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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.

Australia's best beach hotels

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Some of Australia's greatest beach hotels reside in the sunshine state, Queensland - the tropical north excels at barefoot luxury. Getaway options don't come much glitzier than the opulent Palazzo Versace, a $300-million Italian designer hotel on the Gold Coast's Broadwater. The Pacific is just over the back fence, but bedazzled guests might find it hard to quit the gilded confines of this neoclassical sand castle.

Lovers of the high life also head for Soul Surfers Paradise, which towers 77 storeys above the ocean. The vibe is seaside glam, hence the elegantly appointed apartments with expansive sea views, destination restaurant Seaduction, and a dramatic tiered pool facing The Esplanade and Main Beach.

Further north, we like Alamanda Palm Cove, formerly the Angsana, not simply for its prime seaside position but also because the highly regarded Nu Nu's restaurant has just moved in, serving Asian-accented seafood beneath the palms. A short drive up the coast road leads to another likeable beach property, the Port Douglas Peninsula Boutique Hotel. Tucked at the end of Macrossan Street, most of its 34 one-bedroom suites have views over Four Mile Beach to the Coral Sea. A few days lazing on a private terrace here is a surefire remedy for city stresses.

Gun-barrel views down Port Jackson to the Harbour Bridge and Sydney CBD skyline are a drawcard at the renovated, 32-room Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, but we also love getting sand between our toes at pretty Camp Cove and long, lazy lunches at the hotel's retro-styled Beach Club.

Out of town, we like Bannisters, the made-over '70s motel at Mollymook, three hours south of Sydney. Partly for the plunge pool and private deck of the Terrace penthouse, partly for the spa, the Pool Bar and Rick Stein's in-house restaurant, but mostly for the genuine charm of the NSW South Coast.

In the west, the Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa at Broome has long defined our dreams of Indian Ocean escapes, but other less celebrated West Australian beach addresses are taking our fancy, too. With its ocean outlook and striking architecture, Novotel Ningaloo Resort on Exmouth's Town Beach is a sophisticated gateway to the submarine wonders of Ningaloo Reef. We're also fans of Smiths Beach Resort, down south in the Margaret River wine region.

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