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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.

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.

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.

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.

Hunter Valley NSW travel guide

Our guide to the best of the region.

Pea and ham soup

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. 

Atura Blacktown

A new brand aimed at savvy business travellers shows cutting-edge flair in its flagship hotel in Sydney.

The nation's campaigning politicians weren't the only ones paying attention to western Sydney late last year. Soon after the Federal election, the 122-room Atura Blacktown opened, the first property in a new hotel brand by Amalgamated Holdings Ltd (AHL), better known for its portfolio of QT Hotels & Resorts, Art Series and Rydges hotels.

The aim, says AHL's Stephen Howard, was to create a radically different mid-market hotel for savvy business travellers in fringe CBD and high-growth locations. Atura Blacktown, for example, is near the M4 motorway, a business park and 10 minutes' drive from Sydney's second CBD of Parramatta. "The focus is on design, personality and great value," says Howard, citing state-of-the-art business and conference facilities, in-room kitchenettes, Malin + Goetz bathroom products and complimentary in-room movies, local calls and parking for a lead-in price of $159. (Last month, AHL introduced free WiFi in all its hotels.)

Designed and styled by Nic Graham, responsible for the bold, eye-popping interiors at QT Sydney, Port Douglas and Gold Coast, Atura Blacktown has features such as a retro mosaic-tiled pool, industrial-styled exposed pipework and a pool table in the lobby.

Dining options include the hotel's poolside Roadhouse Bar & Grill and grill-your-own steaks at the heritage-listed Royal Cricketers Arms Hotel next door. Weekend guests will be drawn to chilli dogs and banana splits at the 1960s-styled diner at the adjacent Skyline Drive In, perhaps after a day at close-by Wet 'n' Wild Sydney.

Howard says the company plans to open Atura hotels in Albury and Bankstown by the end of the year in redeveloped AHL hotels, and is scouting for other Atura sites around Australia.

Atura Blacktown, 32 Cricketers Arms Rd, Prospect, New South Wales, (02) 9421 0000.


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