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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.

Australia's best bacon revealed

Pialligo's Charlie Costelloe

Pialligo's Charlie Costelloe

Drum roll, please. Australian Pork Limited has announced the winner of its annual Bacon Awards - the event that sees 135 bacons from across the country judged for their texture, aroma and balance of flavour.

The three-judge panel, led by fleischmeister (that's master butcher) Horst Schurger, crowned Pialligo Estate Smokehouse's short-cut, smoked and dry-cured bacon the best in the artisan category for the second year running, while Bertocchi Brothers' long, rindless hickory-smoked bacon was the victor in the national category for the second time, too. 

"When we looked at the Pialligo Estate product," says Australian Pork marketing manager Mitch Edwards, "it just had a beautiful aroma, the right fat-to-meat ratio, the texture was moist without being too moist, and it didn't dry out in the cooking."

The judges also credited the bacon for its "lovely hint of smokiness and very beautifully balanced flavour".

For Pialligo's Charlie Costelloe, who cold-smokes his bacon for 17 hours, the quality of the product comes down to good, old-fashioned patience. "The key to good bacon is time and attention," he says. "It's not about rushing the process."

The awards kick-off Bacon Week, an annual initiative from Australian Pork to put the spotlight on local bacon. "Approximately 70 per cent of the bacon available sold to consumers in retail in Australia is made from imported pork," says Edwards, "and Bacon Week is to highlight that to people so that they know to look for the little pink mark with 'Australian Pork' on it."

And some exciting chefs and restaurants are getting involved. Over the course of the week, Adriano Zumbo will be serving up a bacon-y dessert titled "Piggy in the Middle" at his establishments in Sydney (excluding the Rozelle store) and Melbourne. Gelato Messina will take part with a beer, brownie and bacon-infused gelato, while Eau De Vie drinks master Sven Almenning has created a range of bacon-inspired cocktails that will be served at both bars in Sydney and Melbourne, and in select bars across the country (including The Gresham in Brisbane, The Roosevelt in Sydney, and Boilermaker House in Melbourne, to name a few).

So work up your appetites, folks - you've got seven days of salty, smoky fun ahead of you. In the meantime, here are some of our favourite bacon recipes to linger over.

Australian Bacon Week runs from 21-27th of June. For more information visit their website.

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