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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.

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.

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.

Reader dinner: Stokehouse, St Kilda

PEANUT SEMIFREDDO

PEANUT SEMIFREDDO

Join us to celebrate the reopening of St Kilda's landmark Stokehouse. We've saved you a seat.

Stokehouse is reborn. Three years after being destroyed by a fire, it's back and busier than ever - 24 hours after reservations opened in November, the restaurant booked out for weeks on end. But, fear not, we've saved you a seat at the beachfront eatery this April.

Manager Hugh van Haandel with chef Ollie Hansford.

You'll see a likeness to the first iteration of the restaurant - designer Pascale Gomes-McNabb has used a similar palette - but there are notable differences, too: the ceilings are higher, for a start, and the ocean-facing windows larger. Chef Ollie Hansford, returned to the Van Haandel Group after briefly heading up the kitchen at Gauge, has also added his own touches to the menu. The new peanut butter parfait, for instance, rivals the group's famed Bombe dessert in popularity. "It's one of the dishes we opened the restaurant with and it just flew out," he says.

Related: Stokehouse, St Kilda review

At the other end of the meal, the snacks kick off with oysters, then zesty cobia ceviche rolled in pickled daikon, and yellowfin tuna with cucumber and wasabi.

To follow comes smoked duck breast with chestnuts. "We keep the two breasts on the crown and stuff the cavity with freshly cut vine leaves," says Hansford. "Then we coat the crown with an umami-rich oyster glaze, put it in the oven and light the leaves."

Interiors.

The dinner, served with matched wines from Margaret River's Voyager Estate, will be a night to remember, he says. "I hope everyone is relaxed. Look, if people get a bit carried away and want to dance on the tables, we're happy with that, too."

Join us for dinner at 6.30pm on Tuesday 11 April at Stokehouse, 30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda, Vic. The cost of $150 includes four courses, matched wines and a $10 onation to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. To book, call (03) 9525 5555. For more on the OCRF, call 1300 OVARIAN or visit ocrf.com.au

Stokehouse's reader dinner menu

* Oysters

* Cobia ceviche and daikon roll

* Tuna, kefir, cucumber and wasabi
2015 Voyager Estate Project Sparkling Chenin Blanc, Margaret River

* Grilled arrowhead calamari, salsa verde and bitter leaf salad
2013 Voyager Estate Chardonnay, Margaret River

* Roast Great Ocean Road duck breast smoked in grapevines, with caramelised oyster glaze, chestnuts and grapes
2013 Voyager Estate Shiraz, Margaret River

* Peanut butter parfait, dark chocolate, candied peanuts and double cream
2014 Voyager Estate Project Cane-Cut Semillon, Margaret River

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