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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. 

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

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.

Julia Morris on Bellapais, Cyprus

On a stay in Bellapais, actress Julia Morris basked in the happy haze of lemony Brandy Sours and grilled haloumi.

The past 15 years of my life seem to have dissolved almost as if I was not watching. In that time I have not just travelled to, but have actually lived in London, Avoca, Sydney, Los Angeles and Melbourne, with countless side trips in between. However, it was two glorious weeks spent in the tiny hilltop village of Bellapais, in Northern Cyprus, I still daydream about.

Overlooking the twinkly harbour city of Kyrenia and its hurtful azure-blue backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, Bellapais is one of those magical places where just being in situ makes you feel like you are a local. The actual locals are not only warm and welcoming, but everyone seems to have some sort of roadside café, complete with crate chairs.

It seems Bellapais has remained almost untouched since its colonial days and is home to the Bellapais Abbey, rumoured to be one of the most important gothic buildings in the Near East.

I must say, when I arrived I didn't know much about the food in Northern Cyprus other than it was a heady mix of Greek and Turkish delights. My first meal, at the suggestion of my gay companion, consisted of several Brandy Sours and a plate of grilled haloumi in a tiny bar that was not much wider than my bar stool.

The drink was a cloudy, lemon-scented fizzy water, with a cherry that had been transported from the late '70s, and the food was a plate of bleached rubber weirdness that looked like a grilled version of the shark poo we'd find on Terrigal Beach when we were kids.

While I consider myself quite the gourmet traveller, in no way am I a culinary connoisseur. I'm equally as thrilled by a no-name musk stick as I am by Saint-Émilion foie gras, so when such a simplistic combination hit my placemat, I wasn't ready to make myself available.

Well, it was then and there that I decided I was going to marry grilled haloumi. I don't know if it was the way the salty cheese squeaked along my teeth or its hot oil sliding down gently between my receptive gums, but I was in love. I just knew that the semi-hard, unripened brined cheese, made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and I would be very happy together.

The Brandy Sour, as I quickly found out, is known as the national drink of Cyprus, and is so insanely fun and delicious that you feel like you are hosting a rooftop party in your very own amused bouche.

Made with local Cypriot brandy and local bitters named Cock Drops (please note my restraint), soda water and fresh bitter-lemon squash, the Brandy Sour was created for the young King Farouk of Europe, who visited Cyprus regularly. The drink looks like iced tea and so was a neat way of disguising the Muslim monarch's preference for a tipple. These days it's used by travellers like me as a way of disguising how off our nuts we are while appearing to have only been drinking soft drinks. Nice. King Farouk and I, keeping things on the down-low.

The only way to beat a hangover while abroad is to seek out a substantial breakfast as close to your bed as possible. At the bottom of our driveway was a very sweet elderly woman who made bread each morning in her "open plan" garage oven. It was so fresh that even the butter refused to remain on the slices any longer than the journey from the plate to my mouth.

My friend's house was spread out along a dirt track, only a few doors away from where writer Lawrence Durrell penned his autobiographical work Bitter Lemons (the very same lemons that contributed to my hangover above). Durrell wrote about the passing of time while drinking coffee beneath the "tree of idleness" in Bellapais which, let's face it, was the main reason I had gone to Northern Cyprus in the first place.

Recommendations from locals can be tricky - they sometimes suggest places that are popular for visitors, but I prefer hitting the places the tourists don't know about. I found getting into the tiny lanes and narrow streets among the whitewashed buildings is the easiest way to stumble across the best shish kebab in the world.

These days, just seeing a sign that says "skewered meats grilled over charcoal" reminds me of my dream holiday in Bellapais and my time sampling the Cyprus of a bygone era.

Julia Morris stars in Channel Nine's House Husbands, which airs on Sundays at 9pm.

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