Crossgates’ Maggie McFly’s has the menu to satisfy everyone

Crossgates’ Maggie McFly’s has the menu to satisfy everyone

Jul 09, 2019 Diego Cagara Food and Drink , The Spot GUILDERLAND — The first impression upon arriving at Maggie McFly’s Local Craft Eatery and Bar, the newest restaurant to open in Crossgates Mall, was its impressively colossal menu. The waiter, a kind young man named Tom, noticed my friend’s and my curious expressions as we flipped through the menu’s glossy, magazine-like pages and he sensed his need to step in to assist. “I could help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed,” he smiled but the thing was that the menu was not overwhelming as he thought. Instead, it came across as offering multitudinous options, rich in flavors, food types and beverages. Tom’s apprehension seemed understandable though. Maggie McFly’s had just opened on Wednesday, June 26 and was still attracting the attention of casual shoppers and cuisine enthusiasts alike. First announced to grace Crossgates Mall in summer 2018, the restaurant marked the first New York location for the Connecticut-based chain, which also operates seven other locations throughout Connecticut and Virginia. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays through Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Sundays. According to its website, it has around 180 items for patrons to choose from. The food pages are broken down into multiple sections like Soup + Salad, Appetizers, Artisan Pizzas, Sandwiches, Signature Burgers, Giant Salads, Street Eats, Pasta Specialties, House Specialties, Chicken Specialties, Fresh Food + Seafood, Steak + Ribs, and Desserts. While it also combines elements of American, Asian and Italian cuisines in some options, there is a Farm to Table Brunch section (available on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and a Fit Menu too. If that list was not diverse enough, its drink menu offers rich options for patrons seeking alcohol and non-alcohol beverages alike. From a bird’s eye view, prices seem to range from $10 onwards on most items, some even stretching beyond the $20 mark. Tom took the time to skim through some of the menu’s highlights with us, asking us attentive questions throughout like whether we preferred seafood, chicken or a light bite. Tom’s professionalism displayed how crucial customer service was when customers themselves need a little guidance in a brand-new establishment. Similar to neighboring restaurant 110 Grill just across the hall, Maggie McFly’s has its own outdoor patio area which is ideal for the summer. However, my friend and I opted to be seated inside where Tom led us to a high-chairs-and-table setting, complete with caramel brown leather seating. The atmosphere looked open and relaxing, with spacious tables populating the floor throughout, accompanied by a central bar, which looked inviting for those seeking Happy Hour time. Decked with several immense-looking television screens and matching brown wooden decor, it yielded an almost-rustic feel while verging on looking like a modern fusion of a sports bar and a classic American restaurant. After thanking Tom for giving us a few more minutes to peruse the menu, my friend and I decided on Chicken Potstickers ($8.99) as our shared appetizer. They were like Chinese dumplings filled with cabbage, shitake mushrooms and chives, served with garlic ginger soy and sweet chili sauces. For our main meals, my friend then chose the Bang-Bang Shrimp + Chicken ($18.99) which featured sauteed shrimp, all-natural chicken, coconut chicken sauce, vegetables, basmati rice and house-made peanut sauce. I picked the Italian Sausage + Cavatelli ($18.99) which comprised of freshly-made ricotta cavatelli pasta, sweet Italian sausage sourced from nearby Altamont, broccolini, sundried tomatoes, garlic, white wine and topped with Asiago. We also settled on water for our drinks as we thought our meals would be too filling. The dishes were served surprisingly quick within 12 minutes, and their serving sizes were, like the menu, Herculean. However, since my friend and I each had not eaten in hours prior, we appreciated the sheer sizes, instead of recoiling in shock. The Chicken Potstickers presented a rich salty experience in our mouths, after having dipped them in the accompanying soy sauce as if we were briefly in Chinatown. They came as a six-piece set, making it easy for my friend and I to share as we immediately appreciated the Asian-influenced dish. The potstickers could have benefitted from sporting a slightly crispier texture but its overall semi-soft feel was nonetheless welcomed. My friend’s main dish resembled a lavish-looking Indian or Middle Eastern dish with yellow curry, rice and spices. It felt perfect for her as she always fancied those types of cuisines so it was not a surprise when her eyes lit up with anticipation when Tom gently presented her dish. Mixing the sauces and rice together, my friend moaned in contentment, devouring the course without delay and admiring how the spiciness was not too pronounced. In my case, my dish proved that pasta did not always require a thick creamy sauce for it to be enjoyed. I raised an eyebrow in surprise as I’d never eaten pasta with sundried tomatoes before but the tangy feel of the latter offered an extra dimension to the dish. The Italian sausage and broccolini were scattered throughout in bits, making each forkful a delight to consume. The cavatelli was also cooked under the right amount of time as the texture was not too hard or soft. After popping by twice to check up on us, Tom returned later with a smile when we told him how splendid our dishes were. When he asked if we wanted to try out any desserts, his face broke into a chuckle when we told him our meals had filled us but it felt like an indirect invitation to return in the future to try out what they offered. The menu included cupcakes, cheesecakes and apple crisp which were said to come from Delmar’s Perfect Blend Bakery. There were also ice cream sundaes, floats, milkshakes and cake slices. Almost all the desserts stayed below the $10 mark but one called The Titanic — two warm lava cakes with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and assorted toppings — stuck out with an intriguing $15.99 price tag. While I usually would have ignored such an option with a double-digit price, it caught my eye enough to make me wonder if it’s worth trying sometime in the future. That led to our final impression of Maggie McFly’s in that with its vast menu options, you could order something completely different every time you return. The menu may overwhelm casual hungry customers at first but it sends a silent message that beckons the curious to swing by again. And again.
Photos by Diego Cagara / Spotlight News Share this:

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Amazing Holiday

Once again our stay was fantastic. All the staff made us feel so welcome we practically felt at home with family. We have been staying here for about eighteen years and it gets better and better each time. The staff make us feel like royalty Francis and Eddie were really welcoming with smiles on there faces. All the staff are amazing and can’t seem to do enough for you. Dennis and Yeukant really look after us by the pool and the gardens are amazing. There’s a great selection of restaurants so there’s no need to go out to eat. Indya is a great restaurant finest Indian cuisine all the staff were amazing and so was the manager we were so well looked after. The food at La Strega is mouthwatering Italian food the manager Hazem couldn’t do enough for us and he was so helpful in helping us with the menu. The seafood at Geales was so fresh from the daily catch the chef Uddhab made me some delicious prawns and also came to speak to me to make sure they were just as I wanted them and they were just perfect also the manager Stefan is also very friendly and helpful and always has time to have a conversation. Sloanes is another great restaurant seafood night is a must.nOverall I would highly recommend staying everything about this hotel is 7 star.

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Bengali Chhana / Chhena Dhokar Dalna – A Delightful Rendition

> Vegetarian Sides / Recipes Bengali Chhana / Chhena Dhokar Dalna – A Delightful Rendition Believe in possibilty. Presenting my new creation – Chanar Dhokar Dalna which translates to curried scrambled paneer and lentil cakes. Dhokar dalna is one of those classiest vegetarian dish from erstwhile elite culinary school of Bengal, which looks deceptively easy to make. But only few can master the art of making dhoka. It takes time, patience and passion to learn such delicacies. Bengal was once the epicenter of art, culture, education, renaissance and revolutionary ideas but the very identity of Bengali culture is at stake now. So does the ethnicity of Bengali cuisine. I laughed out loud when I noticed that some food enthusiasts had described dhokar dalna as Bengali dal pakora curry while some other mention it as similar to besan ki sabzi. Its not that we don’t have dal pakora curry in our cuisine, we do have one and we call it daler borar jhal. This dish is entirely different from how we prepare dhokar dalna. Similarly you can not substitute chana dal with chickpea flour to make dhokar dalna, it will be besan ki sabzi or Rajasthani besan ke gatte ki sabzi. However one can argue at length about the genetic derivative of both the same prime ingredients but cooking is also an art. And it takes time to learn about the other’s culture and traditions. One can surely understand the finesse of other’s cultural diversity by having a liberal and receptive mind set. Having said that there were few experiments done with this classy vegetarian dish. The rendition of Koraishutir Dhokar Dalna from house of Tagore’s deserve special mention here. Tagore’s were known gastronomes of their times, known for their penchant for luxuriant rich and diversely ethnic food traditions. Some recipes were their innovations and with time they have become one of the most sophisticated and elegant dishes in Bengali cuisine. This rendition of chanar dhokar dalna is deliciously rich, exuberant with aromatic spices, the sheer opulence of desi ghee and the curry which is as smooth as silk. The traditional dhokar dalna if not correctly made, irked many. And because its completely made with bengal gram / chana dal (though best for diabetics because of low GI), it has not received well by people with gastric. Koarishutir dhokar dalna comes to rescue in such situations because it beautifully offsets the balance towards more protein power. This chanar dhokar dalna promises to do the same but with more panache. A dish suitable for special ocassion and absolutely regal in nature. How to make chanar dhokar dalna – this is simple. I have simply added fresh chhena to the regular dhokar dalna ingredients. And this makes all the difference. Can you make this with regular paneer? You can try. But it might give you different result. Regular paneer is dry and you need moisture of fresh chenna for this recipe. The moisture will helps to blend everything uniformly and homogeneously. What to serve with this chhanar dhokar dalna ? This dish will go best with Bengali mishti pulao and luchi / or fluffy and puffy Bengali pooris . Can we bake or steam dhokas here? Both the techniques you can try, but I personally prefer to do it in the traditional way, that is by drying it in kadhai or pan till it forms a coagulated mass. Baking dries out the dhokas and if moisture content is less than required, while frying it, the dhokas may crumble. Steaming however gives good results but you need to do in pressure cooker or water bath technique. Do not try to steam it in microwave. It remains uncooked and you wont get the right texture too. What’s in the name? Yes, I have name it as Chhanar dhokar dalna – meaning dhokar dalna with chhana or mashed paneer / Indian cottage cheese. This name could be misleading to many, if you are not very familiar with the Bengali dishes. We have another dish called – chhanar dalna, that is plain old paneer and potato curry. More Ideas : After fried, these chhanar dhokar dalna / crumbled paneer and lentil cakes are good in itself, so you can try them as an evening snacks or serve them as an appetizer with green chutneys. Bengali Chhana / Chhena Dhokar Dalna – A Delightful Rendition

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Celeb Chef Opening First Restaurant In Leicester Revealed

Following weeks of speculation, Tandem can finally confirm that award-winning chef, Cyrus Todiwala is the famous face to launch Leicester’s most anticipated Indian restaurant and cocktail bar.
In collaboration with Raphael Hospitality, Tandem marks a major mile-stone for both Leicester and Todiwala as the restaurant is Todiwala’s first outside of London adding to his vast portfolio of dining venues including the renowned Café Spice Namasté.
Todiwala, famously known for appearing on The Incredible Spice Men, with Tony Singh and being awarded an OBE for services to the Hospitality industry and for education and training, has already opened four successful restaurants around London and as his name continues to grow, his reputation follows, with his dishes becoming increasingly well known for their creativity and individuality.
When creating Tandem, Cyrus and Raphael had a specific vision and it was clear from the very beginning that Leicester was the perfect city to unveil their new concept due to its already diverse food and drink scene.
Having teased the launch during his recent appearance on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Todiwala said: “Leicester celebrates lots of different varieties of cuisine and we wanted to be part of that. It was important to choose a location that already appreciated quality Indian food but where we can also bring a completely new experience to life, and Leicester offers just that being a city with lots of spirit and passion.”
Tandem will remain true to Todiwala’s Indian routes and beliefs with the menu carefully crafted using traditional Indian cooking techniques and ethically and sustainably sourced British produce, ensuring each dish is fresh and beautifully presented.
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“A lot of care and detail has gone into sourcing the food we have selected for the menu. We have paid particular attention to sustainability, ethical sourcing, using in-season British produce, working very closely with our suppliers to make sure that our customers get the very best we can possibly buy. Exploring and playing with the multitude of ingredients at our disposal today allows us to showcase our individuality and fearlessness when it comes to experimenting and creating dishes that satisfy our customers.”
Tandem, located in Highcross shopping centre will be Todiwala’s fifth restaurant with bookings opening on 25 July.
Jo Tallack, General Manager at Highcross Leicester, said: “Securing Tandem is a major milestone for Highcross and for Leicester. We’ve been working closely with Cyrus and his team to ensure his vision is realised and I’m delighted it has come to fruition.
“The restaurant joins a number of exciting openings secured at Highcross this year and reinforces our position as an ideal destination for dining out in the city.”
Todiwala concluded: “The foodie scene in Leicester is taking flight and we’re excited to bring Tandem to such an exciting and vibrant city. I am thrilled that it will be the home of Tandem’s flagship restaurant. So far, the announcement has received a lot of positive reactions and it will be amazing to finally make the grand reveal in the coming weeks.” Find out more at tandemrestaurant.co.uk

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How private brands reignite frozen food category

For years, the frozen department was that section of the grocery store plagued by TV dinners, frosted glass that you couldn’t see through and very limited innovation. But, recently, there has been a revolution that is putting frozen back on the map. Educating consumers and motivating them to reconsider frozen has been on the minds of many retailers. And, it all starts with private brands.
In fact, private brand frozen sales are growing four times faster than overall frozen department sales, as retailers tap into three major trends to provide bold innovation that has consumers more engaged in frozen than ever before.
Plant-centric
Progressive plant-powered solutions are emerging as key drivers of private brand innovation in frozen to address growing interest in cleaner, health-forward products. For example, broccoli and kale are replacing wheat in pizza crusts to offer consumers new ways to minimize their carb intake while enhancing nutritional value. Cauliflower is becoming the new base for stuffing to offer indulgence without the “guilt.”
For busy parents struggling to come up with healthier meals for their kids, veggie noodle dishes and veggie tots are emerging as better-for-you alternatives. Even ice cream and ice pops are sneaking in vegetables to help consumers get their recommended dietary allowance in a fun and enjoyable way.
Expect to see private brands launch further innovative, plant-centric solutions in the frozen department to fuel continued growth.
Convenience redefined
More than ever, today’s on-the-go commuting culture is in need of shortcuts and new products that are conducive to time-constrained lifestyles and transient behavior. As a result, consumers seek innovation that balances convenience and reliability in a seamless way to simplify consumption and usage.
Private brands are addressing this challenge in new ways in frozen by offering convenient and creative solves for meal and snacking occasions throughout the day. Kits in particular have emerged as a go-to format, with new private brand options spanning dayparts. Wellness-curated lines of smoothie kits, bone broth soup kits and create-your-own dessert kits are examples of products emerging to enhance convenience around new styles of eating. Even frozen dinner solutions are being reimagined to think “outside the microwave box” through a culinary-forward lens, such as slow cooker, sheet pan and skillet meal kits.
Private brands will continue innovating along these lines by cross-pollinating ideas across categories to create new frozen solutions that better cater to the needs of today’s always-on shopper.
Flavor exploration
Consumer desire for flavor discovery is driving interest in new frozen products that leverage aromatics, global flavors and unexpected combinations to create more unique and dynamic taste experiences. In turn, retailers are embracing bolder and more exclusive flavors in private brands to surprise and delight shoppers, while better differentiating their frozen assortments.
Unexpected flavors such as chicken shawarma pizza, butter chicken spring rolls, halloumi fries and pakora-breaded chicken strips allow consumers to experiment with new cuisines through more approachable formats. Indulgence, particularly ice cream, has also been on the leading edge of bringing forth new flavor experiences by taking inspiration from other categories. Think spirit infusions like cherry bourbon, global spices such as Indian cardamom pistachio and botanicals like lavender honey. Expect to see further private brand innovation that ups the ante on flavor exploration to encourage continued engagement in frozen.
So, what’s next?
Frozen purchases are motivated by convenience, cravings and creativity. Driving sustainable growth will require maintaining a close pulse on the consumer and being agile in innovating in private brands to address ever-evolving wants and needs. Consumer desire for cleaner and healthier products that limit their impact on the planet will continue to shape innovation. Changing definitions of eating occasions will further blur lines between dayparts and inspire new products, as entrées, snacks, breakfast, appetizers, side dishes and indulgence become interchangeable and suitable anytime.
What’s more, the global pantry will continue to expand its influence on private brand innovation in frozen, bringing forth unexpected combinations that balance health and indulgence in an approachable way, while satisfying interest for flavor discovery. Together, this dynamic trio of plant-centric, convenience-conscious and flavor-forward private brand solutions will fuel ongoing momentum in the frozen department. Bob DiNunzio is director of category strategy at Daymon, Stamford, Conn. Related Articles

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Delicious Places: A Feast for All Your Senses

From extraordinary locations to hyper-local cuisine, a new wave of bars and restaurants are heating up the culinary scene By Anna Southgate AND James Clasper On 7/9/19 at 3:53 PM EDT Share Culture Restaurants Food Foodies
From extraordinary locations to hyper-local cuisine, a new wave of bars and restaurants are taking global gastronomy to increasingly exciting heights. “Where should we eat tonight?” It’s an age-old question and one that seems to be getting harder to answer—in a good way.
Thankfully, contemporary cuisine is much more than avocado toast, as restaurants around the world continue to push the boundaries of flavor. As a consequence, global gastronomy has never felt more exciting, nor have dining options been more interesting. The reasons are abundantly clear: they include a burgeoning interest in food cultures and cuisines; the rise of “destination dining,” as restaurants seek to stand out from the crowd through dazzling design and architecture; and the explosion of the sustainable food movement, with more and more chefs choosing to use local and seasonal ingredients, serving food that’s good for both people and the planet.
Delicious Places celebrates numerous bars, cafés, and restaurants around the world that typify this exciting new trend in food culture. As the title suggests, they are all places that double down on deliciousness. This means going beyond what’s on the plate and showing respect not just for one’s ingredients, but also for one’s local community and heritage. In other words, they are places that are exploring the past in order to shape the future. La REcyclerie gestalten 2019/Sion Le Marchand Paris, France
The “RE” of Parisian La REcyclerie represents the restaurant’s ethos to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” A stone’s throw from the Porte de Saint-Ouen flea market at the city’s northernmost limit, La REcyclerie is a collective effort that combines a restaurant, bar, café, farm, and vegetable garden in one location. This eco haven has a relaxed hippie vibe that sets the place apart from the sophisticated bistros more readily associated with the French capital. RYU by Menard Dworkind gestalten 2019/David Dworkind Montreal, Canada
The ancient Japanese tradition of wabi sabi plays a central role at restaurant Ry. in the Westmount neighborhood of Montreal.
There is a minimalist geometry at play here, reminiscent of traditional Japanese design, which is most evident in the light and dark wood slats above and the predominantly gray, black, and brown color scheme. It’s a theme that is carried through to the presentation of the food—beautifully crafted sushi dishes served on black and white plates on bamboo mats. Tacofino Oasis by Shiloh Sukkau gestalten 2019/Vishal Marapon Tacofino Oasis by Shiloh Sukkau Vancouver, Canada
With a nod to the mid-century “Acapulco look,” the latest incarnation of the Tacofino brand lightens the mood in Vancouver’s financial district. Pink Zebra by Renesa Studio gestalten 2019/Suryan Dang Pink Zebra by Renesa Studio Kanpur, India
In the words of the creative minds behind this project, “How about we dip a zebra into a deep pink sea?” With its bizarre design, the Pink Zebra, aka the Feast India Co., is at once glamorous, surreal, and mesmerizing. Occupying two stories of a colonial building in the Indian city of Kanpur, the establishment features a dining area downstairs, a lounge / bar upstairs, and a covered terrace. Big Mamma gestalten 2019/Jerome Galland Big Mamma Paris, France
Focusing on the simple things in life, Big Mamma serves up generous helpings of top-quality Italian cuisine. The Big Mamma enterprise has taken Paris by storm in recent years with its range of Italian cocktail bars and restaurants, which includes Popolare, East Mamma, Pink Mamma, and Mamma Primi. La Colmada by Ultramarina Studio gestalten 2019/Courtesy of La Colmada
Malasaña, Spain
Uniting people of all persuasions, La Colmada heralds a new lease on life for the Spanish ultramarinos.
Combining the ultramarinos with another long-standing Spanish tradition—the taberna—this is the kind of place where you drop by to stock up on manchego cheese and olives, and end up staying for lunch. Cozy, intimate, and informal, the success of this diner lies in its simple yet distinctive branding—bold typography and geometric forms.
This article is excerpted from Delicious Places: New Food Culture, Restaurants and Interiors by Anna Southgate. Anna Southgate began her writing career over 20 years ago with an award-winning BBC Radio 4 satirical impressionist show that later went to TV. As a film Screenwriter Anna has written comedies and dramas for casts that include Academy, BAFTA, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominees and winners. She also writes for live events, including material for stand-up comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and for national tours. gestalten 2019 Delicious Places: A Feast for All Your Senses | Culture Sign up for our Newsletter

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Seeking Adventure in Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands

By Rachel Lees – July 9, 2019
A tiny speck in the Indian Ocean, Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands prove to be an ideal destination for big-time adventure. Exploring the Cocos Keeling Islands in a motorized canoe.
Two dolphins glide, at speed, through the crystalline water, making a beeline for the dive boat we’re on. “Our escort has arrived!” shouts our skipper, Dieter Gerhard, as the pair flank the bow. Other dolphins leap from the lagoon around us. It’s a postcard-perfect day: a cerulean sky stretches cloudless above us as we hurtle across an otherwise still ocean. And there’s not another boat in sight.
Our vessel isn’t much larger than a dinghy, and the water is so clear I can’t resist reaching out to the dolphin closest to me. But our playful friend peels off as we approach our snorkel site near Direction Island. Gerhard, who runs a diving operation called Cocos Dive, calls it the “Bottle Dump.” We slip into the water, joining a trio of blacktip reef sharks who seem as curious as we are but maintain a polite distance. Convict tangs and Indian triggerfish flit among the coral.
If ever a destination deserved the “paradise” title, it must surely be the Cocos Keeling Islands. When Charles Darwin visited the remote Indian Ocean archipelago aboard the HMS Beagle in 1836, he described its main lagoon as a “brilliant expanse” of “shallow, clear, and still water” set “under the blue vault of heaven.” Today, the two atolls are an Australian external territory, despite being closer to the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. (The flight from Perth crosses almost 3,000 kilometers of empty ocean.) They comprise 27 tiny coral islands, of which only two are inhabited: West Island, which hosts a transient population of about 80 people, mostly from mainland Australia ; and Home Island, with its vibrant community of around 400 Cocos Malays. Arriving at the Cocos Keeling Islands via the twice-weekly flight from Perth.
If you’ve never heard of the Cocos Keelings, you’re not alone: most Australians were unaware of their existence until 2016, when a local beach was named the nation’s finest by Australian beach expert Brad Farmer. The winning stretch of sand was on the lagoon side of banana-shaped Direction Island, a swath of soft white powder fringed by coconut palms and translucent water. The only drawback was that it didn’t have a name, so Farmer christened it Cossies Beach after Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s governor-general. Locals continue to refer to it simply as “DI.”
“Perhaps they should have called it by the Cocos Malay name,” jokes Caroline McCartney, whose husband, Peter, runs glass-bottom boat tours around the islands. “They call it Pulu Tikus, or ‘Rat Island,’ after the rodents that came off the cargo ships!”
Despite their remote location and myriad empty beaches, the Cocos have an unexpectedly colorful history. Discovered in 1609 by a captain with the British East India Company, William Keeling, the islands remained uninhabited until the early 1800s, when a Scottish merchant seaman named John Clunies-Ross arrived on the scene at about the same time as Alexander Hare, a shady English adventurer with a taste for Malay concubines and slaves. The two men formed separate settlements and became bitter rivals, with Hare departing a few years later following large-scale desertions from his camp. Shipping in more Malay laborers, Clunies-Ross went on to establish a lucrative coconut plantation that harvested, shelled, and exported copra (dried coconut meat). Cossies Beach on Direction Island.
Half a century later, Queen Victoria granted the island group in perpetuity to John’s grandson, George Clunies-Ross, and his descendants. It thus remained under the rule of the self-styled Kings of Cocos until 1984, when its residents voted for full integration with Australia.
Throughout the years, the Cocos have borne witness to everything from the establishment of an underwater telegraph cable system in 1901, to a visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. The archipelago was the site of Australia’s first naval victory, in 1914, when the HMAS Sydney disabled the German cruiser SMS Emden ; during World War II, it hosted a Royal Air Force bomber base.
While they continue to play a role in Australia’s defense strategy, the islands today serve mostly as a destination for holidaymakers. The majority of visitors are Australians, yet they’re a diverse bunch, from off-the-beaten-path wanderers and passport-stamp collectors, to birdwatchers, divers, and kite-surfers—and even the occasional transmitter hunter in search of radio signals. The islands’ traditional Malay food is an attraction in its own right.
Personally, I was just curious—and keen to dip my toes into some saltwater. But the place had me completely spellbound before my plane from Perth had even landed on West Island, whose airport runway does double duty as a golf course. As we made our descent, cotton-candy clouds parted to reveal a fairy tale–like realm, glistening below like a lustrous pearl necklace laid out on a cloak of blue silk.
While shuffling through the airport alongside smiling Malay women in hijabs and equally cheerful Aussies wearing flip-flops and shorts, I realized this was an archipelago unlike any other. The Cocos combine the idyllic beaches and reefs of the Maldives with the laidback camaraderie of an Australian country town. Everywhere you go, people greet each other with a smile and a wave.
However, unlike in the Maldives, where resort guests are pampered and cocooned, in the Cocos, visitors are vastly outnumbered by and swiftly absorbed into the local community, as the ubiquitous self-catering accommodation options attest. But like so many of the world’s lesser-known locales, it’s the people who make the place. Throughout the week, three different residents offer to lend me their snorkels; the town nurse gives me a lift to the jetty when she sees me waiting for the bus; and, on my last day, after I’ve checked my bags in for my flight, the young woman I rented my scooter from lends me a swimsuit and takes me for one last dip in the ocean—then she lets me shower at her place, and ensures I’m back at the airport with ample time to board the plane. Tony lacy (and a friend) at his organic farm on West Island.
Snorkels and swimsuits are West Island’s unofficial uniform, given that most of the activities center on the water. Gerhard from Cocos Dive offers sea scooter tours that cater to all-comers, from amateur snorkelers to seasoned divers. After our earlier introduction to the Cocos’ dolphins and sharks, he also takes us to a shipwreck some believe to be the remains of a World War II battle cruiser, though locals know it affectionately as the “coal barge.” It’s thick with fish.
The islands are home to an incredible array of marine life, including more than 500 species of fish and 100 hard corals, along with myriad mollusks, crustaceans, and echinoderms. There are manta rays and dolphins—both common and spinner—plus the 30,000 or so hawksbill and green turtles in the lagoon.
If you’d rather stay dry, Peter McCartney’s glass-bottom boat tours are a must. During my morning with him and his family on the water, a pair of gray reef sharks chase each other below the glass panel. McCartney explains the Cocos Malay code of shark conduct: “They don’t eat us, so we don’t eat them.” Resort-style accommodation at Cocos Village Bungalows.
It seems to be working: no shark attacks have ever been recorded in the Cocos. This makes it hard to understand why these incredible creatures are so feared, especially if you’re snorkeling alongside half a dozen blacktip pups in the shark nursery off Pulu Maria. Another of the Cocos’ 25 uninhabited islands, it’s best visited on a motorized canoe safari with Cocos Islands Adventure Tours.
But it’s well worth taking a break from the water in favor of land-based activities. A half-hour ferry ride brings you to Home Island, where you can see the original Clunies-Ross mansion, built circa 1890. However, it’s the tour offering an insight into local Malay life that is most fascinating—and includes an hour or so with sparkly-eyed 74-year-old Edrie bin Austin, a hunter, fisherman, soap- and salt-maker who demonstrates how to weave a basket from palm leaves while chatting about his childhood on the island.
Back on West Island, bin Austin’s salt is sold in the airport and visitors’ center, and used as a not-so-secret seasoning at the weekly gourmet pizza nights at Saltmakers café. A jack of many trades, entrepreneur Tony Lacy helps bin Austin package and promote his product; he also works as Saltmakers’ pizza chef. But his passion project is manufacturing roasted coconut chips, which he hopes to export internationally.
On a tour of his farm, Lacy is trailed by a line of devoted, coconut-eating ducks as he explains his vision to create a sustainable industry on the island, one that he hopes will help generate an income for both West and Home islanders. Lacy currently employs two Cocos Malay women, Norhayati and Sumanti, who are as passionate as he is about the business, and who will succeed him in running it when he one day moves back to the mainland. A Home Island resident.
The chips are a far cry from the samosas and curries the women grew up eating, but the islands’ Malay cuisine isn’t in any danger of being forgotten. For the last two years, the local high school has run cooking classes that bring together students, their mothers, and grandmothers to teach visitors how to make curry puffs, chicken curry, and banana fritters.
It’s a fun, hands-on workshop, and everyone benefits from the interaction. Ayu and Fifi’s faces beam from their hijabs with the enthusiasm you’d expect from girls attending their first year of high school, as they explain each step in the cooking process. They tell me that next week, they start surf lessons—and suddenly we are all transported to that white sand, the sun glistening on the vivid aquamarine water just a stone’s throw from the school. Surely this must be paradise.
Getting There
Virgin Australia is the only airline that flies to the Cocos, departing twice a week (on Tuesdays and Fridays) from Perth.
Where to Stay
Doubles from US$170, minimum three-night stay.
What to Do

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Star lineup announced for new look Gourmet Escape

Life & Style life-style, The first announcement of celebrity chefs and food industry experts has been announced for the 2019 Western Australia Gourmet Escape, with international stars David Chang (USA), Marco Pierre White (UK), Danny Bowien (USA), Amanda Cohen (USA) and Pierre Koffmann (UK) leading the lineup. For the first time, the festival will be held in three WA regions – the Swan Valley, Perth and Margaret River, however not all of the celebrities will be venturing south for the final portion of the event. A festival program of more than 50 events will begin in the Swan Valley where food, music and family-friendly entertainment is on the menu, followed by collaborations with visiting chefs in some of Perth’s best restaurants, before heading down south to the Margaret River region to celebrate the world-class wine and produce the South-West is famous for. Pierre White, who attended the festival in 2015 and described the experience as ‘life changing,’ will be taking part in a one-off collaboration dinner at Sittella Winery in the Swan Valley, as well as making appearances at the family-friendly festival in the Swan Valley, Gourmet Feast in the Valley. “Gourmet Escape without question is the greatest food event on earth,” Pierre White said. “It puts a spotlight on this region. Look at the soil, feel the sand, that’s why everything grows so beautifully. Chefs from every single corner of the world come here. It’s life changing because you’re being exposed to something that you’ve never been exposed to before. It’s as simple as that.” Katrina King, Gourmet Escape Event Director said the event had positioned the Margaret River wine region on the global culinary map. “In 2019 we’re extremely proud to offer the most diverse program yet, showcasing so many global cuisines and experiences in some of Western Australia’s most stunning and unique food and wine locations,” she said. “From fine dining with Michelin stars, to casual new wave wine events, to a wholesome family-friendly festival and returning favourites, like the Westpac Gourmet Beach BBQ, Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate, Cullen Chardonnay Wine Tasting and Lunch and Sunset Beats & Bites,” Ms King said. The Swan Valley will also play host to the inaugural World Gourmet Symposium, a trade event designed to educate, dissect and debate the future of the food, beverage, tourism and hospitality industries. This year the dancefloor will also be heating up, with the addition of an exciting music program that features chart-topping headliners The Rubens, fresh off their European tour, and indie star, singer-songwriter Fergus James, at the new Gourmet Feast in the Valley event in the Swan Valley. SWAN VALLEY & PERTH – 8-14 November Gourmet Feast in the Valley – a new family-friendly food and music event held on the stunning grounds of Sandalford Winery over the festival’s first weekend. Celebrating artisanal produce and authentic culinary experiences, visiting chefs include the first rock star chef Marco Pierre White, hardcore carnivore Jess Pryles and Christian Stevenson aka DJ BBQ. The soundtrack will be pumping with Aussie alt-rock favourites The Rubens headlining on Saturday 9 November supported by Fergus James, 6-piece soul act Odette Mercy and Her Soul Atomics and Aussie DJ and chef Andrew Levins. The Sunday session is all about celebrating WA musicians with local singer-songwriters Web Rumors, indie-pop songstress Carla Geneve and rock goddess Abbe May taking to the stage. Not forgetting the little ones, dirtgirl and her band Mother Earth (Saturday 9 Nov) and Aria award winning children’s performer Justine Clarke (Sunday 10 Nov) will keep the kids entertained. Guests can also take part in hands on activities and masterclasses, enjoy locally focused festival food by some of Perth’s hottest food trucks and revel in the drama of cooking over flame at the Feast Fire Pit presented by Australian Good Meat. The Swan Valley program also features three exciting collaboration dinners: Marco Pierre White on the Past, Present and Future of Food dinner at Sittella Winery (Fri 8 Nov) Low and Slow with Jess Pryles presented by Australian Good Meat (Fri 8 Nov) The Italian Connection Dinner with Fico (TAS) and Lamont’s (Sat 9 Nov) The World Gourmet Symposium (Thurs 14 Nov) will bring together industry leaders and change-makers to discuss topics that impact and shape the culinary world. Mid-week will see some of Perth’s hottest restaurants welcome visiting chefs into their kitchens for unforgettable dinners with the world’s best. (Perth program to be released in August.) MARGARET RIVER – 15-17 November Dining by Twilight at Margaret River’s Secret Garden presented by Seedlip – this much-loved event will this year feature Amanda Cohen from Dirt Candy in New York, alongside WA chef George Cooper for a vegetable degustation using produce grown on Cooper’s own farm (Sat 16 Nov.) Into the New Africa #1 – Foraging, respect for the land and a deep love of country: South Africa’s Kobus van der Merwe, from The World Restaurant Awards’ Restaurant of the Year 2019* Wolfgat, is heading to Western Australia to prepare an intimate, personal dinner with Paul Iskov of Fervor (Fri 15 Nov.) Into the New Africa #2 – For one night only, two nomadic chefs – Selassie Atadika from Ghana, and Paul Iskov representing Australia’s original flavours, will come together in a cross-continent celebration of wild foods (Sat 16 Nov.) Eating at The Crossroads: Nouri Comes to Vasse Felix – Ivan Brehm pioneers Crossroads Cooking, a culinary practice which reveals the complex web of shared food histories that influence what we eat today, exploring the global story of human connection. He will team up with Vasse Felix’s Brendan Pratt to weave the practice through the menu, paired with wines from the vineyard, a pioneer in its own right (Fri 15 Nov.) Ristorante Cracco at Cape Lodge presented by Singapore Airlines – traditionally reserved for visiting chefs over the festival weekend, the elegant Cape Lodge lakeside restaurant will open its doors for Gourmet Escape attendees to experience a unique collaboration between resident local chef Tony Howell and Milan master Carlo Cracco (Sat 16 Nov.) Mission Chinese X Chow’s Table presented by Gage Roads Brewing Co. – from the eclectic streets of NYC to the picturesque valleys of Margaret River, this unique partnering will see Mission Chinese mastermind Danny Bowien collaborate with local legend Malcom Chow for a Chinese banquet like no other (Sat 16 Nov.) When Bo.Lan Came To Wise – Bo and Dylan from Bo.Lan in Bangkok will bring their traditional Thai cuisine with a fine-dining twist and serve it with unforgettable views and wines at Wise Vineyard Restaurant (Fri 15 Nov.) Lake House Meets Wills Domain- East meets south-west as two champions of regional food, Alla Wolf-Tasker AM of Lake House Daylesford and Seth James from Wills Domain, come together to serve an unforgettable dinner overlooking the vines (Fri 15 Nov.) From Fin to Tail: Saint Peter X Amelia Park – Josh Niland, one of the world’s most talented fish whisperers, comes to Margaret River to combine forces with Amelia Park’s Blair Allen who champions incredible local produce and seasonal cooking, paired with Amelia Park’s award-winning wines (Sat 16 Nov.) Mark Best on the Ocean Dream – join Australian chef Mark Best for a one-of-a-kind luxury cruise on idyllic Geographe Bay on board the luxury catamaran ‘Ocean Dream.’ Best’s cooking combined with spectacular views and world-class local wines will make for an unforgettable experience (Fri 15 – Sun 17 Nov.) Estate-to-Plate: A Locavore Experience at Voyager Estate – Passionate, committed and 100 per cent behind local produce and producers will be the ethos behind this collaborative dinner between Ray Adriansyah (Locavore, Bali) and Spanish-born chef Santiago Fernandez (Voyager Estate.) And because dinner will be held at Voyager’s grounds, this celebration will also include Voyager’s vaunted wines (Sat 16 Nov.) Adding new flavour to the festival’s forest events, the new Safari Club Cookout will offer live entertainment and showcase a range of cuisines from our visiting chefs who are famous for cooking over flame including: A Thai Takeover with David Thompson and Garima Arora. Garima from Gaa in Bangkok, is the first Indian Female Chef to receive a Michelin Star and was recently awarded Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019 at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards (Fri 15 Nov.) An Indian Inspired feast by Prateek Sadhu from Masque in Mumbai (Sat 16 Nov.) An Australian BBQ with WA home-grown talent Matt Stone and South Australia’s Jock Zonfrillo (Sun 17 Nov.) The ever-popular Westpac Gourmet Beach BBQ will be hosted by a blend of international, Australian and WA chefs, once again offering up the perfect waterside dining experience coupled with incredible produce, wine and music (Fri 15 Nov- Sun 17 Nov.) On Friday, David Chang will bring a taste of the legendary Momofuku restaurant empire to the South-West. Saturday, meanwhile, is all about home-team love as renowned West Australian fire starters Kenny McHardy (Manuka Woodfire Kitchen), Scott Bridger (Bib & Tucker) and Brenton Pyke (Market Eating House) swap their wood-ovens for an open-air kitchen To finish, Monty Koludrovic from Bondi institution Icebergs Dining Room & Bar will cater a Sunday Sesh brimming with Sydney cool. Wine royalty Christina Pickard, James Halliday, Nick Stock and Mike Bennie will be on hand to educate, inform and guide guests on their wine tasting journey at a number of returning favourites, including Sunset Beats & Bites, The Official Closing Party, Long Lunches at Fraser Gallop Estate, premium Chardonnay Tasting at Cullen Wines, the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Dinner, and the eighth instalment of the Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate Winery. Tickets go on sale at 9am AEST on Thursday 18 July. For full event details visit www.gourmetescape.com.au https://nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net/transform/v1/crop/frm/wXRNchq95bZhpeysFncAhm/e0474614-70cf-4a6b-9ed9-b5d9d3eb4613.jpg/r0_62_4950_2859_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

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Disneyland Paris Reveals Menus for Le Rendez-vous Gourmand

Disneyland Paris’ culinary celebration, Le Rendez-vous Gourmand returns to Walt Disney Studios Park from July 10th to October 13th 2019. This third Edition will celebrate the finest food and drink from France and all across Europe.
What’s happening: Disneyland Paris has announced the menus for their culinary festival, Le Rendez-vous Gourmand. This delightful tour of Euopean specialities is the perfect way to treat your taste buds and satisfy cravings. Guests will enjoy the very best in traditional French cuisine including tartiflette of Savoie and tasty crêpes of Bretagne. Plus traditional Belgian fries, Spanish paella, Italian Tiramisu and more are all on the menu! Chalets France: National Nibbles
Sample delicious French specialities, including the exotic tastes of the French Antilles in the Caribbean. NEW! Le Bar À Vin
Charcuterie and cheese are a famous part of French cuisine, try an assorted selection from our menu paired with a glass of organic wine or organic champagne. NEW! Éclair & Gourmandise
France is renowned for making the finest pastries. And this chalet is where you’ll find a selection of its famous éclairs, from pistachio to chocolate. Chalet Alsace
Germanic influences give this region a special flavour, accompanied by local wine. Savour a mouth-watering plate of Choucroute, the Alsatian recipe for happiness. Chalet Bretagne
Surrounded by the sea, this region abounds in cuisine featuring sumptuous salted butter. And as its cider makers will tell you, no visit is complete without a sweet or savory crêpe.
Chalet Savoie
Discover traditional Alpine recipes passed down through generations. These delicious dishes feature Savoyard cheeses and sophisticated charcuterie.
Chalet French Antilles
Treat yourself to some tropical tastes from the French West Indies, where everything is fresh and accompanied by a side of sunshine. Chalets Europe: Continental Cravings
New for 2019. Satisfy your cravings with a selection of Europe’s finest food and drink, from Belgian fries to Italian pizza and Spanish paella.
NEW! Chalet Greece
Sample the simple yet flavoursome delights of Greece – from a comforting moussaka to a refreshing Greek salad. Chalet Belgium
Belgium may be small, but it’s big on flavour, and you can enjoy its fries, fricadelle and waffles. Chalet Italy
Tuck into traditional, wholesome dishes from a country where every dinner is an occasion best shared with friends and family. Salute! Chalet Spain
Fill up with the many distinctive flavours of Spain, from hearty family favourites like seafood and chorizo paella to the divine crema catalana. Chalet Vegan Kitchen
Sample famous vegan dishes from all over the world, such as Indian dal, Lebanese falafels and a super healthy Buddha bowl. Chalet Bistrot de l’été
Relax at chalet Bistrot de l’été with a tipple from our carefully curated collection of European draught and bottled beer. Laughing Place recommends MouseFanTravel.com for all your Disney travel planning

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My personal recommendations for great places to eat while you’re here in Stuart,
Italian Cuisine
La Forchetta
Hands=down the best Italian food you will ever eat. If the owner Dominic is there, tell him Mike Phillips sent you. This restaurant is literally right down the road from Autogeek. It’s in the same parking lot as the Holiday Inn Express and across the street from the Courtyard Stuart (see hotels above)
Seafood
Fresh Catch
Again, if you love great seafood then Fresh Catch is hands-down the best seafood in town. It’s only about 3 miles down Kanner highway and then a right on Indian street, go through 2 lights and take a left and you’re there.
When you get there, if you’re sitting at the bar, tell Boomer I sent you.

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