Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A Taste of Middle Perth, Café Nice, Little Mexico, Olli-Bella

Helvetica, Perth

Helvetica, Perth

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including A Taste of Middle Perth, Café Nice, Little Mexico, and Olli-Bella.

PERTH
A Taste of Middle Perth
As an excuse to head out on a school night, a quest in Middle Perth is tough to beat. Middle what? Middle Perth, for the uninitiated, is the name coined by Andaluz, Helvetica (pictured), Greenhouse and Lalla Rookh Bar & Eating House for the precinct they trade in. While you won't find Middle Perth on Google Maps (yet), this pocket of St Georges Terrace boasts some of the CBD's best eats and drinks - eats and drinks you can experience at Tuesday night's A Taste of Middle Perth small bar crawl. A progressive dinner showcasing each venue's idea of a good time, it's a fun way to take the pulse of the West's capital as well as get into the spirit of Eat Drink Perth, the city's month-long celebration of all things gustatory. Limited tickets are $95 and can be booked with Lalla Rookh general manager Patrick Ryan on (08) 9325 7077. MAX VEENHUYZEN

SYDNEY
Café Nice [no website]
If you'd been thinking to yourself in recent years "gee, I really love those Café Sopra places, but I just wish I could get that same fresh food, only slightly Frencher, in slicker surrounds and for slightly more money", then boy, have Fratelli Fresh's Barry McDonald and Nina Gravelis got the restaurant for you. The father-daughter team share a passion for southern France in general and Nice in particular, so their new venue, on the old Merrony's site at Circular Quay, channels the Riviera capital with a sunny menu rich in vegetables, fish and Mediterranean classics. Ratatouille, pissaladière, salade Niçoise? Oui, oui et oui. The last is served in a bowl, the olive oil-poached tuna tossed with the other ingredients at the table by your waiter. The wine list offers plenty under the $60 mark, a good whack of rosé and most things are sold by the glass and carafe. To close, the fig clafoutis, still bubbling as it hits the table, is hard to deny. Café Nice, 2 Phillip St (cnr Albert), Sydney, NSW, (02) 8248 9600. PAT NOURSE

ADELAIDE
Little Miss Mexico
A pop-up bar sensation, Little Miss Mexico sprang from a disused storage lot into gaily coloured glory for the Adelaide Fringe Festival. The drinks menu carries a bright summer vibe - Margaritas and other tequila cocktails, red and white sangria, a specialty rum bar - while the energetic team from Vinteloper Urban Winery Project is basket pressing grapes on site during vintage, and selling its finished wines by the glass and bottle. From the list of Mexican street foods, the fresh fish taco with a zesty citrus salsa is the ideal cocktail companion, and you can also feast on paella. Little Miss Mexico is open from 11am to late, with line-ups from about 9pm. It's definitely running until at least the end of the festival on March 17, but beyond that we can't say - get in while you can. Little Miss Mexico, 188 Grenfell St, Adelaide, SA. DAVID SLY

HOBART
Olli-Bella at Mona Market
MONA Market winds up for the season at the end of the month, so there are only five more chances to eat Tasmania's best tacos while listening to live music on MONA's lawns. Olli-Bella, named after Californian expat chef Gabriel Laborico's two daughters, turns out four different tacos each Saturday, and they are well worth queuing for. He makes his own soft tortillas and the fillings - maybe braised pork with green chillies, with a liberal scattering of chopped coriander (our favourite so far) - are beautifully seasoned. Chase them with Olli-Bella's watermelon and raspberry juice or a glass of MONA's own Moo Brew Saison beer. MONA, 655 Main Rd Berriedale, Tas, (03) 6277 9900. SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE

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