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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.

Mark Best: Cured ocean trout with fennel and chestnuts


You'll need

1 tsp each of coriander seeds and white peppercorns 100 gm white sugar 100 gm sea salt flakes or Murray River pink salt 3 baby fennel bulbs, with fronds Rind of 1 lemon removed with a Microplane 1 small side ocean trout (about 1kg), belly fat trimmed, pin-boned Juice of 1 lemon, plus extra to serve 50 ml Pernod or anise-flavoured liqueur To serve: extra-virgin olive oil   Glazed chestnuts 50 gm unsalted butter 250 gm peeled chestnuts 1 garlic clove 1 thyme sprig 1 tsp aged sherry vinegar 300 ml chicken stock

Method

  • 01
  • Dry-roast spices until they pop (1-2 minutes), then transfer to a bowl with sugar, salt, 1 cup (loosely packed) fennel fronds and lemon rind. Mix well and set aside.
  • 02
  • Place trout in a non-reactive tray, then rub with sugar mixture, covering both sides evenly. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate until lightly cured (12-18 hours). Remove fish from curing mixture, wipe excess away with a cloth, then wrap trout in plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Trout will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days.
  • 03
  • For glazed chestnuts, heat a deep-sided frying pan over low heat. Add butter, then chestnuts, garlic and thyme and sauté until nuts are golden (2-4 minutes). Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, deglaze pan with sherry vinegar. Add stock, bring to a simmer, then cover closely with a round of baking paper that has a small hole in the centre. Cook until nuts are tender and glazed (5-10 minutes). Cool to room temperature, discard thyme and garlic, halve larger nuts, keeping smaller ones whole, set aside.
  • 04
  • Trim dark green stalks from fennel (discard), reserve remaining fronds. Combine lemon juice, Pernod, 1 litre chilled water and ice cubes in a bowl. Thinly slice fennel with a mandolin into water and stand until crisp (3-5 minutes), then drain and pat dry with absorbent paper. Before serving, drizzle with oil, season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground white pepper and lemon juice, add nuts and toss gently to combine.
  • 05
  • Thinly slice trout across the fillet at a 45-degree angle with a sharp, long, thin knife, starting at the head and working toward the tail. Divide fennel, chestnuts and sliced trout among plates and serve immediately, scattered with reserved fennel fronds and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Note Use the best-quality ocean trout you can find. Mark Best prefers to use Petuna.

This recipe is from the September 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

I could go on all day about the best way to peel a chestnut. The reality is we buy excellent pre-peeled nuts from Victoria, saving a lot of time and burnt fingers. If you cannot find them, use a peeling method you are familiar with. When it comes to slicing fennel, I think a mandolin is the best tool for the job. They are cheap but dangerous, so be careful. Adding Pernod to the acidulated water replaces any anise flavour lost through soaking. You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. - Mark Best

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Drink Suggestion

Austrian riesling for its steely purity, minerality and length on the palate due to its great texture.

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