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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.

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.

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.

Hunter Valley NSW travel guide

Our guide to the best of the region.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Pea and ham soup

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. 

Alberto Alessi talks design

Alberto Alessi talks to Maggie Scardifield about timeless design, poetry and his signature chicken.

At Cascina Eugenia, Alberto Alessi's home at Lake Orta in Italy's north-west, the dining table is set with a dozen chairs, each designed by a different architect. It's a scene that reflects the Alessi philosophy - the Italian design firm is famous for an eclectic catalogue born of collaborations with designers from all over the world.

Alberto's grandfather Giovanni established Alessi in 1921 in Omegna, not far from Lake Orta, as an artisanal cold-forming metal factory that produced brass, copper and nickel tableware. In the '30s, under the management of Alberto's father, Carlo, the factory began moving towards mass production; when Alberto joined the company in 1970, he shifted Alessi's focus to high-end international design collaborations.

He isn't a designer himself, but rather sees himself as a father to "design personalities". Under his direction multiple voices have become a part of the Alessi DNA: Ettore Sottsass, Marc Newson, Philippe Starck and Frank Gehry among hundreds of others.

"It was shocking at the time, but it was very important for Italian design to oxygenate," he says.

Gourmet Traveller spoke with Alessi when he was in Australia recently to give a lecture presented by the Melbourne Movement design collective and Monash University Art, Design and Architecture.

What does good design mean to Alessi?
It has a lot to do with the Italian way of looking at design where poetry is fundamental to being a good designer. The most important thing I ask myself when taking on someone new is whether or not he or she is a poet. It's not about trends; it's always about personality.

Alessi works with a number of Australian designers. How did this come about?
After Italy, Australia has the second largest number of Alessi designers. It happened spontaneously.

We started in the early '90s with Susan Cohn from Melbourne [who designed the Cohncave Bowl], and with Marc Newson [Strelka Cutlery and the Stavros bottle opener among other products]. Australians are pragmatic and practical. Perhaps being so far from the epicentre of design, they have a special vision that helps them to make products that are very different. We have 12 Australians in production now.

Despite shifting trends, pieces such as Michael Graves' 9093 kettle and Philippe Starck's Juicy Salif citrus-squeezer are still popular today.

Why do you think that is?
There has been lots of discussion as to why an object or a person can become an icon. At least in part, it's because they're representing the true deep spirit of their period and at the same time, they're timeless. Graves' kettle is an exceptional example of the mid-'80s. A good designer couldn't design a kettle like his today. It would be wrong for the people - or just uninteresting.

What makes a great kitchen?
In my case it's the central place of the entire house; it's like a theatre. I need a kitchen where I can play - somewhere where my friends can be in front of me and I can talk and joke with them as I cook. The most important thing, I insist, is to always invite good guests, too. And good wine helps.

And you make your own wine.
In 2000, I bought an old farm on Lake Orta that had been completely abandoned since the '40s. We did the complete replanting and the restoration of all the buildings. Now I live in the middle of the vineyard and from the kitchen I can go directly into the cellars. The wine is called La Signora Eugenia e il Passero Solitario [Madam Eugenia and the Lonely Sparrow] and is bottled in a Da Vinci-inspired bottle I designed myself: the Leo bottle. Actually, it's the only design I've made by myself in my lifetime.

Do you have a signature dish?
My pollo brucia culo, "arse-burning chicken". Mainly it's made with Mexican dried black peppers, peas to absorb the heat, and lots of sweet wine, preferably from my vineyard. Fantastico. Benissimo.

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