The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

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Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Dark chocolate delice, salted-caramel ganache and chocolate sorbet

"The delice from Source Dining is a winner. May I have the recipe?" Rebecca Ward, Fitzroy, Vic REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via Facebook. Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Koh Loy Sriracha Sauce, David Thompson's favourite hot sauce

When the master of Thai food pinpoints anything as his favourite, we sit up and listen.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Gifts under $100 at our pop-up Christmas Boutique

Whether it's a hand-thrown pasta bowl, a bottle of vodka made from sheep's whey or a completely stylish denim apron, our pop-up Christmas Boutique in collaboration with gift shop Sorry Thanks I Love You has got you covered in the $100 and under budget this Christmas.

Tanqueray Tasteology at Rockpool, Sydney

Charles Spence wants to engage your biggest sense organ, and he wants to do it with a gin and tonic. The brain, he argues, is where flavour happens, and not the mouth, and it's the result of a mingling of information from not just the senses of taste and scent but also sight, sound and touch.

Professor Spence is an experimental psychologist and the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford, and he was discussing neurogastronomy at a dinner given by Tanqueray at Rockpool in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Tanqueray is promoting the idea that a well-made gin and tonic is the perfect multisensory palate-cleanser, an idea that Professor Spence said chimes with his research. The mouth brings us less than 10 per cent of the information we end up perceiving as flavour, he said, and while the nose does most of the heavy lifting in terms of sensory perception with food and drink, the other senses play their part.

To take the example of our well-made G & T, he said, the weight of a good glass in the hand suggests quality before we've even brought it all the way to our lips. The tinkle of nice big ice cubes in that glass may make us perceive it to be cooler than it really is. Done right, it should cleanse not just the mouth but also the nose and, perhaps more crucially, the mind, priming it for the courses to come.

Lighting, music, temperature and a host of other environmental factors, according to Professor Spence, all skew our perception of flavour. "The colour red, for instance, makes things seem sweeter to us." Perhaps the best known example of how this can be manipulated in a restaurant setting is the Sounds of the Sea, the seafood dish served with an accompanying seaside soundtrack at The Fat Duck in the UK, and Spence was one of the experts that chef Heston Blumenthal turned to when he was developing it. "Sound is the forgotten food sense," said the professor. "It's like a calorie-free seasoning."

The take-home message, he said, was to understand that we taste food and drink with our minds rather than our mouths, and that enterprising chefs and drink-makers can use this information to enrich our eating and drinking.

Thoroughly primed by a meal of Rockpool classics reinterpreted by chef Phil Wood, it was an idea the crowd seemed all too ready to embrace - as crossmodally as possible.

We ate Rockpool dishes new and old; standouts included Wood's palate-cleanser, a beetroot-spiked take on the gin Salty Dog cocktail, and his reworking of Rockpool's Burgundian chicken, which brought prawns and a liquorice split-butter sauce into play with devastating effect.

We drank Tanqueray and tonic, naturally. The house version of the quintessential palate-cleanser calls for 30ml of Tanqueray poured into a glass filled two-thirds of the way with ice cubes, topped with tonic (Capi in this case), rimmed and garnished with a wedge of lime.

We loved Hearing discussion of the orbitofrontal cortex and oral referral in the same breath as Dirty Martinis and jelly.

Catch Professor Charles Spence talking about neurogastronomy and Tanqueray at the Rockpool Classics pop-up at Rosetta in Melbourne on 19 November.

 

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