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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.

Basil panna cotta with raspberry jelly


You'll need

200 gm each raspberries and blueberries To serve: baby basil   Basil panna cotta 80 gm caster sugar Finely grated rind 1 mandarin or orange 1 cup (loosely packed) basil 375 ml (1½ cups) pouring cream 140 ml milk 2 gold-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes   Raspberry jelly 1 kg frozen raspberries (see note) 100 gm caster sugar 3 gold-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes

Method

  • 01
  • For basil panna cotta, combine sugar and rind in a bowl, rub with fingers to release oils, set aside. Blanch basil until bright green (30 seconds-1 minute), refresh, drain, squeeze to remove water, coarsely chop and set aside. Bring cream and milk to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, add sugar mixture, stir to dissolve, remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to cream mixture, stir to dissolve, process in a blender with basil until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, pour into eight 250ml glasses, refrigerate until set (2-3 hours).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for raspberry jelly, place raspberries in a large bowl over simmering water until raspberries are completely defrosted and liquid releases (25-30 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve, pressing lightly on solids to yield 200ml (discard solids). Combine sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar and simmer until a light syrup forms (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and add 100ml to raspberry liquid (discard remainder). Add squeezed gelatine leaves, stir to dissolve and set aside to cool. Divide between panna cotta glasses and refrigerate until set. Top with raspberries, blueberries and baby basil and serve.
Note Even when raspberries are in season, use the frozen ones as they yield more juice.

This recipe is from the December 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

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