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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.

Picklehead pickles

Local ingredients and a tried-and-true formula make for magic in a jar.

WHO Director-photographer Mikey Hilburger and his wife, Lizzie, set up Picklehead Pickles in June 2012 using base recipes from Mikey's mother. They began small-scale commercial production of three types of pickle in 2015.

WHAT Lebanese cucumbers are cut into quarters lengthways, rather than sliced into rounds, for maximum crunch; cucumbers and dill are sourced locally via Rocklea Markets and from market gardens in Brisbane's outer suburbs; birdseye chillies come from a local Vietnamese grower. The pickles are made with an apple cider vinegar base and the Hilburgers also make Get Out Kraut, a naturally fermented sauerkraut.

WHY All Picklehead's principal ingredients are sourced from Queensland, no artificial additives are used and the pickles are also unpasteurised. "All three pickles have very different flavours," says Hilburger, "but they all share the same ingredients, just with different levels of garlic, chilli and peppercorn." He says chewing a Bronx Vanilla (New York diner slang for garlic) is a little like wrestling an Italian, but his New York-style dill pickles are better behaved. The Hot Patootie is perhaps more self-explanatory.

WHERE Picklehead Pickles supplies two-litre jars to local Brisbane craft-beer venues such as The Scratch in Milton and Paddington's Kettle & Tin, and they're also are on the menu at GOMA and Two Trees cafés, and Che Asado restaurant in South Brisbane. For 500ml jars, check facebook.com/pickleheadpickles for stockists.

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