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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.

Athens rises from the ashes

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre

A slew of new projects takes shape in the Greek capital, which is slowly shrugging off a seven year recession.

A new "institution of hope and beauty" in Athens is the latest sign of renewal in a city slowly shrugging off the effects of seven years of recession. The first stage of the spectacular $878 million (€596 million) Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre was viewed by more than 120,000 people during a four-day public preview and a month of free events this northern summer.

Funded by the estate of late Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos, it will house the Greek National Opera and National Library of Greece when it opens to the public mid-next year after five years of construction. "In a difficult moment you need hope like fresh air," says Italian architect Renzo Piano, who designed the landmark. Set in a 17-hectare park about 4.5 kilometres south of central Athens, where the city meets the sea, the centre occupies a former horseracing track near disused Olympics venues.

Meanwhile, revised plans have been announced to turn the 620-hectare site of the old Athens airport, used recently to house thousands of refugees, into a luxury resort town. And the long-awaited National Museum of Contemporary Art is nearing completion, though no opening date has been announced. The opera house and library, linked by an agora and topped by a glass "lighthouse", are surrounded by the city's biggest green space, including a 400-metre-long lake, playgrounds, and running and cycling paths. The park extends across the roof of the library, while a photovoltaic canopy over the opera house will generate energy for the complex. Interiors feature mobile sculptures by Japanese artist Susumu Shingu, a towering "book castle" and light-filled reading rooms, and public spaces dotted with brightly coloured foam seats. The upgraded National Library is built to house two million books and journals, including rare manuscripts and engravings dating back to the 9th century. And the National Opera has a stunning 1,400-seat auditorium and a 450-seat venue for theatre, music and dance.

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