Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Chorizo recipes

Where would Spanish cuisine be without the chorizo? This versatile smallgood lends its big flavours to South American stews, soups, and salads, not to mention the ultimate hot dog. Let the sizzling begin.

Pea and ham soup

The Ugly Duckling, Richmond

The Ugly Duckling, Richmond

The Ugly Duckling, Richmond

Swan Street in Melbourne's Richmond is on the up. Just a few months back we reported that our favourite fried-chicken slinger, Morgan McGlone, would open another outpost of Belle's on Swan Street. Now comes The Ugly Duckling, East Richmond's newest wine and cocktail bar, which is anything but ugly.

A project by David Abela (founder of 3 Degrees Marketing), Andrew Ryan (Mitchelton Wines, Melbourne Pub Group), and Daniel Vid (Circa, Newmarket Hotel and Middle Park Hotel), The Ugly Duckling opens this week on the site of one of Melbourne's first department stores, Balls Corner, a 19th-century, heritage-listed building.

Abela has owned the property for 10 years and, unsure of exactly what he wanted to do with it, he's always referred to it as the ugly duckling."The exterior of the building is quite ordinary and can be easily dismissed," he says, "but when you look a little closer, there's something special about it. It feels intimate and residential."

Melbourne design-firm Hecker Guthrie is responsible for the fit-out, which features a dimly lit space at the front with a custom-designed, grey marble bar, and a larger seating area underneath the building's original glass atrium at the rear. Plenty of indoor plants, natural wood surfaces and Bouroullec furniture lend the space a conservatory-like feel.

The menu, Abela tells us, is focused around "European-style hospitality" and dishes "that enhance and support the drinking experience". So far, this includes warm olives and truffle potato crisps (served on handmade ceramics from Mud Australia), plus larger boards of cheese from Richmond Hill Café & Larder and charcuterie. On the drinks front, there are more than a hundred wines, including Giaconda Chardonnay and Patrice Rion Burgundy, and plenty available by the glass.

"Andrew, Daniel and I love entertaining," says Abela. "We wanted to create somewhere that's as equally suited to a pre-dinner Peroni as it is to a long night of wine and cocktails with friends."

Barman Nick Selvadurai (formerly of Cookie) will mix cocktails such as the Bitterball Bucks (Tanqueray 10, pink grapefruit juice, Campari spheres, Champagne) and, for the after-dinner set, handmade chocolates from Malvern's Ministry of Chocolate are available from the bar.

"It's a similar feel to how you'd entertain at home," says Abela. Albeit a home with a full suite of Riedel.

The Ugly Duckling, 238 Swan St, Richmond, Vic, (03) 9429 1498; open daily 3pm-1am. 

Not in Melbourne? Here are six other cosy bars from around the country.

 


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