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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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. 

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Pea and ham soup

What does a raindrop cake actually taste like?

The raindrop cake

The raindrop cake

New York's latest cult dessert has hit Australia - is it worth the frenzy?

We've waited two hours to try Harajuku Gyoza's version of the famous raindrop cake - the pretty, new cult dessert, available at the Brisbane and Potts Point, Sydney locations, that's popping up on everyone's social media feeds. When we arrive at the South Brisbane dumpling bar at 12.30pm, the first batch is finished - already out and being photographed from various angles by eager diners. On our return, the small bamboo boat delivered to our table holds a giant jiggly water jelly droplet, bookended by a pool of darkly caramelised sugar syrup (kuromitsu) and a dessert spoon of ochre-coloured rubble made from toasty roasted soy flour (kinako) and crushed sesame seeds. 

A second vessel contains a delicate strawberry-flavoured jelly dome. It's tinged pink, with a blueberry at its centre, and a sliver of strawberry beneath. It looks disconcertingly like an oversized (rheumy) eyeball, with a white puddle of thin condensed milk to one side, and kinako and crushed peanuts on the other.

As our cakes arrive the server tells us we've got 30 minutes to dig in before they dissolve. Both disappear in a couple of minutes. The jellies are super-light in texture, created from sugar water and agar-agar, with a dash of strawberry flavouring in the fruit version. They hold their shape as the spoon dips in, much the same way as a slightly under-set panna cotta. The flavour of the kuromitsu is like the caramel topping used on crème caramel and the jelly has a texture similar to the crème - which is confusing since it tastes just like sweet rainwater. The kinako component anchors both dishes, providing a savoury note to balance the sweetness.

Both versions of the raindrop cake cost $8 and the kitchen is having a hard time keeping pace with demand. It's now also available in Sydney, but Harajuku co-owner, Steve Minon, is still unsure whether he'll roll out the raindrop cake to all five stores. He's proud, however, to be the first Australian eatery to nail the dessert. "It just goes with the personality of Harajuku," says Minon, "we're all about fun and giving diners an experience."

If you're fed up with the sweet excesses of previous blood-sugar spiking dessert fads - saturated fat-laden cronuts and Tim Tam-topped freakshakes, say - then the ethereal raindrop cake is the perfect antidote. It's inspired by a Japanese dessert, mizu shingen mochi, which is sold only in summer, created by Kinseiken Seika Company, a Yamanashi-based firm. It was US chef Darren Wong who brought the concept to global attention at New York's Smorgasburg markets. The raindrop cake now has its own Facebook page, Instagram account and website. Time will tell whether its popularity will evaporate as quickly as the dessert itself or if it's here to stay. 

The rainbow cake is currently available at Harajuku Gyoza Brisbane and Sydney. See their website for store locations.

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