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The era of free wine tastings in Australia may be coming to a close. The pandemic nixed wine tastings for months, and now that wineries are able to reopen, many owners say they will never go back to the era of free tastings. Complimentary wine flights are a cornerstone of Australian cellar door visits – but as wineries reopen, they are rethinking the tradition. Free wine tastings have all but disappeared in the U.S. even prior to the pandemic, although the tasting fee is usually waived if you purchase a few bottles of wine.

The 46-year-old Association of Food Journalists announced that it will be shutting down due to financial constraints. The pandemic is not to blame, however, says board president Hanna Raskin. “To make a sad story short, AFJ’s financial model was long based on print newspapers footing the cost of members’ dues, contest entries and conference attendance,” she explained.

A few weeks ago we reported on Peter Meehan’s resignation from The L.A. Times after allegations of an abusive work environment and sexual harassment. Eater’s Meghan McCarron followed up with over two dozen Times employees who worked under Meehan, and documented their stories of a “toxic management style characterized by intimidation, a barrage of sexualized commentary, and explosive anger.”

The James Beard Foundation may have nixed its restaurant and chef awards for 2020, but the pandemic isn’t stopping Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure from announcing their list of the 40 Best Restaurants in the World. The two magazines sent Besha Rodell on what was planned to be a round-the-world research trip seeking restaurants that “best capture the spirit of their communities.” Rodell finished her tour of Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and was embarking on her U.S. tasting tour when she had to return home due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Despite her trip being cut short, Rodell and the magazines felt that it was more important than ever to recognize the chefs and restaurateurs doing incredible work around the world.

Do you find yourself stuck in a cooking rut these days? It can be easy to fall into a routine when circumstances make it difficult to muster inspiration. If this describes you, head over to Good Food (Aus), where Adam Liaw provides tips and ideas to break out of the cooking doldrums. Liaw provides solid advice on how to change things up, and reminds us even during quarantine, you shouldn’t be afraid to fail. Just remember to “pick up a nice piece of cheese in your weekly shop. If everything really does go to hell then your dinner can be a plate of cheese and crackers with a glass of nice wine,” he says.

Photo of A summer cheese plate from Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte and Heidi Swanson

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