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. 

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

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.

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.

Smith Street Alimentari, Happy Boy, Beaufort Street Festival, The Beach Taverna

Smith Street Alimentari, Melbourne

Smith Street Alimentari, Melbourne

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Smith Street Alimentari, Happy Boy, Beaufort Street Festival, and The Beach Taverna.

MELBOURNE
Smith Street Alimentari 
To simplify their lives and spend more time with their kids, husband and wife team Linda and Paul Jones decided to knock down the wall separating their two businesses - food store Smith Street Alimentari and restaurant Gorski & Jones - to make a bustling (bordering on chaotic) daytime-only food store and licensed café with a brilliant outside courtyard. It's an excellent move that has made all the best parts come into focus. Removing the seating from the shop means the fridges full of take-home meals (lasagne, risotto, sauces, stocks, house-made pasta) and the grocery shelves are properly accessible for the first time. The glass counter has been extended, making it easier to get served. There are more places to sit in the café and the open kitchen lets the menu expand beyond the famed Alimentari sandwiches, salads and rolls (try an eggwhite omelette with smoked salmon, dukkah and feta or a pan-fried gnocchi with broad beans and cauliflower purée). The former Gorski bar has been given over in part to an expanded coffee selection including pour-over alongside the regular espresso and a weekly changing single-origin coffee. Altogether, it's a very fine example of a successful lightbulb moment. Smith Street Alimentari, 302-304 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9416 1666. MICHAEL HARDEN

BRISBANE
Happy Boy
Brisbane's temperature must have dipped by at least 10 degrees when this cool little Chinese eatery dragged up its roller-door last month. Hidden down a back street in an old garage that used to be Little Tokyo, Happy Boy's interiors are the antithesis of the pan-Asian, boho-eclectic look currently in vogue. Instead it favours stylish industrial chic, pared back almost to the point of austerity - bare brick walls, polished-concrete flooring, simple dark wooden tables and banquettes. The glasses, though, are Riedel, reflecting the serious intent of a clipped but savvy list featuring boutique Australian vineyards. The menu cherrypicks a tasty track through regional China. Whole snapper is served with ginger, spring onion and sesame-soy sauce, its belly refilled with crisp-battered fish bites. And at $30, it's the most expensive dish. Most offerings, including deliciously addictive popcorn-sized bits of Chongqing chicken generously scattered with chilli, weigh in at around half that. Don't leave without ordering the fish-fragrant eggplant. Get happy! Happy Boy Eating & Drinking, 2/36 Mein St, Spring Hill, Qld, 0413 246 890. FIONA DONNELLY

PERTH
Beaufort Street Festival
While Beaufort Street is a rewarding destination any time of year, the annual Beaufort Street Festival is a particularly memorable day (and night) out. This Saturday marks the fifth instalment of the swarming street party and the neighbourhood is celebrating in appropriate fashion. While the day will feature strong music, art and fashion components, we're looking forward to the many edible and quaffable attractions. El Público, for instance, will again be transforming its car park into the Shady Shack and serving Mexican libations and food from 2014 GT Best New Talent winner, Sam Ward. Across the road, Five Bar's outdoor pop-up will be returning for another day of alfresco mischief while team Clarences will be slinging gin punches and deliciousness from its garden bar. Come early, thirsty and hungry; leave with good memories and, ideally, a copy of Recipes and Ramblings, the festival cookbook being launched this weekend. MAX VEENHUYZEN

KANGAROO ISLAND
The Beach Taverna
Kangaroo Island's top-end caterers Rachel Hannaford and Sasha Sachs, serving as providores and chefs to guests at LifeTime Private Retreats and other luxury Kangaroo Island accommodation, have extended their services to The Beach Taverna - a former boatshed on the sand at remote Snellings Beach used in the past only for private functions and now converted into an idyllic casual dining taverna. It's open for lunch bookings, and their long, lazy meals present a procession of dishes that feature the seasonal stars of Kangaroo Island produce. This includes fillets of locally caught trevally and nannygai in beer batter, and lamb kofta (sourced from ace producers Essence of Kangaroo Island) with local red lentil, eggplant, pomegranate and a sauce of Island Pure sheep's milk yoghurt and mint. The Beach Taverna, Snellings Beach, Kangaroo Island, SA, (08) 8559 2236. 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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