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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.

2016 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards

The usually discrete worlds of élite Australian dining and Italian dancing collided in the tastiest of ways at the Gourmet Traveller restaurant awards last night.

A creative collaboration with the Italo Disco project of Sydney restaurateurs Maurice Terzini and Giovanni Paradiso gave proceedings a mirror-ball sparkle. Rockpool was named Australia's Restaurant of the Year, Brae's Dan Hunter walked away with Chef of the Year, and in a surprise turn-out Bennelong won New Restaurant of the Year in an evening brimming with celebration and glammed-up bonhomie. "It's a very special award to win, that's for sure," says Bennelong's Peter Gilmore. "It's one of the most coveted awards in the country because it's national."

Redfern's Carriageworks was a feast for more senses than one, with the teams from Icebergs and 10 William St putting together a menu that was gutsy and inventive in just the right measure. Natural wines from prosecco producer Zanotto and South Australian vino-provocateur Tom Shobbrook flowed as platters of anchovy grissini and gnocco fritto with speck were ferried around the crowd by a platoon of crisply white-jacketed waiters. And as the awards got underway in earnest, guests rolled up their sleeves to do battle with radishes and laver cream, steamed artichokes and schmaltz, and mozzarella with black-garlic bread before the main event arrived: seriously luscious, piping-hot roast suckling pig with cime di rapa gratin and roasties.

It was a rocking night. As grand a spectacle as it presented, it was, as they say, one of those success stories that's the result of a lot of small things done well, and the contributions from the crack team at Aria Catering, a kitchen led by Icebergs chef Monty Koludrovic and 10 William's Enrico Tomelleri, aperitivi and digestivi fuelled by Campari, Aperol, Four Pillars Gin, Peroni and Fox Beverages, and the support from Ilve, Uniworld and Sydney Kitchens, and, above all, the essential sponsorship of major partner Vittoria Coffee made it a party truly worthy of celebrating the best in Australian hospitality. 

The unfailingly glamorous Leila McKinnon cut a dash as host, friendships were forged and renewed over the table and the bar, laughs were had, and the good times (and disco tunes) continued well into the night, fuelled by Negronis and pizza.

And with that, we're proud to present the Gourmet Traveller 2016 Australian Restaurant Guide. For more details on all the award winners plus a year of wonderful eating, pick up your copy with the September issue - it's on sale now.

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