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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.

Continental Deli, Newtown

Jesse Warkentin, Joe Valore, Elvis Abrahanowicz, and Mikey Nicolian

Jesse Warkentin, Joe Valore, Elvis Abrahanowicz, and Mikey Nicolian

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Continental Deli, Newtown.

Passion projects. For John Travolta it was Battlefield Earth. For Vincent Chase it was Medellín. For Coppola it was The Conversation. For Elvis Abrahanowicz it's tinned fish. Tinned fish and delicatessens. The Porteño and Bodega chef/co-owner has a few projects on the go, but this is the one that's closest to his heart. Abrahanowicz, his partner Sarah Doyle, and fellow business owner and sommelier Joe Valore are known for the granular attention they bring to their venues, but at The Continental they've really sweated the details. You can see it in everything from the bespoke timber cabinetry on the fridges and the marble on the bar to the graphics on the takeaway bags ("FINE WINE - STIFF DRINKS - COLD CUTS - CHEESE - CANNED GOODS"). At the end of October there'll be a 40-seat bistro opening upstairs, but as of this week the ground floor is open for business. It looks a bit like a cross between a deli and a bar, and while it works as a café (even if it doesn't offer coffee), it's best enjoyed with a drink in hand. Former Gardel's barman Mikey Nicolian has put together a drinks list that makes a refreshing departure from the Latin American focus at Bodega and Porteño, but the most singular beverage served at The Continental isn't on it. Order a tin of razor clams (the mighty fine Conservas Cambados), though, and you'll find that it comes not only with some fancy crisps and green olives spliced with slivers of lemon, but also some of the clams' canning liquor decanted into tiny stemmed glasses on ice with dry Sherry and a dash of Lillet Blanc. Hot on its heels in the very-strange-drink stakes is the Martini in a can. Abrahanowicz and his cohorts have got heavily into the in-house canning game, making their own tins of tommy ruff, baked beans, chickpeas and the like, and seem to have got carried away - they also sell Continental T-shirts in cans, and a very fine Tanqueray Martini. And the food? The sandwiches on offer are heavy on the meat, cheese, oil and mayo. The Wurst, Abrahanowicz's pick, is a fatty meat-fest crammed with bierwurst, liverwurst, tonguewurst and presswurst, while the mortadella number is lifted by the house bread-and-butter pickles. The cold-cuts on the meat platter, many of them speaking as much to the Slavic side of Abrahanowicz's heritage as the Latin, are cut thick to highlight their texture, while the fish plate - definitely the standout of the menu - makes sweet music of lush, tender octopus, mussels and clams. Expect to hear some griping about the prices. Paying nine bucks for a 250-gram tin of creamed corn is going to rub some Newtownians the wrong way, and all of the sambos clock in at $15 and up. But you get what you pay for, and at The Continental that's a good time.


Continental Deli, 210 Australia St, Newtown, NSW, (02) 8624 3131. Open 11am-10pm daily.

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