Healthy Eating

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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. 

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.

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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.

February: Berries


You'll need

300 gm thick natural yoghurt, such as King Island 2 tbsp elderflower cordial 2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting 250 gm mixed berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and youngberries 18 thin almond biscuits

Method

  • 01
  • Combine yoghurt, 1 tbsp cordial and 1 tbsp icing sugar in bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, combine berries, 1 tbsp elderflower cordial and remaining icing sugar and stir gently to combine.
  • 02
  • Spread a heaped tablespoonful of the berry mixture on 6 biscuits, add a dollop of yoghurt, layer with a biscuit and repeat with berry mixture and remaining yoghurt. Top with remaining biscuits. Serve extra berries to the side, dust sandwiches liberally with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Berry by name but not by nature, there is a difference between everyday usage and the botanical use of the word.

Commonly, the term berry refers to any small, soft-fleshed and usually stoneless fruit. Botanically speaking, however, a berry is a small fleshy fruit that has mature seeds dispersed throughout its flesh. This includes many berries-by-name, grapes and, surprisingly, cucumber, banana, citrus fruit and papaya. It also excludes fruits commonly known as berries, including blackberries and raspberries, which are clusters of little fruits with stones.

The Rubus genus, part of the rose family, includes blackberries, raspberries and Scandinavia’s golden cloudberry. Blackberries range from red to black and are in season from late December to January. Considered a weed in much of Australia due to their rampant growth, they’re cooked in pies, crumbles and cakes, and preserved in jellies and syrup.

Raspberries are delicate and need a cool climate. They grow best in Tasmania or high-country areas of Australia, and range from black to red or golden yellow. They’re perfect simply dusted with caster sugar, with double cream, cooked in pies, cakes and tarts, preserved in jams and jellies and in sauces. They’re in season from late November to February, and also in autumn from March to April.

Blackberries and raspberries have also been used to create hybrids, such as boysenberry, loganberry and youngberry.

Blueberries can be cooked in cakes, puddings, sauces, jams and dried, and are in season from September to March.

Cranberries only grow in the northern hemisphere and require a very cold winter. They are prized for their high vitamin C content and antioxidants. When processing cranberries – into juice, sauces, jelly, dried fruit – sugar is usually added to counteract their high acidity and sourness. Unprocessed cranberries are available fresh-frozen in Australia. White cranberries are less acidic, as they’re harvested before fully ripening.

Mulberries are a part of the Moraceae family, which includes figs. Unlike other berries, they grow on a small tree, often found in Australian backyards. The fruit is either black or white: black are used for desserts, jams, wine and cordial; white are mainly grown for their green leaves, used to feed silkworms. In season from October to February, mulberries aren’t grown commercially in huge quantities as they tend to deteriorate quickly and are difficult to harvest.

Currants and gooseberries, native to the northern hemisphere, vary in colour from white to red and black, the latter having the most intense flavour and prized for its high vitamin C. Blackcurrants are used in cordials, liqueurs (crème de cassis, for example), syrups, jams, jellies and other desserts. Redcurrants are lower in vitamin C, while white currants are sweeter than red. Currants are grown in small quantities in Australia, mainly in Tasmania and Victoria, with a brief season from December to January.

Gooseberries ripen slowly, needing a cold winter and a cool summer. Scotland and Tasmania provide the best conditions for gooseberries. They taste quite tart, and are great in desserts and jellies as sugar enhances the flavour. They’re in season from December to January.

Strawberries are possibly the most popular berries. They’re best served simply with cream, or used to make jam, sauces, ice-cream, cakes and tarts. They are grown year-round in Australia: in winter in Queensland and in summer in Australia’s southern regions. Their peak season is from September to January.

How to buy, store…
If possible, berries are best picked straight from the bush, vine or tree as is now possible in many areas of Australia. Otherwise choose berries which are unblemished and have no signs of mould or juice, and have a sweet fragrance. Store in the refrigerator unwashed until needed and bring to room temperature before eat


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Additional Notes

 

ALSO IN SEASON

Fruits

Apple, banana, fig, grapes (cardinal, muscat, sultana, waltham cross), guava, kiwifruit, lemon, lychee, mango, mangosteen, melons (honeydew, rockmelon, watermelon), nectarine, orange (Valencia), passionfruit, peach, pears (Williams, red sensation), plum, rambutan, rhubarb, tamarillo.

Vegetables

Avocado, beans (borlotti, butter), capsicum, celery, chilli, choko, cucumber, daikon (white radish, pictured), eggplant, fennel, leek, lettuce, okra, onion, peas, radish, sweetcorn, tomato, zucchini, zucchini flower.

Seafood

Arrow squid, banded morwong, bigeye tuna, bugs (Balmain, Moreton Bay), crab (blue swimmer, mud), goldband snapper, lobster, oreo, prawns (bay, school), salmon (Atlantic, Australian), skipjack tuna, Sydney rock oyster, tiger flathead.

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