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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. 

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.

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.

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No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

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Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

Fergus Henderson on French cuisine

Culinary sins may be committed in France, but it's still the touchstone for kitchen bliss, writes Fergus Henderson.

France for a long time was the benchmark of culture in Europe, not least of all as far as eating is concerned. It was France that gave us not only the word "restaurant", but perhaps its first legal definition. Just look at Le Grand Véfour, near the Palais Royal in Paris, which conforms to early edicts insisting that a restaurant had to have a certain amount of mirror and a clock.

But now the French government is having to pass laws that will insist not on the correct décor, but on a restaurant displaying a notice saying whether the food it serves is actually cooked on the premises, or whether it has been using bought-in, pre-prepared food.

I am heartened by the news that Brake Bros, doers, in my mind, of the culinary devil's work with frozen catering meals that have nothing to do with place or season, has not reached Australia. Not so in France. Adding insult to injury, Souillac, the home of Vieille Prune (my favourite eau de vie) now has a huge Brake Bros depot. Sacrilège! Sacré bleu! The great Alain Ducasse, who certainly does not buy this stuff, has an even more pessimistic view of the state of French kitchens, claiming that the use of such merde glacé is rife across France.

Robert Fresson's wonderful book The Taste of France contains some of the finest food porn in existence. There are marvellous pictures of buttery, rose-cheeked ladies holding wonderful tarts. There's a pork chop and prunes that has been the cause of many a fantasy, the whole topped off by groaning cheeseboards and old Burgundy wine. The illusion was shattered for me, though, when I was told that to create this picture of "authentic" culinary France, Fresson had to travel with a suitcase stuffed with his own props: wooden spoons, old glasses, battered boards, tarnished copper pots and so forth. He was giving us the France we all dream about, but it came out of the boot of his car. In terms of equipment, I think the most telling element of this culinary malaise en France seems to be expressed in the square plate. Instead of improving the cooking they buy these square plates on which even good food looks uncomfortable.

But it's by no means all bad. Driving through France at lunchtime on our way to Burgundy about 10 years ago, we made the decision to stop at the first restaurant on the left. We did so. An extremely dour dining room: very promising. Carottes râpées to start, then stewed tripe with tomatoes and, to top this off, a chocolate ice. Splendid. You would feel fairly anxious if, just about anywhere else in the world (let alone back home for me in Britain), you decided on the first-restaurant-on-the-left method as a way of choosing your lunch - if not foolhardy. Vive la France.

Another unexpected lunch, in the Auvergne on a walking holiday with my chum Ben. (Interestingly enough, this was also about 10 years ago; could France's cultural decline have been this rapid?) It was the first day and we had packed a picnic - a Cantal cheese firm enough to travel, a French stick, a litre bottle of rough red wine with a screw-top, and a bar of dark chocolate. So far so good. But we happened across a little inn and, finding it irresistible, we popped in for a pastis. There we found all the local farmers having lunch. It took less than a moment to forget our picnic, and we were soon feasting on cold beef and green beans. Those beans! Perfectly overcooked with a mustardy dressing. They were followed by a grand pot-au-feu Auvergne, then cheese, all eased down by light local red wine.

We got talking to the establishment's chef, who was cooking the local offal specialty for the evening - some kind of braised balls of tripe. Once again our resolve was broken and we booked in to the inn for dinner as well. A fantastic meal followed, and a good soak. It still goes down as one of the top days I have ever lived.

I'm certainly not going to argue the point with Alain Ducasse. It's easy to knock a country's cooking (especially when it has been so pompous in the past), but France remains a touchstone for a life less ordinary lived in the kitchen and at the table, so let's take more time to celebrate what they get right than what they've let slide.

Illustration: Lara Porter

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