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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.

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.

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.

Lee Ho Fook regional tasting dinners

Lee Ho Fook, Melbourne

Lee Ho Fook, Melbourne

When it comes to Chinese food in Australia, we know our Cantonese, and we're getting a strong grounding in Sichuan cooking, but what of the lesser-known cuisines? Neil Perry does his bit at Spice Temple, there's a growing number of restaurants representing Xinjiang, Yunnan and more, and now Victor Liong of Melbourne's Lee Ho Fook is throwing his hat into the ring, flying the flag not just for the food of Zhejiang, Shandong and Fujian, but for greater recognition of the varied schools of cooking across China.

"We were talking about how diverse Chinese cooking is and we found that there are actually eight kinds of cuisines," says Liong. "So we thought we'd do a tasting menu on a Monday and see if we could do something interesting."

Starting 18 August, Monday dinners will put the spotlight on a particular regional cuisine, with six courses of dishes reinterpreted in Liong's signature modern-Chinese style.

"Lee Ho Fook has basically been about taking the newer-style techniques in cooking and applying them to traditional flavours," he says. "We're not trying to do really traditional stuff; we're trying to do flavour interpretations of regions, which will be pretty cool."

And there's excitement in the drinks department to boot: each dinner comes with the offer of matching artisanal, organic-leaning wines, ciders and ales.

The cuisine of Anhui, for example, will be paired with "natural and orange-type wines" to match the region's "funky" reputation. "It's landlocked, it's got a few restrictions and we thought that style of winemaking or beverage would go with the same spirit," he says. "Instead of going for the obvious choices like big, Barossa shiraz with some of the richer flavours, we thought we might go with a quirky Bordeaux or a little bit left-of-centre-type pairings."

The dinners kick off 18 August with Anhui, followed by the robust eats of Shangdong, the opulent food of Jiangsu, the more sophisticated Zhejiang, the ever-popular Canton, the diverse cuisine of Fujian and the rustic flavours of Hunan, finishing off 6 October with hot and numbing Sichuan cooking.

"It's Monday night," Liong says, "there's not much happening, and everyone does six-course menus and matching wines but who does Sichuan food with perry, scrumpy and cider from the south of France?"

For more information and to book, call the restaurant on (03) 9077 6261 or visit their website.

Lee Ho Fook, 92 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic

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

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