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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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. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Where to stay, eat and drink in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Beyond Kuala Lumpur's shopping malls, Lara Dunston finds a flourishing third-wave coffee scene, tailored food tours and charming neighbourhoods.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

Kisume, Melbourne

Chris Lucas has flown in talent from all over the world, including Eleven Madison Park, for his bold new venture. Here’s what to expect from Kisume.

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.

Battle of the bills

Kelly Eng rehearses her restaurant game plan, flexes her forearms and masters the art of stealth – all in the spirit of Chinese hospitality and generosity.

One thing makes me proud to be Chinese. It's not our ingenuity with cooking obscure animal parts or our ability to squat in impossible places. Rather, it's the way we pay restaurant bills.

This curious ritual unfolds in Chinese restaurants worldwide. Take one large group of people. Have them order an outrageous amount of food. Soup is followed by oysters that beget Peking duck that begets lobster perched atop egg noodles that begets vegetable hot-pots and quivering tofu. Silence reigns as rice, vegetable and protein are swept into open mouths. An hour later, over-nourished Chinese sit flossing their teeth with toothpicks, gazing into the ether, senses dulled. But don't be fooled by the dazed exterior, for inside lies an athlete with the agility of a tiger.

It's bill time. The waiter approaches, placing it warily on the turntable. Twelve paws pounce. A fight ensues and suddenly it's Mr Wu versus Mrs Chung versus Mr Lee. There's shouting, pushing, pulling and berating of the waiter. The showdown is whittled down to two contestants, both clutching the bill. There's movement, a shuffle of four of five metres through the restaurant, both parties unwilling to let go and Mr Wu's just put Mr Lee in a headlock.

Forget ping-pong. Bill paying is the sport at which we excel. This custom is about pride, honour, generosity and a belief that what goes around comes around. There is no splitting of bills, no tallying up of entrées and mains, and definitely no "You drank more wine and I didn't eat the garlic bread". Simply, it is an honour to treat your beloved friends and family.

Bill paying is both brawn and brain. To triumph you need speed, strategy, stealth and often the brute strength of a warrior. Mr Wu's seemingly innocent cigarette breaks between courses give him the chance to put down his credit card. This can be inadequate, as Mr Lee has pre-empted this move, arriving at the restaurant early to finalise payment before anyone's said, "Chrysanthemum tea?" Then there's the cunning move I call the "switcheroo". Mrs Chung feigns a toilet trip. At the register she discovers Mr Wu's credit card is down. Horrified, she puts down her credit card in its place, taking Mr Wu's card hostage until she has triumphantly signed on the dotted line.

Other tactics include making a covert deal with the waiter or trapping fellow diners in corner seats. If persuasion is your game, then some arguments include: "But you're in my postcode", "I'm older then you", and the classic, "I'll pay this time and one day I might need a favour from you". (Note: these so-called favours are never redeemed.)

According to custom, the person who extends the invitation or is the highest-ranking person (oldest, richest, wisest) should pay. So what's a cash-strapped person to do? To save face, you must look as though you want to pay. Make exaggerated movements that advertise, "Attention! I am now reaching for my wallet". Look disoriented while you do the pocket-fumble and the bag-fossick. Create noise. When it's too late, suddenly locate your credit card and wave it around. Finally, concede defeat and heartily thank the winner. If you're a bill-paying black-belt, no one will be the wiser.

As a child I found this custom absurd. Why were these rational adults throwing their cash around like confetti? But now I appreciate the simple joy of extending generosity to the people you care for. This is why I was locked in a furious bill battle with a friend on Saturday night. Our bodies were contorted, tense, veins a-popping, and it was game on.

GT
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Recipe collections

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2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

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