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.

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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."

Fig recipes

Figs. We can't get enough of them. Here are a few sweet and savoury ways to add them to your summer spread.

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.

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.

Top Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2017

A lot has changed since we first published our pick of the best chefs to follow on Instagram (way back in the dark ages of 2013). Here’s who we’re double-tapping on the photo-sharing app right now.

Christine Manfield recipes

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

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."

P&O's new look

P&O Cruises Australia president, Sture Myrmell, in Pacific Eden's Waterfront restaurant.

P&O Cruises Australia president, Sture Myrmell, in Pacific Eden's Waterfront restaurant.

With a bowerbird’s eye on boutique hotels and inner-city bars, P&O Cruises’ Sture Myrmell is transforming the cruise line.

An oversized pair of eyes gaze seductively over a bar, lampshades sit atop golden duck's feet, and lifts transport travellers momentarily to Tuscany or Polynesia as they move between decks. The carpeted steps are numbered according to a cryptic code. There's no sign of a buffet.

The launch of two new ships late last year, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, revealed a dash of humour and a genie's bottle of design features drawn from boutique hotels, small bars and laneway cafés around the world. In reimagining a "modern Australian style" for the Australian-based cruise line, the president of P&O Cruises Australia, Sture Myrmell, has signalled the latest phase in the transformation of the 84-year-old company. He has also shown that a mid-market, 1500-passenger cruise ship doesn't need to look like a homogenous floating resort.

P&O's new look has been overseen by Myrmell, a Norwegian-born cruise veteran, and a Swedish studio, Tillberg Design. "It's possible we see things in a slightly different light," says Myrmell, born in Bergen and a resident of Sydney for eight years. "Besides, Australians have a phenomenal ability to take the best from around the world and make it their own. We're drawing on that capacity."

The brief for the two new additions to the now five-ship P&O fleet was to create "affordable luxury" in a style that was intimate and residential rather than institutional; contemporary and comfortable rather than generic or formal.

Extensive changes to the ships' public areas (cabins remain largely untouched) have delivered eye-catching features in 15 eateries and 10 bars. Open books sit on tables alongside curios and quirky artworks. Clever design in the main restaurant, the 350-seat Waterfront, creates an illusion of small spaces, and round tables - a long-time cruise staple - have been replaced by banquettes, rectangular tables and communal benches.

Myrmell says the evolution of P&O's design and identity has been "good fun", and describes travelling to Miami and New York, Amsterdam and London, staying in small hotels, people-watching in cafes, picking up ideas, taking notes and exchanging photos with the Tillberg principals.

Another cruise staple, the buffet, has been replaced by a "marketplace" of food stations in which staff make noodles and tacos on demand, flip burgers, toss salads and carve roasts.

The pool, more than any other on-board feature, defines perceptions of luxury, says Myrmell, and so the pool deck and a separate adults-only pool retreat have curtained cabanas, daybeds and lounges.

This raft of changes runs deeper than design. To meet demand for cruise holidays from Australian ports, the line has expanded its itineraries with regular visits to regional centres, among them Eden, Mooloolaba, Portland, Mornington Peninsula, Port Lincoln, Esperance, Cairns, Busselton and Burnie.

This expansion recognises that P&O's competitors are short-break destinations - the Gold Coast, Bali and Fiji among them. "We don't see this foremost as a cruise experience," says Myrmell. "We can deliver a resort experience that's better tailored, better value and easier to access."

When Myrmell, 48, joined P&O Cruises eight years ago, he was already an industry veteran. He worked weekends in hotel kitchens as a teenager and studied law for a few years "but realised that wasn't going to allow me to travel in the way I wanted to". Instead he went to hotel school in London and what was meant to be a short-term job on Cunard's QE2 turned into eight years at sea. He has 22 years' service with a range of lines in Carnival Corporation, the parent of P&O Cruises Australia.

Myrmell says the world's fastest-growing cruise market shows abundant potential, and P&O has big plans. A larger 2000-passenger ship, Pacific Explorer, joins the fleet next year, and an even bigger, 4200-passenger ship will be built specifically to appeal to Australians. To be launched in 2019, it will have double the capacity of the biggest ship currently based full-time in Australia.

pocruises.com.au

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