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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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.

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.

New cruises 2017

Cue the Champagne.

Neil Perry pulls out of haute cuisine and closes Eleven Bridge

Sydney’s Eleven Bridge to close. For real this time. Sort of. Again.

Apple desserts

Whether baked into a bubbling crumble, caramelised in a puff-pastry tart or served in an all-American pie, apples are a classic filling for fruity desserts. Here are the recipes we keep coming back to.

Roti canai

Here, we've made the dough in a food processor, but it's really quick and simple to do by hand as well. If the dough seems a little too wet just add a little more flour.

1980s recipes

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

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.

Pride of place

I don't want to shock you, but if I had to choose a single cuisine to stick with for the rest of my life, it'd be Italian. Yes, there would be times when I'd have to suffer cravings for Japanese food that I'd be unable to satisfy with spaghetti, and lunch without the possibility of dim sum would be a wrench, but I stand fast. There's a sureness to Italian cooking that puts me in mind of the confident calm of Glenn Miller at his peak. But Fergus, what about "a kind of British cooking", this thing you champion at your restaurants, you ask. Once again I cite Glenn Miller - in terms of food, in England we've lost that unshakeable connection to place that sets Italian food apart, and we haven't managed to entirely grasp it again.

Pasta is almost a reason in itself to commit to the One True Cucina, but we certainly can't neglect the arguments put forth by wonderful wine, the benchmark of good coffee, and grappa, not to mention the N-bomb: the Negroni. Italy has such an embarrassment of culinary riches that it seems as though the roots of the trees and the very earth itself want to do their bit, thrusting their white truffles into the hands of the farmers of Piedmont with a merry "way-hey".

Let's pull focus for a moment on just one of the great centres of edible Italian excellence: Florence. Breakfast in a little bar is espresso, Fernet-Branca and a little sweet rice wrapped in pastry. The food itself is good, but what makes it is the Italian sense of timing: you're in, you're out, and you're on with your day. A peckish moment later is countered with a stop at Procacci, a century-old landmark on the Via de' Tornabuoni, famed for its little truffle buns. (And, curiously enough, they also sell Bath Oliver biscuits - a homesickness hangover from the Grand Tour, perhaps?) A plate of them barely lasts a moment washed down with a glass of wine.

Near the San Lorenzo market, meanwhile, is a restaurant on a corner that stretches a plate of pasta over and over by adding stock and juices from other dishes cooking in the kitchen. It's comfort food at its truest. Steadied against Stendhal syndrome for the afternoon, it's time to take in a sight. It was Brunelleschi's Ospedale degli Innocenti that set me off on my early architectural adventures. It was here that I suddenly understood the effect a designed space could have on your mood.

But let's not do too much sightseeing when the dinner hour is so close upon us. We're off to Sostanza for a Florentine beefsteak, once cut from the big white cows that roamed the valleys of Chianti. The steaks are still very substantial, and they've got them all laid out in the kitchen so they're at room temperature - all the better to cope with the shock of the coals, and as a result they're most tender. Before you lose yourself in this beefy reverie, though, don't forget to order an artichoke omelette first. It's a miracle of timing - the eggs somehow frozen in time, just-whisked, set by the pan, and, defying gravity, the tiny artichokes nestled inside.

Florence. Even lunch on the run here can be a thing of joy, far removed from the grim chain stores back in England, the cheerless modern pubs lit with screens of sport. Here, little stands that are barely more than a scooter with a hotpot on the back dispense white buns stuffed with braised tripe and glasses of wine. 

We change our scene to Rome and the picture is completely different. Attempting the dishes of Florence here would be frowned upon, of course. Lunching at Mario's is all about old Roman specialties. There's the puntarelle salad, which is like a Platonic meeting of the pale green chicory of Britain and salted anchovy. Wow! And their version of carbonara, rich with cured pig's cheek - double wow. Topping it all off, we've got a monk barefoot in his robes friar-tucking into his lunch next to us. Italy uses sense of place like a Jedi uses The Force. And The Force, as they say, is strong in this one.

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17.03.2017
Happening Hobart
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15.03.2017
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