For all the gripes we have by mid-August – when it’s bitterly cold and our toes are numb in our shoes – winter’s approach can often be a nostalgic affair. Indeed, what’s not to love about woolly jumpers, big jackets, hearty food and the season’s simpler pleasures?

Winter makes us hungry – so much so that we eat our words this issue. Our Melbourne deputy editor Tacey Rychter explores the culinary lexicon, its current trends and the buzzwords that we so often fall victim to. Think ‘bespoke’, ‘artisan’, ‘natural’ and ‘house-made’.

To stay warm, we’re drinking fire. It has been a while since we had a Flaming Lamborghini and we’re not about to order one, but we’ve found some alternatives. We’re like moths to a flame in the winter and forever tempted by a warmer category of cocktail, so have found a few boozy Blazers to sip. We also spent a day smoking fish with Adam and Steve de Launay at Fish Place in Surry Hills and getting the word on the perfect cheese plate from Stefano di Blasi of Alexandria’s Salt Meats Cheese.

It’s hard not to notice a changing of the guard in the CBD. It has been happening for the last little while, so for our cover story Jane Albert and Sydney deputy editor Sophie McComas survey some of the more innovative businesses helping change the face and our perception of the city. Five years after the introduction of small bar licensing amendments, the ripple effects are still taking shape, with shops, cafes and restaurants all playing a hand in the CBD’s new guise. We’re talking places like Frankie’s Pizza, Cabrito Coffee Traders, Fratelli Fresh and Grandma’s Bar. And while it might not be quite there yet, Sydney’s CBD is fast gathering momentum – it has a pace and rhythm far different from its suburban counterparts, and we’re digging it.

It’s not just the CBD that has undergone a reinvigoration. Regaled as an icon, the Sydney Opera House is shifting its focus back on the everyday people of the city. On the eve of Vivid Sydney, we had a chat to the Opera House’s executive producer Jonathan Bielski about why also sorts of people are flocking back to the building for all manner of events.

We also team up with surf magazine Paper Sea Quarterly on a piece about some people who aren’t the ones riding boards, but capturing that moment through the lens. Paper Sea’s editor Andy Summons chats with four surf documentarians about the stories, early mornings and hours of treading water behind their favourite photographs.

And that’s a wrap for our winter issue. If you need us, we’ll smoking fish, eating cheese and likely drinking a fiery cocktail in the city somewhere.

See you there.