The best hams in the world come from Spain, and the best hams in Spain come from Guijuelo in Castile and Léon, where they're fattened in acorn-rich forests. Julian Martín, one of the country's leading ham producers and sole supplier to the upmarket El Corte Inglés department store, now offers guided tours of its heavenly ham factory. The senses are assaulted with the aroma of ageing hams throughout the three-hour tour, which ends with a lavish jamón and chorizo banquet and gallons of manzanilla. Ham tourism? Yes, please.
You've beaten the boerewors, Kekovich'ed the lamb and have a standing post-indoor-soccer order for the wasabi-spiked wagyu: all that remains for you to devour before you can call yourself a true Jus Burgers aficionado is the monstrous quarter-kilo hunk of beef that Justin Bell has rightfully dubbed The Guv'nor. Say yes to the optional slab of foie gras to really spite your cardiologist. Jus Burgers, cnr Roberts and Rokeby rds, Subiaco, WA, (08) 9381 2093 and 743 Newcastle St, Leederville, WA, (08) 9228 2230
While the cork-dorks plan long weekends in the Swan Valley, Margaret River and Pemberton right down to timed toilet-stops, ale-heads in the West are advised to make a bee(r) line straight for the port of Fremantle. With four microbreweries - Little Creatures, Blacksalt, Mad Monk and Sail & Anchor - all within staggering distance of one another, no other city boasts a more impressive brewer-per-square-kilometre ratio than Freo.
While we're not out to objectify the female form, we can't help noticing those Singapore Airlines hosties. Since they first stepped out in Pierre Balmain's form-fitting sarong kebaya uniforms in 1968, the Singapore Girls have become not only one of the world's most recognisable brands but also the impeccably groomed, perennially stylish standard-bearers for in-flight service. A great way to fly.
There is no delicacy in Written on Tea's enormous vegetarian buns, except perhaps in the fluffy white dough which encloses a robust filling. It's possible to discern finely chopped shiitakes, tofu, egg and vermicelli, but there's probably more, as well as plenty of seasoning. These are buns that even carnivores make room for with pleasure. Served four to an order, one is probably sufficient, but with a good dose of greed it's possible to scoff two. We defy anyone to eat a full serve alone. Written on Tea, Shop 8, 236 Sandy Bay Rd, Sandy Bay, Tas, (03) 6223 3298
The UAE's national carrier, Etihad, raised the bar for in-flight excitement with the launch of its new entertainment system in December. The Panasonic eX2, described as "best in class" by Etihad chief James Hogan, beams more than 600 hours of entertainment options to passengers, including 85 movies and 450 albums, via a 27cm-seatback screen (58.5cm in first class). Other highlights include noise-cancelling headsets, a children's-only entertainment network and a 60-strong games platform where passengers can create their own avatar. Every seat on the new Airbus A330-300s will also have an iPod dock to play and recharge.
Perhaps not everyone realises they're sitting on an Eames chair, perching on a Hans Wegner couch, or balancing their teacup on a Kartell nesting table, but it's impossible not to appreciate the eclectic good taste behind this trim little Brisbane café. Owners Tori Garrett, of film company Two Little Indians, and James Greville couldn't find a decent coffee locally, so a year ago they set up Desmond and Molly Jones. Wedged in a rapidly gentrifying terrace on a busy inner-city road, the café is known not only for its design (a feature wall is covered in hand-printed wallpaper by Neisha Crosland), but for its well-made Genovese coffee, country-style cakes and hearty Mediterranean comfort food. Just don't come in search of bacon and eggs; if you can't eat it with a fork alone, it doesn't feature. Desmond and Molly Jones, 615 Stanley St, Woolloongabba, Qld, (07) 3391 8594