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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

121BC, 90 Secondi, Bare Bones Society, Peel St

121BC Cantina & Enoteca, Sydney

121BC Cantina & Enoteca, Sydney

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including 121BC, 90 Secondi, Bare Bones Society, and Peel St.

SYDNEY
121BC
Mitch Orr is one versatile spaghetti slinger. With time at Pilu and Buzo under his belt, he has a grounding in tradition, but as a former Duke co-head chef and an Osteria Francescana stagiaire, he's also happy to use that grounding to leap off into flights of fancy that are both fresh and compelling. At his new gig, cooking at nano-wine bar 121BC (pictured here), he's doing a brilliant dish that lays the savour and spice of mussels and 'nduja over the sweetness of charred baby leeks, adorns radishes and pickled salumi with bottarga butter, and dresses purple broccolini with an anchovy-spiked pangrattato that more or less demands something pervy or orange from 121's ever-intriguing all-Italian list. It's a menu that's wine-friendly, well priced, and a lot of fun. 121BC, 4/50 Holt St (entry via Gladstone St), Surry Hills, (02) 9699 1582. PAT NOURSE

MELBOURNE
90 Secondi
Fans of footy and authentic Neapolitan pizza hit the jackpot earlier this month when 90 Secondi opened in the shadow of Etihad Stadium. Named for the time a trad pizza from Napoli spends in the oven, the hefty 150-seat pizzeria is owned by Johnny Di Francesco, who has come to be recognised as one of Melbourne's best purveyors of the pie through his work at East Brunswick's 400 Gradi. A smart timber and marble fit-out includes an open kitchen where a domed and tiled wood-fired oven, custom-made in Naples, is the focus. The slightly chewy pizza has a distinctive thin crust freckled with char and is topped sparingly with the authentic likes of San Marzano tomatoes, Levoni prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella and basil. There are pasta and meat dishes, too, greatest-hit snacks of the zucchini flower and Caprese salad ilk and a sharp drinks list that'll have you cheering before you've set foot in the stadium. 90 Secondi, 700 Bourke St, Docklands, (03) 9600 2841. MICHAEL HARDEN

BRISBANE
Bare Bones Society
Jindalee isn't the first place you'd seek out a former star of the Brisbane fine-dining scene. But as the name of Kym Machin's café suggests, the former Urbane chef's new venture is about the simple necessities. Happily, in Machin's world "necessities" include the likes of fish and chip butties incorporating flathead fillets, and "sandwiches" such as the Southern, a crunchy-crusted warm cob roll wrapped around shreds of pork with cheddar, pickles and a cracking chipotle mayo. Blackboard specials range further, encompassing bistro-style plates such as chilli-spiked seafood linguine or Angus burgers. It has a liquor licence, too, and plans are afoot to hatch a deck to cope with bustling weekend trade. Bare Bones Society, Shop 22, Jindalee Homemaker Centre, 34 Goggs Rd, Jindalee, (07) 3715 5571. FIONA DONNELLY

ADELAIDE
Peel St
The 90-seat Peel St, opened by former Aquacaf team members Ben McLeod and chef Jordan Theodoros, makes the most of Adelaide's new small-bar licences, serving great casual food but also bringing in the drinks drop-in crowd. Choose from prepared food slid along the long service counter (lamb shank empanadas, roasted pumpkin with green tahini, toasted sunflower and pepitas), and a blackboard menu offers treats straight from the grill. Yes, the Aquacaf mulloway pasty makes guest appearances, but there are also other interesting blends of Middle Eastern and Asian flavours, not least the turkey meatballs braised with preserved lemon, pearl barley, mint and broad beans. Peel St, 9 Peel St, Adelaide, (08) 8231 8887. DAVID SLY

Got a hot tip for our Hot Plates team? Tweet us at @gourmettweets, or tag your Instagram photos with #GThotplates.


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