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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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

GT 2015 Hotel Guide launch

Clockwise from top right: Nespresso's Loic Rethore with Langham Sydney's Sonia Lefevre, Catriona Rowntree, Anthea Loucas

Clockwise from top right: Nespresso's Loic Rethore with Langham Sydney's Sonia Lefevre, Catriona Rowntree, Anthea Loucas

The who's who of the Australian travel industry filled The Langham Sydney's Kent Street Kitchen last night for the launch of the Gourmet Traveller 2015 Australian Hotel Guide, in partnership with Nespresso.

The guide, now in its second year, puts the spotlight on the country's top 50 hotels, as judged by our team of professional sleepers, eaters and minibar inspectors, and bestows awards that range from Best Club Sandwich to the big one, Hotel of the Year.

There was a wave of anticipation across the room as glamorous host Catriona Rowntree took to the stage to announce the evening's winners. First up was the prize for Best Minibar, given to Hobart's Mona Pavilions for its extensive in-room cellar, while Canberra favourite Hotel Hotel took home the title of Best Bar and Boutique Hotel of the Year.

Soul Surfers Paradise took out the prize for Best Pool with its trio, including the spectacular outdoor tiered pool. Grand Hyatt Melbourne, meanwhile, cemented its reputation as the best place to start your day, winning the award for Best Breakfast.

Park Hyatt Sydney snapped up the all-important award for Best Service, while Tasmania's Pumphouse Point, with its breathtaking remote surrounds, took out Regional Hotel of the Year.

The effortlessly luxe offering at Crown Towers Melbourne saw it take home Large Hotel of the Year. And there was a roar of agreement as our evening's hosts, The Langham Sydney, took home a trifecta of awards: Best Club Sandwich, New Hotel of the Year and the most coveted prize of the night, Hotel of the Year.

"We're so humbled and delighted," said The Langham Sydney's general manager Sonia Lefevre. "It's very exciting and I can't wait to take these trophies to back of house with my staff to celebrate."

"The Hotel Guide is an opportunity for us to shine a light on the best hotel experiences in Australia and we are proud of our efforts in celebrating the country's best hotel operators," said Anthea Loucas, editor of Gourmet Traveller. "We travel across the continent, from Margaret River to Melbourne, to review each and every property listed in the guide and, I might add, we pay our own way. I am unaware of any other publisher in the country who invests in travel coverage in the same way we do."

Diners feasted on tartare of chard and cauliflower, topped with quail egg yolk and oscietra caviar; smoked ocean trout escabeche with rocket, lemon "pearls" and pumpernickel crumb; butter-poached marron with linguine, black truffle and burnt onion butter; and braised beef short rib with parsnip purée, Brussels sprouts and a bone marrow gel. And to round off the dinner, Campari-spiked shots of Nespresso kicked things into the next gear at the dessert buffet as guests celebrated into the night.

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