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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. 

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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.

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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.

Baked ham with pineapple and star anise glaze


You'll need

100 ml vegetable oil 35 gm (4cm piece) ginger, thinly sliced 3 ripe pineapples 800 gm dark palm sugar 500 gm light palm sugar 4 cinnamon quills 1 tsp cardamom pods 12 star anise 1 tsp ground cloves Juice of 4 limes 1 leg ham, bone in (about 8kg), skin removed, fat scored

Method

  • 01
  • Combine oil and ginger in a jar and set aside to infuse (2 days).
  • 02
  • Thickly slice two pineapples into rings, remove core with a cutter, set aside. Coarsely chop remaining pineapple, process in a food processor to a coarse purée, set aside.
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Strain ginger oil (discard solids) and heat in a large frying pan over high heat. Add pineapple rings in batches and cook, turning once, until golden (3-4 minutes), drain on absorbent paper, place in a large roasting pan.
  • 04
  • Melt palm sugars and 100ml water in a saucepan over medium heat (5-7 minutes). Add cinnamon, cardamom, pineapple purée and half the star anise, simmer until thick (15-20 minutes). Add clove and half the lime juice, strain (discard solids). Pour over pineapple and roast until caramelised (10-15 minutes), set aside.
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 160C. Place ham in a large roasting pan, brush with pineapple caramel (from roasting pan), stud with remaining star anise, scatter pineapple rings on top and around pan and roast, basting occasionally, until ham is caramelised and warmed through (1¼-1½ hours). Season to taste with remaining lime juice and serve warm.
This recipe is from the December 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

At A Glance

  • Serves 16 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 16 people

Drink Suggestion

Vibrant, fruity, magenta-hued grenache rosé.

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