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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We asked our favourite confectioners and cafe owners from around the country for their hottest tips.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.
Where would Spanish cuisine be without the chorizo? This versatile smallgood lends its big flavours to South American stews, soups, and salads, not to mention the ultimate hot dog. Let the sizzling begin.
Our guide to the best of the region.
A little preparation goes a long way with tiramisù. First,
prepare the soaking mixture for the savoiardi biscuits (you can
also use sponge cake if you like). It's important to use good,
strong coffee, preferably espresso; if it's weak, the flavour won't
carry through when you add the alcohol. I like to use a combination
of two types of Marsala: Boronia, a Marsala all'uovo, for its
sweet, creamy characteristics, and a drier style such as Pellegrino
Fine Marsala (you can use Boronia alone, but you may need to reduce
the sugar in the recipe). You can find both at good liquor shops. A
nip of the Pellegrino served on the side makes the perfect partner
to the dessert, too. And, although it's not traditional, I also add
a bit of rum and brandy for more of a boozy kick.
You want to make a fair amount of the soaking liquid because the sponge biscuits, true to their name, soak up a lot. Any leftover will keep in the fridge for a few weeks so you can whip up another batch of tiramisù down the track. Set aside the soaking mixture to cool while you get on with making the zabaglione, or sabayon.
Zabaglione is made by whisking egg yolks and sugar over gently simmering water with wine, usually sweet and in this case Marsala, added for flavouring. The mixture should be whisked constantly, but it doesn't need to be frantic - just keep it moving so that the mixture heats evenly. Run the whisk around the outer edges every now and then and scrape any splashes back down into the mixture so it doesn't burn.
The mixture will become thick and fluffy after a while, but you need to keep whisking until it's thick and stable, to a point where it tightens up and becomes more of a silky creamy consistency with a slight shine to it. The egg yolks have to reach 84C to absorb the alcohol, but it's hard to get a good reading on a thermometer because the mixture is so light and airy. Just dip your finger in and if it's too hot to hold it there, the mixture is ready; if not, keep whisking. The mixture should also hold a good trail when you drag the whisk through it, and look creamy; not foamy with small air bubbles. You're better off overcooking it than undercooking it. Let it cool before you fold in the cream.
When the zabaglione is cooled, add the mascarpone and cream mixture. I like to use Paesanella mascarpone, because it's locally made, and I mix it with cream to make the mixture a bit lighter. Break the mascarpone up a little first to loosen it so it combines more easily with the cream. The texture of mascarpone can vary - some are thicker and drier, while others are more wet. You want to whisk in the cream just until soft peaks form, but no further, so take care with a drier mascarpone because this can happen almost instantly.
Next, soak the savoiardi in the cooled liquid. Definitely cool the mixture first; the savoiardi soak up the mixture too quickly and fall apart if it's too hot. You could make your own sponge fingers, but I prefer using bought ones because they're more stable and soak up the liquid better. Dip the biscuits into the soaking mix for 10 seconds, then place them straight in the serving glasses or bowl to soften; they can be a little difficult to work with otherwise.
Adapt the layering to the size of the glasses you're using (small ones are perfect for guests who don't want to eat so much). The key is to have a good balance of soaked sponge and cream mixture, which is perhaps a matter of taste.
Finish the tiramisù with a dusting of cocoa and grated chocolate (use good dark chocolate of at least 53 per cent cocoa solids). Or, if you're feeling fancy, you can make chocolate curls.
Tiramisù is best made the day before so the flavours meld, but it also keeps well for a few days and the flavours become more melded as they sit and brew.
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