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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Khao pad naem


This Thai-style fried rice is simple home-cooking at its best and the fermented component, Thai fermented pork sausage, is bought in - it couldn't be simpler.

You'll need

2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil 180 gm naem (Thai fermented pork sausage; about 4 small), cut into 1cm pieces (see note) 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 birdseye chillies, thinly sliced 1 white onion, finely chopped 500 gm cooked long-grain rice 2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra to taste 1 tbsp soy sauce 2 tsp caster sugar 2 eggs, lightly beaten 4 spring onions, thinly sliced 1 cup (loosely packed) coriander, coarsely chopped 2 Lebanese cucumbers, thickly sliced To serve: roasted peanuts, lime wedges and Sriracha sauce

Method

  • 01
  • Heat oil in a large work over high heat until smoking. Add naem, garlic, chilli and onion, and stir-fry until fragrant and golden (4-5 minutes). Add rice, stir-fry until heated through (1-2 minutes), then add half the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and ¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper, stir, then push rice to one side of wok. Combine eggs with remaining fish sauce in a small bowl, pour into wok and stir occasionally until just set (1-2 minutes). Stir cooked egg through rice and stir-fry until rice is golden (4-5 minutes). Season to taste with extra fish sauce if necessary, then serve hot topped with spring onions, coriander, cucumber and roasted peanuts, and with lime wedges and Sriracha sauce.

Note Thai fermented pork sausage is available from select Asian grocers.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

Cold, crisp pilsner-style lager.

Featured in

Jul 2015

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