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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.

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.

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.

Pidapipo, Melbourne

Lisa Valmorbida

Lisa Valmorbida

Carlton landmark King & Godfree is set for a major facelift in 2015, expanding up and out to create an Italian food and drink mecca inspired by Eataly, the mega-enoteca that has taken Italy and the US by storm.

The Valmorbida family's plans for the 130-year-old wine and food store include adding a restaurant, café and takeaway food depot. Adjoining shops and first floor offices will be absorbed into this massive project in coming months, creating a collection of linked, but distinct shops and dining areas.

The first taste of this grand plan is Pidapipo, a permanent incarnation of the pop-up gelateria that Lisa Valmorbida, an alumna of Carpigiani Gelato University, ran from a space in Faraday Street for six months earlier this year.

The new Lygon Street gelateria's design, by Melbourne interior architect Rabindra Naidoo, channels 1950s and '60s Italy with steel, brass, terrazzo and leather detailing.

On the gelati front, 20 flavours are made from scratch every day and stored in pozzeti tubs set in marble benches. Old-school flavours will rule the day, with a few out-there combinations - burnt butter, rosemary and chestnut, musk and crema, rhubarb and vincotto among them - to round out the mix.

Valmorbida sources Jersey milk from Warrnambool, cheese from St Kilda's La Formaggeria and honey from a pair of beehives on the shop's roof. Australia's first Valrhona chocolate tap will fill cones pre-gelato scoop and there'll be brioche rolls filled with gelato, chocolate and whipped cream on order as well.

"With Christmas almost here, we'll have flavours like eggnog and plum pudding," says Valmorbida. "We'll also have a Christmas-inspired banoffee pie flavour with fresh banana gelato and spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, along with crumbled pastry shell and caramel sauce."

Add DJs creating a party mood every Friday night and you have an impressive start to the next chapter in the King & Godfree story.

Pidapipo, 299 Lygon St, Carlton, Vic, (03) 9347 4596. Opens Friday, December 12.

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


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