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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 – Work Lunches

Driving through Orange NSW last month I got a behind-the-scenes peek at the Fresh Fodder factory. Max Schofield showed me through his rapidly expanding small business, and explained firsthand why his taramosalata is known as ‘the gangster dip’.

Abode Bistro

Hotel restaurants are curious beasts; and while Abode has been cleverly located as a stylish, stand-alone restaurant, it is still very much part of the Parkroyal Darling Harbour. As you’d expect, the restaurant fulfils a role in providing accessible, comforting and familiar food to overnight stayers.

Da Vinci’s

With the upsurge of enthusiasm for pizza certified Napoli, it’s easy to lose sight of pizza styles popular across the rest of Italy. Add that Nicola Piteo slid his restaurant into an existing Italian spot, keeping the original name, and you get some idea of how his outstanding pizza has largely flown under the radar.

Food News – Pastoral Smallgoods

Last month I revisited Pastoral Smallgoods in Waterloo. Headed up by Jonathan Sankey, they were last year’s winner of the best Traditional Bone-In Leg Ham in the prestigious Australian Ham Awards run by Australian Pork Limited. A tour of their super-clean factory taught me a lot about the journey Aussie pork takes between the farm and our Xmas tables, with this busy little producer selling their award-winning hams to everyone from David Jones Foodhall to ALDI.

ONE Tea Lounge & Grill

David Yip’s enthusiasm for what could broadly be termed stunt food is palpable. An ideas man, David is constantly thinking up new ways to make his dishes and cocktails fun. This is basically how I ended up with a rotating, dry ice billowing, Matcha Wheel ONE Tea Experience ($50/8 people) dominating my table for two.

Lotus @ The Galeries

From slickly modern private dining rooms, to texture-rich ceramics and stone, highlighted by natural light flooding into what must have been a difficult u-shaped space, DS17 have taken the lessons of Alpha and outdone themselves. Equally so, in Head Chef Chris Yan’s hands, the now-extensive menu builds upon the ideas germinated in Lotus’s initial Walsh Bay outlet, but far surpasses them.

Food News – My Farmers Market Table

Farmers’ markets are basically some of my favourite things. When weekend availability permits, I’ll click up the kilometres in order to check out locally grown or produced food offerings from areas including the Canberra district, the Southern Highlands and up north as far as Newcastle and Blackhead.

Rosie Campbell’s

Bright, sunshiny colours and a cosy, welcoming interior transform this difficult corner space into the type of spot you’ll probably enjoy spending time in. Throw in a waitress with a Caribbean grandmother, and you’ll soon have the toasted coconut topped Bowl of Corn ($8) and vibrant, soupy Callaloo Greens ($8) on your table, with some idea about how to eat them.

Hotel Palisade

With a convict-cum-chic menu, craft beers and views of the coat hanger, one of Sydney’s oldest pubs has reopened with a vengeance. Overlooking Barangaroo, it still has a certain quietness, with a whiff of potential; and with plans to open a penthouse bar upstairs, the owners are surely banking on this.

Bar Fly: Goros

A woman walks into a bar, and two minutes later, she’s got her favourite Japanese beer in a can – Yona Yona Pale Ale ($11) - in hand, watching B-grade film clips, while casually eyeing off a diverse crowd venturing behind back-lit rice paper screens.