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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.

Raymond Capaldi joins A25 Pizzeria, Melbourne

Raymond Capaldi & Remo Nicolini, A25 Pizzeria, Melbourne

Raymond Capaldi & Remo Nicolini, A25 Pizzeria, Melbourne

So what's Raymond Capaldi up to next? The question that was on Melbourne's lips when the Scottish-Italian chef closed the Hare & Grace at the Rialto early this month has been answered with news that his Rialto connections are taking him to South Yarra, where he's teaming up with Remo Nicolini at his Chapel Street pizzeria, A25.

The pair met when Nicolini was running Espressino at the Rialto, where Capaldi opened the forward-thinking Hare & Grace in 2010. The Joost Bakker-designed restaurant closed last month ahead of a food-driven redevelopment of the tower's forecourt announced by St Martins and Grollo groups.

While Capaldi signalled that the closing of Hare & Grace was also the end of his career as a hands-on chef running his own restaurants (his past accomplishments include Richmond's avant-garde Fenix and Fitzroy North café Marmalade & Soul), A25 represents something of a test-run for an ongoing partnership with Nicolini. The pair plan to open an Italian restaurant in the city "like an Italian Cumulus Inc", says Nicolini. To be named Primo Manifesto, in honour of Italian poet Filippo Marinetti's "Manifesto of Futurism", the menu will feature Capaldi experiments such as chinotto-braised lamb ribs, burnt-eggplant linguine and a pasta-free onion "carbonara".

"We've been offered a really good site at Southbank," says Nicolini, who is also on the lookout for a city haunt for another A25. "The Rialto was a small possibility but the lack of outdoor space would be a problem."

Capaldi's envelope-pushing food - he gave the world dishes such as an Eton mess of oysters, horseradish cream, passionfruit and beetroot meringue - might seem at odds with the largely doctrinaire world of pizza-making, but Nicolini, founder of Little Bourke Street's +39 and St Kilda's Itali.co and current owner of Docklands' Non Solo Pasta, is no stranger to experimentation. The present A25 menu includes the LSD pizza, featuring Berkshire sausage, cream of dates, liquorice dust, pecorino and radicchio, as well as a squid-ink pizza with a black-stained base. Stoking his mad-scientist reputation, Capaldi calls his approach to A25 "traderne" - traditional Italian taken in a new direction, as with the savoury bomboloni with beef ragù and pork floss that appeared on his new menu at the beginning of this week.

A25 Pizzeria, 720 Chapel St, South Yarra, Vic, (03) 9826 2233

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