Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Mum's the word: 5 books for mums who love to cook

Does your mum like to cook? Or does she simply enjoy the pleasure of flicking through cookbooks dreaming of her fantasy life as a competitor on the SBS series, The Chef's Line? Here are a few of my favourite cookbooks that will make great gift ideas for Mother's Day. Earn a few extra brownie points and present mum with a book and a dish you've created from it. Oh and don't forget to wash up. She'll be even more smitten with the gift if she is not the one wearing the oven mittens.


For the mum who is dreaming of a sea change ... 
This beautiful 206-page cookbook includes stunning recipes and photographs from the region's finest producers, caterers, restaurants and cafes. Now in its third edition, this taste of the region invites readers to weave their way around three distinct routes - starting in Byron Bay then venturing south over the hills to the west and finishing up in the north of NSW. It's in your interest to get mum up to speed with Quattro's fisherman's stew or soft tacos with spiced eggplant from Zest Byron Bay. If you're feeling generous, buy mum a weekend away at the inaugural Byron Bay Fine Food and Beverage Festival on Saturday June 3.  Byron Bay: A Taste of the Region, (Nelly Le Comte and Remy Tancred, ($35 available from Beach Byron Bay).


For the love of the location shots ...
Coastline explores the legacy of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Vikings who left the gift of a 'cuisine of the sun'.  It's a book to drool over and will either be an inspiration to grab a bulb of garlic, fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables and get in the kitchen or make you want to throw in the tea towel and move to Italy. This is a beautiful book that goes a long way to show how important simplicity is with tips for mastering the "perfect pesto, best boullaibaisse, and purest paella". Flick straight to page 128 for my personal fave: cappon magro (Riviera seafood spectacular).Coastline: The Food of Mediterranean Spain, France and Italy. By Lucio Galletto and David Dale (Murdoch Books, $59.99).


Lettuce eat: for those who love to #eatclean
This is for the mum who never orders takeaway and wants a bit of inspiration in the kitchen. This book contains 100 recipes for salads, sides and dressings that will ensure she will eat well - even if she only has 20 minutes to spare. This book reflects a global trend that sees more and more individuals looking to extend their #meatfreeMondays into the busy working week. Mums who love their salads will delve into this book with gusto for quick and easy comfort food that doesn't involve loading up on carbs. Here, the comfort factor is about enjoying deeply satisfying salads as a main. Salads All Year Round, Compiled by Makkie Mulder (Murdoch Books, $35).


For those partial to fasting ...
Lee Holmes presents a simple, supportive and sustainable approach to intermittent fasting. This is the kind of book that will do wonders for mums who eat out at a lot. Fast Your Way to Wellness is based on a 500-calorie restriction for women, which helps the body shift into a fat-burning machine. Inside this practical book are tips for starting your first fast, incorporating exercise into your routine and a calorie calculator designed to help you curate your own dishes. The inclusion of a shopping list makes this book very user-friendly. Fast Your Way to Wellness: Supercharged Food (Murdoch Books, $29.99)



For the matriarch who likes to keep entertaining easy... 
This book is for mums who have mastered the classics and want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time around the table with family and friends. This will be a well thumbed-through book with recipes such as broccolini and anchovy pasta, and lamb cutlets with zucchini and quinoa salad shoehorning mum out of the food rut she's been complaining about. It's difficult to pick a favourite dish in A Simple Table but if I was pressed to, it would have to be Gran's spring chicken casserole, which is an altogether heartier dish than your mum's famed chicken soup. The fact that the author has worked as a food stylist means your mum will take her presentation up a notch. A Simple Table: Fresh and Fabulous Recipes for Every Day by Michele Cranston ($39.99, Murdoch Books). 









Friday, 21 April 2017

Seven last-minute ideas for Mother's Day

Most mums would probably be happy with a warm hug and a cup of tea in bed on Mother's Day. But what the day does do is bring families together and provide an excuse to celebrate the special mum, aunt or grandmother in your life. If you want to pamper your mum this year, Carla Grossetti suggests seven places to take mum on her special day.

For creative mums: Hazelhurst Cafe
This year Hazelhurst Gallery will celebrate Mother's Day with a Mother Goddess of the Earth 2017 theme in the cafe designed to tie in with the final day of the Dinosaur Designs' exhibition. The cafe will be borrowing a Dinosaur Designs' crown and other pieces that mum can wear to have her photo taken in front of a floral background that has been months in the making. There will also be a pop-up florist with flowers to buy for mum. Breakfast is from 8am and there will be live music from noon. Hazelhurst Cafe, 782 Kingsway, Gymeawww.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Community/Hazelhurst/Cafe
Take Mum to Hazelhurst Cafe to get her photograph taken with the family. Image: Supplied


For the fashion-forward mum: Lunch at Riley's Garage
Nothing says I love you more than a nine-dish set menu with a complimentary glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne. Better still: all mums will receive a Versace Eros Pour Femme perfume as a Mother's Day gift from Riley's. Versace are also offering one lucky Mum the chance to win a hamper containing more than $800 worth of Versace goods. Winning your fashion-forward mum a fantasy wardrobe would make you the favourite child. 55 Riley St, Woolloomooloo, 02 9326 9055, rileystgarage.com.au

Forget tea and toast in bed; think Scotch eggs and drams of Dewar's Scotch Whisky instead. Image: Supplied




For wild whisky-loving mums: Dewar's Scotch Egg Club
For those not in the know, a Scotch egg is a portable British delicacy that involves a boiled egg being wrapped in meat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. Oh and it's just like what Mother Used to Make only much better when paired with whisky at the Dewar's Scotch Egg Club pop-up bar. Dewar's Brand Ambassador Andy Wren will take the flavours of Dewar's 12 and create a series of cocktails that pair perfectly with Scotch eggs moulded by ACME head chef Mitch Orr. The pop-up is not open on Mother's Day, but you can surprise Mum with a Saturday night booking followed by a sleep-in on her special day. Dewar's Scotch Egg Club, Laneway between 152 and 156 Clarence St (directly across from Baxter Inn) From May 3-27 (open Wednesdays to Saturdays).

Oh Catalina! This is an extremely well-run restaurant presided over by Michael and Judy McMahon.
For Mums who want to feel like they are on the A-list: Catalina's 
Lunch at Catalina's is not for little people with limited finances. It's for grown-ups who want to spoil their mum with a special occasion experience. While the Rose Bay institution is the place to go to sign off on a big business deal over a bottle of pinot noir, it's also the perfect waterfront spot to pamper a loved one. As well as the spectacular views, the service is sensational and the cooking extremely nuanced. Executive chef Mark Axisa has created a special three-course set menu with plenty of choice for mum priced at $160 per person. There is also a special kids' menu at $80 per person and mum will receive a Mother's Day cocktail on arrival. Dress to impress. Lyne Park, Rose Bay, 02 9371 0555, catalinarosebay.com.au

Invite mum to get her glam on at Doltone House Sylvania Waters. Image: Supplied
For Mums partial to a bit of posh nosh: Doltone House
Show your mum some love this Mother's Day with lunch at Doltone House. The mother of all Mother's Day luncheon menu includes entrees such as mushroom and ricotta ravioli, braised lamb shanks and pavlova to finish. The children's menu is as it should be -- penne napolitana and ice-cream with chocolate topping -- and tastes as good as it looks. Doltone House is built around the picturesque Gwawley Bay in Sydney's south. BYO hiking boots as mums will enjoy a post-prandial bush walk. Adults: $65 per person; children $35 per person per child (3-12 years). 223 Belgrave Esplanade, Sylvania Waters, 02 8543 6000, doltonehouse.com.au

Enjoy a feast just like Yia Yia used to make at 1821. Image: Supplied

For mums who like to dress up to dine: 1821, Sydney CBD
1821 is a great Greek restaurant turning out classic rustic Mediterranean fare to a consistently high standard. This is a genuine high-end Greek hospitality experience from David Tsirekas. Save space for his set menu, which starts at $55 per person, and includes delicate dips and bread, Yia Yia's handcut chips, and meltingly tender BBQ lamb shoulder. Save room for the caramel baklava ice cream, which is like crack for sweet-tooths. 122 Pitt St, Sydney, 2000 www.universalhotels.com.au/1821restaurant  

Ooh-la-la: Bistro Moncur is a an elegant restaurant serving French bistro classics. Image: Supplied
For metropolitan mums: Bistro Moncur, Woollahra 
Bistro Moncur is an elegant food haven in the heart of Woollahra in the Woollahra Hotel.  The relaxed atmosphere fits well with the cooking, which is imaginative without being over-the-top. The washing up will be well and truly out of your Mum's mind as she is treated like royalty with the special Mother's Day menu at Bistro Moncur. The set menu includes three courses for $150 per person and mums will also receive a complimentary Bougies De Luxe Candle as a take-home gift. 
116 Queen St, Woollahra, 02 9327 9777, www.woollahrahotel.com.au 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Five fab ideas to celebrate Easter long weekend

Regardless of your faith, the Easter long weekend is a time to spend with friends and family. Here are a few Easter experiences worth shelling out for, writes Carla Grossetti.


Enjoy Easter at Cho Cho San without the sugar-crazed highs. Photographer: Nikki To. 



Enjoy Easter Izakaya-style
This year, instead of smashing seven chocolate bunnies think outside the chocolate box and head to Cho Cho San where the izakaya-style dining room will set the scene for a very elegant Easter celebration. The popular Potts Point eatery is open on Good Friday from 5.30pm and for all-day dining on Saturday and Sunday from noon. Order edamame dip for starters and Petuna ocean trout with black pepper and wasabi and teriyaki fish collars to follow. For bookings, phone 9331 6601 or email enquires@chochosand.com.au. 73 Macleay St, Potts Point, chochosan.com.au


Garden geurillas unite as Camperdown Commons makes inroads into inner-urban Sydney. Image: Supplied







Enjoy an urban Harvest
Camperdown Commons has launched a brand new series of events as acre, Pocket City Farms and Common Spaces now gather under the umbrella of Harvest at Camperdown. This newly revitalised community hub will see acre present some of the best fresh produce from its premium suppliers with a new seasonal menu at Good Friday Food and Wine, while Camperdown Commons transforms into an Easter wonderland for the kidlets on Easter Sunday with a free Easter Craft Workshop, a Gingerbread Easter hunt and a visit by the Easter bunny. From April until June, visitors can get a taste of the farm lifestyle right in the heart of Sydney.  31A Mallet St, Camperdown, www.harvesthub.com.au

The chocolate-infused cocktails at Grain Bar are red hot. Image: Supplied








Indulge in an Easter cocktail
Eggs-traordinary that Grain Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel is satisfying sweet tooths all over Sydney with a collection of cocktails that are positively pun-free. Curated by Grain Bar's talented team of barkeeps, the chocolate-infused cocktails made with craft liqueurs and premium spirits are the perfect Easter treat. Ask the bartenders to muddle you up a Murphy's Law (Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Rocky Road liqueur, dark agave, frozen berries and rocky road: $20) followed by a devilishly good Retox (Johnny Walker Black and house-made chocolate chilli-infused beetroot juice, garnished with edible flowers: $18). Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, 199 George St, Sydney. www.grainbar.com.au.


Seafood and eat it on Good Friday at this bountiful buffet at Harvest Buffet. Image: supplied



Smash the Harvest Buffet at The Star
Vary the traditional Easter lunch with your family by celebrating the long weekend at Harvest Buffet with a sumptuous seafood feast and Easter specials over the Easter long weekend. The traditional bountiful buffet will be available for lunch on Good Friday ($45.90) and Easter Saturday ($55.90). There will also be a special visit from the Easter Bunny along with face painting for kids on Easter Sunday. For more information, visit The Star Sydney or email harvestreservations@star.com.au

You say it's the long weekend, it's my long weekend too. The view from above: Sydney's Sky Terrace at The Star. 
Enjoy an Easter Sunday party in silence
Sydney’s Sky Terrace @ The Star is set to close over autumn and will go out with a very quiet bang by hosting a silent disco on Easter Sunday. Enjoy a sunset cocktail while tapping your feet very softly to Joseph Calerazzo Duo from 3-6pm, before busting a few bold but meditative moves from 6pm-11pm when the silent disco is in full swing. Headphones are available if you want to crank up the goodness as DJs Beth Yen, K-Note and Social Hooliganz do their thing. For more information about what’s on at The Star this Easter long weekend, please visit The Star or join the conversation at @thestarsydney

Order a hamper of Pana Chocolate perfection as a treat for the family. Image: Supplied





Go to the dark side
Pana Chocolate loves the idea of a holiday centred around the giving of chocolate. Oh and cue the smiley emoji because a holiday built around the giving and receiving of chocolate is a bit more guilt-free with the Victorian operation that is available online. Apart from its commitment to using raw, organic ingredients, the chocolates will make you feel virtuous when you read the contents and discover chocolates such as coconut and goji and mint, fig and wild orange contain no dairy, no soy, no refined sugar and are gluten-free and handmade. panachocolate.com



Monday, 10 April 2017

10 Sydney restaurants that use Ubereats

Uber entered the food delivery service in March 2016. Here are 10 Sydney restaurants that are signed up to Ubereats that will up the ante on that office party or desk-side lunch. 

Satisfy those crazy fried chicken cravings with a shoebox full of fried chicken from Butter. Image: Supplied
Butter
There is something devilishly good about the fried chicken from Butter, the Surry Hills storefront that sells fried chicken alongside sneakers and Champagne. This is chicken thigh dressed to impress, wearing a spicy red jacket that is best quenched with a slushie served on the side. Kick back in your high-tops with a bunch of mates to enjoy executive chef Julian Cincotta's streetwise incarnation of fried chicken and a tangle of shoestring fries. Vegos listen up: order the fresh ear of corn, which arrives anointed with a splodge of miso butter, and a 'shroom burger for a meat-free fest. Those with a love of food, fashion, music and culture take note: Butter has launched a new e-commerce streetwear concept store housing a range of sneakers and apparel. Butter, 6 Hunt St, Sydney. Buttersydney.com.au
Faster pasta when you get Ubereats to deliver a bowl of pasta. Image: Supplied

The Italian Bowl
Part old-school Italian-Australian trattoria, part innovative eatery, the menu options on offer at The Italian Bowl run by Vince Muscolo and Alexi Spyridis let you choose your own adventure - allowing you to pick your favourite pasta shape and pair it with a sauce to suit. Tasting notes: give pesto with penne a go or fuse fettucine with an arrabiata sauce. Aside from pasta dishes, the chicken parmigiana, veal with mushroom sauce and king prawn risotto are hugely popular for those hankering for hearty meals. Stick with tradition for dessert and order the tiramisu.  255 King St, Newtown, theitalianbowl.com.au       

The average time it takes to get a Love Supreme pizza delivered is 11 minutes and 39 seconds. And go! Image: Supplied
Love Supreme  
Love Supreme is the highly-evolved version of the much-loved Arthur's Pizza run by Vlad and Bosko Vujovic, who take the unleavened flatbread up a notch with 'with-the-works' toppings.  Follow the @lovesupremepizza Instagram account for updates to the menu and you will know that back on deck this week is the Gabo - Brussel sprouts, smoked bacon and a balsamic reduction. Pizza Sam demonstrates how amazing seasonal produce can be on a pizza: think pumpkin puree, sheep feta, smoked almonds and confit cherry tomatoes. 180 Oxford St, Paddington, www.lovesupreme.com.au

Seared albacore plays a starring role in this slightly spicy tuna poke from head chef Mark Jensen at Salmon & Bear.
Salmon & Bear
The first thing you need to know about poké, the Hawaiian-style sushi salad in a bowl, is how to pronounce it: it's pokay, okay? The second thing you need to understand about this island-inspired dish is that it has been reimagined with great effect by Salmon & Bear executive chef Mark Jensen. Say aloha to a poké with prawns in a lemon and coconut dressing served with edamame beans, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomato and snow pea sprouts. If your stomach is really growling, devour a Salmon 'BEARger' stuffed with cos lettuce, tomato, pickles, salsa verde and aioli.   6 Defries Avenue, Zetland, salmonandbear.com.au
Wrap your laughing gear around this whopper of a fried chicken sandwich from BL Burgers. Image: Supplied

BL Burgers
Chickpea and kumara burgers, pulled pork rolls with peppers and coriander, and a Blame Canada special starring maple-glazed streaky bacon on a beef pattie are just a few of the whimsical creations on offer at BL Burgers in Bondi. BL Burger's piece de resistance is the Classic Cheese burger, which head chef Allan Boque assembles on a St Malo Bakery milk bun with a beef pattie, slice of American cheese, pile of pickles, swirl of ketchup and slick of mustard.  BL Burgers and its big sister Bar Luca also serve first-rate fries. 1/151 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, blburgers.com.au

A feast of Syrian proportions at Almond Bar in Darlinghurst. #cookforSyria
Almond Bar
Almond Bar is a Darlinghurst gem that peppers its menu with updated Syrian classics that are close to the heart of co-owner sisters Carol and Sharon (head chef) Salloum. The Salloum family's passion for Middle Eastern food and culture is evident in the cooking, with all the food designed to be shared. Order an array of dips such as traditional hummus and labne, followed by pumpkin kibbeh, falafel, fattoush and tabouli. Carnivores will be kept happy with the shawarma and chef's Syrian duck. Watch Episode 10 on Food Safari Fire on SBS On Demand featuring Sharon Salloum. 379 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst, almondbar.com.au


The Guilty pleasure: a cocktail and a Calamity Jane hit the spot at The Guilty. Image: Supplied

The Guilty Take a billowy bun, filled with everything from American cheese and bacon to McClure's Pickles, add a calorific side of creamy mac and five cheese with pretzel bits and you will understand why The Guilty is in burger buzz feeds around the world.  The Weetbix fried chicken sandwich is - true to form - an absolute guilty pleasure. Chef James Hurlston (of Jimmy's Burger fame) also puts you through your paces with the Triple Kecksburger served with jalapenos and bacon. Eli's Ruby, an old-school Rueben that pairs pastrami with a kale kraut, is a slightly more virtuous option. 248 Palmer St Darlinghurst, www.facebook.com/GUILTYSYDNEY/

Butter up the boss with a selection of handmade Kakawa Chocolates. Image: Supplied


Kakawa
David Ralph and partner Jin Sun Kim, a chocolatier and pastry chef, know a few quick-fire ways to the heart: from hot chocolates to pralines and specialty slabs such as strawberry and pink peppercorn or chilli with dark chocolate. Dive deep into the Kakawa Chocolates menu to find ice-cream sandwiches, caramels and fudge or Easter-inspired options such as the hot cross bun, Peek a Boo Egg or pun-tastic Eggception. Getting a fix of raspberry and mint crisps and passionfruit rocky road is like getting a big hug from an old friend. This is chocolate as an art form. 147 William St, Darlinghurst, kakawachocolates.com.au 
Friend or pho? Step aside soggy sandwiches. A bowl of steaming pho from So. 9 is just the ticket. Image: Supplied
So. 9
So 9 celebrates the inspired street food of Vietnam - from the toasted baguette known as banh mi to the coveted crispy banh xeo pancakes. Diners are asked to customise their own banh mi by choosing their own combo from the salad, roll and banh station menu where the flavours of pate, grilled pork, mayo, chilli and coriander sing of Southeast Asia. If you're feeling indecisive when ordering pho, go for chef Hien Pham's recommendation for a fragrant pho tai (noodle soup with sliced beef), which is your passport to Hanoi.  The eatery is named after the No. 9, a lucky number in Vietnamese culture. Shop 1, 18 Danks St, Waterloo, so9.com.au  

Get an order away on Ubereats for ACME and boom! It's there on your desk to enjoy. Image: Supplied
ACME
A
ndy Emerson, Cam Fairbairn, Mitchell Orr and Ed Loveday are the brains trust behind ACME, a restaurant that gives chef Mitchell Orr the creative freedom to cook contemporary cuisine that reads like an inspired mash-up of multicultural Australia. How about pine mushroom with pecorino custard and lardo?  Or strozzapreti with braised enoki and kale?  The squid ink malloreddus with calamari and broccolini hums with flavour.
60 Bayswater Rd, Ruchcutters Bay, weareacme.com.au
      


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Five of the best places to Instagram autumn in Australia

Mt Tomah in the Blue Mountains' Botanic Garden puts on a spectacular autumn display each year. Image: Supplied

Take a swathe of perennials, a few arches of trees ablaze in copper and orange tones and throw in a few perfectly placed park benches and you have yourself a happy place. After a stroll through the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah, you can gaze across the valley, which has pockets of vivid copper and red foliage. The hatted Tomah Gardens Restaurant is a great place to enjoy a kaleidoscope of autumn colours and enjoy all the region has to offer. Time your visit to coincide with the annual Leura Harvest festival. Click here for some Insta inspo. 
Fall's gold: Canberra turns on a riot of red, gold and yellow during autumn.

Autumn in Canberra is every bit as stunning as it looks. The beauty of doing some leaf-spotting in the national capital is that it's so easy to get amongst it. The bike lanes in Canberra are one of the best things about the city and the vast parks, nature strips and tree-lined streets make it one of the best locations to peep at #leafporn.  Book in to a Mushrooms and Minibeasts Family Walk at Canberra's Arboretum in the April school holidays, which includes a hike through the Himalayan cedar forest. See Visit Canberra for inspiration.
Treehuggers unite at Centennial Park in the centre of Sydney. Image: Chris Gleisner

The woodlands of Centennial Park in the heart of Sydney, NSW, can be easily covered on foot, skates or pushbike. Picking one must-see spot is a challenge but circumnavigate the park and you are sure to satisfy your urge for some seasonal leaf spotting. Strolling around this park is such a peaceful way to celebrate the season and bid farewell to summer. Make the most of the great outdoors in the milder weather and book in an outdoor movie at Moonlight. BYO blanket.
Moss Vale Garden is one of the jewels in the Southern Highlands' crown. Image: Destination NSW

Walk around the historic township of Moss Vale before veering off the path and finding your very own Highland hideaway. Leighton Gardens are situated in the heart of town and perfectly situated for family picnics. The best fall foliage happens at the start of the season. Visit Southern Highland Food and Wine Clusters for inspiration. One for the calendar is the Festival of the Roast Autumn Foodie Field Day at The Loch, Berrima




Saturday, 4 March 2017

A few of my favourite island getaways

Picture this: you are supine on a banana lounge, sifting sand through your sweetheart’s toes, studying cotton-wool clouds that appear to have been Velcro-ed onto the sky.  You have just slurped down a chilled mojito from the beach bar and are mustering up the energy to walk over the crystalline sand and slip into the turquoise sea. Before you can say “mi wantem bia”  (“I’d like a beer”) I give you a few of my favourite island getaways.

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. Image: Justin Mott (Mott Visuals).

Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa 
Chances are you won’t venture far if you stay at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. The resort is all about indulgence. Soak up the sun on a day bed by the infinity pool, sip cocktails as the sun slips over the Pacific in the uber-cool KamaLounge  or just mosey over to Natadola Beach to continue your schedule of lazing the day away. Located on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, the resort is about 40 minutes’ drive from the airport.  Visit fiji.intercontinental.com/

The lobby of Anantara Layan Phuket.    Image: Supplied
Anantara's The Residences, Phuket
Located along Phuket's stunning sunset coast, The Residences at Anantara's Phuket Layan resort overlooks breathtaking Layan Beach. The boutique collection of 15 spacious private pool residences is next level: perched on the side of a jungle-clad hill with panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, The Residences will make you want to bask in barefoot luxury for the remainder of your days. It's the ultimate rock-star hideaway where you can bring the entire entourage and skinny dip in your private plunge pool away from the paps.
phuket-layan.anantara.com/residences.aspx


Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia is paradise on legs. Image: @carlagrossetti
Pangkor Laut Resort
White-sand beaches, clear greeny-blue seas and villas with skinny legs standing knee-deep in the sea makes this feel like the poshest piece of paradise. Intimate, tranquil and elegant all at once the island is a fixture on the A-lister circuit. Rimmed by lush vegetation, the island is renowned for its abundant birdlife and electric sunsets. Cue couples canoodling in the sand, friends sharing cold beers by the bar and the more active doing laps of the island in a kayak. The late and great Italian tenor Pavarotti declared Pangkor Laut paradise. Expect opera on the playlist. www.pangkorlautresort.com

The Champagne Pools on Fraser Island are one of many reasons to make a beeline for this island.
Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island
The beaches on this, the world’s largest sand island are, as expected, pristine. But it’s the translucent blue of the freshwater lakes and craggy cliffs at Indian Head that are the real show-stoppers. By respecting their surrounds, the eco resort’s staff really go the extra kilometre in inspiring guests to reduce their environmental footprint, too.  
Visit www.kingfisherbay.com/

Iririki Island Resort has recently undergone extensive refurbishment.    
Iririki Island Resort, Vanuatu
Staff at Iririki Resort start working their charm the minute you are spat off the ferry from Port Vila. A highlight of staying at the resort is that it stays true to that laidback South Pacific vibe. At Iririki, expect your day to go something like this: wake up, enjoy coffee and breakfast on the verandah at Micheners, meander down the palm-fringed path to the beach, swim, kayak, have lunch, enjoy a siesta, flick through a book, enjoy a cocktail and kava by the pool, have dinner, go to bed. Iririki offers an annual special:  get a resort credit of $200 with any room booking of 5+ nights.  www.iririki.com/holiday-specials/