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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.

What to order at Maurice Terzini's new Bondi restaurant

Bondi is all abuzz with the opening of Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta, the long-awaited new project from Icebergs restaurateur Maurice Terzini at the Boheme development on Hall Street. Our chief restaurant critic, Pat Nourse, has eaten his way through a sizeable chunk of the menu already, and has a few tips to share.

What are your picks of the carte, Pat?
It would seem churlish to dine at a restaurant called Pizza + Porchetta and not try a few slices and a bit of pig. In any case, both are genuinely excellent examples of their genres. Orazio d'Elia's pizze were fantastic when he was cooking at Popolo, and with a new oven and a gun pizza chef he recruited from Naples a few months ago, they're better than ever - puffy, charry, airy and with just the right amount of chew and texture to the base. Try the Diavoletta ($21), which comes topped with fior di latte, tomato and slices of properly spicy salami.

And the porchetta?
The focaccia con porchetta ($26) might eclipse the pizze in awesomeness. These sandwiches stuffed with juicy pork, cos and grilled eggplant are almost a meal in themselves. The pork platters, with the meat served simply with lemon wedges and a little jug of pan juices ($24 for two, $80 for four), are pretty great too, but you're probably not here if you're watching your carb intake all that closely, so get the damn sandwich. Or get both. I did.

Dessert?
Nothing show-stopping - tiramisù in a jar ($9), some fairly cute bomboloni filled with chocolate ($10), a ricotta-and-pear number ($11), and gelato ($10 for three scoops). The offer of watermelon ($8) is especially welcome if you've just scarfed down a few pies and half a pig.

What about drinks?
If you've been missing North Bondi Italian's list, you'll find many of your favourites here, the numbered cocktails sharing a page with Cricketers Arms lager on tap, a couple of bottled Italian beers and a short, entirely Italian and mostly inexpensive wine list, with everything available by the glass.

The verdict?
The prices are friendly, the service is a world away from the shambolic scene of Neild Avenue's early days, and the vibe is hot, hot, hot. Bookings are in fact taken, but on a limited basis; you can reserve tables between 5pm and 7.30pm, and then it's walk-ins after that. Da Orazio is noisy and has zero water views, and the attitude on the floor is no-nonsense, but this is the Bondi restaurant to beat this summer. Go cats, go.

Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta, 3/75-79 Hall St (enter via O'Brien St), Bondi, NSW, (02) 8090 6969. Lunch Sat-Sun from noon, dinner daily, 5pm-10pm.

Looking for more Sydney dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Sydney.


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