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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.

First look: Biggie Smalls, Collingwood

Shane Delia at Biggie Smalls

Shane Delia at Biggie Smalls

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Biggie Smalls, Collingwood.

Maha chef Shane Delia is a fan of both 90s hip-hop and kebabs, and at Biggie Smalls (named, for those who failed Hip-Hop 101, after deceased Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G.) he's combined the two. A narrow Collingwood shopfront a few doors away from the original Huxtaburger has been cleverly designed to riff on the classic American diner - booth seating, retro pegboard menu - while still referencing Aussie kebab shops. That means an order-at-the-counter/cans of drink in the fridge layout, though many of the cans here happen to contain beer. Best of all, it doesn't flog the theme, limiting the hip-hop references to a couple of black-and-white photos and the excellent soundtrack.

The kebabs (or "kbabs") are good too, made with quality ingredients - slow-cooked lamb shoulder served with pickled onions and smoked hummus, maple-glazed pork belly with crackling, peanut butter and pickles, fried chicken with pumpkin pie hummus - and teamed with fluffy flatbread fresh off the grill.

One of the admirable qualities of Delia's kebabs is that they're well constructed. They come securely wrapped and fastened so they don't drip or fall apart, just the kind of detail that should be considered by every kebab shop operating in a suburb full of bars.

Aside from "kbabs", there's sweet stuff (the peanut butter caramel-injected pretzel has already caused a bit of swooning online) and very good chips, crinkle-cut and tossed with burnt spiced butter and preserved lemon. Add beer in cans, the availability of gin-and-juice slushies and bourbon-spiked shakes and a general sense of fun and you have a whole lot of reasons to be happy Biggie's in the 'hood.

Biggie Smalls, 86 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9417 3531. Open Sun-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu-Sat 11am-late.

Got a hot tip for our Hot Plates team? Let us know on Facebook or tag your Instagram photos with #GThotplates.

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