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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.

Explora’s new Sacred Valley hotel

Explora Peru

Explora Peru

Thirty hectares of Incan terraces await out the door of Explora’s newest hotel in Peru.

Two decades after its groundbreaking Patagonian property introduced sophisticated lodge stays to South America, the Explora group has expanded internationally - over the border from Chile into Peru.

Explora Sacred Valley officially opens its doors on 1 July, but Gourmet Traveller zipped over to the Land of the Incas last week for a sneak preview and can confidently report that the new hotel is a stunner.

Set on a 30-hectare site of centuries-old Incan terraces amid fields of quinoa and giant corn, the 50-room lodge is dwarfed by the towering Urubamba Range to the north and the Maras Plateau to the south, so the views are never short of sublime. And while Sacred Valley and Cusco can become clogged with tourists keen to witness the wonders of this corner of Peru - Machu Picchu chief among them - Explora's setting in the secluded Urquillos hamlet is a sanctuary safely away from the hordes.

Room interiors cosset guests in natural comforts, from bathrooms lined with pink Andean sandstone to a rainbow of rich Peruvian timbers including floors clad in copaiba, doors and windows in pumaquiro and Amazonian ceiba beams soaring above the bar.

The restaurant, bar, living rooms and reception occupy the main lodge, which is airier than a cathedral and looks over the valley oasis. Guests gather here each evening to help themselves to the open bar - pisco sours and New World wines are de rigueur - and to consult with lodge guides on what tomorrow holds.

Explora Peru's twin room.

As with Explora's properties in Patagonia, the Atacama Desert and Easter Island, Sacred Valley is all about the great outdoors. In this case, immersive Andean adventures steeped in heritage, culture and customs that promise authentic encounters with local people and their lives (and, often, their livestock). Guests are urged to fill daylight hours with discoveries, either on half-day hikes to the former Incan centre of Yucay, say, the ruins of Pumamarca, or the outrageously photogenic salt-mines of Maras, or full-day odysseys culminating in the mighty Tastayoc hike that climbs 4,800 metres into the alps.

At day's end, Explora's kitchen rewards the brave with minimum three-course feasts that canvas everything from quinoa tabbouleh to lamb chops with chimichurri and local trout with butter and capers. Come October, intrepid adventurers will also be able to recharge at the lodge's spa, sauna and pool, housed in a 17th-century heritage-listed homestead.

Explora Peru opens on 1 July 2016. explora.com/hotels-and-travesias/sacred-valley-peru/

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Signature Collection

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2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

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