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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Virgin raises the bar in business

Virgin Australia’s new domestic business-class seat, launched today in Sydney, on its Airbus A330 fleet.

Virgin Australia’s new domestic business-class seat, launched today in Sydney, on its Airbus A330 fleet.

Virgin Australia promises the finest cup of coffee in the sky and what it claims is the world's most comfortable domestic business-class seat in its new cabin, launched in Sydney today.

The carrier announced a world-first collaboration with Nespresso in which purpose-built machines developed to deliver consistently good coffee at altitude will be installed in business-class cabins across its domestic Airbus A330 fleet.
"I can't find anybody that likes airline coffee," Virgin Australia's CEO John Borghetti said at the launch. "As good as ours is, it's not as good as the barista one [we serve] in the lounge. Now it will be."

The new cabin is Virgin Australia's response to Qantas's new business seats being fitted on its A330 fleet this year. Virgin claims its seat is the world's longest, widest fully lie-flat bed on a domestic route (80 inches long, 28 inches wide). Its reverse herringbone, 1-2-1 layout maximises privacy and allows direct aisle access for all business-class passengers. The seats have triple-layer seat cushions supported by "hammock" sub-frames, and a turn-down service to roll out memory-foam mattress toppers, cotton pillows and cotton doonas.  "I want red-eyes to become shut-eyes," said Virgin's chief customer officer, Mark Hassell, referring to the transcontinental route to Perth.

The roomy workspace includes a tablet holder designed for Virgin Australia, a side console with storage, 16-inch touch screen and three types of adjustable lighting.

Virgin Australia's head chef, Luke Mangan, says trays and trolleys have been dispensed with, and on-demand and express-service meals will be hand-delivered by crew as part of Virgin Australia's ambition to "create the best restaurant in the sky".

From November, the carrier will begin reconfiguring its long-haul Boeing 777s on routes to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, featuring new business-class suites and bar, and new premium-economy cabins.

virginaustralia.com

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