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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.

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.

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. 

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Hunter Valley NSW travel guide

Our guide to the best of the region.

Bacco Osteria e Espresso to open in Sydney’s CBD

Chef Scott Williams

Chef Scott Williams

Things are looking up in the spaghetti stakes for the Sydney CBD. The first chapter of Bacco Osteria e Espresso opens Monday, 15 May - the first city location from Andrew Cibej, the restaurateur behind such Italian (and Italianish) hits as Vini, Berta, 121BC, and Ester.

The initial instalment of Bacco is a 30-seat café and bar; the adjoining 60-seat restaurant to follow shortly. When it's all up and running, Bacco will be a place where inner-city Italophiles can swing by for pancetta and egg panini, cornetti and Little Marionette coffee in the morning, then pop back for Spritzes and spuntini at lunch or dinner.

"We really want Bacco to be an absolute regular thing for the city," says Cibej. "A place you can rely on at any time of the day."

Pizze by the slice, salads, and three or four panini will be on offer from the café at lunch, while the osteria menu runs the gamut from antipasti to dolce, with a few twists in between. The tartare, for instance, is dry-aged lamb rather than beef, topped with fried pasta and served with whipped anchovy rather than the classic egg yolk.

Former MoVida chef Scott Williams is on the pans, and he has enlisted Daniel Johnston of Wilmer and Alfio's to ensure pasta is a Bacco highlight. "He's our pasta extruder extraordinaire," says Williams. We have high hopes for the strozzapreti with a goat and guanciale ragù, not to mention the spaghetti alla chitarra with sea urchin and karkalla. Nonna Cibej's gnocchi also makes an appearance, teamed with a pistachio and pecorino sauce, as do Tuscan-style pork, pepper and fennel sausages with lentil salad. Desserts lean classic: an almond and fruit tart, perhaps, "to make the most of the season's quince and pears", and ricotta cheesecake with gelato or mascarpone. "You won't get overwhelmed with too many options," says Williams. "We're focusing on sharp and approachable."

With a list put together by China Doll Group sommelier Clint Hillery (Cibej secured the Ash Street spot with the help of China Doll restaurateurs Steve and John Anastasiou, his partners in the venture) and Cibej, the restaurant looks set to live up to the vinous quality of its name. The focus is on smaller organic and biodynamic producers. "It's 98 per cent Italian, with a number of Italian varieties from other places, too," says Cibej. "Vermentino from the Barossa, for instance, and a fiano and a sangiovese from McLaren Vale."

Sydney architect Anthony Gill is behind the design. He also did the Vini and Berta fit-outs, and Bacco's interiors follow a similar enoteca style with black Tolix chairs, terrazzo tables, dark-green leather banquettes and glossy timber panelling.

While Bacco is a little larger than Vini and Berta, essentially the mood will be the same. "Smaller is becoming bigger," says Cibej. "There's no reason not to come by."

Bacco Osteria e Espresso, shop 1, 2-12 Angel Pl (entry via Ash St), Sydney, NSW; Espresso & Bar open Mon-Fri 7am-8.30pm; restaurant open Mon-Fri noon-midnight, Sat 5.30pm-midnight.

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