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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

June

As the days become short and the evenings turn cold, Stephanie Alexander monitors the progress of the brassicas and prepares to plant garlic.

Melbourne's extraordinary autumn brought unexpected heat, and just when I thought it would never happen, all the green capsicums turned red. With so many gorgeous peppers and the very last of the fabulous tomatoes, I made a batch of salsa romesco. This Spanish staple requires the cook to scorch the capsicums, tomatoes, chillies and garlic, as this gives the dish a wonderful smoky flavour and releases the juice of the tomatoes. Everything is then peeled, chopped, puréed and emulsified with some paprika and fruity olive oil. I seemed to find a new use for this dish every day - all very satisfying. 

It was great on toast under a poached egg and lovely stirred through tiny boiled potatoes. I drizzled some over a chunk of grilled salmon and I scraped the last of it into a casserole of chicken and ratatouille.

But now everything has changed.

The afternoons are shortening, the evenings are cold. Two of my three vegetable boxes are empty save for a sage bush. They worked so hard through summer and autumn and produced kilos of food. Now once again I'm faced with the problem of crop rotation. It's very difficult to implement - there aren't enough options - so resting the beds is the best I can do. I want to refresh the soil, though, so I'll investigate the contents of my compost bin. I'll certainly need to buy some organic material, but this will be mixed with material of my own production, dug in and left for a couple of weeks.

In the front garden the famous Chelsea sweet peas are climbing the supports once again, and young brassicas are coming along, as are lettuces.

This is the week to plant the garlic. I'm still using my bulbs from last December's harvest and they've kept wonderfully well. I've tied them to a door handle outside where they're under cover but have plenty of fresh air circulating around them.

I celebrated late autumn by enjoying a weekend away on the Mornington Peninsula. I spent my schooldays at Rosebud West and I feel very nostalgic when I look back. Much has changed, but not the flora. I started my trip with an absolutely wonderful walk at the McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park at Langwarrin. Having spent my childhood dashing through thick tea-tree scrub I was delighted to discover the various sculptures sited among twisted, tangled tea-trees and I noticed a suspicious lifting of the thick leaf mulch under the trees; in my day that would almost certainly have been a large field mushroom pushing through.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it was my very first visit to the sculpture park. It was wonderful. There was so much to admire, to be intrigued by, to be puzzled by. A family with three young children were wandering along the trail at the same time as me, and the children absolutely loved the experience. I reflected that sculpture is an art form that's very appealing to children. Many of the works were monumental in size; others were intriguingly textured, and there were some fun pieces as well.

Following a local tip I paused at Cornell's Blue Fin seafood shop in Blairgowrie to buy a whole flathead. I came prepared, travelling with my own oval copper fish pan. Too many times I've tried to cook fresh fish in terrible stainless-steel frying pans in holiday accommodation, and this time I didn't want to risk it.

Back home, an unexpected photoshoot had me cooking up a storm, which isn't so easy these days without an apprentice at my elbow or a commercial dishwasher with a three-minute cycle. The morning flashed past and I produced a chocolate sponge that I later turned into a Black Forest cake with some of my own preserved sour cherries, an almond and honey slice, a passionfruit bavarois and its accompanying shortbread, a pistachio cake, and a sweet potato torte that was delicious toasted in a ridged pan and then buttered as one might do with a scone.

In December I visited Canberra to attend a summit on obesity in Australia, a two-day investigation into what could be done to address this important health issue. Papers were presented by scientists, doctors and representatives from various interested bodies, including me. The report of the summit has recently been released, and its recommendations make interesting reading. (The full report can be found at obesityaustralia.org.) I was very pleased to note that the Kitchen Garden program was referred to most positively. The report found that progressive expansion of the program over the next six years across all of Australia's primary schools would instil further knowledge of healthy eating and a preference for a diet high in fresh vegetables and fruit in children and their parents.

Until next time.

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December

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January

Stephanie Alexander takes the Kitchen Garden Foundation stor...

February

As Stephanie Alexander heads off on holiday with hungry kids...

March

A pesky possum has managed to outsmart Stephanie Alexander y...

April

The pomegranate tree is in flower and the sweet peas have be...

May

Stephanie Alexander’s garden has kept her busy this month – ...

December

Stephanie Alexander has hauled her Christmas tree in from th...

January

Stephanie Alexander takes the Kitchen Garden Foundation stor...

February

As Stephanie Alexander heads off on holiday with hungry kids...

March

A pesky possum has managed to outsmart Stephanie Alexander y...

April

The pomegranate tree is in flower and the sweet peas have be...

May

Stephanie Alexander’s garden has kept her busy this month – ...

December

Stephanie Alexander has hauled her Christmas tree in from th...

January

Stephanie Alexander takes the Kitchen Garden Foundation stor...

February

As Stephanie Alexander heads off on holiday with hungry kids...

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