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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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Fast Festival Feasts, 2016 Sydney Festival

Balla

Balla

When the flames on the pudding have been extinguished and the ham's down to its last slices, we can start to focus on what's really important: cramming as much fun as possible into the New Year. Hello, Sydney Festival.

From 7 to 26 January, Sydney gets its groove on with art, theatre, dance and music performances popping up all over the city as part of the annual festival. And with all those high kicks, you're bound to work up an appetite.

Balla, La Rosa the Strand and Regatta are just some of the eateries bringing the noise to the Fast Festival Feasts program, which sees nearly 30 restaurants around the city offering special $30, $55 and à la carte menu deals for the month of January.

Enjoy Meow Meow's Little Mermaid in the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, with a side of pork polpettine at La Rosa the Strand pre-show or post-show ($55 for two courses and a glass of wine). And after participating in Olivier Grossetête's installation The Ephemeral City at Barangaroo's Cutaway Park, you could grab a quick glass of wine and a tasting plate of cured meats, pickles and grissini at Walsh Bay Kitchen ($30), or dip into a host of other options at the likes of Sokyo and Red Lantern on Riley.

Roll on 2016.

For the full program, see sydneyfestival.org.au/fff.

Special offer: Sydney Festival is offering Gourmet Traveller readers 20 per cent off tickets to European orchestra Anima Eterna Brugge's performances of Beethoven's symphonies numbers 1 to 8 at City Recital Hall in January. For more information or to book, visit the Sydney Festival website and quote SFTRAVEL20 to receive your discount.

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