The February issue

Our March issue is out now. Welcome autumn with blood plum galettes, make the most of apricot season and more.

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Australia's best rieslings

We’re spoilt for variety – and value – in Australia when it comes to good riesling. Max Allen picks the top 20 from a fine crop.

Fig recipes

Figs. We can't get enough of them. Here are a few sweet and savoury ways to add them to your summer spread.

Top Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2017

A lot has changed since we first published our pick of the best chefs to follow on Instagram (way back in the dark ages of 2013). Here’s who we’re double-tapping on the photo-sharing app right now.

Curtis Stone's strawberry, elderflower and brioche summer puddings

"Think of this dessert as a deconstructed version of a summer pudding, with thinly sliced strawberries macerated in elderflower liqueur and layered between slices of brioche," says Stone. "A dollop of whipped cream on top is a cooling counterpoint to the floral flavours."

Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Christine Manfield recipes

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Sleep in a Grampians olive grove this autumn

Under Sky are popping up with a luxe camping hotel experience at Mount Zero Olives this April.

Chorizo hotdogs with chimichurri and smoky red relish

A hotdog is all about the condiments. Here, choose between a smoky red capsicum relish or the bright flavours of chimichurri, or go for a bit of both.

Magic happens: Fergus Henderson on restaurant brilliance

There is in London's City a temple to lunch called Sweetings. It is open only for lunch, and it started life as a wet fish shop so the surfaces have a certain tolerance which can cope with the rigours of a good lunch. It is a splendid example of working chaos: you are corralled into a middle room where you sup on tankards of Black Velvet, trying to catch the eye of one of the waiters trapped behind the counter. Once ensconced at a counter, you order your lunch from the trapped waiter who yells your order at a runner, who will reappear with your food, and there is much leaning on your part to get out of the way. They pass your lunch to the waiter who places it behind the bar and then hands it to you as if they'd had it all along. Fantastic crazy chaos, but a brilliant lunch.

We are in the age of the culinary fait accompli. There are two extremes, at one end being fast food, which isn't food but the abuse of ingredients tortured into something that submits to being eaten, affording no pleasure at all. At the other end you are presented with a plate of wonderment where the chef has expressed themselves with skill and wisdom. Your only involvement is to guiltily make a mess of this creation. There is no place for chaos here, but like wearing a tight corset, the experience certainly has its moments.

What one has to remember is that one can't design chaos or it would become trite and boring in an instant. But this magical moment can take place in restaurants twice a day, when you open your door and let in a hungry mix of people who are going to want good food on time, at different times. Then they go again and all is calm. Tables are re-laid and it can start all over again. This is a fertile situation for the sense of place. Don't be tempted by gastronomic crutches such as marble, music and brass rails. One person sitting down to their apéritif is enough to get the ball rolling.

The great steadying element in this world of chaos and magic I've described is your napkin, a reassuring touchstone, a well-laundered square of white linen, which is texturally comforting, covers your lap, and can be used to wipe your chops. The heady moment when place and time collide would almost be impossible to face without your force-field napkin.

Sense of place is a magnificent thing. Take Pétrus, the great Bordeaux: it is a wine made like any other wine, but the grapes grow on a hill which happens to be the perfect hill for grape growing. The result of this is Pétrus. Aahhhh. (Never take wine home from your holiday: what was a chirpy rosé in those relaxed holiday moments suddenly becomes vinegar and has no place at home.)

The military view of restaurants is that they resemble an 18th-century man-of-war, the chef being the captain, everyone's friend, but keeping his distance. Clearing the deck for battle compares with the half hour before service. More in keeping with my hippy-dippy chain of events is the view that you know your farmer, who is practising good husbandry; animals are slaughtered humanely; the chef gets to know the carcass and butchers it with love, which continues to flow during the cooking of it; the chef at the pass is happy to hand it to the chirpy waiter; and as a result the diner is imbued with happiness. Make love not war!

My parting thought: I am in a bottle shop and someone wants a bottle of malt whisky. They declined the finest Islay malt because it didn't have a box and went for an insipid Speyside whisky instead. What have things come to, when the box is more important than the spirit?


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