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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.

Fleet, Brunswick Heads

Heading to Byron Bay for the Easter break? Pack your drinking shoes, because the Northern Rivers now has a killer new wine bar, and there's some pretty excellent snackage to boot. Astrid McCormack and Josh Lewis, formerly co-owner/manager and sous-chef respectively at Loam, the now-defunct Bellarine Peninsula eatery that was named GT's Regional Restaurant of the Year in 2012, have opened Fleet in Brunswick Heads just in time for the long weekend.

McCormack's interest in wine was no small part of the appeal at Loam, and so it is at Fleet. The tiny shopfront offers a tight but interesting list of 18 wines ("with a couple of magnums"), most of them available by the glass, plus six beers, a couple of ciders and a clutch of cocktails. Sustainably produced Australian wine is the focus, with a handful of internationals thrown in for good measure, so South Australian and Victorian rising stars such as Ruggabellus, Luke Lambert and Patrick Sullivan will be on pour alongside Campania's Cantina Giardino and South African winery Lammershoek. "The goal is to sort out a takeaway licence so our guests are able to buy the wines they drink in-house as well," says McCormack.

The food more than keeps pace in terms of interest. Lewis is a Vue de Monde alumnus of some years' standing, and his opening menu has plenty of edge and pulls no punches for the regional audience, whether it's a veal "schnitty sanga" amped up with sweetbreads, or the lamb breast with Brussels sprouts and cheese rind. The oysters are pickled, chicken is a choice of liver or wing, and there are carrots for dessert, with brown sugar, sesame and butter.

The menu is written largely in the telegraphic style free of description that chefs use to test the patience of would-be diners, so what "prawn legs, silken corn" actually means remains to be seen.

That said, the site is too small for a coolroom, so Lewis's menus are going to be driven by what's on offer at the region's numerous farmers' markets, so it might be some entirely different crustacean legs on offer on any given night. The plan, says McCormack, is "to cook clean, deceptively simple, tasty food".

Fleet - the prices are good, the talent is hot, and the neighbourhood is ripe for a venue that pushes the boat out a bit. We can't wait.

Fleet, open Thu-Mon, 3pm-10pm, 2/16 The Terrace, Brunswick Heads, NSW, (02) 6685 1363

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