Wood-Fired and Wonderful: Sea & Smoke, Del Mar

 

 

Sea & Smoke Jerk Wings

Sea & Smoke Jerk Wings

Sea & Smoke is all about consummate, creative comfort food, relaxed outdoor dining and superb service! There’s a wonderful breezy outdoor patio area that’s so San Diego and the menu is designed to share. Good choices to start are the perfectly seasoned jerk wings, sweet/savory apple & fig flatbread and creamy mac ‘n’ cheese. There’s also an impressive cocktail list including a terrific tangy Cuke Mule made with cucumber-infused vodka, key lime and ginger beer.

Sea & Smoke Apple and Fig Flatbread

Sea & Smoke Apple and Fig Flatbread

Sea & Smoke Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Sea & Smoke Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Sea & Smoke Seared Wild Alaskan Salmon

Sea & Smoke Seared Wild Alaskan Salmon

Sea & Smoke, An American Brasserie Water Glass

Sea & Smoke, An American Brasserie Water Glass

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Queensland’s Sultry Tropics

Lipstick Tree Fruit, Daintree

Lipstick Tree Fruit, Daintree

I was startled to drive out of Cairns and pass countless sugarcane fields. Turns out that Queensland’s tropical environment is ideal for growing sugarcane. Unfortunately, the deforestation and heavy use of fertilizers over the years have wreaked havoc on the environment. There’s finally a growing awareness and trend towards rehabilitation of the land. Two main tourist attractions are:

Daintree River Cruise
Hop on an open air boat and cruise pass tropical rainforests, lush mangrove trees and sunning crocodiles.

Mossman Gorge
Beyond the Gorge Lookout is an enjoyable two-kilometer circuit. Gigantic fig trees, tiny lizards and bush turkeys can be spotted along the way.

Lipstick Tree, Daintree

Lipstick Tree, Daintree

Daintree Village Giant Barramundi Fish

Daintree Village Giant Barramundi Fish

Daintree River Cruise

Daintree River Cruise

Daintree River Cable Ferry

Daintree River Cable Ferry

Daintree River Crocodile

Daintree River Crocodile

Daintree River Baby Crocodile

Daintree River Baby Crocodile

Daintree River Trees

Daintree River Trees

Mossman Gorge Circuit Trail

Mossman Gorge Circuit Trail

Mossman Gorge Giant Fig Tree

Mossman Gorge Giant Fig Tree

Mossman Gorge Fern Leaf

Mossman Gorge Fern Leaf

Mossman Gorge Lizard

Mossman Gorge Lizard

Mossman Gorge Rock

Mossman Gorge Rock

Mossman Gorge Moss

Mossman Gorge Moss

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge

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The Port Douglas Lively Dining Scene

Zinc Restaurant Chili & Coriander Crusted Salmon Filet

Zinc Restaurant Chili & Coriander Crusted Salmon Filet

Visitors to the enchanting Port Douglas have a wide range of dining options from seafood at the wharf to pizza at the beach. The following three popular restaurants feature Australian gourmet fare:

On the Inlet
On the Inlet is literally that on the waters edge. The casual open-air dining room was delightful. Service was superb. The smoked barramundi roulette, crispy calamari and seafood risotto were all terrific. It was amusing to watch nearby diners plow through a massive seafood platter. I thought I was watching an episode of Man Versus Food as two guys ate non-stop for a good 45 minutes.

Watergate Restaurant
Dining alfresco surrounded by rainforest foliage with draped string lights was magical. The food was good although not terrifically inspired. The duck pancakes were cooked perfectly and the presentation was dramatic. The prawn shrimp pasta and steak were also delicious. Service started out with a bang then evaporated after a large party came into the dining room.

Zinc Restaurant
Zinc Restaurant on the main drag in Port Douglas is always hopping for a reason: the food, service and ambiance are wonderful. The chicken pate, Thai fish cakes and sesame-crusted salmon are highly recommended.

On the Inlet Restaurant Smoked Barramundi Roulette

On the Inlet Restaurant Smoked Barramundi Roulette

On the Inlet Restaurant Seafood Risotto

On the Inlet Restaurant Seafood Risotto

Watergate Restaurant Duck Pancakes, Port Douglas

Watergate Restaurant Duck Pancakes, Port Douglas

Watergate Restaurant Prawn Linguine, Port Douglas

Watergate Restaurant Prawn Linguine, Port Douglas

Watergate Restaurant Salt Rubbed Eye Filet

Watergate Restaurant Salt Rubbed Eye Filet

Watergate Restaurant, Port Douglas

Watergate Restaurant, Port Douglas

Zinc Restaurant Cognac Scented Chicken Liver Pate with Onion Jam

Zinc Restaurant Cognac Scented Chicken Liver Pate with Onion Jam

Larry at Zinc Restaurant, Port Douglas

Larry at Zinc Restaurant, Port Douglas

Zinc Restaurant Tabletop, Port Douglas

Zinc Restaurant Tabletop, Port Douglas

Zinc Restaurant Thai Fishcakes

Zinc Restaurant Thai Fishcakes

Four Mile Beach Sunrise, Port Douglas

Four Mile Beach Sunrise, Port Douglas

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Astonishing Uluru

Uluru at Sunset

Uluru at Sunset

Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is a giant sandstone monolith rising from seemingly nowhere. The magnificence of the rock is best experienced at sunrise or sunset when Uluru glows vivid red surrounded by stunning cloudscapes. Uluru is unconditionally sacred to the Anangu people. There are plans to close the climb to the top. Even though park tickets and signage request that people refrain from climbing the rock out of respect to the Anangu, tourists scale the rock every single day. Many are injured and over 40 have died making the attempt. The better option is to hike the pleasant 10K Uluru Base Walk. 

Uluru at Sunrise

Uluru at Sunrise

Uluru Rock at Sunrise Wide View

Uluru Rock at Sunrise Wide View

Uluru Rock at Sunrise

Uluru Rock at Sunrise

Uluru Sunrise Pink Sky

Uluru Sunrise Pink Sky

Tree Silhouette at Uluru Sunrise

Tree Silhouette at Uluru Sunrise

Uluru Base Walk One

Uluru Base Walk One

Uluru Base Walk Two

Uluru Base Walk Two

Uluru Base Walk Three

Uluru Base Walk Three

Uluru Base Walk Four

Uluru Base Walk Four

Uluru Base Walk Five

Uluru Base Walk Five

Uluru Base Walk Six

Uluru Base Walk Six

Uluru Base Walk Seven

Uluru Base Walk Seven

Uluru Base Walk Eight

Uluru Base Walk Eight

Uluru Sunset Rain Cloud

Uluru Sunset Rain Cloud

Grey Clouds at Uluru Sunset

Grey Clouds at Uluru Sunset

Uluru Sunset Grass

Uluru Sunset Grass

Tree Against Uluru Sunset Sky

Tree Against Uluru Sunset Sky

Uluru Purple Sky at Sunset

Uluru Purple Sky at Sunset

Uluru Red Sand at Sunset

Uluru Red Sand at Sunset

Ayers Rock Resort at Sunset

Ayers Rock Resort at Sunset

Uluru Sunset Far Out View

Uluru Sunset Far Out View

Uluru Sunset View

Uluru Sunset View

Uluru Sunset Clouds

Uluru Sunset Clouds

 

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Resplendent Red Center: Kata Tjuta World Heritage Site

Kata Tjuta Sunrise Wide

Kata Tjuta Sunrise Wide

Although lesser known than Uluru Kata Tjuta is a no less magnificent geological wonder. The remarkable rock domes of Kata Tjuta rise out of a sand plain and are sacred to the Anangu aboriginal people. In their language, Kata Tjuta means “many heads.” There are two many trail areas: The Valley of the Winds with several options and the short but scenic Walpa Gorge. Although there is a warning sign at the head of the Valley of the Winds Circuit Trail, hikers still venture out in scorching temperatures each year without water and have to be rescued before turning into what guides refer to as medium rare steak.

Kata Tjuta Trees

Kata Tjuta Trees

The Sun Rising Near Kata Tjuta

The Sun Rising Near Kata Tjuta

Valley of the Winds Warning Sign

Valley of the Winds Warning Sign

Valley of the Winds Viewpoint

Valley of the Winds Viewpoint

Valley of the Winds Dome

Valley of the Winds Dome

Valley of the Winds Domes

Valley of the Winds Domes

Valley of the Winds Red Hillside

Valley of the Winds Red Hillside

Walpa Gorge Hike

Walpa Gorge Hike

Walpa Gorge Lookout

Walpa Gorge Lookout

Walpa Gorge Pool Reflection

Walpa Gorge Pool Reflection

Walpa Gorge Wall

Walpa Gorge Wall

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