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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.

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.

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.

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.

Lemon dream

"This cake is the new religion at Flour and Stone, and never fails to send those worshipping it into a dream of billowy clouds," says Ingram. "It has come to many parties, including one where its name was changed to reflect the euphoric place it transports you to."

Sydney Festival 2015

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Ah, Sydney in summer. The pavements are blistering, the beaches are pumping and the yachts are out in full force. It's also the time that the Sydney Festival takes over the city, and new director Lieven Bertels assures us the 2015 line-up is one to look forward to. "The festival is going to be one of the most diverse Sydney has ever seen," he says. "We've got over a thousand artists coming from 30 countries, with a very diverse offering including some amazing free projects."

The program, which runs from January 8 to 26, is jam-packed with events spanning musical performances, cabaret shows and installations. But what's in it for the food-lovers? Bertels suggests The Kitchen - a tasty theatrical-musical hybrid from Indian artist Roysten Abel. "During the show there will be amazing drumming," he says, "but at the same time there will be two people that will be cooking a temple sweet involving cardamom, milk and butter… and then at the end of the show the audience actually gets to sample that sweet."

The festival has also collaborated with a number of leading Sydney restaurants to do special Fast Festival Feasts deals over the season at the likes of the hot new Chiswick at the Gallery, Balla, Gowings Bar & Grill, La Rosa, Aria, Red Lantern on Riley, Sokyo or a score of others. And there'll be plenty of opportunities for booze-fuelled fun, too, courtesy of the bar at the Festival Village. "Laurent-Perrier is our exclusive Champagne partner," Bertels says. "Certainly an important aspect of going out and seeing a cabaret or a theatre show or a concert is also to be able to have a nice bite and a good drink."

Here director Bertels shares his pick of the festival's hottest events.

The event Atomic Bomb
What it's all about "It's the music of an African hero of funk music in the '70s and '80s called William Onyeabor. Onyeabor is something of a forgotten figure, but David Byrne rediscovered him and re-released all of his music on his own label in New York. That triggered a live concert which they staged in New York with David Byrne himself singing, and then transferred to London where Damon Albarn from the Gorillaz presented the project. We got Gotye to agree to do it here in Sydney and that's going to be an Australian exclusive."
Catch it at Enmore Theatre, 16 and 17 January
How much Tickets start at $77

The event Tabac Rouge
What it's all about "I'm very excited on the return of James Thierrée, Charlie Chaplin's grandson, who's coming back for the fourth time to Sydney with a new show [his biggest to date] called Tabac Rouge. Tabac Rouge is the French expression for an opium dream. It's a kind of wild hallucination of some of kind of mad king. You don't quite know whether he's in a dream or whether it's happening for real, but he obviously has some weird idea of what his role in society is and it's a big, big spectacle with a giant contraption on stage - a mirror that sort of becomes the 11th character in the show."
Catch it at Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay, 8-23 January
How much Tickets start at $72

The event Festival Village
What it's all about "The Festival Village is going to be the real meeting place of the festival - a central hub in Hyde Park where you can grab some food, see a show, have your kids run around if you have a family, and where you can see some amazing work including the return of Limbo, the Spiegeltent show that we had last year."
Catch it at Hyde Park, Sydney
How much Free

The Sydney Festival takes place on 8-26 January. Check out the Sydney Festival website for more details.

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