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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. 

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Lûmé’s multisensory dinner experience

Shaun Quade

Shaun Quade

Shaun Quade is collaborating with a fragrance specialist for what is sure to be an unusual dinner.

Shaun Quade wants to lead you by the nose. At an eight-course dinner next month at his South Melbourne restaurant Lûmé, diners will taste duck from Victoria, vanilla from Far North Queensland, sea urchin from Tasmania and crocodile from the Northern Territory, but they'll also be subject to scents that evoke ocean, rainforest, pasture and wetlands.

The event is called (tentatively) "A Journey around Australia" and it's a collaboration with renowned fragrance specialist and master perfumer Samantha Taylor. Quade's fascination with the power of smell will get free rein.

It's not all about being spritzed with Eau de Kakadu between courses, though. The 25 guests will move to different parts of Lûmé throughout the night (including, possibly, a storage container in the back yard), with temperature and lighting adjusted to reflect the journey. There may even be a hidden fan involved.

"I don't want to sound like a wanker, but I want this to be restaurant as theatre," says Quade. "It's about everybody having their role to play and the dining room being like a stage, but it's also about the notion of tinkering and creating to produce a work that's bewildering."

Quade has never been short on ambition or afraid to bewilder. He's already taken a leaf out of The Fat Duck's playbook and had actors and psychologists in to work with his staff, teaching them techniques to bring a sense of ease to the dining room. He's playing with different scents for different parts of the restaurant and installing lighting that will bring extra drama.

And there's more where that came from. This dinner is something of a taster for the way Lûmé will roll over the next 12 months. Actors from an experimental theatre company, for example, are set to join the cast of chefs and waitstaff temporarily to "take multisensory into overdrive".

"I like to question what going out to dinner means," says Quade. And suddenly there's a whiff of understatement in the air.

Lûmé, 226 Coventry St, South Melbourne, (03) 9690 0185, restaurantlume.com. The Samantha Taylor dinner on 16 August costs $280 per person including paired cocktails; book at lume.tocktix.com.

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