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Travel Guides

Rio de Janeiro travel guide

Armed with a Caipirinha and a sense of adventure, Tatyana Leonov enjoys Rio’s pre-Olympic energy – Copacabana Beach is just the beginning.

Travel Guides

What to eat, drink and do in Kyoto

Steeped in symbol and tradition, Kyoto is Japan’s wellspring of culture and refinement, writes Pat Nourse. Drink deep and find inspiration a...

Restaurant Reviews

Anchovy, Melbourne review

Anchovy has hit its stride and, writes Michael Harden, there’s promise of more exciting times ahead. Blood pudding ahoy.

Travel Guides

Christchurch travel guide

From ambitious chefs to robust street art, post-earthquake Christchurch is a city alive with creative energy, writes Max Veenhuyzen.

Restaurant Reviews

Emilia, Melbourne restaurant review

The home of balsamic vinegar, lambrusco and the Ferrari is the focus of Emilia, where the Modenese cooking is the real deal, writes Michael ...

Restaurant Reviews

ESP, Melbourne restaurant review

Scott Pickett’s latest venture, the fine-diner ESP, writes Michael Harden, brings a tasty new definition to the idea of extra-sensory percep...

Travel Guides

Brisbane’s hottest new hotels

Doors are opening on more star-quality accommodation in the Queensland capital than in any other city in the country. Fiona Donnelly checks ...

Restaurant Reviews

Lume, Melbourne restaurant review

Expectation was running high before the doors opened on Lume, writes Michael Harden, and it delivers many highs, too, and its share of surpr...

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. 

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.

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.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Quick meals with almonds

Pan-fried trout with almond sauce

Pan-fried trout with almond sauce

Nuts are a must on the festive menu, not least almonds, the most versatile of the bunch.

Nuts don't have a long shelf life, but keeping a packet or two handy at this time of year for festive entertaining is a must. Whether in a spiced mix to have with drinks, or a quick chilled nut-milk soup for a light supper, almonds are among the most versatile. And that includes smoked almonds - their salty smoked flavour adds another element to dishes, such as the pea salad here.

Blanching nuts yourself gives you a creamier nut, and almonds are a good choice since they peel the easiest. Blanch them in boiling water for 40-50 seconds, then drain them and, while they're still warm, tip them into a tea towel and rub away the skins.

The best way to store nuts, meanwhile, is in the freezer in an airtight container. We find the best place to buy nuts is usually from Middle Eastern grocers with a high turnover; your next best bet is from a good delicatessen or grocer. Keep an eye out, too, especially in fine food shops, for Marcona almonds from Spain, which are flatter and rounder than other almonds, and have a superb flavour.

Ajo blanco with jamón Ibérico
Serves 4 as a starter
Place 300gm blanched almonds and 300ml water in a bowl and leave to soften for an hour. Combine 50gm torn crustless sourdough, 1 tbsp each sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil and 1 coarsely chopped garlic clove in a bowl and stand until bread plumps up (5 minutes). Transfer to a blender, add 500ml cold water and drained almonds, and blend until smooth. Season well to taste, strain through a sieve, then refrigerate to chill. Top with baby basil leaves, torn jamón Ibérico, a few extra drops of sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil and a good grind of pepper, and serve chilled.

Spiced almonds
Serves 6-8 as a snack
Gently warm 100ml olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 500gm natural almonds and stir continuously until light golden (5-10 minutes). Add ¾ tsp each cumin, fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and a pinch of chilli powder, stir until fragrant and almonds are coated (1 minute). Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel, scatter with 1 tbsp sea salt flakes and set aside to cool. Spiced almonds will keep in an airtight container for a week.

Smoked almond, asparagus, pea and feta salad
Serves 4 as a side or starter
Blanch 2 cups peas and 1 bunch trimmed and chopped asparagus until bright green (1-3 minutes). Drain and refresh, drain again. Place in a bowl with a handful of chopped smoked almonds and 1 thinly sliced golden shallot. Add the juice of 1 lemon and 90ml extra-virgin olive oil, season to taste and toss to combine. Stir in 80gm crumbled Persian feta, a mixed handful of torn mint and basil and serve.

Pan-fried trout with almond sauce
Serves 4
Blend 230gm blanched almonds, 1 chopped garlic clove, juice of 1½ lemons and 150ml water in a blender until smooth. Add 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper, and pulse until combined. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil, 20gm butter and 4 river trout fillets (about 150gm each), skin down, and fry until golden and just cooked through (2-3 minutes each side). Serve with almond sauce, lemon wedges and a salad of rocket, parsley, mint and thinly sliced shallot dressed with a lemon vinaigrette and seasoned with sumac to taste.

Hot tip
+ To extract a deeper flavour from almonds and refresh their oils, dry-roast them in a low oven.

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