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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.

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.

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.

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.

Kisume, Melbourne

Chris Lucas has flown in talent from all over the world, including Eleven Madison Park, for his bold new venture. Here’s what to expect from Kisume.

Where to stay, eat and drink in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Beyond Kuala Lumpur's shopping malls, Lara Dunston finds a flourishing third-wave coffee scene, tailored food tours and charming neighbourhoods.

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.

Outstanding Contribution to the Industry 2009: Donlevy Fitzpatrick

You don’t need to be old to appreciate so many things we take for granted were simply not possible 25 years ago. Take Victoria’s liberal – and enlightened – licensing laws, in relation to consuming beverages with or without food, for example. It wasn’t that long ago that pubs provided the only glimmer of opportunity when it came to casual, sensible drinking without having to order a meal. For those who found the sound of an extracted cork preferable to the sound of the dogs on the radio, it wasn’t a great scenario.

It took many forward-thinking, determined people to change that and a key player among them was the late Donlevy Fitzpatrick: an engineer; restaurateur; property developer; and vigneron. Mostly, however, Don Fitzpatrick was a dreamer who didn’t see why his vision of making Melbourne more European – for want of a better expression – wasn’t possible.

In the late 70s, he acquired shops in the inner bayside suburb of Middle Park. Recognising how staid the city’s food and beverage industry was, and that casual dining and drinking was largely restricted to the hotel industry, he opened his first restaurant, Donlevy’s. It was a wonderful place, launched many careers in food and wine, and is widely regarded as one of Melbourne’s first modern café-style restaurants.

The Vic Ave Cafe in Albert Park followed, and St Kilda was next. Fitzpatrick adopted the raffish suburb early, and embarked on several renovation projects including the Harley Court and Colombo Court buildings in Acland Street, home to the still-famous Dogs Bar. It was here, through persistent lobbying, he succeeded in changing liquor licensing to allow drinking without a meal so long as food was available, as well as the licensing of outdoor seating areas. But the George Hotel in Fitzroy Street became Fitzpatrick’s greatest challenge. In the early 90s, he bought a number of buildings that formed the dilapidated 1860s complex, gaining council support for a mix of restaurants, bars, cafés and residential apartments. The Melbourne Wine Room became its flagship. The complex, and its many businesses, launched the careers of many restaurant industry players including chefs Karen Martini and Jeremy Strode. Ultimately, Fitzpatrick was a pioneer; he made St Kilda what it is today.

“The liquor law changes came about as a result of his tenacious determination to ask the question, ‘Why the bloody hell not?’,” chef and close friend George Biron, of Sunnybrae at Birregurra, said. “Every time you shared anything with him – a coffee, a drink – he lent a sense of occasion.”

Michael Kennedy, whose Healesville Hotel has become a pivotal player in the Yarra Valley food and wine business, worked with Fitzpatrick at the Dogs Bar and the George. He described him as a “manic” ideas man with lots of energy. “He was a visionary and an inspiration,” Kennedy said. “What he created in St Kilda was well and truly ahead of its time and I think all of Melbourne has him to thank for the café/bar culture that we have.”

Fitzpatrick lost his six-year battle with brain cancer in February, aged 61.

His contribution will last much longer.

WORDS JOHN LETHLEAN PHOTOGRAPHY FAIRFAX PHOTOS

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

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