Sunday, June 24, 2012

For coffee connoisseurs


We seem to talk a lot about food, wine, coffee and cakes on Get Up & Go's blog - 'why no't I say! Travel and being a tourist is about tasting the flavours of all your destinations - and Sydney, if you are a visitor or a local is not exception. Edwina Storie, for Get Up & Go, did the hard yards recently in the search for great coffee:
Australians are proud coffee snobs. We are particular about our blends, our brands and our baristas. The InterContinental Sydney has launched a High Coffee experience that meets the standards of all discerning caffeine drinkers.
Inspired by the tradition of high tea, it is led by the bold flavours of the bean complemented by a feast of sweets and savouries. The menu was created by award-winning chef and coffee connoisseur, Stefano Manfredi, and features his signature Espresso di Manfredi by Piazza D’Oro coffee.
Get Up & Go had the pleasure of tasting the delicacies in the elegant Harbour Room. The decadent experience was highlighted by cardamom-spiced espresso martinis, salted caramel an espresso bavarois cream éclairs, and cinnamon and ginger chocolate crème brûlée.
High Coffee is served in the heritage-style Cortile Lounge of InterContinental Sydney between 11:00am and 4:30pm. Priced at $55 per person, the experience includes a martini upon arrival, Café Freddo, a coffee of choice and the three-tiered stand of treats.

Booking can be made through restaurant reservations on 02 9240 1396, restaurant.reservations@interconsydney.com or www.interconsydney.com.au.






Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vienna's sparkling gem - Topazz

The success of a good blogger is to post frequently - well, it's been weeks. I've been up to my eyes in deadlines and a trip away to Austria. The stay (eight days) in Europe's most harmonious country filled all my senses - and time - so no blogging. Best to start with the hotel I stayed at in Vienna.
After the long flight over via Dubai with Emirates (and Business Class on the A380 is something special indeed) I shared a cab with a couple of other writers and after a tricky street finding mission our taxi driver found the new hotel (opened last April).
The Topazz is a funky hotel that is boutique-sized and while honouring the area's rich artistic past - the hotel is setting a precedent for the city's future accommodation.
Topazz is Vienna's first green upscale hotel and combines landmark architecture with a resource-saving philosophy that starts with low energy usage and carries through to locally resourced food and the use of green building materials.
And all that worthiness makes for a pretty gorgeous looking place too.
Enter at ground level to be greeted by cheerful front desk staff;
head to my room (one of only 32 guest rooms set over eight floors) and I'm greeted by muted, earthy tones, lush curtains and inspired wallpaper. The little details are squeal inducing - the bedside lamps have fake fur around the rim of the shades (very Varga Girls) and the main desk lamp is a splendid piece with gold duck feet!
I spent four nights sleeping in Topazz and my bed was a dream. I love the European way with double/queen beds. There are two separate, single doonas - so if there are two of you sharing the bed, you don't have to squabble over the doona and if on the single side - you're not swamped by thousands of feathers.
This luxury boutique hotel hits the spot for breakfast too - one of the most varied and interesting spreads I've ever encountered - and eaten before 10am.
Breakfast of champions
As soon as I enter the Salon for brekkie one of the staff is there to take my coffee order. There's a table with individual bottles of freshly squeezed juices, fruit syrups to add to soda water (elderflower is seriously good), and a variety of teas that scream for attention.
A la carte is available but I couldn't get to order for two days as I was making a dent in the buffet.
Beautiful, artisan baked breads, lovely, gloopy pots of jams and spreads, tiny little jars of yoghurt with house-toasted muesli in the lids - just tip, to scoop and eat, and the best breakfast offering Vienna can produce - the kukelhoff, a butter and chocolate cake in swirls cooked in a ring tin. Can't go past it - and wouldn't swap if with something sensible for a bucket full of euros.
All our group swooned over the breakfast and the chef came out and talked about how he sources his product and ingredients locally and how he likes to mix up traditional Viennese cuisine with a modern twist. (One of the favourite dishes enjoyed by my companions was the poi lentils served in a glass pot with an egg cooked in the lentils . . .one of the group, a food writer extraordinaire waxed lyrical about the egg/lentil dish as one of the best things she ever tasted!
In the centre of things
The hotel is located centrally and within a few minutes you'll be gazing at the city's landmark, St Stephens Cathedral, the Kholmarkt and the famous Anker Clock - the riches of the city are at your feet.
The hotel's facade is dotted with oval windows and set at staggered intervals they match the different levels of the neighbouring houses.
So next time you are heading to Vienna, try for something special - sparkle in the hotel Topazz. Visit:

www.hoteltopazz.com