Healthy Eating

After fresh ideas for meals that are healthy but still pack a flavour punch? We've got salads and vegetable-packed bowls to soups and light desserts.

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Coffee culture: A history

Australia’s love affair with coffee is stronger than ever; it’s become a way of life. But exactly how did a beverage manage to shape our country’s culture?

Tarta de Santiago

"Gordita makes a splendid version of the Galician almond cake Tarta de Santiago, with its dramatic design. Would you please publish the recipe?" Michael MacDermott, Taringa, Qld 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.

Curry recipes

When you're in need of rejuvenation, there's nothing better than a warming bowl of curry, whether it's gently spiced potato and egg, a punchy Jamaican goat number or an elaborate Burmese fish curry. Here are our favourite recipes.

Pea and ham soup

Bread and butter pudding

Just what you need on a cold winter's night; a bowl of luscious pudding. Make sure to leave room for seconds.

Automata opening in Singapore

One of Sydney’s hottest restaurants is about to branch out in Asia.

New Indian restaurant breaks new ground in breakfast and lunch

Cafe Southall, a contemporary all-day Indian eatery from the family behind Bombay by Night, opens in St Kilda.

Bali's new wave of restaurants, hotels and bars

The restaurant and hotel scene on Australia's favourite holiday island has never been more exciting and Australian chefs, owners and restaurateurs are leading the charge, writes Samantha Coomber.

Chinese takeaway

Tony Tan speaks about the flavours of Beijing street food in our exclusive video interview

Ask a visitor to Beijing what northern Chinese cooking is and the likely response is simple and emphatic: "Peking duck!" It's a perfectly valid answer, too, but that wonderful dish is a relatively recent invention, while northern Chinese cooking, better known as Beijing cuisine, is one of the four great schools of Chinese culinary culture.

This cuisine embraces the distinctive cooking styles from the surrounding provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Henan and Inner Mongolia. It is shaped by the cooking of Chinese Muslims from parts of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, and lamb is their preferred meat. The cuisine has also been influenced by the imperial kitchens, as successive rulers have resided in Beijing since the 13th century's Yuan dynasty. Finally, as the national capital for close to a millennium, foods from all the provinces of China have come to be represented here.

Sadly, our knowledge of northern Chinese cooking in Australia is rather scant. Cantonese, the southern school of cooking, is dominant here, and while northern-style restaurants are on the increase, for now they're relatively marginal and aren't equipped to serve the cuisine's full repertoire faithfully.

Beijing's Sanyuanli food market displays the building blocks of northern-style cuisine. Local greens such as leeks, soy beans, ginger, spring onions and the huge variety of Chinese cabbages are key. Tian mian jiang, the sweet flour sauce, and a host of preserved vegetables also play a role, as does the distinctive flavour of roasted sesame paste.

If you're fortunate enough to stroll through the few remaining hutongs (neighbourhood alleys) with their courtyard homes, chances are you'll find a family enjoying a meal in the open courtyards. On the table could be staples such as wheat-based buns called mantou, cold dishes such as eggplant laced with roasted sesame paste, bean curd cooked in every way imaginable, or potatoes stirfried with soy and hints of green onions.

But to really experience the full intensity of Beijing's flavours, pay a visit to the capital's most happening food street, Donghuamen Dajie in Wangfujing. As you approach the Han and Uighur vendors, the delicious scent of grilled cumin-laden meats wafts through the night air, and the vast array of hawker foods is nothing like what you find back home. From skewered quail to calamari and crisp scorpion to savoury buns filled with pork, the snacks represent the multifaceted nature of this vast metropolis. Beijing's enormous gastronomic range is captivating. After all, I think it was the Chinese who invented the saying, 'you live to eat'.

Join Tony Tan on a 12-day gourmet tour through China, 12-23 September, 2008. For more information go to tonytan.com.au or call (03) 9827 7347.

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