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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.

Eat, love, stay

Bowral's Biota Dining adds room to its service.

Eat, drink, be merry, for a bed is close by. In the European tradition of restaurants offering a place to stay, Biota Dining in Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands, has opened 13 rooms, transforming the well-regarded restaurant and lounge bar into a dining destination.

The 1960s-era motel beside the restaurant has been stripped and refurnished, rather than rebuilt, so the rooms remain boxy and simple, but they're comfortable and share the Biota dining room's calm, clean lines, with wall-mounted willow branches and mid-century Parker furniture.

"They're a resting spot in the grounds of the restaurant, not a hotel," says Biota's chef and owner James Viles, who cites as inspiration Magnus Nilsson's remote Fäviken restaurant in Järpen, Sweden. "We wanted people to arrive, relax, and enjoy our food and wine, and not have to worry about driving afterwards."

It makes sense, then, to settle in and order a five- or seven-course menu paired with wines from a strong list favouring organic and regional labels.

It might start simply with an oyster dressed with native lime, cucumber several ways and bronze fennel, and end with the forest-floor flavours of blueberries, verbena sorbet and iced chlorophyll. Linger for weekend brunch and, on the last Sunday of the month, continue grazing outside at the Biota Produce Showcase. Packages include a one-night stay and three-course meal midweek for $120 per person twin share. Biota Dining, 18 Kangaloon Rd, Bowral, NSW, (02) 4862 2005.

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