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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.

Ligurian hotel alliance

An inspiration for French Impressionists and the European jetset, the Italian Riviera had a well-earned reputation for summer romance and late-night decadence - until the 2008 financial crisis curbed the spending habits of the glitterati. Worse, Italians stayed home and have been reluctant to return.

In an attempt to put the strip back on the map this European summer, six hotels along the Ligurian coast between Savona and Sanremo, near the French border, have formed a "Fascinating Resorts" alliance. Included are Palazzo Vescovile near Noli, the home of Savona bishops for six centuries; the 16th-century Palazzo Fieschi at Savignone; and two elegant villas with Med views: Villa della Pergola at Alassio and Hotel Punta Est at Finale Ligure. In the hinterland is La Meridiana, a rural haven at Garlenda with a top restaurant and an 18-hole golf course, and Il Casale, a country resort near Finale Ligure.

Liguria is much more than a string of beaches, says La Meridiana co-owner Alessandra Segre.

"Here we offer an ancient culture, great food like olive oil, fresh vegetables, wine and pesto, as well as plenty of ways to have fun. We want people to discover the region, not just the sea."

The hotel alliance is backed by regional authorities and aims to attract travellers interested in local cuisine, golf, hiking and mountain biking, as well as swimming and sailing.

Related link: our travel guide to Italy's Riviera di Ponente.


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