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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.

A perfect summer's weekend in Sydney

Sea urchin crumpet at Saint Peter

Sea urchin crumpet at Saint Peter

From rooftop bars to sunny seafood brunches and contemporary art, there’s plenty to occupy a weekend in Sydney this summer.

FRIDAY

6pm: There aren't many better places to be than an open-air bar after work on a balmy Friday evening. Henry Deane, the swish rooftop level of Hotel Palisade (35 Bettington St, Millers Point), offers just about 360-degree views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and glittering coastline. Sink into one of the blush-coloured leather couches, order a Spritz and revel in the Sydney-ness of it all.

Cocktails at Henry Deane.

8pm: Once the sun goes down things can get a little dishevelled at the Palisade, so hightail it to dinner at Cirrus (10/23 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo), just a short stroll away. A highlight of the flashy new Barangaroo development, Cirrus was opened by Nick Hildebrandt and Brent Savage - who also operate Bentley, Yellow and Monopole. It's all about seafood here, so dive into grilled plump West Australian marron with sea bananas, grilled cos with whipped mullet roe and cured egg yolk or a whole Northern Territory mud crab with green garlic and tarragon sauce. 

Grillled WA marron with sea bananas, Cirrus.

10.30pm: Thanks to Sydney's now-infamous lockout laws you only have a few hours left to find a late-night drink in this part of town, so hop  a cab to Bulletin Place (10-14 Bulletin Pl, Sydney). A niche little cocktail bar set upstairs from the busy CBD below, the bar's menu lists just a handful of fresh fruit-infused cocktails that change with the seasons. You might find blackberries muddled into your Negroni, or fresh rhubarb syrup in your Clover Club - served by some of the friendliest 'tenders in town.

Midnight: Nightcap? One of the most significant openings of 2016, Restaurant Hubert (15 Bligh St, Sydney) is open until 1am and houses two packed bars to choose from. Slip into one of the booths at Bar Pincer for a final Martini, a pastis-infused Ramos Gin Fizz, or a Malakoff - chef Dan Pepperell's deep-fried Gruyère croquette served with Dijon mustard and a dill pickle.

Restaurant Hubert's chicken fricassée.

Related: A perfect summer's weekend in Brisbane

SATURDAY

9am: Sean's (270 Campbell Pde, Bondi Beach) should be a staple on any Sydney agenda. Set just across the road from the sands of Bondi Beach, weekend breakfasts have just launched with a menu of simple classics done exceptionally well. House-made crumpets with blueberry compote, cultured cream and honey, and gougères with scrambled eggs and spanner crab would pair very well with a weekend Bellini. 

10.30am: A visit to Sydney isn't a visit to Sydney without a dip in the water. Lap it up at the Icebergs ocean pool, or lounge on the grass alongside trendy types on the North Bondi knoll. 

Icebergs.

1.30pm: By now you've worked up an appetite, and restaurant group Merivale's newest and shiniest venue, Fred's  (380 Oxford St, Paddington), should be your next port of call. Chef Danielle Alvarez pulls from her time at California's Chez Panisse to create a menu of simple, produce-led dishes, most cooked in the wood-fired oven or over the coals. Pasta, such as casarecce with rabbit, is a highlight.

Fred's asparagus triangoli; casarecce with rabbit; wood-oven squid with celery and preserved lemon.

3pm: What better to follow a hearty lunch than a little nudity? The Art Gallery of New South Wales presents Nude: art from the Tate collection this summer which includes over 100 representations of the human form. Spot work by Picasso and Matisse and whirl through the movements of romanticism, cubism, expressionism, realism, surrealism and feminism in a mere afternoon.

Related: A luxury stopover in Perth

5pm: Check out Golden Age Cinema & Bar (80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills)'s summer programme. Old classics as well as independent, quirky flicks are screened every day in the gorgeous Deco cinema in the old Paramount Pictures building. Grab a Blood and Sand and a cheese plate at the bar beforehand and order a second round of drinks to take to your seat.  

8pm: Bookings are essential at Ester  (46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale), a polished, innovative (and very popular) restaurant in Chippendale run by chef Mat Lindsay. Nab a table for the second sitting. Order a dozen oysters which have been given a quick run through the wood-fired oven to pop their lids before being dressed with a piquant mignonette. Don't miss the Pyengana cheddar pie or the king prawns, which are grilled and dressed with brown butter, tamari and capers.

Oysters at Ester.

10pm: It's not too far to travel into the Inner West to hit Earl's Juke Joint (407 King St, Newtown), a saloon-style cocktail bar hidden behind the façade of an old butcher shop. In the style of New Orleans, the vibe here spells good times ahoy.

Related: A perfect summer's weekend in Adelaide

SUNDAY

9am: Things get out of hand last night? Wake up with a well-made flat white or filter brew at Artificer (547 Bourke St, Surry Hills). Take a seat on the windowsill in the sun to stalk all the cute dogs passing by.

11am: Sunday is an ideal day to take your time and stroll around, so meander back up through Surry Hills to Paddington for brunch at Saint Peter  (362 Oxford St, Paddington), taking in the shops along the way. This isn't your average brunch. Forgo your preconceived ideas of eggs and bacon for house-made crumpets with sea urchin and chives instead, or a fried fish sandwich, John Dory livers on toast, or marron scrambled eggs. It's all about seafood here, and lots of it.

Rilettes, Saint Peter.

1pm: Spend a little time browsing the shops on William Street, such as Just William Chocolates, surfwear brand Venroy, Belancé for sharp menswear and Banjo & Matilda for soft cashmere. From there it's a downhill slope to Rushcutters Bay - the harbour-side park is the perfect spot to lay a while enjoying the sunshine. 

3pm: Nearby Potts Point is packed with quirk and great eats. Make a beeline for Bourke Street Bakery (46A Macleay St, Potts Point) for a mid-afternoon croissant or lamb and harissa sausage roll, and flip through Potts Point Bookshop (14 MacLeay St, Potts Point), Poho Flowers (2/117 MacLeay St, Potts Point) and Fratelli Fresh (81 MacLeay St, Potts Point) for imported Italian goods. 

Related: A perfect summer's weekend in Melbourne

6pm: Cap off the weekend with an early dinner at The Apollo (44 Macleay St, Potts Point), Jonathan Barthelmess's sharply designed modern-Greek restaurant that has remained full to the hilt ever since it opened in 2012 (hint: get there early). Order fried saganaki cheese oozy with honey and oregano, taramasalata with wedges of soft warm pita, grilled sardines with lemon and parsley and a bottle of pale French rosé to go with it. If there's one rule to abide by while swnging by Sydney, go all out, this isn't the city for holding back.

Sardines, The Apollo.

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