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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Noma comes to Australia

Noma is coming to Australia. What started as a whisper among chefs here and in Denmark over the past several months started to seem a lot more real with each sighting of chef René Redzepi and other members of his team around the country. Now it's official, confirmed in an announcement in Sydney this morning: the Copenhagen restaurant, several times named the world's best, and unquestionably one of the globe's most influential eateries, is moving to Sydney for 10 weeks from the end of January.

Inspired by the excitement generated by Noma's cameo in Tokyo at the beginning of 2015, Redzepi says plans for a new overseas adventure were well under way before the team left Japan, and Australia was the first choice. A place that differed radically from both Denmark and Japan was essential, he says, but the key was finding a place where his staff would be happy. "I really like working with Aussies," he says. "And I hope to learn something new."

A collaboration between Tourism Australia, LendLease and Noma, Noma Australia will open on the ground floor of the Anadara building on Wulugul Walk at LendLease's Barangaroo development, on the Sydney CBD's western waterside fringe. The search for a location took the team everywhere from surf clubs and the outback, to Smiths Beach at Margaret River and Sydney's harbour islands, "but all of it was going to just be so damned expensive, we had to change up".

"The place right there on the edge of the water - that reminded me very much of Copenhagen," says Redzepi. "It was a feeling of, 'wow, this is Noma in the south'."

The restaurant will open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Many of the other practicalities are still being ironed out. When and how can reservations be made? "No clue." What will it cost per head? "That we don't know yet. Four or five hundred."

Redzepi says that while he's aware of the criticism The Fat Duck received for charging more at its Melbourne pop-up this year than at its British home base, he's also acutely aware of how much it costs to move an entire restaurant and its staff to the other side of the world.

"It's going to be crazy." Accommodation alone for the 100 or so staff coming to Sydney, he says, is going to run to somewhere between $500,000 and $800,000. "And we can only put that expense one place, and that's on the menu."

In the meantime, he and his fellows have been digging deep for Australian flavours. The menu will be drawn up from scratch, putting the spotlight on Australian ingredients, so Redzepi has been diving for seaweed in Tasmania, sprouting bunya nuts in South Australia, inspecting eel on the Hawkesbury and drinking flat whites in Darlinghurst, while his sommeliers have risked life and liver meeting with the wildest and woolliest local vintners, brewers and distillers. By the end of the year he'll have visited every state afresh. "We've seen great stuff everywhere," he says.

John O'Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia, says that Noma was a natural choice as an extension of the Restaurant Australia campaign. "They don't come any bigger than René in food and wine internationally. But more than the man and the brand, Rene has an approach to cooking and produce that is very special, but also very much in harmony with what we have to offer in Australia. He and the team are so inspired by Australia, and so keen to showcase our produce and create something special here with a lasting legacy. René is someone who is inspired by nature, and unique ingredients - something that Australia does very well."

For his part, Redzepi also wants the experience to be something with a legacy beyond the 10 weeks for himself and his team.

"I really hope that by going into a completely new landscape we will be able to see our own world in a different way and become better at what we do at home through the experiences we have in Australia. That would be an amazing thing."

Register for more information about Noma Australia. 

Read our Noma Australia Q&A with René Redzepi.

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