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Attica chef Ben Shewry has been thinking about your buttocks, and wants to introduce them to an Australian design classic.
Charleston, the antebellum jewel of the Carolina coast, has embraced its Lowcountry roots, writes Shane Mitchell, and now shines anew.
Our June issue is out now, and it's all about breakfast. Pat Nourse kicks things off with his editor's letter.
Andrew McConnell’s Cantonese-inspired restaurant will become a classroom for a night during the Emerging Writers’ Festival.
A bloody good dinner for a bloody good cause.
An ambitious, brand new regional hotel has been awarded not one but three top accolades this year.
Andrew McConnell’s yakitori, buns, dumplings and lobster rolls head south of the river.
Sydney’s favourite whisky bar makes a rare overground appearance at a pop-up on Pitt Street Mall.
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.
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 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.
Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.
No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.
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.
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.
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.
About that cravat, the one so impeccably arranged it could be held in position by invisible florists’ wire. It’s gone, replaced by a jaunty chrome-yellow neckerchief. And the flowing Wildean locks? Gone too.
Matt Preston has a new look. “It’s a bit radical,” he says. Like an old-fashioned cowboy, a dash of Deadwood, a touch of RM Williams. Preston is a man unafraid of colour in a largely black-clad world. He also sports a watermelon-pink shirt, a cocoa-coloured jacket with a yellow paisley silk pocket square, jeans, and boots with Cuban heels.
Thus attired he turns all heads as he enters Kitchen by Mike, the new canteen-style café in Sydney’s Rosebery. We’ve barely had time to order the pork belly with piccalilli and the pumpkin roasted in chef Mike McEnearney’s mighty woodfired oven before Preston is accosted by a woman who asks to have her photograph taken with the MasterChef judge. He obliges. Preston says he loves his fans, the result of exposure via what is arguably one of the most significant television phenomena of recent years, and is always nice. He’s eminently affable, open and an inextinguishable talker. And his enthusiasm for – and protean knowledge of – food is palpable.
Preston is a Londoner and he loves the place. He met an Australian woman there, they dated for five years and he came here to see what it was like. “I was seduced by the lifestyle,” he says. He was also seduced by one of his girlfriend’s girlfriends and went on to marry her. They live happily in Melbourne and have three children – Jonathan, 11, William, nine, and Sadie, seven — all of whom love food but are not uncritical. “Sadie is brutal about my cooking,” he laments.
Preston’s march to eminence on the local and international food scene has been purposeful and inevitable. The journey started with writing gigs in the UK, and when he moved to Melbourne in 1993 he wrote about cheap eats for The Age and also contributed to specialist food titles.
But it was landing the job with MasterChef that propelled him to a broader fame, from critic to 24-carat celebrity in one season. He wears his fame lightly, limiting his name-dropping – Heston and Jamie crop up most frequently – to a minimum, and is generous to a fault with recommendations, both local and international.
If an Aussie visiting London for the Olympics wanted the names of three good restaurants at which to dine, which ones would he suggest? “Number one would be The Fat Duck. The Ledbury is a must. I’ve been there every year for the past four years. It just gets better.” And by way of something cheap and cheerful he suggests Pollo in Old Compton Street, Soho.
Chefs he admires – besides Heston and Jamie – are Melbourne’s Andrew McConnell and Ben Shewry, Hobart’s Luke Burgess, and Sydney’s Andy Bunn at Honeycomb. More names come tumbling out: chefs, restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs and remembered dishes.
This gastro-litany might create the impression that Preston masticates 24/7. Not so. His other interests include music (“I’m an old punk rocker from the King’s Road”), soccer and AFL. “I also play tennis. Not very well but I’m better than George [Calombaris].” He places food only third on his list of interests.
Why was he chosen for MasterChef and not Australia’s Got Talent? “The producers saw a picture of me and probably thought I looked disheveled and slightly untrustworthy. They wanted a bad guy.”
MasterChef, now screening in its fourth series, involves seven months of filming each year. Most of it is done in Sydney but they also venture interstate and abroad, making Preston ideally placed to fashion a report card on the state of culinary art around the globe.
We agree on our dislike of attention-seeking combinations such as lobster mousse with caramel (“disgusting!”), but disagree on molecular cuisine, which he argues “brought humour into the kitchen”. But he senses a shift towards food that’s “getting too intellectual”.
Many things impress him about Australian cuisine. “The growth of small bar culture is an Australian phenomenon. London does high-end very well but they can’t manage the kind of easy, relaxed food that one finds all over Australia. But it’s gradually catching on thanks to the likes of Skye Gyngell.”
What does he miss about Britain? “Hard English cheeses such as Caerphilly and Wensleydale.” And mushrooms. “I miss the vast range and subtle flavours of the mushrooms at home. But I love Australian food, although in 18 years here there are two things I’ve never grown to like and never will: Sara Lee and Vegemite.”
PHOTOGRAPHY JULIE CRESPEL
This article is from the June 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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