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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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

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.

Little Sydney 2014 recap

The Little Sydney marquee space at Royal Randwick, featuring pop-up versions of five of the city's best restaurants, was a sure bet for hungry punters, writes Maya Kerthyasa.

The races are, of course, only partly about the horses. With the opening of the BMW Sydney Carnival in March, Royal Randwick stepped up its game with the unveiling of Little Sydney: a VIP enclosure presented by The Australian Turf Club and Gourmet Traveller featuring pop-up versions of five of the city's hottest restaurant players - Chiswick, Longrain, Four in Hand, Icebergs and Merivale.

The marquees were designed to recreate the look and feel of the parent restaurants, for a unique taste of each. Four in Hand replicated the artwork that hangs in its Paddington dining room; Chiswick brought their kitchen garden concept indoors with fruit, vegetable and plant centrepieces; Icebergs was all bright and breezy, replete with a sandwich bar and smartly attired bartenders dispensing Aperol Spritzes; and Longrain gathered its guests at a long wooden communal table reminiscent of those at its Surry Hills HQ. Merivale commissioned artist Annette Barlow to paint an autumn-inspired mural just for the occasion, which acted as a fitting backdrop to a pretty arrangement of crackers, Iggy's Bread, autumn fruits and "four perfect cheeses", and installed a white timber-panelled bar pouring a selection of master sommelier Franck Moreau's top drops.

For Icebergs' Maurice Terzini, nailing the fit-out was all about bringing the Bondi restaurant experience to the track. "We wanted to create something that was a little bit more permanent than just going out and hiring furniture," he says. "I think Icebergs generally sells a lifestyle and design is a part of what we do… we wanted a really good bar to work from, a good kitchen, and it evolved over that week."

At Icebergs, punters were treated to little bowls of risotto Milanese with spanner crab, plates of heirloom tomato and peach Caprese, and salumi with fresh figs, basil and grissini. Pork appeared to be the protein of choice for the occasion, with a suckling pork roll showdown between Colin Fassnidge at Four in Hand, and David Lovett and Jeremy Strode at the Merivale marquee. Da Orazio's porchetta rolls made a début at the Icebergs marquee, too, virtually evaporating off trays come late afternoon. Longrain carried on the trend with a dish of caramelised pork with prawns, peanuts and sour pineapple, as well as duck pancakes and chicken curry with cucumber relish and jasmine rice as part of its Thai spread. Over at Chiswick it was all about DIY as guests helped themselves to a buffet table piled high with platters of roast chicken, with turnips and kale, roast Moran Family Lamb shoulder with pumpkin, baby carrots and a yoghurt dressing and red quinoa tabouli salad.

The crowd, a mix of bright young things, media types, professionals and racing regulars, seemed unfazed by the day's rain, as did the chefs. "We love these sorts of events with other restaurants," says Longrain's Sam Christie. "You can work alongside your mates and make a bit of a day of it as well."

In fact, in the midst of all the excitement, you could almost forget you were there for the horses at all.

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