Hot list: Pro-picnicking, sushi burritos, giant soup dumplings, breakfast soap and craft beer goes gluten-free

A hamper from popuppicnic.com.au.
A hamper from popuppicnic.com.au. Photo: supplied

We're going … ON A PICNIC

There are multiple ways to go pro-picnicker this season. First, invest in a basket that makes others want to keep up with the Joneses, such as the Montauk Deluxe Picnic Basket complete with wine holder, four glasses, plates, cutlery, bottle-opener and a handy table (sunnylife.com.au/products/deluxe-picnic-basket-montauk). Alternatively, there are some great companies in Sydney sourcing top produce and preparing pretty picnics for you. Try sydneypicnic.com.au or popuppicnic.com.au – and ask them for top picnic spots. 

Josie Jo will be serving up sushi burrito in Melbourne from Tuesday November 22nd.

Josie Jo will be serving up sushi burrito in Melbourne from Tuesday November 22nd. Photo: Vito Mirr

We're forecasting …  A SUSHI BURRITOS STORM

We've been doing the sushi burrito dance (like the rain dance, but for sushi burritos) for months. Our prayers will be answered on Tuesday when Josie Jo sushi burrito bar opens in Melbourne CBD. Already huge in the States where poke stores have branched out, a sushi burrito is an oversized sushi roll that actually fills you up. As far as we know, this is the first dedicated concept in Melbourne and Sydney, although Street Kitchen Co. in the Docklands offers "Japanese burritos" on their menu. j

Open Tuesday November 22nd, Shop 10, 318 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, website josiejoxo.com

We're eating … GIANT SOUP DUMPLINGS

Din Tai Fung's oversized xiao long bao have commandeered Instagram. They're seven times bigger than the norm and come with a soup-slurping straw ($8.90 each). Available until the end of the month in Sydney and Melbourne stores (excluding cafe courts), they follow the same successful dish served at New York's Drunken Dumpling. Contrary to other reports, Din Tai Fung is not the first to bring super-sized soup dumplings Down Under, with Melbourne's Oriental Teahouse offering it as a special in 2013.

Giant xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung.

Giant xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung. Photo: Charlie Sugiri

We're drinking … GLUTEN-FREE CRAFT BEER

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Surely it doesn't get much more hipster than "gluten-free craft beer", unless of course you're claiming to have sipped it before any one else. That'd be farfetched though – O'Brien Beer has been around for a decade. Created by a fellow who refused to abstain from beer after being diagnosed with coeliac disease, the Ballarat-based company brews with sorghum and millet instead of barley and wheat. There's a pale ale, premium lager, brown ale and light lager, plus four seasonal drops. rebellionbrewing.com.au

We're cooking with … PASSIONFRUIT 

Passionfruit arrived early this year and, if you're anything like us, you'll get overexcited and buy too many. Don't waste the fruit; make a syrup by adding 1 cup castor sugar and ½ cup water to a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until dissolved. Increase the heat and simmer until it thickens into a syrup. Add the pulp from eight passionfruits, simmering for few more minutes. Allow to cool, then store in jars in the fridge. Add to soda water, desserts, fruit salads, yoghurt, popsicles and dressings.

Convert an oversupply of passionfruit into a syrup for desserts.

Convert an oversupply of passionfruit into a syrup for desserts. Photo: supplied

We're buying … HUNTED + GATHERED MEAT PRODUCTS

This little operation run out of Cremorne, Melbourne, is known for high-quality, small-batch chocolate. We've recently discovered they also do dry wors (a South African, dried sausage snack) with coriander seed and black pepper, as well as Australian grass-fed beef jerky with peri peri and bush tomato. Visit the website to buy online or find stockists in Victoria and New South Wales: huntedandgathered.com.au

We're obsessed with … SOAP & CANDLES GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

Jennifer Cox of Candlelit Desserts makes Madame Tussaud look like an amateur with Play-Doh. Receiving soap for Christmas is suddenly okay, now that we know where to get it shaped like mini doughnuts, gum drops, chip and dip, a hamburger with chips and fried eggs and bacon. The scented candles are just as novel: each component of the brownie sundae – from the chocolate sauce to the cherry – is individually scented. Ships from Nashville, US, candlelitdesserts.patternbyetsy.com

Egg and bacon soap from Candlelit Desserts.

Egg and bacon soap from Candlelit Desserts. Photo: supplied

We're watching … SNOOP DOG & MARTHA STEWART'S COOKING SHOW

It's called Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party and it premiered last Monday on America's VH1, which makes it a little tricky to watch here. In each episode Snoop and his "homegirl", Martha, cook in his and hers kitchens before hosting a dinner party for celebrity guests. But the teasers alone are worth watching: one with a vision of Martha putting the final touches on a croquembouche with a confident, "Fo' shizzle" and another of Snoop chopping a mysterious herb into a fine powder before rolling it up in… rice paper: "Hand-rolled, gluten-free Vietnamese rolls," he says, "Bon appetizzle."