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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.

James Henry's guide to Paris

James Henry at Clown Bar in Paris

James Henry at Clown Bar in Paris

Expat Aussie chef James Henry took the French capital by storm at Au Passage and his own restaurant, Bones. Here he shares his favourite haunts in his adopted city.

It was romance that first drew James Henry to Paris. "I initially wanted to move to the south-west of France," he says, "but I had a girlfriend from Paris so that's how we ended up here."

The Brisbane-raised chef, whose resumé includes time at Cumulus Inc in Melbourne and The Stackings in Tasmania, kicked off his Parisian culinary career four years ago as chef de partie at American chef Daniel Rose's Spring restaurant. Then Henry helped launch the acclaimed neo-bistro Au Passage, a week-long stint that turned into a year. "Au Passage was sort of like an instant hit," he says. "It was fresh and new to the city and maybe a little inventive... The French were always surprised to find out it was an Australian kid in the kitchen."

After Au Passage, Henry felt it was "a natural progression" to run his own show, and in 2013 he opened Bones in the edgy 11th arrondissement, quickly winning the attention of serious foodists in Paris and around the world. "Bones was a challenging place to work," he admits, "but ultimately a fun and accessible restaurant."

Henry closed Bones in August to pursue new challenges. "It was a good learning experience," he says. "I loved the people I worked with, having the chance to run my first restaurant, and also being able to move on when the time was right." He still calls Paris home, though, and is keen to get to know the city even better in his newly acquired spare time. "Since I've been in Paris, to be honest, I feel like I've worked so much I still haven't really discovered the whole city," he says, "which is a nice feeling, really."

Henry spends most of his time around the 11th, drawn by its progressive food and wine scene. "It's where my restaurant was, it's right next to the 20th where I live, and it happens to be where most of the restaurants and the bars I go to are."

He occasionally dips into the more bourgeois parts of town - the 1st and 6th, say - but, for the most part, he sticks to his local haunts. "I don't have enough time to eat bad meals," he says.

LE BAL CAFÉ
"This is a favourite for Sunday brunch on the terrace. It's run by a couple of friends of mine, Alice Quillet and Anselme Blayney [with British-born co-chef Anna Trattles], and I think it's one of the few places in Paris to get good coffee. It's at the front of the photography gallery Le Bal, which always has interesting exhibitions and a great bookshop. For lunch they have a well-priced, really nice seasonal menu - roast lamb with roast beetroot and lentils, things like that. On the brunch menu there's always a really good sandwich, maybe an Ibérico pork sandwich on pochon bread [a buckwheat sourdough], and the Welsh rarebit is really good. They do a great kedgeree, too, and in summer there's jugs of Pimm's." Le Bal Café, 6 Impasse de la Défense, 75018 

LE VERRE VOLÉ
"This place is known for its wines, though there's no wine list. There are shelves all over the restaurant lined with wine, and you either pick out a bottle or ask the sommelier to find something that will suit, and they always do. Le Verre Volé is great for lunch, definitely bistro in vibe, with a menu that changes all the time and it's in one of my favourite areas - the 10th, by the Canal Saint-Martin. There's a blackboard menu listing about a dozen entreés, and then a choice of two bigger plates, maybe a whole fish or a large cut of meat with a garnish, plus classic plates that never change, like boudin noir or a jambon de Paris. It's also a takeaway wine shop, so if the weather's nice you can buy a bottle and some food to go. There's a nice park nearby or you can sit by the canal. In summer the canal is crammed with young people drinking beer, hanging out, people-watching. It's a nice place to pass a Sunday." Le Verre Volé, 67 rue de Lancry, 75010

TEN BELLES
"Ten Belles is a café owned by my friends Alice and Anselme, from Le Bal Café, and it definitely has the best coffee in the city, in my opinion. They do sausage rolls, scones, savoury breakfast rolls, almond frangipane tart, lemon teacakes, things like that. Unlike Le Bal, in an open space, Ten Belles is more of a hole-in-the-wall kind of place; you can sit down, but it's pretty tight. They do takeaway coffee, too." Ten Belles, 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 75010

Red House in the 11th arrondissement

RED HOUSE
"This is the bar, not far from Bones, where we would go after work or on Sundays. It's good fun, kind of like a dive bar with great cocktails. They do €5 Negronis, it's loud, it's dark, there's a pinball machine, and it attracts a young, tattooed, pretty eclectic crowd. It's owned by a guy called Joe Boley from New Mexico and though the music is questionable - punk-oriented, most of the time - I like it." Red House, bis, 1 rue de la Forge Royale, 75011

TERROIRS D'AVENIR
"If I get up early enough on a Sunday I'll go to the Bastille markets; otherwise there's Terroirs d'Avenir. It's a one-stop shop for everything you need to cook a nice dinner or stock up for the week. They supply most of the top restaurants in Paris and we used to work with them a lot at Bones. Their retail shop in the 2nd includes a small butchery and a fish shop, and for my money, it's some of the best produce you'll find in France. They work with small farmers from Île-de-France for organic heirloom vegetables, and with fishermen from Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the south of France and in Brittany." Terroirs d'Avenir, 6 rue du Nil, 75002

MARCHÉ BASTILLE
"This is a great market for strolling and people-watching. Though it's large - about a hundred or so stalls - there's only one place I buy from, a small producer located on the left-hand side as you head into the market, who sells poultry and organic vegetables. There are always interesting root vegetables, turnips and radishes, and good herbs at this stall, but they sell out very fast. Paris isn't an early rising city, so if you get there about eight or nine you'll be fine." Marché Bastille, Thursday 7am-2.30pm, Sunday 7am-3pm, Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011

CLOWN BAR
"This historic restaurant next to the Cirque d'Hiver, the Winter Circus, in the 11th arrondissement has been bought recently by the people who own Saturne, another good restaurant in the 2nd. They've cleaned up the Belle Époque interior and put a really good Japanese chef, Sota Atsumi, in the kitchen. He's cooking quite traditional French food, but freshened up and well executed. Last time I went there I had an excellent piece of brill with grilled green beans and a béarnaise or sabayon sauce. Atsumi cooks pigeon very well - there's generally always a pigeon dish on the menu. And he does a really good Pithiviers, a sort of fancy French meat pie. There's an excellent wine list and a nice terrace for dining when the weather's warm. This is the sort of place you hope to find when you first come to Paris, where you'll eat and drink well." Clown Bar, 114 rue Amelot, 75011

LE BARATIN
"If I wanted a classic French meal I'd go to Le Baratin, a bistro in the 20th, open for about 20 years. It's quality cooking, great produce, unadorned, no artifice, good food, good wine. The menu changes occasionally, but the offal dishes are always really great. The last couple of times I went they were doing poached veal brains with beurre blanc and pink potatoes, which all the chefs seem to love." Le Baratin, 3 rue Jouye-Rouve, 75020

DU PAIN ET DES IDÉES
"This bakery in the 10th, just near Le Verre Volé, Ten Belles and the Canal Saint-Martin, makes excellent bread. I think the bread in Paris is generally okay, but there's a lot of mass-produced wheat being used, all coming from the same mills, which means everything starts to look the same and taste the same. Some bakers, though, are grinding their own wheat and some use ancient grains. The sourdough at Du Pain et des Idées is unique; made with organic flour, with roasted, toasty notes. People are also very fond of their pistachio escargot." Du Pain et des Idées, 34 rue Yves Toudic, 75010

MIZNON
"This is an Israeli sandwich shop in the Marais. The district is always full of people, particularly on a Sunday, so it's quite fun. They do a choux farcis sandwich, which is lamb cooked inside cabbage leaves, piled into soft pita bread with eggplant and a very simple fresh tomato sauce. And there's whole roasted cauliflower, which you eat with tahini and a cheese sauce." Miznon, 22 rue des Ecouffes, 75004


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