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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.

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.

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.

With Long Chim Perth, David Thompson is back in Australia - and he's not happy

David Thompson at Long Chim, Perth

David Thompson at Long Chim, Perth

David Thompson is back. And he's not happy. Yet.

David Thompson is looking for a good root. High-grade turmeric, to be exact. The chillies and limes he has found in Perth, meanwhile, aren't as fragrant as what he's used to back home in Bangkok, while the coconuts in the kitchen smell like "an old man". In short, things are proving interesting for the Sydney-born chef as he prepares to open his first restaurant on Australian soil in 20 years. "Nothing's the same," he laments. "I don't have my ingredients. I'm going to die."

But if anyone can pull it off, it's David Thompson, one of the most respected interpreters of the food of Thailand in the world. At least that's what his partners at Long Chim are hoping, anyway. Opening 1 December at Perth's newly restored State Buildings, Long Chim - the second restaurant under that name following the opening of a Long Chim in Singapore in February - marks the return of one of Australia's favourite food exports. And while Thompson might be dissatisfied with some of the contents of his shopping basket, it's a pleasing sign that compromise won't be on the menu.

What can diners expect from this homecoming? Space, first and foremost. Seating 170, Long Chim isn't what you'd call a small or intimate restaurant - and that's before you factor in the courtyard.

Although Thompson made his name cooking Thai royal cuisine at Sydney's Darley Street Thai in the 1990s, Long Chim's menu is grounded in Thailand's more robust Chinese-influenced street food: smoky stir-fries, luscious roast meats and plenty of things grilled over charcoal, all spiked with no small amount of spice.

The restaurant will be making its own coconut cream, plus the durian ice cream has made the journey across the Gulf of Thailand, too. But perhaps most exciting is the news that Long Chim will be producing its own kanom jeen, Thailand's fermented rice noodles and a cornerstone of the lunch menus at both the Singapore restaurant and Nahm, Thompson's flagship restaurant in Bangkok.

"I want Long Chim to be faithful to the streets, markets and, occasionally, gutters of Bangkok," says Thompson. "It's not going to be gentrified cooking, but food that's as raw, rude and robust as what you'd find in Bangkok."

Although Thompson has a clear vision of the restaurant's direction, it's very much a case of easing into things. When Long Chim opens next month, it will serve a restricted menu before launching the full monty in January. The kitchen will be open from lunch through till late seven days a week and Thompson will be calling Perth home till at least March. He has cancelled commitments in Europe - including speaking at the Madrid Fusion culinary conference - to give his new restaurant his full attention.

"It's a long commitment, but it's important to get it right," he says.

"I don't want to f--k around and not put in the right amount of care and diligence to Perth and Long Chim. In six months' time we'll find our feet. And our roots."

And what of those tantalising rumours that Thompson is looking to open additional Long Chims throughout the country? "I can't tell you," he says, nodding his head.

Long Chim, basement, State Buildings, cnr St Georges Tce & Barrack St, Perth, WA


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