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Life

Calmer Waters at Likuliku Lagoon Resort Fiji

Well on the road to recovery from cyclone winston, Likuliku Lagoon Resort Fiji is keen to welcome visitors to bliss out in its unique brand of tranquility. 

At the end of the day, according to Fijian legend, even the sun needs to sleep and it does so behind one of Fiji’s islands. Malolo, part of the Mamanuca group of islands to the west of the mainland, was believed to have been created by the gods as the sun’s bedroom, hence the local saying, “Na siga e dromu I Malolo”, meaning, “Malolo, the island where the sun comes to rest.” 

While Malolo is a usually a picture of serenity, back in February 2016 it, along with the rest of Fiji, endured Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall in the region. At its most intense, it saw winds of 230km/h. Amid the devastating damage that saw 40,000 homes destroyed, 44 people lost their lives and around 350,000 were seriously impacted. 

But in the aftermath, Fijians were keen to let holidaymakers, particularly loyal Australian tourists, know that they were still open for business. While some resorts were flattened, others sustained only minor damage and could reopen fairly quickly. Tourism is a key driver of the local economy and Fiji could not afford to have people staying away when it needed them most. 

Thankfully, although visitor numbers initially dropped, by October they were healthy again and Fiji is looking forward to returning to its position as an R&R mecca for work-weary Australians.

Malolo was one of the islands that was able to welcome tourists back reasonably quickly and today, its adults-only haven, Likuliku Lagoon Resort, whose name means “calm waters” is a soothing sanctuary for holidaymakers looking to relax in incredible luxury.

A Pristine Welcome

Whether you choose a chopper or boat to get to Likuliku, it’s the sight of the lagoon’s beautifully deep blue waters that provides the first welcome to your Fijian holiday. 

This sheltered haven once provided refuge for war canoes, but today its pristine waters have been declared a marine reserve, known locally as “Na tabu”, so they’re teaming with sea life that darts in and out of the crevices of the coral reef. 

The next greeting comes from a serenading group of resort staff whose melodious greeting is followed by a unified cry of “Bula!”, one of many to come. This one-word, all-purpose salutation is heard hundreds of times a day throughout Likuliku, making you feel your presence is greatly appreciated at all times. 

Aside from its idyllic location, Likuliku is rendered unique by its overwater bures (rooms). Usually associated with the resorts of the Maldives, these wonders of engineering are a first for Fiji. In a line of 10 sitting out from the shoreline, these suspended sanctuaries provide an uninterrupted view between the deck and the great blue blanket of sea. 

But you don’t even have to leave the living room for an aquatic experience, with glass-bottomed floor panels giving a great glimpse of the plethora of fish and their saltwater friends. 

Coral Concerns

A week in an overwater bure comes at a premium price, but as the Group General Manager, Steve Anstey explains, “They are complex. They cannot just be built anywhere and their construction and maintenance is difficult and costly.” Part of the complexity lies in the fact that they have to be built on a flat seabed surrounded by coral reefs, with the latter providing essential stability. 

But if that’s ringing environmental alarm bells, never fear, as Steve describes, “We were all acutely aware and concerned for our precious reef during construction and together with the Mamanuca Environmental Society, we took elaborate steps to protect them at all times.” 

As well as the tides, the overwater bures have to withstand extreme 

weather events like Cyclone Winston and thankfully they stood up to its incredible ferocity. 

Lizard Lodgers

Although the sea life is certainly the star of a visit to Likuliku, there’s another wild inhabitant that’s stealing a spot in the limelight. You have to look very carefully, but in a vegetation-filled enclosure near the resort’s main building are some unique lizards lounging around. 

The Malolo Iguana was though to be extinct until a chance find in 2010 saw an injured one rescued from behind of the Likuliku bures. Unfortunately, this little guy didn’t survive, but much to the delight of iguana aficionados the world over, several more have since been found, seven of which call the resort home as part of an observation and breeding process.

Five Star Sustenance

Diet is obviously crucial to maintaining the health of the iguanas and behind the resort, several native plants are grown in the kitchen garden. This little patch of carefully tended vegetables, herbs and local fruits also provides sustenance for Likuliku’s two-legged guests and executive chef Shane Watson can be found there throughout the day, picking produce for his ever-changing menu

Shane was part of the resort’s opening team in 2007 and stayed for two years before spending very successful stints in Sydney, Thailand and finally, Perth, where he took the Print Hall restaurant to two Chef Hat-status in just two years. Having returned to Likuliku in 2015 with his wife and daughter, Shane clearly relishes the relaxed vibe of Fiji living. At the same time, though, the cogs of his culinary mind are in constant motion, rising to the challenge of island cooking. 

While he grows a variety of fresh produce in the garden, a lot of his ingredients arrive by barge and if something goes awry with the delivery, a good imagination in the kitchen is critical. Thankfully, Shane has good relationships with local suppliers, especially for fish, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing with sourcing regular supplies. An early challenge came when Shane met a doctor who’d started a prawn farm. So he took the half-hour drive on sealed roads followed by a further two hours up through the hills only to discover the ‘farm’ was a tank in which he found about 20 prawns! 

Another challenge came early on when Shane happened upon a local who kept ducks and ordered 20 in one go. But it turned out this was the whole flock, so when he returned for more, there were none left. Thankfully, this farmer has since mastered his trade and now provides a steady supply. 

One of the constants throughout Shane’s tenures has been mud crab, which he handpicks from the trees. Yes, you read that correctly. Wrapped in reeds, these live crawlers are hung up by farmers in the roadside foliage ready to sell to passers by. Shane is a regular customer as it’s a feature of one of his signature breakfast dishes, the very popular mud crab omelette.

While the omelette features consistently, the rest of the menu changes daily and with the seasons. Shane will also design a personal menu to cater for dietary needs.

Blissed Out

As the sun settles into its ‘bedroom’, Likuliku winds down too, leaving its well-nourished guests to retreat to their bures, the sound of the calm waters lapping against the sand the perfect closing soundtrack to a day in paradise.

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Food
What grows together, goes together Wunderbar lamb and Mitchell Family wines.
Words by Paul Diamond on 7 Jan 2018
The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s most underrated wine regions, which is hard to fathom given it produces some of the finest Rieslings and intensely concentrated red wines in the country. No doubt, the pull of the Barossa has a lot to do with the underestimation of the Clare, but, if you can resist the urge to turn right at Gawler and stay on the A32, you’re in for a treat.  In addition to its wine cred, Clare is uniquely beautiful. The open landscape is a sea of wheat fields sprinkled with eucalypts and stone cottages beneath powder blue skies. 
Heinrich’s Wunderbar  You’ll also notice a few sheep along the way, as Clare, like much of Australia, was Merino country. But around 1959 when wool exports declined, families left in droves. One of the few that stuck with it were the Heinrichs of Black Springs and fifth generation Ben, along with his wife, Kerry and five children, continues to farm sheep on the family’s original 810ha property just east of Clare.  But while the sheds, tractors, machinery and utes all make this look like a stock standard farm, one look at the sheep and you realise Ben does things a bit differently to his ancestors.  Practically bald and with long tails, Ben’s sheep are a breed that sheds its wool, chosen as part of his humane, minimal intervention philosophy. This is underpinned by his adherence to the Humane Choice farming principles of which he is the only certified producer in Australia. “With no wool, we can give our sheep a better life, as there’s no mulesing, tail docking, crutching or shearing,” Ben explains. “My sheep are truly free range, paddock raised, no feed lots and we try to minimise human interaction with them as much as possible.” When it comes to conventional industries, sheep farming is close to the top. The practices are well entrenched over generations and traditions are not easy to break, especially when there are mouths to feed.  So why undertake such a radical change? For Ben, it was the knowledge that the ways of the past were not going to work. “Dad was running a self-replacing Merino flock and it wasn’t going so well,” Ben recalls. “Personally, I wasn’t cut out for it, I couldn’t see myself shearing, and Dad saw the writing on the wall. It was either going to be sheep with no wool, or no sheep at all!” So Ben, backed by his dad, started Wunderbar. They’ve since gone from strength to strength, now selling directly to butchers and chefs around the district and into Adelaide. Fans of their meat remark on how tender, flavoursome and lean it is, while chefs love to cook with it. High praise indeed.  A Delicious Seed Word of Ben’s lamb is spreading and one chef that sings Wundebar’s praises is Guy Parkinson, owner of Seed Winehouse +Kitchen in Clare. Guy and his partner, Candice, have run Seed since 2014 after travelling through Clare and deciding it was the place to set up shop. Seed is now a food and wine destination, drawing people from all over to sample Guy’s creative, trattoria-inspired cooking paired with Candice’s take on the Clare wine scene. The couple had been Hunter-based, where they had a significant following of loyal winemaking food lovers, and this pattern has repeated in the Clare. 
The Mitchells Part of the Seed appreciation society are the Mitchells, who run the acclaimed Mitchell Wines. Led by second generation Andrew and Jane, they work with their children, Hilary, Angus and Edwina, to produce beautiful expressions of Watervale Riesling, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet and Grenache under the Mitchell and McNicol labels.  The Mitchells have been in Clare since 1949 when Andrew’s father purchased land featuring an orchard, a dairy and a small vineyard. Andrew was born and bred on the property and after school, returned to the family business.  “I came back home and thought that making wine was better than working for a living,” he says with a cheeky smile. Most of the wines the Mitchells produce are released with some age, a decision that can be a financial burden. However, as Andrew explains, “The significant thing about the Clare Valley is that it is a region that produces wines with incredible intensity of flavour, but with elegance. We sell some of our wines at 10 years old and the dividend is that people get to see our wines at their best.” The Lunch As a celebration of Wunderbar lamb, Guy devised a menu with an entrée of lamb backstrap poached in extra virgin olive oil, grilled cucumber, mint and whipped yogurt, and a main of roasted rack served on baby carrots cooked in whey and honey, pearl barley and pomegranate.  Andrew and Angus brought along a range of wines to evaluate and see which suited Guy’s food best.  For the entree, Candice chose the 2009 NcNicol Watervale Riesling. It had the age to be a perfect textural match for the silky backstrap, but also fresh acidity to cut through the whipped yoghurt. For the rack, Candice’s call was Andrew’s 2001 Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz. The wine was still dense, but time had softened the mouthfeel, allowing the secondary fruit to sit beautifully with the flesh and the sauce to suit the wonderful, natural intensity of the wine.  As the afternoon progressed, conversation became more relaxed as stories were shared and reflections were made on their beautiful home. Guy Parkinson’s back strap of lamb poached in extra virgin olive oil, grilled baby cucumber, whipped sheep yogurt
Recipe:  Get  Guy Parkinson’s back strap of lamb poached in extra virgin olive oil, grilled baby cucumber, whipped sheep yogurt Wine:  Explore  Mitchell Family Wines Clare Valley:  Discover the fun of cycling the   Clare Valley Riesling Trail
Life
City of Wine
Words by Richelle Harrison-Plesse on 10 May 2017
Escape to the heart of Bordeaux, where the magnificent Cité du Vin carries you away on a multi-sensory adventure. Dubbed a 'Disneyland for adults', France's Cité du Vin - recently opened in Bordeaux - is dedicated to the history of wine. But instead of tea cups and roller coasters, at this wine 'theme park' you'll get your thrills from wine glasses and drink coasters. Costing a budget-busting 81 million Euros ($AUD 116 million) and taking more than two decades to become reality, the multi-storey Cité du Vin is a truly impressive temple to viticulture. The building itself (designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières from the Parisian agency XTU) is an architectural triumph. Featuring thousands of glass and metallic glazed panels, the imposing aluminium structure is all shimmering curves. Evoking the swirl of wine moving in a glass, its sculptural form also reflects the undulating Garonne river, which the building overlooks from the city's left bank. This mecca for wine-lovers is not just aimed at connoisseurs; the Cité du Vin hopes to make the vinous tipple accessible to everyone via a playful, hands-on journey of discovery. It claims to be the world's largest wine museum, offering visitors an immersive experience through the world's wine culture and its universal heritage. "I don't like to call it a museum," says Sylvie Cazes, president of the Foundation for the Culture and Civilisations of Wine, "because the word suggests a bunch of dusty collections. This is completely interactive and unlike anything seen before." That goes for its wine collection too, which doesn't limit itself to the Grands Crus of Bordeaux. "When the project started some 20 years ago, there was a Bordeaux focus," says Sylvie, "but over time it evolved to include wines from everywhere." The ground floor wine boutique houses more than 14,000 bottles of 800 different wines from some 80 countries. There are even drops from unlikely destinations such as Ethiopia, Indonesia and Tahiti. If you're not ready to splurge on a bottle, some wines can be tasted (for a corkage fee) at the bar.   CONVIVAL CLASSES However, it's on the upper floors of the Cité du Vin where the real fun starts. Go beyond a wine's taste to discover other aspects of its character during one of the workshop sessions. These take place in sleek, multi-sensory spaces featuring 360 degree projections, sounds and a scent diffusion system.  Far from being straight-up wine-tasting classes, the experience is casual and convivial. "They're focused on the spirit of sharing, as everyone has a different relationship with wine", says Sylvie. Meanwhile, in a bid to keep the local clientele coming back, the Cité du Vin shows temporary exhibitions in the Salle des Colonnes, and all year long, the 250-seater Thomas Jefferson auditorium plays host to concerts, film screenings and debates.   FEAST FOR THE SENSES The headline visitor attraction is the permanent exhibition, where the interactive multimedia experience is a real feast for the senses and a glorious celebration of every facet of wine. With 19 themed sections, the Cité du Vin has all bases covered, from the lands that produce the grapey goodness, and winegrowers around the world, to wine's influence on thousands of years of society, and its connection to the arts. Each display is fascinating, thanks to the clever use of 3D imagery, aroma diffusion, or video game technology. Not forgetting punters not yet old enough to enjoy wine; the Cité du Vin reaches out to younger visitors with fun, age-appropriate displays. The museum's highlights range from giant video screens looping mesmerising vistas of the world's winemaking regions, and the 'getting to know you' feature with (virtual) winegrowers from all corners of the globe, to the 'meet the experts' panel where you can seek one-on-one advice from wine professionals (again, in virtual form). Whether you listen to a Michelin-starred chef or a respected sommelier, their answers on how to buy wine, how to serve wine, and whether wine awards mean anything, may surprise you. Refuelling takes place on the 7th floor where Le 7 restaurant offers sweeping views over the Garonne and the Port de la Lune. Chef Nicolas Lascombes rustles up his brand of world cuisine with a French twist using seasonal and regional produce. Wash it all down with your choice of 500 wines from 50 countries. Indeed, la pièce de résistance is the Belvédère, the rooftop wine bar, which boasts a stunning panorama of Bordeaux. This is where you wrap up your visit (only those who have paid museum entry fees can access it) while sipping on a glass of wine included in the ticket price. Soak up the views from the 10 metre-long oak bar, or gape at the 4,000 glass bottles suspended from the ceiling. Tasters can choose from a regularly rotating selection of five Bordeaux wines and 15 from around the world. As to why the Cité du Vin would open its doors in Bordeaux, it couldn't have happened anywhere else, says Sylvie. "It's a big city with the most famous wine-producing region in the world, and the biggest producer of AOC wine." The founder of the Cité du Vin, Alain Juppé, who is also the mayor of Bordeaux (and a 2017 French Presidential hopeful) has called the museum his 'Guggenheim'. 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Life
Gourmet Destinations - Argentina
Words by Guy Wilkinson on 6 Mar 2015
Wander the streets of Buenos Aires and it won’t take long to hit you; the mysterious, alluring aroma of grilled meat wafting from a restaurant door, or, just as likely, somebody’s backyard. Food in Argentina is a big deal. It’s as deeply entrenched in the culture as tango or ‘the beautiful game’ and when it comes to cooking, the term fast food is something of an oxymoron. Much of the cuisine revolves around meat. Mention the word ‘vegan’ and most people will assume you’re talking about Dr Spock. Argentines are the world’s second largest consumers of beef; each person chows down around 58 kilograms a year and more than half the restaurants in the country are parrillas, named after the grill the meat is cooked over. None of this is to suggest it’s as simple as slapping a quick steak on the barbecue while rustling up a salad. Anything but. In Argentina, the cooking of meat is seen as an art form and is treated with appropriate reverence. “It’s about taking your time,” says Elvis Abrahanowicz, co-founder of Sydney’s acclaimed Argentine restaurant, Porteno. “It’s all to do with the fire, getting the embers just right and warming them up slowly. There’s hardly any heat in it. “If you’re cooking a whole animal, you always have a fire on the side rather then smashing it full of coals. You really only cook it on one side. It gets the heat into the bones then the bones get hot so it’s almost cooking from the inside out.” Influences Argentine cuisine has heavy Mediterranean influences, thanks largely to Spanish colonisation in the 16th Century, as well as a massive influx of Italian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If beefsteak is the staple, it’s almost always accompanied with chimichuri sauce, a simple but fiendishly delicious combination of garlic, onion, olive oil, oregano, red wine vinegar and lime juice. And then there’s chorizo, though as Carole Poole, a former Argentine native now living in Australia, explains, “It’s sacrilege to call a chorizo a ‘sausage’, as it is so much more; nothing I’ve tasted anywhere else in the world comes near to the flavour of a good chorizo.” Cooked on an asado, the Spanish term for barbecue, chorizo is often served simply in a crispy bread roll and regarded as a meal in itself. Meat is often seasoned minimally, using mainly salt and pepper. Of greater importance is the way in which it’s cooked, as well as the cuts chosen. “Apart from the chorizos, and equally important, are the different cuts of meat that comprise the ‘asado’”, explains Carole. “Favourites are skirt steak, f lank steak, sweet breads, black pudding, and even small intestine, always garnished for extra flavour while cooking with chimichurri.” The usual accompaniments for an asado are fresh crisp bread, green salad and frequently, potato salad. Creme caramel or flan is the dessert of choice, often drizzled with dulce de leche sauce, a deliriously delicious sweetened milk confection. Family Affair Aside from the cooking itself, part of the importance of food culturally in Argentina stems from a desire for friends and family to convene and spend quality time together. “It’s everything,” says Elvis. “I think because of the mix of cultures, everyone wants to bring it all together and share it, it’s created its own cuisine, one that people are super passionate about. “If we had an asado at my house, it’d be an all day affair, a big eating fest! Everyone gets up early. The girls would get making fresh pasta and the guys would get the fire going, and my dad and uncles would cook all day.” None of this is to suggest that anything overly elaborate or pretentious would accompany the cooking process. If anything, Elvis’ father, Adan, who works alongside his son in the kitchen at Porteno, is known to actively eschew expensive gear in favour of more old-school methods. “My old man is the MacGyver of making barbecues,” jokes Elvis. “He’ll make one out of anything, a few bricks, some wire mesh. We still cook like that.” The point was reinforced after Adan bagged himself a $7000 state-of-the art barbecue after winning a cooking competition a couple of years back. Apparently Adan lit it up once, after which it languished in the garage gathering dust, never to be used again. Perhaps it’s a fitting metaphor for Argentine food, where simplicity is key and less is so often more.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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