Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 25th June, 2017 and receive a Laguiole cheese knife set!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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. 

Hunter Valley NSW travel guide

Our guide to the best of the region.

Pea and ham soup

Chef's knives

Let’s get one thing out of the way right up front. The only real bad luck you’ll encounter in the matter of giving knives as gifts is having the kind of friends who think giving knives as gifts is bad luck. Sure, you can go through the rigmarole of exchanging coins as tokens when the knife changes hands – a cute ritual signifying that you’ve “paid” for it, nullifying the severed-friendship connotation of knife-giving – or you could simply put the superstition to one side. Whatever you do in the kitchen, a knife is going to be a welcome Christmas present.

Unlike buying a car or health insurance, there’s not much to consider in the way of options. The essential design of the chef’s knife – a sharp bit that cuts things, and a less sharp bit to hang onto – doesn’t vary much. What has changed in recent years in Australia is the emergence of Japanese knives as a popular alternative to European steel. A straw poll of the chefs of the five top-ranked restaurants in the current GT Australian Restaurant Guide reveals that each of them has a Japanese knife.

Marque’s Mark Best complements his Sabatier with “some blades from Kitchen Town in Tokyo” and Peter Gilmore, in a fittingly elegant East-West twist, uses the Michel Bras line made by Kai. Cutler & Co. chef Andrew McConnell favours a 15cm double-edged Masanobu stainless steel knife with a compressed timber handle and nickel bolsters he bought in Japan four years ago. “I like using the Masanobu not just for the quality of the materials,” he says, “but also because it’s a simply beautiful object, well balanced and strong enough for all-purpose use.” Neil Perry and Shannon Bennett, both spokesmen for their brands, meanwhile, use the standard 30cm Shun chef’s knife and a 32cm carbon-steel Mac respectively. Bennett’s whole team uses custom-made Mac knives, and he says they’re worth every penny. They’re “great blades, easy to keep sharp,” he adds. “Just don’t ever clean with vinegar or lemon juice.”

At their shiniest, Japanese knives can be very, very expensive indeed. Take the Waning Crescent Moon, a water-quenched sashimi knife that sports an ebony handle capped with – wait for it – white buffalo horn. That baby will set you back a cool $2250 at Sydney’s Chef’s Armoury. And it’s not just specialist blades that can rack up the big dollars. The 17cm black nickel Fujii santoku (also capped with buffalo horn) you see here is a chef’s knife, and if you’re lucky enough to score one of the three for sale at Chef’s Armoury (of a total of 12 blades forged for the line, full-stop), you’ll be parting with $2688. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, very sharp indeed, but when you’re getting into this end of the price spectrum, it’s about more than utility, says the Armoury’s Leigh Hudson. It’s about making “your friends really jealous”.

At what Hudson calls the “sub-freaking awesome level”, there’s also some very fine Japanese steel to be had for prices that don’t require a bank loan. At $425.95, the brand-new 24cm ripple-finished Mcusta gyuto is still very much an object capable of inspiring feelings of lust in the eyes of the beholder, says Hudson. The idea of the ripple finish is that food is less likely to stick to the blade as you slice.

The biggest name in Japanese knives, of course, and the company that really brought them to prominence outside Japan, is the fittingly named Global. The keen edge, space-age design and famous lightness of Global knives (such as the 20cm G2, $155, seen here) have made them a household name – in houses where cutting things neatly and finely is a priority, at any rate.

Like the Globals, knives from Shun, a newer player on the Australian market, are priced in a way that makes them an easy entry point into the world of Japanese steel. The 20cm Shun Classic ($279) is easy to put an edge on and stays remarkably sharp.

Lightness isn’t to every cook’s taste, though. If you want a blade with some heft, it’s hard to go past a piece of classic German steel, and Wüsthof’s Classic 20cm chef’s knife ($259) holds its edge, sits easily and comfortably in the hand (the squared off heels of some Japanese knives can make for some exciting nicks and scratches for the uninitiated) and is robust as all get out.

And finally, for pure value, just about nothing beats an entry-level Victorinox when it comes to the dollars-for-sharpness ratio. The handles are plastic, true, but when you look at the fact that the 25cm model costs $69.95, and see how well they last and how sharp they stay, it’s easy to see why they’re standard-issue for apprentices everywhere. If there’s a better knife to give to someone setting up home or to keep spare at the beach house, we’re yet to see it.

PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREW FINLAYSON

This article is from the December 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

SHARPEST TOOLS

Chef’s knives, from left:
1. Global G2 20cm, $155.
2. Wüsthof Classic 20cm, $259.
3. Mcusta Zanmai Ripple Gyuto 24cm, $425.95, from Chef’s Armoury.
4. Fujii “Limited” Black Nickel Damascus Santoku 17cm, $2688, from Chef’s Armoury.
5. Victorinox 25cm, $69.95, from King of Knives.
6. Shun Classic 20cm, $279.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Our June issue is on sale now
25.05.2017
What is rou jia mo?
28.04.2017
OzHarvest opens Australia’s first free supermarket for people in need
27.04.2017
Westmont Pickles, Belles Hot Chicken's pickle of choice
26.04.2017
Our Hot 100 issue is out now
24.04.2017
Does Newcastle have Australia’s best eclair?
21.04.2017
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

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

See more

You might also like...

Easter lunch recipes

With the cooler autumn weather, heartier flavours begin to e...

Cupcake recipes

Scaled down to little more than a mouthful, tiny cakes take ...

Thomas Keller's sandwich recipes

America's most famous chef takes the smarts and good taste t...

Grilling recipes

Dust off the tongs, fire up the barbecue, and get grilling w...

Neil Perry's Spice Temple recipes

At his new Spice Temple, Neil Perry calls on the more exotic...

Pickle and preserve recipes

When it comes to last-minute entertaining, a lovingly made p...

15 (shameless) chocolate recipes

Mousse, souffle, mud cake and more... welcome to the dark si...

Sexy salad recipes

A salad can be so good when it's done just right. Check out ...

Recipes from Australia's best chefs

Peter Gilmore's snow egg, Justin North's smoked duck egg wit...

Quick winter meals

Fire up the stovetop with these wintry dishes, ready for the...

Comfort food recipes

Take comfort in superb onion rings, juicy roasts, syrupy pud...

Braising recipes

Fire up the stovetop, it's time to braise. Our braising slid...

Comme Kitchen recipes

British-born chef Daniel Southern has made his mark in Melbo...

French alpine recipes

Bask in the warmth of French Alpine-inspired food. Ideal for...

French roast recipes

With books such as Pork & Sons and Ripailles, Parisian autho...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×