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.

Playing with fire

Fergus Henderson is happy to battle the elements for his idea of a sizzling barbie. It's a primal theme.

Barbecue means different things to different folk. I myself instantly think of gathering driftwood on a Hebridean island (not so easy now that fish boxes and boats aren't made of timber any more), doing battle with the wind to light the fire and hoping the rain holds off. There's that threshold you reach when there's no turning back, even as clouds loom. In the Henderson family, wood is favoured over charcoal and chicken wings are the barbecuer's best friend, marinated in mayonnaise and cider vinegar. Soon the gathering around the fire becomes an impromptu forum where talk is free, with lots of red wine of a chirpy nature to lend its hand to proceedings.

Others may think of a rusting griddle on bricks in the back garden, which sits there looking unloved throughout the colder months, collecting leaves, fag butts and other such detritus. When the sun finally shines, what had been the hub of last summer's jolly lunches is a mere shadow of its former self, so a new brick structure is constructed on which the trusty rusty griddle is popped. Here is the barbecue health warning: even if you avoid getting lockjaw from said rusty griddle, you're not out of the danger zone yet.

Beware chicken that has been burnt to a cinder on the outside and left raw in the middle - a happy home for salmonella. I also think one should beware skimping on ingredients, buying scary chicken, thinking, "I can buy the really cheap stuff because the barbecue will give it flavour". Never buy a cheap chicken. You deserve to get ill - or at least grow breasts.

Then there is the kettle barbecue enthusiast who has removed any element of chance from the barbecue process. You have a lid to help you get your charcoal started, you can control the heat almost as well as on a stove, you can fit a further device on top of your kettle to turn it into a pizza oven (which I must admit is a rather nifty bit of kit - it works and it does make good pizza). But the barbecue is our chance to become early man again, taming fire. Hosted by the tight control of the kettle, the fire rather loses its sizzle.

I feel I should make a point before we go any further: Australia and barbecues are synonymous, but I am ashamed to say I have never been to a true Australian barbie, which is why I've not yet mentioned that particular cultural touchstone. I apologise. More familiar to me is Turkish barbecue. My brother-in-law comes from Glasgow, but if you put him behind a trough of burning coals he takes the Turkish stance, sitting on a wee stool turning kebabs - a much calmer scene than the sight we most commonly see with a gathering of males drawn to the fire like moths.

We haven't broached American barbecue, another thing altogether. The first time I came across it I had flown to Fort Worth, Texas, to start a book tour of the States. Now, that's quite a long flight, especially with bad food and too many gin and tonics. The sight of the immigration officer reeling from the gin fumes I was giving off was a memorable one. "What you need is a Texan barbecue!" said the person who greeted us, which I'm not sure would have been my prescription at that moment. You ordered dinner by weight: brisket, pulled pork, sausage and ribs, not to mention beans by the bucket. A meaty and emotional first introduction. The beer was so cold that it could've taken the skin off a man's hand.

Back home, my reputation as a purveyor of innards precedes me and I'm expected to show up at barbecues with a bucket of snouts, A3 sheets of tripe and skewered bulls' heads. Offal, of course, takes splendidly to the fire. Squares of ox heart, introduced to the flame for a mere minute each side and served in a bun with a pickled walnut dressing and a sharp salad, are a tender barbecue dream.

But in truth, on the wind-blown beach with the coals glowing, I'm just as happy with a sausage. Here the alchemy begins, transforming the rather anaemic pale pink bangers from the local butcher into frazzled offerings which, when popped into a bap with a big squirt of tomato sauce, hit the spot like nothing else. Fire in the hole!

Looking for recipes? Check out our barbecue recipes slideshow. 

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