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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

GT launches first Australian Hotel Guide

 Top: Anthea Loucas, Renaud Tinel and Catriona Rowntree. Bottom right: Nathan Sasi.

Top: Anthea Loucas, Renaud Tinel and Catriona Rowntree. Bottom right: Nathan Sasi.

It was all sparkle at Nomad restaurant in Sydney on Tuesday night as we presented our travel awards. But things weren't exactly as they always have been. Hostess with the mostest Catriona Rowntree was there to rock the mic for the eighth year in a row, and our friends at Nespresso were the proud sponsors, but this time there was cause for even more celebration as we launched our inaugural Australian Hotel Guide.

It's a little black book showcasing Australia's 50 finest hotels. "We have a long and proud tradition of celebrating the country's best restaurants with our Australian Restaurant Guide," says GT editor Anthea Loucas, "and now we're excited to turn our attention to the nation's hotels."

With the cream of the Australian tourism industry in attendance, there was plenty of buzz in the room as Rowntree announced the evening's award winners. Among the victors were Canberra newcomer Hotel Hotel, which won Best Boutique City Hotel (so good they named it twice), Park Hyatt Sydney, which took out the title of Best Large City Hotel, and Sofitel Brisbane Central, which went home with the gong for the all-important Best Club Sandwich category.

The crowd, a mix of hoteliers, industry insiders and media traded war stories and table-hopped with a vengeance, pausing just long enough to make the most of chef Nathan Sasi's breezy Mediterranean-inspired food. Platters of house-made charcuterie and barbecued carrots with sheep's milk labne were among the favourites, and the pièce de résistance, wood-roasted whole hog, with bowls of crunch-tastic crackling to boot.

All in all, it was a night of fabulous food, great company and lots of smiles in celebration of ground-breaking new beginnings.

Here's the full list of winners.

Vote for your favourite hotel in our Readers' Choice Awards competition for your chance to win a trip to Italy courtesy of British Airways and Mr & Mrs Smith.

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