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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The most expensive dishes in Australia

Silks’ braised abalone with webbing from duck’s feet: $1380 per kilogram
To spend as much money on food as fast as you can, head to Crown’s high-end Cantonese restaurant Silks and order a portion of the braised abalone with webbing from duck’s feet. At $138 per 100 grams (or $1380 per kilogram), this is a rare luxury.  Half the price, but still a heady spend, is Neil Perry’s 200 gram wagyu rib eye at Rockpool Bar & Grill: it’s a “mere” $110. For sheer dollar-per-gram outrageousness, it’s hard to avoid Grossi Florentino’s plate of oscietra caviar: $120 gets you 15 grams of the precious roe, crème fraiche, grated egg and toast. Lovely breakfast.
Silks, Crown Entertainment Complex, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, Vic, (03) 9292 6888.

Otto’s taglierini all’aragosta: $140
Technically, Astral’s $425 caviar service (50 grams of farmed sevruga with traditional garnishes and blini) is easily the most expensive dish we’ve seen in Sydney but it’s so easy to blow the big bucks on caviar, truffles and anything else priced by the gram that we thought we’d look further afield. Which brings us to Otto’s – a 650 gram Tassie lobster, direct from the tanks to you, cooked with vermouth, Joseph extra-virgin, chilli garlic, parsley and fresh taglierini. Oh. Yeah. Baby. Then again, there’s always Rockpool (fish)’s $145 mud crab (around $12.50 per 100 grams) – and that doesn’t include noodles.
Otto, area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo, NSW, (02) 9368 7488.

Double-boiled bird’s nest, Yú, Perth: $138
Put your mind to it and you could spend a substantial amount of dosh here at Perth’s most opulent Cantonese restaurant. Authentic artefacts and golden cutlery all contribute to the ambience. Peking duck is here, of course, along with shark’s fin and jellyfish. The most expensive dish on the menu, however, is the Chinese delicacy of bird’s nest. When the imported nests are cleaned and soaked, the swallow saliva from which they are constructed takes on a fine, gelatinous texture. Yú offers a sweet version with rock sugar and coconut, or you can try them in a savoury soup with lobster, crab or chicken. Given they sell for $138 a pop, you might just have to take our word on that.
Yú, Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood, WA, (08) 9362 8238.

WORDS JANE CORNES, JOHN LETHLEAN AND PAT NOURSE PHOTOGRAPHY MARCEL AUCAR

This article appeared in the April 2008 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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