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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.

2015 Melbourne Salami Festa

It's a lesson in family history best taught beneath the terracotta tile roof of a small residential garage, the air pungent with the scent of crushed chilli, garlic and peppercorns. Some salumi may take only weeks to cure, but a family recipe can be generations in the making.

Back for another year, the Melbourne Salami Festa looks set to become a tradition in itself. Slip a sliver of pancetta into the diary and mark 16 October as the kick-off for a weekend of mincing, filling, curing, slicing and, above all else, tasting.

"We're very excited about expanding this year's event with a Festa-eve night market, and making it a weekend celebration," says festival director Carlo Mazzarella. Last year, the single-day festa attracted more than 3,100 spectators and handed out 25,000 slices of salami.

This year it takes in an opening party on Friday, a night market on Saturday, and the big competition on Sunday. The Saturday market will showcase some of Australia's best artisan smallgoods, along with salami-making demonstrations, bocce, and live music, all of which continue into Sunday's competition. Colour, density, aroma and taste are the four criteria determining the winners of this year's three grand prizes, from the coveted judge's choice to the people's choice and salami suburb awards.

Last year, a non-Italian (gasp!), a former butcher, took home the prize for top hog after wowing the judges with his method of hanging his salami from a tall mountain ash tree. Festival-goers can expect stiff competition this year as the Italian community fights to reclaim the top spot.

"The competition is getting more and more serious every year and the festival just keeps growing," says Mazzarella.

Among the judges sitting on this year's panel will be restaurateur Guy Grossi, chef Dom Marzano, Rosa Mitchell of Rosa's Kitchen and Canteen, and 'Head Nonna' Rocchina Catoggio.

Besides the salami, there will be offerings of St Ali coffee and Messina gelato to stifle the spice, plus masterclasses in everything from breaking down a pig to making blood pudding and English-style pork pies.

Melbourne Salami Festa, Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote, Vic. Opening night party 7pm-11pm Friday 16 October; tickets $50. Night market 5pm-10pm Saturday 17 October; tickets $10. Salami Festa 10am-6pm Sunday 18 October; tickets $15. Online bookings recommended; limited tickets will be available at the door.

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