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About Jackie McMillan

I'm counting my blessings in being the Dining Editor for the Alternative Media Group. It provides me with countless opportunities to dine out in new and exciting restaurants every week. It's a tough job - especially on the waistline - but someone has to do it (and I'm very glad it's me). First and foremost I love good food and wine. I'm an intrepid explorer where it comes to good produce, and I will drive to the ends of the earth to meet primary producers, and to buy produce that excites me. I'm trying to be an ethical consumer, and (where possible) I buy local, pesticide, hormone and chemical free. But I admit that for me, taste is the final arbitrator, so yes, I eat foie gras. I love getting tips from fellow 'foodies' about good restaurants, and good new products - so drop me a line to jackie @ alternativemediagroup.com (remove the spaces) if you have tried something you think should feature in the Eat & Drink section of our publications. Regards, Jackie McMillan

Food News – Kombucha

You’ve probably noticed kombucha popping up at farmers’ and organic markets across town. It’s a fermented tea beverage, popular among a range of cultures (Chinese, Japanese and Russian to name a few) for thousands of years.

Racine Restaurant

Our understated country waitress is effortlessly beautiful. She gestures casually out one window to show where the 2014 Logan Sauvignon Blanc ($12/glass) comes from, then the other to indicate the origins of the Pressed Duck ($36) with lentils and heirloom carrots.

Bar Fly: Public House Petersham

The Newington on Stanmore Road has been given a new lease of life; getting a fresh lick of paint and recently being re-launched as Public House Petersham – a funky space where the focus is on the community.

Popolo

Diving into an established all-male Italian kitchen as the new head chef could be daunting (especially as a half-English, half-Welsh woman) but Naomi Lowry has taken it in her stride. She’s maintained the menu’s confident Southern Italian focus, notching it up with Sardinian Fregola ($27/$35) resplendent with perfectly cooked cuttlefish, calamari, prawns and mussels, and topped with a generous helping of bottarga.

Food News – Gin + Tonic

In the realm of adult soft drinks, richly red Sin-kō-nah Tonic Syrup [RRP: $24/200ml] is right up there, and what’s more, it’s Australian. In fact, owner Sarah Robins tells me, Sin-kō-nah “will soon be the only Australian-made tonic syrup as Blood Moon Tonic is closing down.” Expect a bittersweet edge from this drink, which contains about a third less sugar than other tonic waters.

Mamasan

Scratch beneath the hipster veneer and many venues come up lacking. Underlying kooky décor that includes a glowing sakura ceiling in the upper bar, and erotic shibari prints, Edison bulbs in birdcages and dangling autumnal leaves downstairs, is both clever architecture (courtesy of FJMT who did neighbouring Surry Hills Library) and a raison d’etre.

Capriccio Osteria & Bar

“It’s like meat butter,” my dining companion exclaims, gesturing with half a two-bite Cannolo alla Mortadella ($4/each) in her hand. It’s crude, but apt: the balsamic cannoli come rolled in pistachio and filled with imported Italian mortadella that has been fashioned into pâté.

Geisha Haus

Handsome bartenders spent a lot of time at my table, muddling, freezing and whirling smoke through a range of bespoke Japanese-inspired cocktails, when I imbibed, early in the piece, with three food media pals. Frozen using liquid nitrogen, into a pretty pink slushy, Kawaii Kisses ($19) with watermelon, T2 Just Rose tea, Belvedere vodka and sake, could well become the taste of Sydney summer.

Food News – Orange Wine Festival

I spent 24-hours in Orange last weekend taking in some key events at the 2015 Orange Wine Festival. The highlight of my visit was the Barrel to Bottle Chardonnay masterclass at my favourite winery in the region: De Salis Wines. Winemaker Charlie Svenson was incredibly candid and generous with both his winemaking techniques, and with pouring his museum release wines.

LP’s Quality Meats

If there’s a better BBQ Beef Short Rib ($44) in Sydney, I don’t know where to find it. Luke Powell coats his fat, juicy ribs in little more than salt and pepper, and sticks 'em into the wood-fire smoker for nigh on sixteen hours. Yep, they go in at 11pm and come out just in time for dinner the next evening.