The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Water torture

King George V's dying words were reportedly, "Bugger Bognor". Not very regal, perhaps, but they were the last words of a monarch who had been sent one too many times to this rather gloomy seaside resort to recuperate.

The idea of a rest cure - often taken after the season of indulgence, quite possibly in the month of February, once the festive season starts to fade from memory - is not a new one. We call it detoxing now, but it has taken many and varied forms over the years and in different parts of the world.

Victorians would go to Budapest to take the waters. Sulphurous hot pools inspired the insidious appearance of the spa, and hotels are now judged against this feature, rather than against the more traditional room-service Champagne in bed or dry Martinis in the bath. (The latter is a hot-and-cold thing. Very refreshing.) Let's not even mention the matter of juice-fasting and fad veganism which have led to half the population of New York City simply fading away. I'm afraid the point is lost on me.

I sometimes wonder if people today simply have too much time to spend thinking about themselves. Historically, this was a pursuit restricted to the leisure classes. I am not completely immune to this sort of self-reflection, mind you. In an extreme example, I found myself a bit apprehensive before going into an operation which was to involve the insertion of wires directly into my brain to treat my Parkinson's disease. But having pondered for a moment the quantities of smoke and wine some of us take on board, the imposition of their going into my head didn't seem quite so daunting.

The body is an extraordinary thing, a machine of sometimes stunning resilience. I'm reminded here of Homage to Catalonia. George Orwell, who had gone to Spain to fight with the militia against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, describes some instances in battle that make it seem strangely difficult to kill a person outright: the kicking-in of automatic systems, of the body sending blood to clot within moments of a wound appearing. Then again, I'm sure the professional hitmen of the world can offer plenty of evidence for the frailty of our organism.

Let us turn back from such morbid thoughts to the question of the detox. It seems to me that for many people it's an excuse to indulge with more vigour once they get to the retox side of the coin. Dry July, No Booze November and the like position drink and good food as though they're an ebb and flow of good and bad to be carefully managed rather than simply taken with a grain of good sense. "A little bit of everything can't do any harm" is the leaf I take from my great-granny's Welsh almanac. Having said that, I don't think crystal meth was available in Wales at the time.

Me, I believe in the importance of rituals and the rhythms of the day. Mine, for instance, typically begins with a bracing measure of Fernet-Branca with breakfast. It gets the heart started and should, with a bit of luck, see you through to your slice of seed cake and glass of Madeira at elevenses. That's an uplifting moment, akin to a fireworks display, blazing and then gone, fortifying one to get back to work for another two hours before lunch.

Ah, lunch! The apéritif before lunch is a pivotal moment in any day. Lunch itself, of course, is liberty hall but beforehand may I recommend a Campari and white wine to hone the appetite and get the juices going? The late afternoon, meanwhile, calls for one dry gin Martini with a twist. Just one, mind you, lest the ritual begin to collapse in on itself. Supper is again liberty hall, but a wee dram to bring in the Zs before bedtime is a must. My Welsh great-grandmother is vindicated.

Another wise soul, Michael Caine, once pointed out that the trick is to never do anything to the point where you have to give it up. After all, what would oysters be without white wine? Game birds without pinot noir? And cheese with no wine is unthinkable, as is digestion without eau-de-vie. What is life, after all, without joie de vivre?

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Hot Plates: Atlas Dining, Melbourne
08.12.2016
Alain Passard is coming to Australia
08.12.2016
Gilson opens in South Yarra, Melbourne
06.12.2016
Where to buy Christmas hams and glazes
05.12.2016
Behind Africola’s new look with James Brown of Mash Design
29.11.2016
Hot Plates: Ume Burger, Barangaroo
29.11.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Albert Street Food & Wine

Philippa Sibley may have left the building, but Albert St F...

Ananas Bar & Brasserie

With a soundtrack laden with dance beats and a dark, moody ...

Aravina Estate

The family-friendly nature of Aravina explains the terracot...

Assaggio

Assaggio's very red, very mod fit-out has undeniable flair,...

Aubergine

The grey-whiskered Ben Willis could pass for a maturing, bu...

Annie Smithers' Bistrot

Annie Smithers may have decamped for Du Fermier, but the bi...

Aquitaine Brasserie

The name is a nod to France's south-west gastronomic heartl...

Bacchus - Brisbane

Rydges doesn't exactly leap to mind when you think "complex...

Balla

Pronounce it "bah-la" for Piedmont-born artist and composer...

Balthazar

The mixing of business and pleasure comes second nature to ...

Boucher

Escargots, foie gras, bouillabaisse - the expected French s...

Carlton Wine Room

The relaxed ambience and witty, irreverent service may say ...

Celsius

A land of smoke and mirrors, Celsius is an urbane, nightclu...

Citron

Mark Newman's cassia beef cheek is the type of dish that ce...

Da Noi

While many chefs bang on about provenance, few can top Piet...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×