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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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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

Got real milk?

Take a closer look at what goes into that caffè latte - despite all the marketing hype, milk is now one of the most processed of all modern foods. Supermarket fridges are crowded with a confusing choice of pasteurised, homogenised and ultra-heat-treated brands.

Homogenisation involves forcing pasteurised milk under high pressure through a small nozzle to split the fat globules in the milk into tiny particles, so the cream doesn't rise to the surface. The milk is whiter, keeps for longer, and is easier to digest than standard pasteurised milk. But I don't think it tastes as good. And there's an interesting debate about whether the smaller fat globules may be too readily absorbed into the digestive system.

Cream is naturally found in all cow's milk, but the quantity is influenced by the seasons and breed. For this reason, the fat content in "regular" milk is standardised. Then there's low-fat, reduced-fat and skim milk, lactose-free milk, milk fortified with vitamins and minerals, milk with added fish oils, milk with extra cream, and A2-type milk. If you want pure, unprocessed, unadulterated milk, forget it - unless you milk your own cow.

The production and sale of natural raw milk is a contentious issue. Most of the large milk processors claim that raw milk poses a public health risk, while small specialist producers and groups such as Slow Food assert the right to enjoy the sweet, creamy natural flavours and health benefits offered by unprocessed milk.

Pasteurisation involves the use of heat to destroy pathogenic microorganisms in raw milk, but the process also may also reduce milk's nutritional benefits and affect its texture and flavour. Pasteurisation laid the foundations of the modern cooperative dairy industry in Australia. It ensured milk of varying quality could be collected from many different farms across a large area and minimised the risk of a dangerous microorganism from just one bad batch contaminating the whole milk pool. National food standards require that all cow's milk sold in Australia be pasteurised and there are sound reasons to promote pasteurisation in mass-produced milk. The question is whether milk sourced from a single farm of healthy cows should be forced to adopt standards formulated for industrial processing. When raw milk is carefully handled under appropriate regulations there are good reasons for arguing it should not.

The good news is that demand is growing for organic and biodynamic milk that hasn't been homogenised. This is milk with a thick layer of cream on top the way nature intended - simply shake it to mix it in. The finest examples are produced by a growing number of biodynamic and certified organic family-run farm dairies. These taste rich and creamy compared with their more processed cousins. They don't travel well and are best enjoyed within a day or two of milking. Here are my regional favourites:

Victoria: Schulz organic full-cream
This creamy certified organic milk is collected from a single mixed herd grazing near Timboon in western Victoria. The rich texture and subtle pasture flavour are a reflection of the diverse herbage on the farm and the gentle pasteurisation techniques practised by farmer Simon Schulz.

Queensland: Barambah Organics full-cream
This certified organic milk is sourced from a large single herd of mixed breed cows grazing on the Dumaresq River pastures on the New South Wales-Queensland border. Topped with a thick crust of yellow cream, it has a sweet, slightly nutty flavour.

South Australia: Bd Farm Paris Creek biodynamic organic full-cream
This family-owned dairy collects fresh whole milk from half a dozen small biodynamic organic farms in the rolling Adelaide Hills throughout the year. Established by Helmut and Ulli Spranz in 1988, its success in promoting organic milk and yoghurt has ensured many of the small farms in the region are still viable today.

Tasmania: Elgaar Farm organic full-cream
This certified organic milk is collected from a small mixed herd of Jersey and Holstein-Friesian cows near Deloraine in northern Tasmania. Joe and Antonia Gretschmann insist on packing their farm milk in re-usable glass bottles. Why? Because it's ecologically sound and tastes better.

This article is from the November 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.


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