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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.


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.

Gay Bilson's Americano

First it was the Negroni, but now a quiet Americano is Gay Bilson's drink of choice at day's end.

You'll need

30 ml Campari 30 ml Martini Rosso 1 large splash soda 1 orange, washed well, dried, cut into quarters


  • 01
  • Pour the Campari and Martini Rosso over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Add soda according to taste (80ml-100ml for the 60ml of alcohol works for me) and a big piece of orange, at least a quarter, squeezing a little juice into the drink before dropping it in. Stir before drinking.

Watch Campari brand ambassador Mauro Mahjoub talk about the history of the Americano.

It's a treat to discover something quite late in life, be it a novelist, a poet, a plant, a food or an after­noon cocktail. The Americano and I met quite recently, which is to say rather late in both our lives. Mine began in 1944 but the Americano was invented in the 1860s in Milan. In 1995, when I took on the refurbishment of the Bennelong restaurant (with partners Leigh Prentice and Anders Ousback) at the Sydney Opera House, I had wanted the list of drinks at the central bar to include only classic cocktails rather than those invented yesterday by a barman who replaces the tried-and-true with something new. The Manhattan, for instance, was on the list, as was the Negroni. Were it not such a stinker, I would have included the Stinger for its literary connection: John Updike's Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom took to drinking Stingers in Rabbit Redux. He had been a Daiquiri man in the first of the Rabbitnovels. As an admirer of Updike's wonderful portrait of Middle America, I once ordered a Stinger (brandy and crème de menthe), drank it out of literary loyalty, and left it there. I did include one drink that seemed to have no formal precedence, and named it for the novelist who told me about it in London. The Barnes is built with sloe gin (not a true gin but an alcohol infused with the astringent blackthorn or sloe fruit), gin, orange juice and blood orange juice, stirred and served over ice. It is, of course, a seasonal cocktail, because of the blood orange, but all the better for its short annual life. Having turned a living English novelist into a drink, I sent the bar menu to Julian Barnes and he kindly gave his permission, after the fact. Indeed, he was rather chuffed. When he ate at Bennelong in 1998, we made a Barnes granita for his table as a prelude to the desserts, shaving very dark Valrhona chocolate over the frozen ingredients. Nearly 15 years after this pretty invention I am of a mind to create it again.
The Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, served on ice. It is, then, a rather strong drink, and so is not my cup of tea. Nevertheless, a couple of years ago I began to make one every now and then at the close of a day's gardening or cooking and rather enjoyed it, which is to say no more than one. When I mentioned my admiration for the Negroni to a friend who is far more knowledgeable about alcoholic drinks than me, he drew my attention to the Americano. The Americano, he said, is an "afternoon cocktail" - that is, long and far less alcoholic than the Negroni. The Americano became my drink of choice at the end of the day. The gin stays in the cupboard and a big splash of soda is added to the Campari and sweet vermouth. I also add a quarter of an orange, sometimes more, washing and drying the skin first, and squeezing some of its juice into the glass. I have moved from grape, almond and olive country south of Adelaide to the lush green humidity of northern New South Wales. Ginger, chillies and Vietnamese mint may be the replacement food triumvirate, but drinks are drinks and the Americano has moved with me. The few people I know here came over for drinks; the landlady loaned me the right kind of glass and the Americano continued its existence in yet another climate. This new friend will outlive me - that's what traditional things do - but we shall have had a good time together, late in life, wherever we have had the makings.

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Apr 2012

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