Freeze-drying is becoming increasingly popular in restaurants, adding intensity and texture, particularly at the sweet end of the meal. Companies such as New Zealand's Fresh As and the Mornington Peninsula's Totally Pure Fruits are freeze-drying everything from apples and pears to pineapple, coriander, Pedro Ximénez and manuka honey, products that have been gracing menus at restaurants including Victoria's Maze, Attica and Royal Mail Hotel. As Attica's Ben Shewry says, "It's not a replacement for a fresh product, just a way of adding an interesting texture."
** This year brought very big news in the cruise world with the launch of Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas, a 6138-passenger behemoth complete with 16 passenger decks, 22 restaurants and the very first floating Starbucks. At 361.8 metres long, she's five centimetres longer than her sister, Oasis of the Seas, and the largest cruise ship to set sail. Meanwhile, Australia's Orion Expedition Cruises takes delivery of its new ship, Orion II, and departs for the wilds of Asia - Russia's Far East and Japan's Inland Sea for starters. All aboard.
Camping in New Zealand's chilly southern alps looks a lot more appealing with the advent of the country's first tented resort at Minaret Station. Owned by the Wallis family, noted pastoralists and sheep and deer farmers, the 22,000-hectare station has no road access so guests at this elite camp must arrive by chopper. What a drag. Pampered stays (sheepskin carpets, hot-tub decks) and guided walks are standard at the camp, which sits at the head of one of Minaret's six valley systems with only alpine fields and snowy peaks for company. +64 27 588 9865.
He's an Aussie, and he holds three Michelin stars, but you'll be forgiven if you've never heard of Brett Graham. The chef from Newcastle (north of Sydney, that is, not oop north) isn't such a big name back home because he's been based in London since he left Banc more than a decade ago, and his ascent to stardom has all been in the Big Smoke. His three stars are split between two locations. He has two for The Ledbury restaurant, and one for a more recently opened gastropub in Fulham, the Harwood Arms. Despite its trendy Notting Hill location, The Ledbury has the feel of a Mayfair restaurant (just like its older Mayfair sibling, The Square - another two-star), with refined modern European dishes, attentive waiting staff, and a wine list that can tempt your credit card towards its limit. But it's the Harwood Arms, where he's part-owner, that's really raised his profile in London - very few gastropubs are awarded Michelin stars, and it manages to produce terrific British pub food in a casual, affordable setting.
** The Pacific's favourite playground continues to evolve with the opening of cult hotelier Ian Schrager's Waikiki Edition, a 353-room design hotel for Marriott. The beach is a few blocks away, but a restaurant by Masaharu Morimoto (of Iron Chef fame), four bars and an outdoor cinema more than compensate. Just west of Waikiki, Pearl Harbor has a new $55-million museum-visitor centre with interactive wartime exhibits.
** "Great-grandpa farming" is how David Hohnen describes his chemical-free approach to working the land. This gently-gently mentality might seem at odds with the go-get-'em spirit of the man who founded pioneering wineries Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle, but the unadulterated earthy tenderness of Arkady lamb suggests Hohnen is onto another winner. Hohnen is one of the WA producers whose product is name-checked on the Perth Rockpool Bar & Grill menu.
Believe the hype. Best known for being Microsoft's founding chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold might seem an unlikely candidate to have penned the decade's most talked-about cookbook. But Myhrvold's background in science (he holds a string of degrees in everything from space physics to mathematical economics) makes sense when you look at the technical focus of Modernist Cuisine. The six-volume hardcover book retails for about $615, and is very much positioned for the professional market, but though much of it deals with cutting-edge restaurant techniques such as the use of hydrocolloids and centrifuges in the kitchen, its richly illustrated dissections of the science of the foundations of cooking make it highly covetable for anyone interested in food.