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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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.

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. 

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Pea and ham soup

Quay to the city

"Making the snow egg at home would be a bit of a challenge," says Peter Gilmore, master of understatement (if you'd like to give it a try, here's the guava snow egg recipe). The Quay chef is thrilled by the reaction his best-known dessert has drawn following its appearance as the ultimate challenge on this year's season finale of MasterChef. We were the first to sing the dish's praises in its various guises here at GT, and the current version, an orb of poached meringue with a crisp toffee shell and a custard apple ice-cream nucleus sitting pretty in a glass with the blissful textural contrast of strawberry guava fool and granita, at once rich and refreshing, still probably tops our list of the country's most swoon-worthy sweets. For the record, Gilmore thought that Callum Hann and Adam Liaw acquitted themselves fairly on the show with their attempts, even if they had two hours in which to do it. "We normally have a team doing it at Quay, of course," he says, "but I think if I had Angus Jones, my pastry chef, on, he could have done it in an hour."

Quay is currently booked out well in advance. The MasterChef stint is the latest in a series of triumphs for the Sydney fine-diner, following two years at the top of GT's national top 100 and its appearance in April as the top-placed Australian restaurant (ahead of Tetsuya's) in the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list. If you want to taste the snow egg, though, along with the restaurant's other signatures, you're in luck. Next month, Murdoch Books publishes Quay, quite possibly the most sumptuous cookbook to have come from an Australian restaurant.

Photographed by GT regular Anson Smart, it's a hefty volume filled with the instantly recognisable organic forms of Gilmore's food, and packed with information he has picked up both as a chef and, more recently, as a gardener. The diversity of nature, Gilmore says, is his key inspiration in the kitchen, and it was important to him that the book reflected it.

"It's a definite movement around the world, looking again at diversity of ingredients, and I think if chefs don't champion them, a lot of those ingredients will just disappear," he says. "It's the same with different breeds of animals - if it weren't for restaurants and the trickle-down effect from them, everything would just be run by the supermarkets." Good restaurants, he argues, differ because they don't reject products simply for reasons of shelf life or the shortness of their season, "we just move onto the next special thing". It wasn't so many years ago that supermarkets sold only one kind of lettuce, and Gilmore points to the work done by chefs such as Sydney's Serge Dansereau to encourage growers to branch out. "And lo and behold, they're all in the supermarkets now, along with all the different types of potatoes."

This celebration of nature may prove a little tricky for cooks who want to follow recipes in Quay to the letter. One salad lists more than 40 separate ingredients, while another calls for four different kinds of violets. Gilmore refused to cut corners for the book, but by the same token he says a bit of flexibility is key when it comes to choosing how to cook from it. "There's a dish of white asparagus with a curd and nuts and something like 15 different herbs and buds on it, but it'll still be really nice with just the curd and the nuts and two or three normal herbs." If you can't get strawberry guavas for the snow egg, you could try using white peaches. "It's meant to be inspiration as much as anything else."

The book gives alternatives for home kitchens not equipped with restaurant kit such as combi-ovens and sous-vide machines, but by and large, it pulls no punches. If you want to follow things to the letter, start stocking up on your borage buds and digging through seed catalogues for miniature sour Mexican cucumbers now. Peter Gilmore wants to leave you with this guarantee. "If someone is going to take the time to make the Quay chocolate cake, I want it to taste like the Quay chocolate cake, even if it takes them four hours to make it." He stops and thinks a moment. "Okay, it'll take eight hours. But it will taste like the Quay chocolate cake."

Quay, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney, (02) 9251 5600

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Want to know where Peter Gilmore gets inspiration for his dishes? Then check out our collection of videos with the man himself.

Snow egg

Chocolate cake

Lobster

Spring vegetables

Sea pearls

Raspberries and violets

Squid

Pig belly

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