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An ambitious, brand new regional hotel has been awarded not one but three top accolades this year.
Andrew McConnell’s yakitori, buns, dumplings and lobster rolls head south of the river.
Sydney’s favourite whisky bar makes a rare overground appearance at a pop-up on Pitt Street Mall.
Our guide to the best of the region.
The Byron at Byron devises new ways to relax and revive.
Industrial designer David Caon shares his secrets on how to travel like a pro.
Is this the best-looking cafe in Sydney?
Load up your three-tiered tray with raspberry tarts, super scones and chicken curry puffs and get ready for a higher high tea with chef Bethany Finn from the Mayflower.
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 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 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.
No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.
Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.
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.
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.
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.
What’s under the tree might be more about the giving than the receiving, but on the table, it’s the careful ordering that’s half the battle won. The better the product you start with, the less you have to worry about doing to it, so take a leaf from our shopping list and buy yourself some more time at the beach, in the pool or just kicking back on the couch. If you’re keen to avoid disappointment, get your orders in the Friday before the big day at the very latest, and in early December to be really safe. Here are a few of our hot picks.
Happy hams and turkeys
One of the most attractive offers this year is from boutique Sydney providore Feather and Bone. Not only is their ham made from the best Melanda Park free-range pork (bone-in or easy-carve), you can also get yourself a calico drawstring bag printed with the legend “This little piggy ranged freely with family and friends, without needing drugs or chemicals to be happy and healthy,” just to drive the organic message home. They’re also doing organic Sunforest turkeys, raised in the Byron Bay hinterland.
Twenty-six flavours of ham
Barossa Fine Foods’s Franz Knoll picked up the grand prize at the Australian Meat Industry Council Awards in September for his Heritage Ham, just one of a range of 26 different styles they make.
Suckling pig hams
Speaking of South Australia, a smaller ham, and definitely one for the connoisseur, Saskia Beer’s Black Pig line is available from Brisbane’s Black Pearl Epicure, among other quality food shops and delis around the country. And Black Pearl, as the name suggests, is the one-stop shop for all your caviar needs in the sunshine state.
A really large smoked salmon
Do you fancy a whole hot-smoked salmon as a cool centrepiece to your seafood extravaganza? A buffet-sized 2.5kg fish from Brisbane’s Samie’s Girl feeds about eight people. (07) 3131 4120
Or a lot of Petuna Ocean trout
Tetsuya’s favourite fish from Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania is available in whole sides from Griffith Butchery, Canberra’s favourite meat specialist, pin-boned and smoked to resemble a fine, fine ham of the sea.
Beef to put ham and turkey to shame
Everyone’s favourite new butchery, Victor Churchill, has a dazzling line of raw, partly prepped and ready-to-eat options that run the gamut from standing rib roasts of Rangers Valley beef or Berkshire pork, to stuffed and trussed Thirlmere turkeys, to turkey and foie gras terrines and ready-glazed kurobuta hams. (02) 9328 0402
Yep, talk to the guys at Donati’s and they’ll put your stuffing into their rolled pork leg or loin and tie up the lot ready to roast. They’re also carrying young female turkeys from Numurkah. (03) 9347 4948
Gooey mango trifle
Jocelyn Hancock has sold up but Jocelyn’s Provisions is still the Brisbane pit-stop for star-topped mince pies, trad Christmas cakes topped with pecans and cherries, stollen, or fab gooey mango trifle. (07) 3852 3799
White Rocks veal
Just for something different, along with Linley Valley hams, dorper lambs from Corrigin and scores of other organic and otherwise impressive goodies from Vince Garreffa and the team at Mondo Di Carne in Perth. All products carry detailed ingredient listings right down to the stuffings.
Fresh cherries are a timely seasonal Christmas treat, and you can head into the Adelaide Hills to pick your own at orchards identified on the Cherry Map from cherriessa.com.au. Otherwise, Stella Creek Cherry Orchard sells from its shed door daily.
Brigitte’s fig and almond panforte
Plus Gianni’s extra-virgin olive oil from the Mornington Peninsula, a delicate Chinese tea from David Thompson, Pennyweight’s organic fortified white wine, some of Uncle Wilfried’s honey from the Strzelecki Ranges, and a host of other things made or chosen with care by our In Season columnist and her crew at Melbourne’s Gertrude Street Enoteca.
WORDS PAT NOURSE ADDITIONAL REPORTING MONIQUE LANE AND KERRYN BURGESS PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS CHEN
This article is from the December 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine.
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