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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.

Hot Hotels: where to stay in Rome

Palazzo Cinquecento's bar, Rome

Palazzo Cinquecento's bar, Rome

There's a cheeky originality about Palazzo Dama, one of a handful of new luxury hotels in Rome. Overlooking the Tiber off Piazza del Popolo, the three-storey villa was home in the 18th-century to a marquise (the "dama" in its name) who threw legendary parties, and there's an air of a party waiting to happen in its latest incarnation.

Palazzo Dama interior, Rome.

Palazzo Dama is the younger sister of the boutique DOM Hotel in Rome, opened in 2013 by part owner and architect Antonio Girardi and his wife, Morgan Witkin. Their latest venture is filled with eclectic furnishings designed by Girardi or collected by the couple. "My soul is here," he says. "I want people to feel at home."

Beyond the Art Nouveau lobby is a stylish restaurant with cream velvet sofas, potted palms and crystal chandeliers from New York's Plaza Hotel. The hotel's 30 rooms have a deep blue and olive palette, featuring original wooden ceilings. In a private garden behind the villa is a stunning pool - a rare refuge in this part of the city.

A short stroll from the Trevi Fountain is Palazzo Scanderbeg, which opened in January. Built in 1466 by an Albanian prince, the palazzo's four floors have been refurbished with flair. Despite its proximity to the city's tourist sites, the palazzo is surprisingly tranquil, the luxe experience enhanced by personal butlers and chefs on request. The 11 apartments and suites are dressed in neutral tones with Italian furnishings including Poltrona Frau chairs and Terzani light fittings. Some have private rooftop terraces.

Palazzo Dama exterior, Rome.

Adjacent to Rome's central train station, the NH Hotel Group has transformed a stately building into the sleek Palazzo Cinquecento. Surrounded by ancient Servian walls, the hotel is ideal for travellers catching an early train. Opened in April, it's the first in the group's NH Collection, with 177 rooms and suites styled in minimalist white.

 

Palazzo Dama, Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia, 2, Rome, palazzodama.com, rooms from $520.

Palazzo Scanderbeg, Piazza Scanderbeg, 117, Rome, palazzoscanderbeg.com, suites from $360.

Palazzo Cinquecento, Piazza dei Cinquecento, 90, Rome, nh-hotels.com, rooms from $350. 

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