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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Food-truck tribulations
29.03.2017

Chicken or pork? Kelly Eng takes on a food-truck challenge but fails to cement her millennial credentials.

Take me to the river
29.03.2017

For serial cruisers who have done the Danube and knocked off the Nile, less familiar waterways beckon.

Gourmet Institute is back for 2017
29.03.2017

Fire-up the stove, tie on your favourite apron and let’s get cooking, food fans. This year’s line-up is brimming with talent.

The Royal Mail Hotel is changing
28.03.2017

Executive chef Robin Wickens has a stronger influence at the Royal Mail Hotel's upcoming restaurant, slated to open later this year.

Adventuring along America's north-west rivers
28.03.2017

The rivers of America's north-west running through Washington state and Oregon form the arteries of epic landscapes and bold discovery routes. Emma Sloley follows in the wake of Lewis and Clark.

The World's Best sommeliers are coming to Australia
28.03.2017

For the first time, the world's top international sommeliers will take part in the World's 50 Best Awards too.

Seven Italian dishes that shaped fine dining in the 2000s
28.03.2017

Italian food in the restaurants of Australia blossomed into maturity in the new millennium, as the work of these trailblazers shows – dazzling and diverse, a successful balance between adaptation and tradition.

Steam ovens: a guide
27.03.2017

Billed as the faster, cleaner way to cook, are these on-trend ovens all they’re cracked up to be? We take a close look at their rising popularity, USP versus the traditional convection cooker and how each type rates in terms of form, function, and above all, flavour in this buyer’s guide.

Fast autumn dinners

Autumn weather signals the arrival of soups, broths, roasts and more hearty meals.

Flour and Stone Recipes

Baker extraordinaire Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone cooks up a sweet storm for Easter, including the much loved bakery's greatest hit.

Roasted cauliflower salad with yoghurt dressing and almonds

The cauliflower is roasted until it starts to caramelise, which adds extra depth of flavour to this winning salad. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

All Star Yum Cha

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.

Lemon tart

It's really important to seal the pastry well to prevent any seepage during cooking, and to trim the pastry soon after cooking. Let the tart cool in the tin before removing it, or it will crack.

Melbournes finest meet Worlds Best

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.

Savoury tarts

Will your next baking project be a flaky puff pastry with pumpkin, goat's curd and thyme, or a classic bacon and Stilton tart? As autumn settles in, we're ticking these off one by one.

Spelt cashew and broccoli bowl with yoghurt dressing

This nicely textured salad transports well, making it ideal for picnics or to take to barbecues. The broccoli can be kept raw and shaved on a mandolin, too.

Hot new food trends 2008

Edible flowers
Flowers on food sounds like a throwback to the bad old days of glass bowls and square plates. But today's blooms are discreet and dazzling flourishes rather than blousy nosegays and, crucially, they're edible if not outright tasty. Already big in Spain, here they pop up everywhere from elderflowers on desserts at Claude's and ginger flowers at Tetsuya's to chrysanthemum petals on Pearl's Moondarra-beef take on sukiyaki. Consider Mark Best's carpaccio of octopus at Sydney's three-star Marque. After struggling for years to capture the octopus's texture and shape, Best finally hit on the right slow-cooking technique (47 degrees for 90 minutes). The occy is then rolled in plastic wrap, frozen and sliced before joining crisp leek, potatoes Maxim and Sicilian sea salt on the plate. The coup de grace? Marigolds. Best also likes borage and nasturtiums. "My grandmother used to have nasturtium sandwiches with bread and butter," he says. "We always thought she was completely nuts but perhaps she was just ahead of her time."

Tonka beans
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the spice rack: the tonka bean, the seed of the Dipteryx odorata, now pops up on menus around the country - despite being banned in the US because it contains coumarin, a compound that is lethal in large doses. But before you panic, we contacted Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and they assure us that tonka beans aren't on their list of prohibited botanicals: "It is a fermented bean used as a traditional flavouring," writes FSANZ's Lydia Buchtmann. "It can be toxic if consumed raw but so are a lot of other beans - and raw potato, for that matter." Brent Savage, of Sydney's Bentley, says the brown bean is typically used in small amounts instead of vanilla. "I think they're a good alternative to vanilla, even though the flavour's very different, very marzipan-like, a little bit clovey or cardamomy." Savage serves tonka bean mayo with marlin and jamón and saffron breadcrumbs, while other chefs (like E'cco's Philip Johnson) prefer to use the bean to flavour custards or panna cotta.

Food served on boards
You can't eat at a restaurant in Melbourne or Sydney these days without something coming to the table on a handsome timber presentation board. La Sala and The Press Club picked up on it at launch and, suddenly, any new restaurant is sending out its antipasti, terrines, charcuterie, breads - you name it - on a presentation board.

Wine by the carafe
At Bar Lourinhã, any bottle of wine on their list can be had in a 375ml carafe for half the price. It's such a sensible idea that others have followed suit. Albert Park's L'Oustal, offers about ten bottled wines by the 375ml carafe and similar options are available at Glebe Point Diner and The Burlington Bar & Dining Room in Sydney. But the real pioneer is Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, the new Terzini/Marchetti enterprise at the Crown. There, a selection of four wines is being poured on draught, as it were, from barrels via taps into 500ml and one-litre carafes. It's good wine and it's inexpensive - sounds good to us.

Eel
It's been on the rise for a while now but 2008 is shaping up to be the year for our oily, slithery little friend. Smoked and ready to add a little something mysterious to a raft of different dishes, the eel has been bobbing up on menus constantly this year - with pasta at Trunk (see Dishes of the Moment); with barramundi, potato and pink grapefruit at Lord Cardigan; with apple and apple jelly at Church Street Enoteca; and, of course, at top Japanese restaurants like Hako. Jeremy Strode loves it at Bistrode and so does Assiette's Warren Turnbull. It also appears on the menu of sophisticated country restaurants, such as Sault, near Daylesford, where local eel stars in a generous amuse bouche.

The bar explosion
Victoria, you can stop reading. But for just about everyone else in the country, the question of small bars is one of keen interest. New legislation was introduced last year in both WA (in May) and NSW (December) with a view to breaking the big pubs' monopoly on the drinking scene and paving the way for an explosion of small, intimate bars offering imaginative wines and (in some instances) interesting, booze-friendly nibbles. Here, at last, was a welcome alternative to the mega-boozer. At the time of writing, nine small bars have been licensed in WA. They're ambient, intimate places serving okay-to-good food with commendable style and verve. In Sydney, most operators are waiting to see just how the new laws are going to be put into practice but optimism is running high. It's not all plain sailing, of course. Local councils have the final say on how the bars will operate. No matter, the small bar revolution has struck a chord with the public, and there's no going back now. Ya, boo sucks, and make ours a verdicchio, thanks.

WORDS JANE CORNES, FIONA DONNELLY, SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE, JOHN LETHLEAN AND PAT NOURSE PHOTOGRAPHY TENY AGHAMALIAN

This article appeared in the April 2008 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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