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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.

Pastry chef Yu-ching Lee is back at Boon Café

Matcha chiffon cake

Matcha chiffon cake

If you were a fan of her pandan lamington, you're going to love what Sydney pastry chef Yu-ching Lee has planned for her next residency at Boon Café, which kicked off this week.

How did your relationship with Boon come about, Yu-ching?
I met Palisa Anderson (co-director of Boon Café and Chat Thai) at a previous bakery job where she was a regular customer. Last year over Christmas, she asked if I would supply Boon Café with a selection of sweets since her regular supplier was going to be away on holiday. I baked for the café for about two or three weeks, and everything was well received, so I've continued to supply them with a few things on and off for the past couple of months.

And what do you have planned this time around?
Now that I'm baking onsite, I'm able to send items up to the shop as soon as they're ready. This means warm cookies and, in the future, hopefully cinnamon buns straight from the oven (when they're at their best). Also, we've talked about exploring other items like Thai sausage rolls, using ingredients like coconut ash, and infusing baked sweets with the flavours of the Thai dessert candle.

Where are you looking to for inspiration?
The produce section of Jarern Chai.

What baked goods can we expect to see on the new menu?
I'm hoping to start testing some crunchy topped choux buns, and would also love to make a mini version of Amy Chanta's birthday cake, which was a coconut pandan tres leches cake.

Your pandan lamington and matcha chiffon cake caused quite a stir earlier in the year. What do you think will be the next favourite?
The chocolate ganache brownie topped with salty peanut brittle.

Where did you learn to bake?
I guess I learned mostly from cookbooks (like Belinda Jeffery's Mix & Bake) and being greedy enough to want cake every day. All the things I've been making for Boon are simple bakes that I also like to make and eat at home.

You used to cook at Sepia. Does anything you learnt there pop up in your home cooking?
At Sepia I was introduced to Japanese ingredients like umeboshi, yuzu, miso and matcha, all of which I still love using.

What produce are you most excited about at the moment?
Citrus like Meyer lemons, and cherry blossoms, which I'm hoping to have a go at preserving, for future cakes.

Coming into spring, what do you want to cook for Boon?
Fruit tarts.

And on your days off, what are you cooking at home?
Sourdough bread.

Do you have a secret ingredient that you love to cook with?
Yuzu, when I can get it.

What's your favourite dessert of all time?
It changes all the time. Currently it's a warm chocolate soufflé cake with chocolate whipped cream and candied spiced orange.


Warm chocolate soufflé cake with chocolate whipped cream and candied spiced orange.


What five things should passionate home cooks have in their pantries?
Sea salt, vanilla, two kinds of dark chocolate (for whipping up emergency brownies) and whiskey.

What ingredient couldn't you live without?
Salt.

Boon Café, 1/425 Pitt St, Haymarket, NSW, (02) 9281 2114, booncafe.com

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