The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller and receive a free Gourmet Menus book - offer ends 26 February 2017.

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Most popular recipes summer 2017

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

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."

Bali's new wave of restaurants, hotels and bars

The restaurant and hotel scene on Australia's favourite holiday island has never been more exciting and Australian chefs, owners and restaurateurs are leading the charge, writes Samantha Coomber.

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.

World's Best Chefs Talks

Massimo Bottura and more are coming to the Sydney Opera House.

Baguette recipes

These baguette recipes are picture-perfect and picnic ready, bursting with fillings like slow-cooked beef tongue, poached egg and grilled asparagus and classic leg ham and cheese.

Curtis Stone's strawberry and almond cheesecake

"I've made all kinds of fancy cheesecakes in my time, but nothing really beats the classic combination of strawberries and almonds with a boost from vanilla bean," says Stone. "I could just pile macerated strawberries on top, but why not give your tastebuds a proper party by folding grilled strawberries into the cheesecake batter too? Cheesecakes are elegant and my go-to for celebrations because they taste best when whipped up a day in advance."

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.

Magnus Nilsson on Christmas

Magnus Nilsson is sick of talking about reindeer blood. He's also heard plenty about whales, not to mention puffins stuffed with cake. But such are the trials of the Swedish author who has chosen to undertake a worldwide promotional tour of what might be the master work on the cuisine of the Nordic region. Nilsson, the chef at Fäviken, the acclaimed 16-seat restaurant in the central Sweden wilds, chose to write the book because he found coverage of the subject more than wanting. The result, The Nordic Cookbook, is a volume of substance. Just shy of 800 pages, it clocks in at several kilos, but the real weight of the book comes from Nilsson's intellect and the scope of his research across the kitchens and barns of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

For all that, though, it's far from a heavy read. If the idea of paging through the culinary traditions of the Faroes strikes you at first as the definition of soporific, consider this passage introducing a recipe for the eggs of the northern fulmar, a native seabird:
The fulmar will naturally do its best to stop those trying to steal its eggs, and even if it won't attack you physically and try to claw your eyes out, it will scream loudly and then projectile-vomit a red and stinky ooze of semi-digested sea creatures in your direction. From my own experiences, I can tell you two things: first, that the accuracy with which the birds release this stuff, which if you weren't there would have stayed where it belongs, inside the bird, is spot on. Second, there is surely no detergent yet discovered by mankind which will make the smell go away from your clothes.

It's an understatement to say that Nilsson makes a wry and companionable guide through the frozen north. Beyond the mere fact of his erudition, his flashes of wit and opinion place him in the rarefied company of Alan Davidson, Patience Gray and the other truly great food writers.

Talking over lunch at Firedoor in Sydney's Surry Hills at the end of a month-long tour of Europe, the US and Australia, though, he's had enough of interviewers seizing solely on the book's exotica. (An interview with NPR [National Public Radio] in the US so incensed him that he felt the need to point out in a lengthy Instagram post straight afterwards that the book is not, in fact, mostly about reindeer blood.)

"If someone's just flicked through it, the first thing you'll hear from them is, 'Oh, there's whale in here, and puffins'," he says, "but, if they've actually read it, they're, like, 'This is pretty common food in here - I didn't know that you guys ate that'.

"Ten per cent of the book's recipes are un-useful - even to a Dane, seal intestines aren't an everyday ingredient. But I want people to cook from it. That's the whole point, to expand people's knowledge."

With that in mind, we thought we'd talk about foods in the book that are more familiar to your average Nordic person, but with a seasonal twist: Christmas.

"In Sweden, we have a ridiculous Christmas tradition," says Nilsson. "All across the world people have pretty opulent Christmases, but they all pale against the Swedish one. The julbord - the Christmas table - is like the grand version of a smorgasbord. It's something that people think we've been doing forever, but we haven't, we've just been doing it since the '30s.

"At my house, I'd say we'd cook 60 courses. Six-zero. Something like that. And that's for just eight of us. We do it for the owners of Fäviken as well - just over 100 courses, basically every traditional dish, 12 kinds of herring, everything. I would say that even a family with absolutely no interest in food would have a good 25 courses.

"But the deal is we usually continue eating that same food till the 13th day of Christmas [Epiphany, January 6], except for New Year's Eve."

And to drink? Mulled wine, of course. But also the Swedish Christmas cocktail, mumma (see below), consisting of dark beer, fortified wine and lemonade, possibly spiced with cardamom and lemon zest, is a favourite with Christmas dinner.

"The way it usually works is we celebrate from St Lucia's Day on December 13 to Christmas Eve, which is when we have our Christmas meal. You spend 10 days just cooking for Christmas, then you eat a big meal on the 24th and usually what happens is around three o'clock in the afternoon, the whole country ceases to function and we all watch the same television show, which is 45 minutes of Donald Duck and Disney movies. It's very strange, but it's been like that since the '60s.

"After that, we start eating - we usually do some mulled wine with Donald Duck and then after that we go for the herrings and fish dishes, the two first servings of the meal, then around six o'clock we take a little break, and you deal with the whole present situation, and then you just continue eating until midnight. Apart from mulled wine and Christmas cocktail, you're drinking beer and aquavit the whole time, too. We don't do Boxing Day, We're just very, very, very hung-over."

The Nordic Cookbook, Magnus Nilsson (Phaidon, $59.95)

Swedish Christmas Cocktail

At its simplest and most original, this drink consists of only porter beer, a sweet fortified wine (like Port or Madeira) and a Swedish soft drink called sockerdricka. Today, most recipes for Mumma also contain gin and some of them contain cardamom and citrus flavourings as well. Mumma is a popular drink with Christmas dinner.

Make sure the serving jug, glasses and all the ingredients are ice-cold when you start; it will foam like nothing you have ever seen otherwise.

Prep time 10 minutes
Makes 1 litre

500ml (2 cups plus 1 tbsp) porter beer, chilled
330ml (1 1/3 cups) sockerdricka or another lemonade, chilled
100ml (1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) sweet Madeira, chilled
50ml (3 ½ tbsp) gin, chilled
1 lemon
Pinch of finely ground cardamom, to serve

Carefully pour all the liquids into a large chilled jug. Grate the lemon zest on top and stir very gently. To serve, pour into chilled serving glasses and add a pinch of cardamom to the foam. It's in no way traditional, but I also like to keep the lemon to hand, so that anyone who wants to can add a squeeze of the juice to their own glass. I think this is delicious.


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

Latest news
Mexican ramen at Rising Sun Workshop
Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy to open Bad Hombres
What’s happening in South Yarra?
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s chef collaborations
Hot Plates: Long Chim, Melbourne
Eleven Bridge’s bar menu returns
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
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2013

There are a lot of food shots on Instagram: the good, the ba...

Where our chefs want to eat

We asked Australia's leading chefs to name the restaurants t...

Hot 100 2015 - Restaurant news

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

What the hell is Gelinaz anyway, and why is it shuffling?

On the eve of the second outing of one of the world’s strang...

Grant Achatz interview

Pat Nourse talks to the chef of Chicago’s Alinea ahead of hi...

Nahm named best restaurant in Asia

The 2014 50 Best Restaurants in Asia were unveiled this week...

Restaurants cooking with seaweed

With its complexity in flavour and texture, seaweed is the c...

On the pass

Tell us about Tomahawk’s menu, Ali...

S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015

A mighty fine plate of beef short ribs with roast celery vin...

Dan Barber talks sustainable food

Farm-to-table is a neat catchcry but, argues Dan Barber, one...

Alessandro Pavoni, Ormeggio, Sydney

You’ve just released your first cookbook, a tribute to Lomba...

The 2016 GT Restaurant Guide Top 100

Here's the list of our 2016 Restaurant Guide Top 100. How ma...

First look: 108 at Noma, Copenhagen

Rene Redzepi may be headed to Sydney next month, but he's ba...

Party-starting playlists

Music is a key ingredient that can turn your party from good...

Edible seaweed guide

With its complexity in flavour and texture, seaweed is the c...

get the latest news

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