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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

The Langham Sydney renovation

Sydney’s Langham reopens after a lavish makeover to match its five-star harbour location, writes Eliza O’Hare.

If it's true that you can judge a hotel by walking through the foyer, then just a couple of steps across the white marble floors of the revamped The Langham Sydney promises a luxurious stay indeed.

The Langham has just emerged from a $30 million makeover flushed with a new wash of light and calm. It's virtually a brand-new hotel, where every detail has been touched by luxury, from custom cornices and bespoke pendant lighting to the five marble fireplaces in the foyer. But the best gift of the renovation has been the reveal of new harbour views.

"The views were always there," says general manager Sonia Lefevre. "It's just that they were only visible from inside my office, so our first decision was to change that and share the view with our guests."

It took two years to determine what needed doing, and just four months to do it, she says. "I'm not a designer but I know what our guests like. I needed to keep the feeling of returning home, and also bring back luxury. And this is what I'd like to call modern luxury."

The biggest structural changes were made in the foyer. Walls fell, pillars were moved and the light was let in, along with westerly views to the Anzac Bridge.

"The first question we get from international guests is always 'Where's the water?' And now here it is," says Lefevre.

The hotel's sense of place has also been given a boost by an impressive collection of Australian paintings bought in consultation with Sotheby's.

Brett Whitely and Albert Tucker are represented, and The Langham now has seven Sidney Nolan pieces, making it the largest privately held Nolan collection in the country.

The new interiors are classic, with lots of soft grey and teal. "I think this is the only hotel in Sydney with such a strictly classic interior," says Su Ball, executive director of London-based design firm GA Design, who oversaw the refurbishment. The firm is fluent in five-star hotel design, with Langham fit-outs for Hong Kong and Chicago under its belt as well as design work for the St Regis and Four Seasons groups.

All the furniture, lighting and carpets were custom designed by GA Design to fit a simple brief. "Keep it intimate. Keep it residential. Make it light," says Lefevre. "We want our guests to feel at home here."

Each of the bespoke furnishings is beyond elaborate: custom-designed and made by hand with the highest-quality materials. The super-king beds in the rooms measure up to a ridiculous 2 by 2.1 metres, while the crackled-lacquer finish of the reception desk took a week's careful work to complete.

Mismatched and eclectic ornaments, such as brass bowls by Tom Dixon and carved marble candle holders, also help make this feel like a stylish home rather than a hotel, as do the floral arrangements. Today's selection is lavender stock, hydrangeas and peonies, a joyous celebration of natives and traditional English buds and leaves arranged in wabi-sabi fashion on every available surface.

It's obvious someone around here is good with details. "We knew what we wanted, from the glassware, crafted solid silverware, the right crockery and the special silver bowls that hold the house-made lemon parmesan olives and truffle popcorn we serve as bar snacks," says Lefevre, who was very hands-on in the selection process, travelling with the GA Design team to manufacturers in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore to approve each of the pieces.

All of this makes the Langham a nice place to be. It's also a five-star pet-friendly hotel, where pet guests receive custom Langham pink pillow beds and bowls and enjoy in-house pet-sitting and dog-walking services that make the most of city walks.

"I think the new foreshore walk from Circular Quay to King Street Wharf is one of the best harbour walks in the world," says Lefevre.

The Palm Court, where afternoon tea takes place, is still the heart of the hotel. It has become that little bit more special with the addition of the Langham custom Wedgwood range of afternoon teaware decorated with deep Burgundy roses, and a tea sommelier pouring a choice of 14 teas. The new White Bay views make it a super sundowner spot, too. The hero of proceedings will always be the impressive multilayered cake stands brimming with the likes of vanilla scones, pistachio, cherry and chocolate opera cake, coffee, cardamom and chilli macarons, and coconut and lemongrass pannacotta with pineapple all from the in-house pâtisserie.

The dining room has been rechristened The Kent Street Kitchen. It's a colonial-inspired space with dark wooden floors and crisp white walls and shutters, which sounds grand but it has been given an intimate feel. To the side of the dining room is an open dining kitchen, dominated by an impressive marble table, so heavy and delicate it took a team of 10 to install it.

The kitchen is the domain of chef de cuisine Daniel Rudolph, who counts Sydney's Est and Paris's Guy Savoy restaurants among his curriculum vitae. Asked what he was aiming for here, Rudolph says it's all about being involved in the food. "Guests who are interested in the food can wander up with a glass of wine and see all the action and immerse themselves in what we love most - putting forward amazing food. It's a working kitchen, so we'll have up to five chefs in here at once as well as a full-time sushi chef," says Rudolph.

"We approached it from what Sydney needed rather than what the hotel required."

Rudolph has a passion for charcuterie, and it figures prominently on the ever-changing menu. "Our charcuterie room is a labour of love," he says. "For me it's about making something by hand, from the very beginning."

The young chef also has plans for a micro-herb and flower garden to grow the ingredients for his detail-oriented styling.

We tried a standout terrine of rabbit, pork, pistachio and apricot and a fine La Boqueria salami. Other highlights included a bracing green-tomato gazpacho and roast duck breast with a celeriac, grilled endive and date jus. But don't expect to necessarily find these dishes when you visit. "The menu will update monthly, but will always be modern Australian with French execution and precision," says Rudolph.

The Langham opened on deadline, something unheard of in the land of big-budget hotel renovations. A key consideration was the progress of the $6 billion-dollar development at Barangaroo, which sits snugly to the right of the hotel, just out of range of the new view.

"When that project swings into full construction there will be no tradesmen left anywhere in Sydney," says Lefevre. The completion of the development will bring huge benefits for The Langham and this end of town. Sandstone stairways will connect the hotel to Barangaroo's new waterfront parks and marinas, a harbour walk from Circular Quay to King Street Wharf and impressive new places to eat, such as Matt Moran's three-storey food temple, slated to open in March 2016.

It looks like this sleepy pocket of Sydney's CBD is finally opening up around The Langham. Could it be that Kent Street just got cool?


The Langham
Rooms cost from $600 a night in the Grand Langham Room to $3,500 a night in the Observatory Suite. Grand Langham Terrace Room, $700 a night; Junior Suite from $750 a night; Junior Terrace from $900 a night; Langham Suite from $1,000 a night; Langham Terrace Suite from $1,100 a night; the Residence from $1,800 a night; the Observatory Suite from $3,500. Ask for rooms 313 or 314 for a Junior Suite with a wraparound terrace.

The Langham
Rooms cost from $600 a night in the Grand Langham Room to $3,500 a night in the Observatory Suite. Grand Langham Terrace Room, $700 a night; Junior Suite from $750 a night; Junior Terrace from $900 a night; Langham Suite from $1,000 a night; Langham Terrace Suite from $1,100 a night; the Residence from $1,800 a night; the Observatory Suite from $3,500. Ask for rooms 313 or 314 for a Junior Suite with a wraparound terrace.

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