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The benefits of live yoghurt
23.03.2017

Step away from the “dessert yoghurt", writes Will Studd. The real unadulterated thing is much more rewarding.

All-Star Yum Cha
22.03.2017

What happens the morning after the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards? We treat the chefs to a world-beating yum cha session, as Dani Valent discovers.

Honey Fingers, Melbourne's inner-city beekeepers
22.03.2017

Single-source honey putting community and sustainability next to sweetness.

Vermouth is having a moment
21.03.2017

More and more adventurous local winemakers are embracing Vermouth's botanicals, writes Max Allen.

Exploring Indonesia's Komodo National Park
21.03.2017

Indonesia's Komodo National Park is home to staggering scenery and biodiversity. Michael Harden sets sail in a handcrafted yacht to explore its remote islands in pared-back luxury.

The new cruises on the horizon in 2017
21.03.2017

Cue the Champagne.

Seven recipes that shaped 1980s fine dining
21.03.2017

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

Where Melbourne's finest will take the World's Best Chefs
20.03.2017

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

Fergus Henderson on chocolate

Sentenced to life without chocolate, Fergus Henderson savours the memories and foresees his undoing.

Chocolate is a subject close to my heart - possibly too close. Of late I've had a stern finger wagged at me by my doctor to give it up, but abstinence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

It's not just the taste I miss; it's the chocolate euphoria: that lifting of the spirits, the way it coats your mouth with a sense of well-being.

The form of chocolate I'm missing most especially is the one we took many years to perfect at St John: dark, bitter chocolate ice-cream. It's my last-supper pudding. Chocolate ice-cream, you scoff? Is that really worth the many years of honing? But the balance of sweetness, bitter and cocoa is crucial. I'm sure you have noticed in chocolate at times a schismatic moment when the sweetness and the chocolate flavour go in separate directions. This is a sad moment and a sign of out-of-control, poor chocolate. So what do you do? Getting good chocolate is essential. We found a single-estate Venezuelan 73.5 per cent number that worked well, and this is where things got more involved. We need sugar in the ice-cream to prevent that chalky texture, but how do you avoid it becoming too sweet? By making a dark, bitter caramel. Aha! Perfect. Another interesting fact about this ice-cream is that, like good wine, it improves with age. Five or six days in the freezer really gives it time to find itself.

But enough on ice-cream. Let's discuss Easter. This is traditionally a time when children go mad eating masses of bad chocolate, hyperventilate from the sugar rush, then, when the sugar hangover hits, start fighting over who's stashed an egg away for later consumption to taunt their siblings. Actually, on reflection, let's not talk of manic sugar-crazed children.

Did you ever suffer the chocolate peanut and raisin predicament? It mainly rears its head when you're going to the cinema. Before the film you buy a bag of chocolate peanuts to sustain you through the feature, but halfway through the bag, chocolate-peanut fatigue sets in. The obvious solution is to buy a bag of chocolate raisins and mix the two together - but all is lost at this moment because the crunch-to-chew ratio is out of kilter. I'd suggest trying one bag of peanuts to half a bag of raisins, but then you have the problem of what to do with the remaining raisins. (I will tell you from experience that the answer isn't to put them in your pocket).

The mighty chocolate pudding is a thing of textural and flavoursome wonderment. A chocolate sponge containing molten chocolate - now, I ask you, what's not to like about this pudding? A true crowd-pleaser, with a blob of crème fraîche ice-cream this pud writes itself. Which neatly leads us into chocolate sauce; when poured over vanilla ice-cream and topped with toasted flaked almonds it's sex in a jug. Excuse me for being so base as to describe chocolate sauce this way, but when we took the picture of this particular favourite for the last St John cookbook, with some of our past pastry chefs pouring the sauce over each other, there were eyes glinting all round and you could feel the temperature rise.

I must say it has been painful, sharing my meandering thoughts on chocolate, but it's good for me to build fortitude for the coming of my chocolate-free years. The rub is that it's not so much these delicious, more complex creations that might be my downfall but, being a chap of simple needs, it will be the humble fruit and nut bar that will break my resolve. We refer to it affectionately at home as "Fnerr". Et tu, my old friend "Fnerr"?

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Honey Fingers, Melbourne's inner-city beekeepers
22.03.2017
Seven recipes that shaped 1980s fine dining
21.03.2017
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20.03.2017
Eight recipes from Flour and Stone
20.03.2017
A homage to classic 1970s recipes
13.03.2017
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