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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

Last-minute Christmas provisions

Chocolate roulade from Jocelyn's Provisions

Chocolate roulade from Jocelyn's Provisions

Of course you've been nurturing the pudding for months already, patiently feeding it booze. You had the turkey ordered back in spring, the mince pies are on the go, you've grown your own tree - heck, you've even cured the ham yourself. But on the off-chance, the microscopic possibility, that you've left some of your Christmas preparations to the last minute this year, we've pulled together a few lifesavers, a few fall-back Santa's-little-helpers that will keep you on track for a cool Yule. Let's get festive, people.

TRADITIONAL SUET PUDDINGS
Alistair and Teena at Hobart's premier pâtisserie, Sweet Envy, are good at many things, making traditional English suet puddings being one of them. They also make a mean fruitcake, not to mention Christmas cookies, mince pies and shortbread, so be sure to stock up while you're there.

CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATES
The Cat's Tongue chocolates are among Hobart's finest. This year's Christmas specials include pistachio-coated spiced truffles with confit orange and lemon, Christmas "carolmels" (caramels jazzed up with booze and spice), gingerbread ganache with molasses, as well as fresh marzipan. You'll find them at their newly opened café and chocolate shop in Huonville (open weekends only), as well as at The Pigeon Hole café and Wursthaus Kitchen in Hobart.

SUPERB SEAFOOD
Joto, one of Sydney's top seafood suppliers, now extends its services to the general public. Head to the Botany warehouse on Saturday mornings, from 8am until noon, for all your Christmas seafood needs (all sustainably sourced, no less). Among the offerings are hampers packed with festive favourites, such as lobster, prawns, Balmain bugs, Split Rock oysters, Tetsuya's soft smoked ocean trout, Yarra Valley caviar and more.

CHRISTMAS BISCUITS
Phillippa's bakery in Melbourne is doing Belgian chocolate and vanilla Christmas trees, lemon-iced vanilla stars and button-sized shortbreads this festive season. Don't have a sweet tooth? The handmade sesame and parmesan sablés have your name on them.

GLAZED HAMS AND DEEP-FRIED TURKEYS
Pressed for time? Cooking for a crowd? Perth's prime butchery, Mondo, is doing hams glazed with brown sugar, honey and maple, and Bourbon-brined deep-fried turkeys as part of its Christmas spread. Centrepiece sorted.

BEECHWOOD-SMOKED HAM
For top-shelf hams in Sydney, head to Lucas Meats. They do a double-smoked boneless ham and an easy-carve option, but it's their beechwood-smoked version they're best known for. They're in high demand, so get in while they last.

PANETTONE APLENTY
For all things Italian this Christmas, look no further than Enoteca Sileno. Their panettone portfolio ranges from classic to glazed, beer-spiked and gluten-free. They've also got a handsome selection of pandoro and panforte. Buono.

ORGANIC TURKEYS
Sustainable Sydney providores Feather and Bone are selling GreenAg Organic Farm turkeys from the Toowoomba area this year. Not only will they make a striking (and tasty) centrepiece, they're also minimally processed and hormone-, antibiotic- and preservative-free. Win-win.

DRY-AGED WAGYU BEEF
Who said Christmas had to be all about pig and poultry? The dry-aged wagyu offerings from Brisbane's beef specialists Cabassi & Co are good enough to put any old ham or turkey to shame.

HAMS BIG AND SMALL      
Griffith Butchery in Canberra source their hams from Bundawarrah pork in Temora, NSW. They're free-range, naturally smoked and come in both bone-in and boned-rolled versions for easy carving.

RUM TRUFFLE BALLS
Sherbet, one of Perth's top destinations for provisions of the baked kind, are going all out this Christmas with snowballs (bite-sized fruit truffles injected with rum), gingerbread cookies, mince pies and old-fashioned fruitcakes big and small.

BRIGITTE HAFNER'S STOLLEN
Brigitte Hafner's stollen has made a name for itself in Melbourne and it's not hard to see why. The recipe comes from Hafner's mother who, unlike commercial stollen-makers, goes for the traditional method using almond meal and dried fruit with spiced essences of rum and bitter almond. They're available at Hafner's Gertrude Street Enoteca or via post, but you'll need to get your order in quick - they're one of her best-sellers.

CUSTOMISED HAM
Berkshire or Hampshire? Apple or hickory-smoked? The good folk at Feast Fine foods will leave that decision up to you. They're doing tailor-made hams, offering a range of pork breeds, cures, spices and smokes - all that's left for you to do is combine them as you please. 

CHOCOLATE ROULADE
Prime Brisbane bakery Jocelyn's Provisions is doing all the Christmas staples this year: puddings, shortbread, gingerbread trees - you name it. But it's the chocolate roulade with white-chocolate cream and fresh raspberries that's really got our attention. What's even better is that you can place your order online. Too easy.

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