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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. 

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.

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.

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.

Ten of the best: pork belly dishes

Crisp roasted pork belly, Fish and Wine, Coolangatta, Qld
Chef Dean Sammut wowed Canberra diners at Artespresso before seachanging to this beachside locale at the end of 2007, and will be offering his ultra-crisp steamed-then-roasted signature as a winter special, most likely with roast apple and cabbage. Don't miss it.

Rare-breed pig belly with a gentle braise of green-lipped abalone, handmade silken tofu, Japanese mushrooms and chive flowers, Quay, Sydney, NSW
Quay's chef Peter Gilmore is pork belly royalty, having been credited with popularising the neo-classic combination of scallops and belly. Here he takes the surf and turf angle in a different, yet equally winning direction.

Slow-cooked pork belly in shimeji mushroom congee, Verge, Melbourne, Vic
Garnished with nori and on a mission to rock your tastebuds, this Dallas Cuddy creation combines Japanese and Chinese influences to great effect.

Western Plains pork loin with slow-cooked pork belly and seared scallops, Bridgewater Mill, Petaluma, SA
Le Tu Thai only offers this very attractive dish on Sundays, but with the scallops wrapped in pancetta and Northern Summit cherry vinegar forming the dressing, it's well worth seeking out.

Roast pork, Four Seasons Roasting Duck Restaurant, Northbridge, WA (375 William St, 08 9228 9883)
Tim Ha rubs Linley Valley free-range pork with salt, five spice powder, sugar and a little vinegar and roasts it in a very hot purpose-built oven for around an hour. The result: golden, bubbled skin and all that oozy fat and tender flesh beneath which sells for bugger all.

Double-cooked Kurobuta pork belly with black pudding and apple and elderflower purée, Aria, Sydney, NSW
The latest incarnation of this some-time Aria signature sees the old country English marriage of apple and elderflower add perfume to a perfect chock of crunchy-topped pork.

Scallops on pork belly fondant with candied chillies and burnt ruby grapefruit butter, Vanitas, Gold Coast, Qld
Steve Szabo takes the scallops-and-belly combo in a new direction with bright flavours to cut the richness.

Crisp pork belly stir-fried with Chinese broccoli, Spice I Am, Surry Hills, Sydney
A Cantonese-leaning hit from the inner city Thai favourite, this dish nonetheless features plenty of the hot red chilli the restaurant is famous for.

Pork belly with chestnut mushrooms, potato purée, nutmeg and red wine jus, Restaurant Manx, Hamilton, Qld
One of Brisbane's hottest new (ish) restaurants presents its pork belly in a more traditional European context.

Roast pork loin and pressed pork belly on slow-cooked barley and cauliflower, Gills Diner, Melbourne, Vic (360 Little Collins Street, 03 9670 7214)
A thyme-enriched jus makes a fragrant finish for this rustic, hearty offering at one of Melbourne's more interesting new arrivals.

 

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