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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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.

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.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

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.

Kisume, Melbourne

Chris Lucas has flown in talent from all over the world, including Eleven Madison Park, for his bold new venture. Here’s what to expect from Kisume.

Where to stay, eat and drink in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Beyond Kuala Lumpur's shopping malls, Lara Dunston finds a flourishing third-wave coffee scene, tailored food tours and charming neighbourhoods.

Food folly

Poor old food is often badly treated. What makes us take a beautiful piece of meat and ruin it by pouring a thick brown reduction over it? I really don't understand. It's then so shy on the plate by itself that the chef makes a small gesture of lollo rossa, but the frilly red lettuce leaf intended as a reassuring garnish adds little for the diner other than inspiring sympathy for cats struggling with fur balls.

There's nothing intrinsically bad about trends. They can, in fact, put a spring in your step, like buying a pork-pie hat as a kid and feeling that you look like a real Mod. Food, of course, is a permanent and essential thing in our lives. We truly are what we eat and not what we wear, and I've long since given away my pork-pie hat. I sometimes think the ebb and flow of architecture, fashion and music could learn a lot from the world of food, but equally I think it's important that the food world itself follow a steady course on an even keel.

Every chef now states that their dishes are seasonal and local. This makes one wonder: what were they cooking before? Food not in season and from very far away? Maybe if this had been pointed out it would have opened our eyes. Do you really have to say this every time you cook? Sadly you do, as the people who provide most of our food are the mighty supermarkets who feel it is their job to sell us strawberries in winter and organic avocados from Peru, all in the name of the illusion of abundance. When it's a commodity in their eyes, not a good lunch, they lose all sense of where the pleasure in food comes from. My local supermarket sells what I think of as behind-the-counter food: much like the contents of the tawdrier shelves at the newsagent, it shouldn't be on display. They stock nothing that hasn't been tampered with: butter that spreads straight from the fridge, bacon that goes crisp almost automatically, and everything - everything - has 99 per cent less fat.

Meanwhile, great chefs have always helped along the march of food, usually with the best of intentions, but when it gets misinterpreted and abused, the march becomes more akin to Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Cuisine minceur in Michel Guérard's hands is fine, but boy did we feel its culinary ripples everywhere else.

In Barcelona there are many chefs who say they have worked at El Bulli. Quite a few of them seem to have something like Ferran Adrià's reach (or at least a dash of his ambition) without his grasp. What you end up with is reminiscent of a sort of K-Tel greatest-hits package, all sung by the same pub cover-band. 

Noma, meanwhile, has taken local and seasonal to new heights of deliciousness, which brings its own set of problems. We're already seeing lots of René Redzepi-wannabes who don't have his rigor. The restaurant world is small now, and a good idea will spread quickly, but its after-effects can take a long time to move on. For a year or two the 63-degree egg was a chef's way of saying on a menu, "I'm in the loop"; now it seems to be the word "foraged". Both, though, will end up as wobbles in the bigger picture of food's permanent steady march.

I am conscious of the pickled walnut factor: something that looks prehistoric but is as delicious as ever, and therefore as appropriate on a plate in 2012 as it was many centuries ago - like Adolf Loos's American Bar in Vienna, a timeless joy.

I was in Sweden for an awards ceremony a few years ago and the lady on the stage said, "We give this award to Fergus Henderson for common-sense cooking." I suddenly thought, "Do I want this rather dull-sounding award?" But I embrace common sense, and the idea that it isn't by any means bland. I've found my genius loci in innards and extremities. Sprout tops and pickled walnuts.

People talk of a St John-style restaurant and ask what the concept was when we first opened. The simple truth is that there was never a plan. We created a space unadorned, so that you, the diner, became our decoration and music. It's ever-changing with the ebb and flow of the eating public. And the hot trend I'm tipping for this year? More hugs with your butcher.

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