Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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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.

Notes on Mental Notes #2

Joel Amos, Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth

Joel Amos, Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth

Mental Notes is a stimulating day out for a number of reasons - not least because it's hosted by Joel Amos (director of natural and sustainable wine, beer and sake service DRNKS) and his friends Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (Mary's, The Unicorn). The wine festival gives Sydneysiders a chance to savour some very interesting, very naturally fermented juice - and talk to the producers and importers while they're at it. 

Its second outing is on Saturday 15 October, and the guys are turning it up a notch in size and scope, taking over the Paddington Town Hall for the day. It'll be a full program of tastings, talks, Mary's burgers and even a DRNKS bottle shop, so you can buy any new favourites to take home.

But malolactic ferments, indigenous yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, biodynamic, minimal-intervention and (ye gods) natural wines can be a confusing game. For your ease and elucidation, Amos has provided us with some notes. (And yes, they are mental.)

Gentle Folk, Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
"It cost us a fortune but the most famous winemaker in the world is going to get out of bed for us! Gareth Belton's wines are driven by acid and freshness - just like fresh acid."
gentlefolk.com.au

Patrick Sullivan, Strzelecki Ranges, Gippsland, Victoria
"Try all his new wines for the first time in Sydney. Probably the grapiest juice in the world right now. Also, touch his face."
patricksullivan.com.au

Xavier, Heathcote, Victoria
"Xavier Goodridge is as chill as an ice-block in Tassie. Now three vintages deep in his own wines, they're just getting better and better."

Unkel Wines, Gippsland, Victoria
"Rob Burley learnt a lot working as Patrick Sullivan's assistant winemaker - particularly about how to create new and tasty fermented fruit from Victoria."
facebook.com/UnkleWines

Puncheon Bottles Imports
"What happens when two industry high-flyers, Patrick Sullivan and Christian McCabe of Melbourne's Embla, start an import business? Fireworks. This is the first time that they're showing wines in Sydney. Plus: best name ever."

Cultivar Imports
"It's about time someone found some not-gross wine from South America. Cultivar imports plenty of varieties we're familiar with, but also new styles from one of the oldest parts of the New World. They're currently importing lots of great organic wines from Chile."

Jilly Wines, New England, New South Wales
"Who knew northern New South Wales existed? These guys are making fresh and real booze from this odd part of Oz."
jillywines.com.au

Krinklewood, Broke Fordwich, Hunter Valley, New South Wales
"When Pete Windrim isn't carving deities in the Hunter, he's carving vibes in Paddington. The lord of biodynamics and he only lives a couple of hours north."
krinklewood.com

Virtuous Vine Imports
"Charles Simpson is the most well-spoken man in Australia. Come and talk to him. He mainly imports wines from the Loire Valley in France and they're really, really good."
virtuousvine.com.au

Larkin Imports
"When a wine nerd with a fantastic palate decides to import wine the rest of us may as well quit. Predominantly wines from the south-west of France, but he's also importing one of the best red wines from Jura I've seen. Ask him about it."

Ochota Barrels, Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
"Surf's up, dudes. Technically, the wines are about as pure as juice gets. Theoretically, they're made by the loosest unit in the world."
ochotabarrels.com

Latta Vino, Coghills Creek, Victoria
"Some of the newest styles of wine from some of the oldest vineyard sites in the country. Heritage winemaking at its youngest and its best."
lattavino.com.au

Manon Wines, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
"Don't be fooled by Tim Webber and Monique Millton's good looks; they're actually just really good-looking. This will be the first time to try wines made with the fruit from the vineyard they purchased together late last year. Get excited."
manonwine.com

Andrew Guard Wine Imports
"I wonder how it feels to do it for longer and better than everyone else? Not only does he import wines we can't afford to have at Mental Notes like Ganevat, Pacalet, Overnoy… but he also imports some of the most interesting and accessible wines from Spain, France and the USA."
andrewguard.com.au

Smallfry, Barossa Valley, South Australia
"Have you ever consumed organic wine from the Barossa? Wayne Ahrens and Suzi Hilder probably grew the fruit, and now they're making the wine. They'll be showing us their skin-contact whites, their rosé and one of their beautiful light reds."
smallfrywines.com.au

Chèvre Wines, Otway Ranges, Victoria
"Farmer Jordan Kay desperately needs a wife… and a house… but he does have a beautiful little vineyard with some amazing wine coming off it. This will be your first chance to try them, but move fast - they sell out quickly."
chevrewines.com

Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines
"He'll be pouring orange wine from magnum, a rare red from the mountains of Piedmont, and Gatti, the best prosecco currently in Australia. What could possibly go wrong?"
giorgiodemaria.com

Two Metre Tall, Derwent Valley, Tasmania
"Give a warm welcome to the first beer poured at Mental Notes. Ashley and Jane Huntington made true farm-to-bottle products, made using fermented grains from their organic farm in Tassie."
2mt.com.au

Mental Notes #2, Saturday 15 October, Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW. Tickets are $50 for each tasting session or $90 for both sessions. For tickets visit mentalnotes.co

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