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. 

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Beans supreme

When well acquainted with a slab of bacon and other piggy bits, baked beans become the perfect soothing antidote to dark winter months, says Fergus Henderson.

Baked beans truly deserve more love than just the occasional breakfast and Sunday night supper. Beans and bacon, our baked beans, were a regular on the menu at our short-lived St John Hotel here in London, but they were sometimes dismissed by folk who didn't understand them to be the perfect example of food that both soothes and steadies. In the deep dark of an Antipodean August, too, it's a dish keenly suited to lunching, not least because the winter appetite is keen and digestion has the afternoon to take place.

It's also a dish that enjoys a gathering, so be led by the size of your largest pot: think big. A hefty crock is better still. Legumes and pottery are fine friends, the cooking of beans in earthenware adding comfort to this dish, the business of bringing the crock to the table a very good bit of theatre. Ideally, one would have a brick wood-burning bread oven to pop your crock in, but we can manage without in a pinch.

Bean-wise, I use haricots, but you could use the cannellini Australia seems to love, for a sort-of genius loci. Soak your beans well, and be careful with the salt. No matter what science keeps telling us, the most useful tip I have received from a fellow chef, the very wise Alastair Little, is to make sure dried beans are totally cooked and giving - submissive, even - before letting them meet salt, lest the bean or pulse pucker up and cease to cook. I don't want to sound pernickety, but it's sad how many armour-plated, thoroughly unforgiving beans you meet in life.

As with just about any bean dish, the really important thing is the bacon. You want a whole piece of streaky so you have the skin to line your pot, and you can cut it to your preferred dimensions. You also need rather a lot of it - about a kilo of good, green, streaky bacon to every kilo of beans. Thin rashers are not up to the task.

I fry the skin fat-side down in olive oil or a good dollop of duck fat. I soften onions and leeks in the fat and add a tin of plum tomatoes, and let the vegetables get to know each other. Then I add the cooked beans and assemble it all in our big crock, the bacon skin on the bottom with a couple of heads of garlic, and layer it with the beans and bacon, topping up with stock (preferably a trotter stock at that). I cook it in a medium to hot oven for two hours, finishing it with the lid off for the last half-hour to get a good crust going.

A cheeky addition is a pig's trotter (possibly the one you've just made the stock with). This can only ever be a good thing, bringing to the pot a lip-sticking unity. And unity is the thing here. You know your beans and bacon are ready when the ingredients have become good friends - everything is in harmony.

Now to forage for an appropriate salad to aid the tummy. I think butterhead or bibb lettuces are rather under-appreciated leaves in the brave new world where rocket and its micro-green pals rule the roost. Pop your lettuce in a bowl with angel wings of cucumber and barely disciplined lovage leaves. Make a kind of salad cream of the lightest nature - a mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a little cream.

And now, the finishing touch: much red wine.

I prefaced the beans and bacon recipe in Nose to Tail Eating with a quote from GK Chesterton: "Landlord, bring us beans and bacon and a bottle of your finest Burgundy". Or at least I thought I was quoting Chesterton. Now when I look for confirmation on Google the only thing that comes up is Fergus Henderson banging on about bacon and beans. Damn.

But this short sentence nonetheless expresses the essence of hospitality. The only flaw with this is it would be a very brave (or very rich) soul in this day and age who would call for the house's finest Burgundy without first eyeing the price-list. Still, even "beans and bacon and a bottle of your finest Yarra Valley pinot" has a certain ring to it.

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