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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. 

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.

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Pea and ham soup

Melbourne Tomato Festival 2015

Guy Grossi, Melbourne Tomato Festival

Guy Grossi, Melbourne Tomato Festival

Hey, Melbourne - there's a festival heading your way this March offering a taste of Italy's annual tomato harvest Down Under.

The Melbourne Tomato Festival is pegged as the key event in Victoria's Melbournese Movement - an initiative launched by the Grossi family (of Grossi Florentino) to preserve authentic Italian cooking and customs.

Traditionally, Italian families grow tomatoes in summer and turn the excess from each season into passata to use through the winter months. The festival, Guy Grossi tells us, draws inspiration from his childhood memories of this.

"Dad grew a crop of tomatoes in the backyard. Every year we would have the passata-making day," he says. "It's something I took for granted at the time because it was normal practice. As I grew up I realised the importance of this day. This was a celebration of our harvest".

The day-long event will celebrate the humble red fruit through with passata-making workshops, cooking demonstrations from the likes of MoVida's Frank Camorra and Rosa Mitchell of Rosa's Kitchen, as well as talks on produce, seasonality and permaculture from local experts. There will also be plenty for your palate's perusal, with some of Melbourne's favourite Italian wine bars and restaurants (Elyros, Enoteca Sileno and 400 Gradi, among them) taking part in a Italian-inspired market, offering meals, fresh produce and take-home treats.

Grossi's got his money on the international talent. "Fabrizia Lanza will be flying in from Sicily," he says, "to share her manifesto on the traditions of Sicilian cooking."

And he assures us the star fruit will be treated with the utmost respect. "Every tomato is saved - eaten or squashed for winter," he says. "No tomatoes will be harmed in the making of this festival."

The Melbourne Tomato Festival takes place on Sunday 1 March at Farm Vigano, 10 Bushmans Way, South Morang, Vic. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $10 for children from six to 13 years and can be purchased by visiting the festival's website. Children aged five and under can enter free of charge.

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