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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.

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.

Fiat 500X launch

The Fiat 500X launches in Australia tomorrow and the company threw a celebratory lunch in true Italian fashion to welcome the new arrival.

Party guests gathered at a private hilltop estate overlooking Sydney's Palm Beach for a culinary tour through Italy courtesy of Osteria Balla's Stefano Manfredi.

But before bread was broken and glasses were raised, guests christened the new wheels by taking them on a scenic journey through national parks and along the winding Amalfi-ish coastal roads of Sydney's northern beaches.

"It's all about la dolce vita," says Fiat's product manager, Aitezaz Khan, "and the 500X is to Fiat what No. 5 is to Chanel - it's the grammar of the style."

The new design pairs premium styling features including Beats by Dre audio and a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel with performance enhancements such as blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning.

"It's both blue jeans and red leather," says Olivier François, chief marketing officer and head of brand for Fiat, who flew from Paris to host the event. "We've taken the DNA of the Fiat 500 series and amplified it with X-factors."

At lunch, guests were welcomed by a table laden with Aperol Spritzes, rosemary, peonies and vines. Chef Manfredi's family-style menu started with shared plates of Calabrian "cannoli" with eggplant and ricotta, Basilicata-style umido with braised oyster mushrooms, an Abruzzese dish of farro with wild greens, and Campanian arancini with peperonata.

"I wanted the menu to resemble a road trip through Italy that I did in a Fiat 500 a couple of years ago," says Manfredi.

A turnip and lentil salad with a hazelnut sauce from Turin, Fiat's birthplace, came next and other regional specialities - such as Sicilian prawns with Savoy cabbage and salsa salmoriglio - followed.

Darren Purchese from Melbourne pâtisserie Burch & Purchese provided the sweets : lemon and raspberry tartlets, salted-caramel chocolate bricks, mint chocolate tubes and caramel pops.

"Some of the desserts were brought up from Melbourne in a 500X," says Purchese. "They've never travelled so well."

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