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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.

New cocktail bar and soda factory to open in Sydney's CBD

PS40's sodas

PS40's sodas

Sydney's CBD is in for quite the (fizzy) shake-up when PS40, a combined bar and soda factory, opens this month on King Street.

Sydney bartender Michael Chiem (formerly of Sokyo, Cliff Dive and Bulletin Place) and Thor Bergquist (late of Melbourne's Der Raum and the Experimental Cocktail Club in London and New York) are behind the project. For the past year, while the bar and factory took shape, the duo has been supplying their all-natural PS sodas to restaurants such as Bennelong and Firedoor, and bar and distillery Archie Rose. "So far we've just been distributing the syrups and the venues carbonate them," says Chiem. "At PS40 we'll be able to commercially batch our sodas and tonics in-house. It's going to step it up in a big way."

The site, next door to café favourite Skittle Lane, will house a 500-litre stainless-steel tank to chill and carbonate the sodas, and a bottling machine that's been custom-built for PS40 by Portland brewing experts Meheen. "You'd think we were making beer with all this equipment," says Chiem.

The menu will include the full range of PS drinks with suggested servings for each to boot: the PS wattleseed cola, for instance, is recommended in a Batanga, along with a large measure of tequila, lime juice, green coffee beans and smoked salt.

There'll be 10 other cocktails without a soda focus, too ("Just things we're excited about," says Chiem). The techniques used in one cocktail - fermentation, for example, put to use in a pineapple-sambal cocktail - will not be repeated in the other nine on the list. Bergquist has also come up with a highly sessionable clarified milk punch made using leftover citrus and spices such as fennel seed and cassia bark, teamed with pandan, coconut and rum.

This considered approach will follow through to the beer and wine: local brewers such as Wayward Brewing Co will be on tap, as well as beers from Danish brewery Mikkeller. Wines will skew natural and organic (Domaine Alice Beaufort, Gut Oggau to name a couple) and on the snacks side there'll be charcuterie, terrines and a banh mi with shredded pork skin, pickled daikon and chicken liver pȃté.

The spacious watering hole - mostly black and white with pops of colour - was designed by Livia Lima, a former art director at Spring Studios in London and New York, and seats 50 comfortably, though it can take up to 60 people. "We could have done this in a factory but, being the cocktail bartenders that we are, we chose this site," says Chiem. "We want people to come back after all."

PS40, shop 2, 40 King St, Sydney, NSW, ps-soda.com; open this month, Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight

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