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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.

Scott Pickett to open a deli and rôtisserie at the Queen Victoria Market

Artist impression of Pickett's Deli and Rotisserie in the Queen Victoria Market

Artist impression of Pickett's Deli and Rotisserie in the Queen Victoria Market

Chef and restaurateur Scott Pickett likes to mix it up. While his Melbourne showpiece ESP delivers dégustation only, next month he opens Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie in the Queen Victoria Market - offering a more casual, European-style deli, restaurant and wine bar all in one.

A rôtisserie and charcuterie station will form the soul of the luxed-up deli, which will be open seven days from 7am until 11pm on the corner of Elizabeth and Therry streets. Almost everything on the menu - including the wine - will also be available to takeaway.

At breakfast, Duke's coffee and bacon and egg butties will be on offer - the bacon house-cured and smoked, then slow-roasted overnight in the rôtisserie and carved in the morning to order. There'll be roast chicken daily, available as a sandwich or for dining in with the likes of tarragon mayo and pickles, and a special roast du jour - perhaps Hopkins River beef with horseradish, Yorkshire puddings and a "big dirty gravy", says Pickett. "No cheffy sauces."

Pickett's Deli will seat a humble 36 people - 20 around a six-metre communal table, and the remaining on stools at a marble-topped charcuterie counter. "It'll feel a bit like you're sitting at a floating island in someone's home," he says.

The space will transform into a wine bar at night. A "short and sharp" dinner menu will include the likes of rôtisserie wagyu ox tongue with pickled quince, and boudin noir with apples and Calvados, as well as snacks such as oysters, devilled eggs and assorted cheeses. ESP designers Hirsch Bedner Associates are in charge of the fit-out, which will see wrap-around shelving stocked high with wine and the deli's own pickles, preserves and vinegars. "I've been to the markets every morning at 3am and we've done over two thousand jars in a month," says Pickett. Former ESP sous-chef Aaron Brodie (formerly of Cumulus Inc and Pied à Terre) will be in the kitchen, while James Dossen, the current sommelier at ESP, is wrangling a wine list of about two-dozen bottles, all available by the glass.

Our appetite for roast chicken is only growing, it seems. At the same time as Paul Wilson gets ready to open Wilson & Merchant, a chicken shop and restaurant at Prahran Market, the humble chook is a must-order at Sydney restaurants including No 1 Bent Street, Hubert, The Paddington, and, as of last week, even Bennelong.

The Queen Vic will be Pickett's first stop when it comes to sourcing produce for the menu; the market holds a special place in his heart. "One of my earliest memories is of going to Queen Vic when I was four with my dad and having my first bratwurst," he says. "In 25 years' time I want to be walking through the markets with my kids telling the chef at Pickett's that the chicken's been on for too long."

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie is slated to open on 15 September.

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, 503 Elizabeth St, Melbourne

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