Tyson Stelzer A Regular on Travel Writers Radio

Internationally acclaimed wine expert, wine author, TV host and speaker Tyson Stelzer, is the resident wine expert for the Travel Writers Radio Show.

Tyson is a member of the Professional Association of Lifestyle and Travel Writers (PALAT) and has been a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year titkle over a number of years.

Tyson Stelzer

He has 15 wine books to his name (including The Champagne Guide – the benchmark global reference to champagne), is a regular judge at wine shows; co-creator with UK wine writer Matthew Jukes of The Great Australian Red competition and host of the groundbreaking new television series, People of the Vines.

Tyson will cover everything from what life is really like when you ‘live in the vines’, to his latest wine discoveries and how the world of wine is evolving.

Executive Producer Graeme Kemlo says it is a privilege to have someone of Tyson’s calibre on the show.  “Our aim is not only to entertain and engage our listeners but to inform them through the most credible authoritative figures in the industry. Tyson has been described as ‘the next James Halliday’, a sure validation of where we have positioned our radio segment,”  Graeme said.


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150 reasons to celebrate at Travel Writers Radio

This week Travel Writers Radio celebrates its 150th episode.   In a little over three years the show has amassed about 1000 interviews and more than 800 of them are now available to download at https:/soundcloud.com/travelwritersradio.

Travel Writers Radio is produced and presented by the Professional Association of Lifestyle and Travel Writers (PALAT) Travel Writers Radio is a weekly program covering the “flavours” of travel – food, beverages, wellness and lifestyle – plus all forms of travel and tourism experiences whether for business or leisure.  Travel and tourism is a vital economic activity for many countries and we are Australia’s only prime-time radio program covering the business events/MICE sector.  Importantly, we interview the people making a difference in our industry, people who love their jobs and happily share their stories, their interesting destinations or the serendipity of simply wandering the world.

Heard every Wednesday drive time ( from 5 pm to 7pm ) on J-AIR 87.8FM radio in Melbourne, Travel Writers Radio also broadcasts live via the Internet at http://www.j-air.com.au. We have iOS and Android smartphone apps and we have a podcast facility, now hosted on our own SoundCloud site – https:/soundcloud.com/travelwritersradio

As a PALAT member we invite you to contribute editorial content to the show. If you are a member of the travel industry we welcome your story suggestions on topics you believe would be of interest to our audience. Just email us – info@travelwritersradio.com.

PALAT members are professional journalists, authors, photographers, videographers and broadcasters – all storytellers working across a range of media from print to online.  If you fit one of these categories, or are studying a recognised tertiary degree course in any of these disciplines we welcome your inquiry about membership. We currently have members across Australasia, USA, and Europe. We’re a small but growing organisation with local experience and a global perspective of the benefits of travel to broaden the mind and enlighten both reporter and listener.


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IFWTWA Australasia launches Travel Writers radio show

ifwtwaAUST-smlsqThe International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), a global network of journalists who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, today launched the Travel Writers radio show, an initiative of IFWTWA’s Australasia division.
The program will be heard on Melbourne’s newest FM station J-AIR and via the Internet to a mobile and a global audience (www.j-air.com.au).  J-AIR is a community-based broadcaster with a narrowcast commercial FM licence to transmit for 10 km around Caulfield to a potential audience of almost one million people.  J-AIR has been broadcasting via the Internet for 18 months, but its FM signal is expected to be live later this month at 87.8 FM. The Travel Writers radio show airs Wednesdays at 1pm (AEST), hosted by industry veterans, Graeme Kemlo and Peter Watson.
Announcing the move, IFWTWA Australasia chair, Graeme Kemlo, said the program covering both leisure and business travel topics as well as culinary and wine tourism.
“It is designed to entertain, inform and inspire”.  It features IFWTWA members from across its global membership base reporting the latest travel news, interviews, travel tips, reviews of destinations, food, wine and unique experiences for travellers around the world, or around the corner in Australia’s cities and regions.
“We have a wonderful network of experienced travellers who cover the globe in words and pictures and will provide first-hand accounts of their adventures.  It will be a collaborative effort co-ordinated from Melbourne with reporting by members across Australia, South East Asia, the South Pacific, United States, Canada and Europe,” Graeme said.
“The ‘wireless’, as we once described it, is a wonderful medium that allows a listener to dream of exotic locations and aspirational experiences.  So, alongside the expertise of our writers in food, wine and travel – many have their own columns, travel apps, books, websites and blogs – we’ll supplement their radio reportage with information and images posted to the IFWTWA website (www.ifwtwa.org) and the blog – foodwinetraveltips,” he said.
Peter Watson, who spent many years as a senior executive in the Australian travel industry, said the program was also designed to lift the veil on the industry for travel consumers and would cover topics such as: should you book everything on the Net; how far out should you buy an air ticket/ hotel/cruise; how (not) to get an upgrade; travel health; the best travel technology; how to identify and avoid travel scams; should you believe online hotel reviews; and how to choose from the myriad of travel money options.

Here’s a link to the podcast of the first episode –

– Graeme Kemlo

Potsdam – Walking in History and a Great Lunch

Schloss Cecilienhoff - site of the Potsdam Conference
Schloss Cecilienhoff – site of the Potsdam Conference

Potsdam, is around 40 minutes from Berlin by train, and is an important part of European cultural history.  Not only is Potsdam the site of some famous country estates that belonged at one time or other to various Kaiser’s and Kings; including the World Heritage listed Sanssouci Palace and Park.   Potsdam is also famous for the Potsdam Conference – held at Schloss Cecilienhof in 1945; which sealed the fate of Germany after WW2.

It was a pleasant and relaxing 40 minute train ride from Alexanderplatz to Potsdam, and we alighted at Park Sanssouci and took a short walk to the Neues Palace, sadly it was closed for the day, which was perhaps just as well as it is looking very much in need of both a good clean and some extensive repair work.  We then embarked on a longer and more energetic walk through the magnificent parkland, it covers almost 300 hectares, heading for Schloss Sanssouci.

Sanssouci was commissioned by Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1745, because he wanted to live sans souci (outside the city), which in Frederick’s case, meant outside the hated city.  The palace and grounds are both magnificent and extensive.  and there is a guided tour available.  Departing Sanssouci we headed for our second (and lunchtime) destination Schloss Cecilienhof.  The schloss is now a luxury hotel and we first sought out the well respected and much talked about restaurant, after all it was herself who had said; “the best part of sightseeing is a long lunch”!

Having found said restaurant we settled in and enjoyed a leisurely and delicious lunch.  We started sipping a delightfully tasty and tangy German Rose, which came from Syrah Grapes and was almost a soft blush, it was so good we stayed with it through lunch.

German Rose - A Syrah Blush
German Rose – A Syrah Blush

We went straight on to main courses, calves liver (her) and stuffed guinea fowl (me) and followed up with cheese.  The calves liver, enjoyed by the famous eater of offal, was a superb meal, served with mash and caramelized onions, it was topped off by three lightly fried onion rings  and was pronounced by both the eater and the taster as perfection.

The guinea fowl, which is a dish I had never previously eaten, was served as leg (you would call it Maryland if it was chicken) and breast, stuffed with forcemeat, on a base of potato gnocchi, with tomato, spring onion and a very delicate foam sauce.  In a word; delicious! If you want more words, then I quote: “one of the best bird meals I have ever eaten, anywhere.”  We finished with a shared cheese platter, which was five different cheese, two different breads and condiments; it looked great  and tasted the same; and coffee – good coffee, real coffee, proper coffee – you get the drift.

Guinea fowl – tasted as good as it looks
Calfs liver - superbly presented
Calfs liver – superbly presented

After lunch we explored the grounds, had a quick look at the conference venue (from the outside) and then headed for the station and the trip home.  It was a great day out, and one I am happy to recommend – and not only because a good lunch awaits – but the sights are great, the gardens brilliant, you are walking through history and the train journey itself a bit of fun.

Peter Watson

Spanish chef woos with swinging sausages and traditional Paella


Head chef of one of Melbourne’s newest Spanish restaurants, Bohemian, has 30 swinging sausages, he tells me proudly .. all hanging behind the lavish floor to ceiling curtain in his restaurant.

Josep Espunga Solans has only been in Australia 18 months – moving here to open Eddie Muto’s new restaurant in South Wharf from New York, and he has that sparkle when he talks about the sausage he creates from scratch, and that cheeky smile only a Spanish chef can possess.

Having never visited Australian shores before moving here, he’s now well settled into life here, riding his bike to and from work and enjoying the diverse culinary experiences Melbourne offers.

He is impressed with the Spanish cuisine already in the city and it inspires him he tells me, but he wants to do things a bit differently – and he loves to make things on site too – the sausages of course and then there’s goat’s cheese and ice-cream, all made from scratch.

It’s this approach which has Spanish visitors and those wanting an authentic Spanish experience coming back – oh and maybe the pop-up bar and flamingo dancers too.

The area has a laneway feel to it, despite being along the Yarra River – and with multiple restaurants it’s definitely catching the eye of local foodies.

Whether it’s a three-hatted restaurant or the best of cheap eats – you’ll find it all here along with every kind of cuisine you could imagine, reflecting the city’s diverse cultural influence from Japanese to street Thai food.

Josep’s own cultural influence growing up in a small town north of Catalonia at the base of the Pyrenees, where his parents owned their own restaurant, plays a part in his food too and his mother is still his harshest critic.

“She kept checking the kitchen to see if the pots were clean” he tells me of her last visit.

She’s a tough critic when it comes to his dishes, but his signature Paella is a winner.

It’s all in the stock, he says.

“If a Paella is yellow, it’s because they use food colourings. I only use stock from real fresh food – whether it’s from fresh local seafood from the markets or chicken bones. So the paella is the colour of the food you use to create the stock.”

His mother was less impressed with his suckling pig served with fresh carrot ice-cream – again made from freshly squeezed carrot juice on site.

“She likes traditional dishes, roast goes with roast vegetables for her.”

But for Josep, just like the entertainment he brings it to the restaurant, it’s all about the overall experience.

“I want people to be able to try something they couldn’t or wouldn’t make at home, to give them a real dining experience.”

It’s certainly hitting a nerve with his repeat customers who he plans to continue to surprise – maybe next time it’ll be a dish using one of his swinging sausages.


Super Seafood and Stunning Service at Swallows Hotel

Rubira PrawnsFrom the moment that we sat down right up to when we left, Rubiras at Swallows (Station Street – Port Melbourne) was a delight!  Even as we walked out the door, in a final and fitting farewell, the guy behind the bar said, “thanks for coming, we hope you had a great night, please come back again.”  Rest assured – we will – and quite soon!

We were there at the suggestion of the birthday girl; who was our host and as we settled in it became obvious that this would be no ordinary “pub meal”.  The blackboard menu, which included the daily specials, was informative and offered something for everyone, with seafood the feature, but plenty of options available if fish was not your fancy.

In the end all of the information that we needed came from our waiter.  Put simply he was brilliant; he was attentive, informative, and friendly, and he made our night.  First up he suggested that we should share two or three entrees: “don’t worry about the number of pieces” he said, “we will make sure there are four of everything so you will all get a taste.”  Then he listened to our thoughts and involved himself in the discussion and finally made his suggestions, all of which we accepted.

Whitebait Fritters – Melt in the Mouth

We started with Hervey Bay scallops, steamed and served on the half shell, with an Asian inspired light sauce; they were perfectly cooked and superbly flavoured, and we followed that with whitebait fritters, four individual plates each with what looked like a small, fluffy omelette in the centre; simple but elegant they almost melted in your mouth.  Our third and final entree was the chilli tiger prawns, and we each enjoyed one superbly presented medium/large tiger prawn served with the best chilli sauce that this prawn eater has ever tasted.  It was a thick and spicy with a tang that lingered but did not burn, and it pervaded the prawn without overbearing it; in short it was perfection on a plate.

Rubiras Original Chilli Tiger Prawns

The main courses were equally good; three of us had picked from the market-fresh fish list, which offered six different options and five different cooking methods.  Our waiter was quick to offer his opinion on what was the preferred method for each fish. The seafood linguini, chosen by our host, looked sensational with plenty of seafood on show and it was pronounced just great.  The fish dishes were served with “rustic chips” and homemade tartar sauce to which we added a side salad of Spinach and Pinenuts to share from the list of side dishes available.  Each of the fish dishes was given a big thumbs up; my Cajun inspired blackened Hapuka was succulent, tender and and a delight to eat, the chips were crunchy outside and soft in the centre and the salad crisp, clean and tasty.

Seafood Linguini

We finished by sharing a couple of deserts, Rhubarb and Apple Crumble and the Cheesecake of the day, between the four of us, along with a glass of the complimentary “sticky” that accompanies each desert choice, and a coffee. I ordered my evening machiatto – my test of a good coffee and a good barista – and it arrived hot, strong and full of taste with three distinct and superb layers looking just like a good machiatto should look.

Rubiras is not cheap, although you could get away for less than we spent which was just under $100.00 per head for our food, a pre-dinner drink, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir from the Bellarine Peninsula.  What Rubiras delivers is value for money, quality food and super service, all of which makes for a great dining experience.

A secret between you, me and (shortly) most of Melbourne

You’d be forgiven for thinking the country was awash in autumn food and wine festivals.  And you’d be right.  Image

But there are still some gems to be discovered amongst the offerings from quiet country towns in regional Victoria.  Take Warburton for example:  it is home to one of the best kept food and accommodation secrets – Oscar’s, recently reborn beside the Yarra River with sparkling accommodation for 40, glamorous public spaces, enormous century-old oak trees, an actual babbling brook river frontage, and a star in the kitchen!

I was there with some other IFWTWA writers to have an exclusive preview of the Yarra Valley Food & Wine Festival.  And from the first sip of the opening dish the chef had me. We dined on THE best Tom Kha I’ve ever tasted full stop. And having worked in Thailand over the past 15 years, and been feted around the Kingdom, I have swallowed my share of the delicious coconut and galangal soup, with and without chicken.  Outside of Thailand the problem with most attempts at this Siamese staple is the lack of young coconut flesh, instead substituted by coconut cream in cans.  The reason for the subtle yet distinct flavour balance Oscar’s executive chef, Mark Krueger achieves is soon revealed.

He spent the past eight years in Koh Samui Thailand and the Maldives, but his classical training includes time in a Bocuse kitchen. Image

Mark calls his style “Meditterasian” – and his Tom Kha delivered wonderful flavours enhanced by unexpected elements such as sundried tomato.  Another of Mark’s signature dishes, seared salmon featured tomato and basil hummus, crisp fried capers, smoked olive powder and bell pepper pannacotta.

By the time you read this the restaurant at Oscar’s may be taking bookings from an unsuspecting public – my suggestion is get in there before everyone’s talking about Mark’s culinary skill and you can’t get a seat (or a bed overnight should you indulge in one too many)

The other reason you might want to visit the festival in Yarra Valley, starting this Thursday April 11 through 14, is that the local winemakers predict the current vintage will be “spectacular in both still and sparkling” – a quote from Dan Buckle of Chandon who also said the local pinot was “deep in colour…smells fantastic”. Punt Road winemaker Kate Goodwin said that although grape quantities might be down 35-40%, the concentrated wines that resulted were fantastic and 2013 would be a stellar year for pinot and chardonnay – “the grape quality is so good we are trying to do more with the grapes themselves.”

Kate encourages visitors to cellar doors to speak up about what they like.  “I meet a lot of customers who say, ‘I know nothing about winemaking but I know what I like’.  They are too nervous to speak up front, but we like the authenticity and, actually, most people are pretty good judges.”

For more information: info@yarravalleyfestival.com.au

Spice Island – A Balinese Extravaganza

spice island cooking school and pantry
spice island cooking school and pantry

A recent invitation to the Spice Island cooking school at San Remo revealed cooking classes don’t need to be a tame, hands-off affair; quite the contrary. Paul Stafford’s teaching style is energetic, fun and unfrazzled.

His school is about good food, good company and good fun. I’ve attended many classes over the years but Spice Island would have to be the rowdiest and most unruly; the best I’ve ever been to.

During the 90s I spent many evenings in the small kitchen of Aruna Kuba, an Indian lady, who ran regular cooking classes from her tiny apartment above the bustling streets of Riyadh.

About a dozen expatriate women would squeeze around her kitchen island; it was the stage to her ever-changing performances. A calm, meditative air surrounded all her demonstrations, these were my benchmark.

To arrive at a vibrant, colourful open-plan cooking school cum café in downtown San Remo was not what I was expecting. The only thing meditative about Spice Island was the name of Paul’s efficient offsider called Angel. Everything else is fast-paced, frenetic, hands-on and delicious; it’s my kind of cooking.

A long bench encumbered with a psychedelic array of Balinese mise-en-place took centre stage. Armed with a Phillip Island Purple Hen sauvignon blanc and an apron we were ushered to our stations to grind, chop and stir the night away. Somehow, amidst the frivolity and wine our group managed to create a Balinese extravaganza. Chicken satays, roasted eggplant sambal, aromatic poached chicken and curry fish miraculously materialised before our eyes.

But the best part about the evening was retiring to a long communal table laden with the fruits of our labour. The philosophy behind Spice Island is simple. Cooking classes designed for groups – friends, corporate and family – seeking a little ‘me’ time.

It’s a dinner party with a twist.

San Remo is a relaxed few hours drive from Melbourne. The Silverwater Resort, moments away from the school, is the perfect base for a weekend escape. Luxury apartments await your arrival.

Spice Island Cooking School and Pantry

117 Marine Pde

San Remo

T 03-59567557


Silverwater Resort

17 Potters Hill Rd

San Remo

T 1800 033 403

Kommune – a better class of red

KommuneWhen they describe Brunswick Street, the 2 km strip that runs north-south from the edge of Melbourne city, as ‘eclectic’, that’s usually a word of warning to anyone old enough to remember The Beatles.

And while the street clearly does cater to a twenty-something audience with its mix of styles (is it post-grunge, pre-punk or merely post-pubescent?), arty boutiques, cool bars and eateries (memorable and equally forgettable), there is emerging a more sophisticated wining and dining scene.

Such is new kid on the block, Kommune Canteen at number 370.  The name, complete with five pointed star above the ‘e’ is a tip of the hat by co-owner Jane Besgrove, to her many years living in Shanghai.  But whereas this street may have once harboured socialist leanings as a working class suburb, the only reds in this Kommune are bottled – like the lovely sweet Sangiovese from Pizzini’s King Valley vineyards.

Officially launched this week, this small wine bar is also an ideal function venue for the forty or fifty- somethings who want to enjoy a quiet drink while all the sweet young things clamour for a $4 pizza at Bimbo right next door.  It is also small enough that you can book it out for an exclusive evening, catered by Paul Le Noury (of Yum Catering and Fish Dish, the highly regarded CBD café bar restaurant).  Certainly the opening food and wine offerings were a cut above typical local fare – a beacon in a street offering almost 100 choices.

Jane Besgrove with partner, John Koukos, want to lift the standard in Brunswick Street by replacing the ‘vin ordinaire’ (tres ordinaire, some might say) with an appealing range of mostly local varietals, “for not much more than a house wine”.  If it looks busy inside, it is, but there’s always the candlelit courtyard out back.

Kommune is a cosy retreat for grown-ups with its interesting range of wines, beers, tasty bar snacks by Paul Le Noury, and memorable décor: bowler hats, upside down umbrellas, a scrapbook of images from the street and some comfy lounge chairs  –  there’s homage to the local eclectic, some Magritte surrealism thrown in, and a splash of Manhattan for good measure.  Friends will be curious to hear your latest “find” is a Kommune.

– Graeme Kemlo

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