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It’s a frigid winter afternoon in the Southern Highlands and the Wingello Village Store is closing. ‘Come back tomorrow,’ calls a chirpy adolescent through the diminishing space in the door jam. ‘We serve good breakfast.’ Then he’s gone. The warmth inside is palpable even through the window. There’s a wall papered with newspaper clippings: local celebrities and feats of heroism. Shelves are filled with cutesy-kitsch teapots and homemade biscuits in big glass jars. An open…

Kefir is fermented milk and an amazing source of probiotics. Blue Bay Kefir, from Mornington, Victoria (in our opinion) is Australia’s best, as it’s made from premium organic milk, has no added thickeners or preservatives. Kefir contains probiotics capable of colonising the gut, where they improve cholesterol metabolism and promote a healthier immune system. They also help balance good and bad bacteria and are effective in managing gastroenteritis. There is evidence to show that kefir…

As Melbourne grapples with the increase in confirmed corona virus cases and selected postcode reintroduced lockdowns, regional NSW is set to reboot its tourism industry with an announcement today from Qantas celebrating the launch of two new routes to regional NSW. The first Qantas flight between Sydney and Byron Bay (Ballina) in 15 years departed today and the airline has confirmed its first ever flights to Orange will begin on July 20. This comes at…

Australia’s dining scene may be in COVID-induced hibernation, but our fascination with food will be (virtually) well-fed this weekend in a one-off livestream feast starring the country’s best produce. Live from Aus is a round-up of the country’s best travel adventures by Tourism Australia: in between koala love-ins and taking a virtual dip in the waters of Moore Reef off the coast from Cairns, our most famous faces dish up a range of culinary explorations…

Rise and shine this Sunday morning with a lesson on how to do brunch, cooking alongside Masterchef host Andy Allen, the co-owner of the Three Blue Ducks restaurants in Sydney, Byron and Brisbane. Live from Aus is a round-up of the country’s best travel adventures presented by Tourism Australia. The Live From Aus weekend runs on the Tourism Australia Facebook page and YouTube channel from 7am (AEST) this Saturday 16-17 May, 2020. XO Butter Mushroom…

There’s a bloody huge elephant in the dining room and I’m not talking about the savage job losses and economic chaos playing out within the Australian restaurant industry. I’m talking about the prospective loss of art – a loss of the very fabric that makes up our cultural food identity: our great chefs, our historic eateries, the celebrated dishes and the joy of discovery in exploring our rich and thriving food scene. Melbourne’s Longrain and Longsong…

Flowerdale Farm is an innovative Australian-owned family business based in Flowerdale, Victoria, around an hour North East of Melbourne. They’re growers and suppliers of an astonishing range of edible flowers and micro-greens. While many of us may have seen plates within Melbourne restaurants garnished with their products, there’s now a growing list of grocery stores and vegetable provedores that stock their products. Adding colour and life to a range of dishes, here’s our guide to…

Dare to dream – we suggest you do it. For us, simply imagining a time in the future when it’s again safe to jump on a plane, dine with friends and explore the world’s gifts is very much worth the mental exercise – to keep our hopes alive. In memory of some of our favourite destinations, dining experiences and unique world beverages, here’s a list of the international (and local) travel destinations we miss the…

Cooking your own meals at home each evening is cheaper, healthier, and more rewarding than relying on takeaway or microwaveable meals most nights of the week. However, there is still room for you to optimise your home cooking so that you minimise the amount of food waste you create. When you generate food waste as a by-product of home cooking, every morsel that ends up in the bin represents a chance for you to have…

So the saying goes, the best chefs enjoy nurturing people – offering care and sustenance to make the body strong and the heart warm. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many Melbourne restaurants are this week offering non-contact home delivery services, supplying pasta sauces, take-home lasagne, slow cooked ribs, Humpty Doo barramundi, discounted wine and more. in case you may have forgotten, the world still is indeed your oyster – and we can buy electronically!…

In 2011 artisan baker Louise Ritchie began a heath-focused fascination with natural slow-ferment breads that can make gluten more digestible. Fast forward to 2020: while her artisan loaves are simply the best we’ve ever tasted, Lou’s sourdough crumpets are now the big-ticket winners. In 2011 her passion was driven by necessity – to improve the diet of her two sons. So began a self–education process with a simple sourdough starter made from just organic Australian…

The Queen Garnet plum is considered by many the crown jewel of Australian plums. Jam-packed with seven times more antioxidants than other plum varieties, the Queen Garnet is now in season and available from major and independent retailers across Australia. Growers including Rullo Farms in Shepparton, Victoria, this year have reported a record-breaking growing season with the crop producing biggest harvest since commercial production began in 2014. Queen Garnet plums hold their firm, robust shape…

Essentials’ Megan Chalmers unleashes a decadent dessert – Poached Fruit Crostata Tart with Lemon Ricotta Ice cream – the perfect accompaniment to the changing summer-to-autumn season. Poached Seasonal Fruit Choose your own fruit selection; we used 2 persimmons, 2 peaches, 2 nectarines and 2 pears 4 cups cold water 3 cups brown sugar 1 large knob of ginger, peeled and grated juice and zest of 1 lemon 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped Method 1. Place…

Canberra’s Capital Region Farmers Market has this week revealed many of its stallholders have been severely affected by the Australian bushfires across several regions, and vows to do whatever it takes to help and support the Farmers Market community. The market returns this weekend to support fire affected stallholders with Bushfire Appeal. ‘We are deeply saddened that a number of our stallholders have been affected across several regions including the NSW South Coast, Snowy Mountains,…

Having opened in 1929, Sydney’s northern beaches clifftop icon Jonah’s Whale Beach will this January celebrate a 91 year milestone with an invitation only exclusive event with invitees including some of Australia’s biggest names in business, philanthropy, politics, sport and media. Jonah’s is well regarded for its continued focus in delivering fine cuisine paired with a glorious expansive Pacific Ocean backdrop. However it’s the extensive wine list spanning over 80 pages of award-wining gems that…

Throughout the deeper reaches of the Swiss and Austrian alpine valleys, German forests and Russian villages, traditional winter foods, preserving techniques and family recipes are handed down from grandmother to granddaughter (ot babushki k vnuchke). In the spirit of giving, Essentials’ Megan Chalmers has reinvigorated one of the finest European treats to help celebrate the Christmas season. Mini Black Forest Cake with forest floor of chocolate soil, mascarpone white chocolate mousse, cherry kirsch jelly cubes,…

This Summer restaurateur/hotelier/developer Julian Gerner of Morgan’s Sorrento is making a fresh start at the bayside eatery with the help from long term chef collaborator Paul Wilson (Botanical, Albert Park Hotel Oyster Bar & Grill, Icebergs, Wilson & Market). Revered as one of the country’s great culinary talents, Paul has recently launched a new menu at Morgan’s that celebrates the great Aussie fish café; delivering sustainable, market fresh seafood daily. Focusing on sustainable fisheries, guided…

The kitchen at Donna Chang, Brisbane feels like a frontier. A place where two cultures slam into each other at a breathtaking pace. Bubbling furiously is a wok in a broth laden with deep red, crimson chilli peppers. A young chef from Hong Kong tosses some rice around in another wok, his arm working like a piston on a locomotive. The air is filled with the aroma of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise along with…

It’s deceptively simple in appearance yet there are delicately nuanced flavours that take me by surprise – it’s a rare delight. This is my first little tasting plate at Botanic Wine Garden, Port Macquarie; it will be one of a pleasurable many. The dish is presented in an elegant shallow bowl that’s painted with ingredients: sashimi kingfish, buttermilk, apple, basil oil, green chilli and fennel – it looks beautiful and the wine match is stellar.…

It’s been a long focus of Essentials to celebrate the many landmark icons of Melbourne, Australia – its sensational cafés, historic restaurants and art galleries; including its people: chefs, artists, designers and all the creative minds who have collectively shared in building the culturally rich tapestry that is the city we know and love today. British-born, Melbourne-based chef Ian Curley, like many before him, brings a wealth of knowledge and artisan colour to the region.…

Josh Niland’s collection of prized line-caught delights are a limited catch, delivered with an intensified flavour born of unique dry-ageing and curing techniques. You won’t find farmed or over-fished species at Sydney chef Josh Niland’s Fish Butchery. Rather, sustainable line-caught specialty gems hand-cut and presented in a central display cabinet that looks like it belongs in a museum: a collection of rare prized artefacts; its sliced and whole fish carefully arranged within their marble and…

Finely milled roasted wattleseed is a wonderful ingredient in ice cream. Flavour extraction is via hot, not boiling water, similar to a plunger coffee. The wattleseed presents an earthy, yet unique coffee/nut-like flavour. Outback Chef, Melbourne (Jude Mayall), is a leading supplier of premium roasted wattleseed. Method 1. After infusing, filter out the grains and use the liquid to flavour vanilla the ice cream anglaise base (see recipe below). As a rule, Jude suggests 3…

In terms of wineries with a view, premium soils and brilliant cellar doors, Tallis Wine in Dookie, Victoria is one of my personal all time favourites. The modernist corrugated iron-clad cellar door architecture features sweeping views from its interior floor-to-ceiling glass, with the simplicity of the layout and sleek furnishings only adding to the wonderful feeling of calm. Perched in the rolling hills of Dookie and with around 30km of cropping and grazing land between…

It’s garlic, but not as you know it. Rich, dark and delicious, Garlicious Grown black garlic is an ingredient for the everyday cook to make dishes more interesting, more fun and even tastier. Black garlic is garlic that has been naturally transformed to change not just its colour and texture but also its flavour. Gone is the pungent tang, replaced with a sweet mellow flavour that is reminiscent of molasses and caramel. The sharpness of…

I had this salad in a restaurant in Los Angeles, and it completely transformed the way I prepare brussels sprouts. Gone are the days of boiling these baby cabbages to death; now it’s all about roasting, grilling or even eating them raw, as in this recipe. The key here is to shred them as finely as you can, which gives the slaw a more refined flavour as the dressing is better able to coat the…

In 2009, Australian cook Justine Schofield was selected for the first series of MasterChef Australia. While she was eventually eliminated in fourth place, her individual skills and bubbly personality did not go unnoticed with Network Ten offering to produce a TV program of her own, Everyday Gourmet. Now, after more than 700 episodes, Essentials’ spoke with Justine about her rise to fame and contents of her fabulous new book The Weeknight Cookbook – one we…

It’s starting to look a lot like silly season; but we prefer to think about the arrival of stone fruit season. It’s a time for enjoying ripe juicy peaches, rich dark plums and sweet and fragrant nectarines. Essentials’ Megan Chalmers has put together a multi-textured recipe that uses stone fruits in the most celebratory and creative way. Spiced Poached Plum and Stone Fruit Trifle with Orange Blossom Marshmallow Serves 4 Spiced Poached Plums 1kg blood…

Richard Cornish forages for the fungal truth in Catalonia, as the locals make their annual pilgrimage to the hills in their quest to find elusive autumn mushrooms. It’s a weeknight in October and the normally riotous bar district of El Raval in the centre of Barcelona is surprisingly quiet. Some bartenders blame the rain, a slow but consistent drizzle rapidly returns La Rambla into the stream it once was. Others fall into line and say…

We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but I have always loved the sentiment behind this special day. Having one day a year to sit back, relax and talk to your family about what is making you happy in life, what you appreciate and what your dreams are for the year ahead is something we don’t do nearly enough. This wonderful holiday is all about giving thanks, so, whether you do this on Thanksgiving…

Presenting the best in Australian seafood, this deluxe spaghetti marinara recipe is the ultimate entertainer and is designed to pair with Buller Wines’ (Rutherglen, Victoria) fragrant King Valley Pinot Grigio. Serves 6 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced 2 garlic cloves (large), peeled and finely diced] 1 fennel bulb (small), diced (reserve green fronds for garnish) 1 cup Buller Wines King Valley Pinot Grigio 1 pinch saffron threads…