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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.

The best cookbooks of 2016

Surveying the top cookbooks of 2016, Pat Nourse finds much to like. Here's a selection offering plenty of grunt along with the gloss.

1 Land of Fish and Rice
Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, $49.99)

After painting captivating portraits of Sichuan and Hunan, Fuchsia Dunlop, the author of easily the most compelling writing on Chinese food in English today, turns her attention to the bounty of Shanghai and the Lower Yangtze region. The mix of recipes balances fare perfect for weeknight eating (steamed eggplant with garlic dressing) with recipes for the lesser-seen likes of wild rice stems and the "extremely complicated" squirrel fish.
Must cook: Hangzhou breakfast tofu.

2 Gather
Gill Meller (Quadrille, $49.99)

British River Cottage alumnus Gill Meller has managed that rare trick: the cookbook that offers something interesting and cookable on every page. Open it at random and the eye falls on such gentle twists as oat biscuits with sheep's cheese and rosemary or bacon braised with cuttlefish and bay.

Must cook: blackberry, saffron and honey drop scones.

3 Central
Virgilio Martínez (Phaidon, $85)

This one is more for the reading as a brilliant travelogue than the cooking, unless you have a reliable local source for queñual bark, Bahuaja nut oil or ichu grass (excellent, we're told, with tunta). Given that this is a document of the cuisine of Central, the Lima eatery leading South America's charge into global gastronomy, though, it's entirely fitting.
Best sentence: "Here we freeze ingredients that are often part of shamanic rituals..."

4 The Truffle Cookbook
Rodney Dunn (Penguin, $59.99)

The brilliance of GT contributor and Agrarian Kitchen founder Rodney Dunn's work here is that even though it's the book on black truffles, dishes such as corned beef with lentils and the salad of soft-boiled eggs, fennel and radishes work perfectly even without the addition of the black gold.
Must cook: steamed treacle, date and ginger pudding with truffle custard.

5 Best Kitchen Basics
Mark Best (Hardie Grant, $59.95)

Mark Best routinely blew minds and won hearts with his edgy cooking at Sydney fine-diner Marque. Here, though, it's all about turning everyday meals into something special, whether it's chocolate jelly, roast lamb with chamomile or ricotta dumplings.
Must cook: Sauternes custard.

6 A Spot at the Bar
Michael Madrusan & Zara Young (Hardie Grant, $45)

Easily the best Australian cocktail book published to date, A Spot at the Bar documents the refreshments served at The Everleigh in Melbourne in rare style and with superb design. It's all the richer for digressions into women's footwear, social etiquette and buttered radishes.
Must shake: Gin Gin Mule.

Try A Spot at the Bar's summer cocktail recipes.

7 Australian Fish & Seafood Cookbook
John Susman, Anthony Huckstep, Sarah Swan & Stephen Hodges (Murdoch Books, $79.99)

With GT fish-whisperer John Susman and former Fish Face chef Steve Hodges on board, this chewy volume was always going to have authority; its flair is a welcome surprise. It's dense with detail, but is (fittingly) never dry, and fresh flavours leap from every page.
Must cook: pot-roasted whole John Dory with wild garlic.

8 A Recipe for Art
John Olsen (Thames & Hudson, $39.99)

It's a bit unfair, really, that a man this talented with a brush should also be so handy with a kitchen knife. The great Australian painter's travels and life in the kitchen are traced here with equal vigour in recipes and art.
Must cook: "A golden paella twisted with raspberry-coloured langouste cooked in an abandoned farmhouse by the beach."

9 Menus
(Bauer Media Books, $59.99)

Our first-ever hardcover cookbook showcases our favourite menus for celebration. Join the party!
Must cook: fried mortadella sandwiches! Beetroot soup with burrata! White-cut chicken with chilli oil and peanuts!

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