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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. 

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

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.

Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2013 wrap

For the thousands who answered the call of the West this November, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape more than lived up to its promise. The food was good, the wine was flowing and the sense of having truly got away with it, having made good an escape from the workaday routine, was palpable. It's a feeling that was very much shared by the Australian and international chef talent that jetted in for the occasion. Heston Blumenthal rocked an intriguing chef's jacket/shorts combo for some of his appearances at the Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate, and it was the same at GT's Chef's Table (where the conversation ranged from Rick Stein's nightclub days to Joost Bakker's urine-harvesting habits) and the GT Wine Tasting Theatre, where glasses rang with the best of the region's vinous magic.

Team GT hosted chef Blumenthal at Vasse Felix, where resident chef Aaron Carr worked his magic alongside Dan Masters from Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth and Guillaume Brahimi, and then did it all again the Saturday night, with columnist and raconteur AA Gill knocking the crowd dead at Voyager Estate after a stunner of a meal from resident chef Nigel Harvey and guests Shane Osborn, of Hong Kong sensation St Betty, and the mighty Tetsuya Wakuda.

Between sessions and dinners we chowed down on fried chicken and bo ssäm with Sat Bains and Matt Wilkinson at Momofuku Seiobo's beach barbecue, haggled over excellent local avocados at the Margaret River Farmers' Market, and clinked pints with the cream of the local winemaking talent at the Settlers Tavern. After hours, meanwhile, it was all table tennis, as Heston, Guillaume, Sat Bains, George Calombaris and a surprisingly large number of their chef pals revealed themselves to be insanely competitive ping-pong enthusiasts. You heard it here first, folks. The West is wilder than ever.

We ate More or less non-stop. Highlights included Dan Masters' brilliantly spicy salad of marron, poached chicken and silken tofu and Shane Osborn's superb short ribs with smoked polenta and onion seed, but the one to beat might just have been Tetsuya's marinated WA scampi and sieved egg yolk topped with roughly a fistful of oscietra caviar. Nice one, Tets.

We drank Quite a lot, actually, but all in the name of research, whether it was Vasse Felix's Heytesbury Chardonnay (not to mention the odd drop of Leeuwin Estate Art Series), Si Vintners' Sémillon, Voyager Estate cab merlot, Cullen's Diana Madeline cab, and just a few jars of the Margaret River Ale Co's White Ale.

We loved being a part of it. We'll see you next November, Margaret River.

Gourmet Escape in pictures

Check out our slideshow of this year's Margaret River Gourmet Escape.

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