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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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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.

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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. 

Chorizo recipes

Where would Spanish cuisine be without the chorizo? This versatile smallgood lends its big flavours to South American stews, soups, and salads, not to mention the ultimate hot dog. Let the sizzling begin.

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.

Hunter Valley NSW travel guide

Our guide to the best of the region.

Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Barzaari to open in Marrickville, Sydney

Barzaari's Andrew Jordanou and Darryl Martin

Barzaari's Andrew Jordanou and Darryl Martin

From joints of meat roasted over charcoal to sandpit-fired coffee, Marrickville makes way for a new eastern Mediterranean restaurant.  

This month, Marrickville's café set can swap their Sunday macchiato for a Cypriot-style sandpit-fired coffee at Barzaari. The new eastern Mediterranean restaurant, opening 12 July, is bringing more than a taste of modern Cyprus to Sydney's inner west.

Chef Darryl Martin is behind the new eatery, together with friend and business partner Andrew Jordanou. Martin was one of the original chefs at The Three Weeds in Rozelle and has also clocked time at Quay.

"The eastern Med is incredible," he says. "Down to the different birds and animals they use, the way they use their charcoal, the different spices…I don't think people in Australia realise the diversity of those places and their cooking."

Martin's wife is half-Cypriot, half-Lebanese, and Jordanou is Cypriot. While family recipes will certainly play an influence on Barzaari, the menu takes inspiration from other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines such as Greek, Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian, too.

One thing's certain: there'll be more than a lick of smoke and spice, thanks to the open kitchen's woodfired oven and charcoal pit.

On the snacks menu, Coffin Bay oysters pop in the woodfired oven and come topped with pickled parsley stalk and shaved lountza, a cured pork tenderloin. Lukániko, a pork sausage cooked over charcoal with date molasses, orange zest and fennel seed, is served with wood-roasted grapes.

Wrapped in caul fat, skewered and cooked over coals for four to five hours, Barzaari's lamb shoulder is likely to become a signature. Martin marinates "the hell out of it" with a wild and dried oregano-like spice called thribi, which they're sourcing direct from family in Kalymnos, Greece. Desserts include quince ice-cream and baklava ("done more like how the Greeks do savoury pastry") and an aniseed and buttermilk custard with Turkish apple tea granita - Martin's "more modern" take on crème caramel.

The wine list, put together by sommelier Dennis Roman (late of Café Paci), features plenty of Australian and Spanish producers, with bottles from Lebanon, Romania, Greece and Morocco also available. Keeping in theme, a number of house-made syrups, Middle Eastern spices and preserved fruits such as orange and quince will find their way to the cocktail menu - put together by Nordic restaurateur (and Martin's "great mate") Tomi Björck.

As for the fit-out? "Humble," says Martin, "in line with the food". A 100-kilogram tree trunk sits to the right of the entrance, taken from Martin's parents' property in the Hunter Valley. "We had a mortar and pestle carved into the top," he says. "It's quite the centrepiece." To the left, there's a sand-filled basin where copper pots of Cypriot coffee will be buried and brewed as dessert rolls around.

"It'll be a little left-field, but I don't want to bastardise the food," he says. "It's simple cooking, done respectfully."

Barzaari opens Tuesday 12 July.

Barzaari, 65-69 Addison Rd, Marrickville, NSW, (02) 9569 3161, barzaari.com.au; open Tue-Sat for dinner, Fri and Sun for lunch.

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