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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.

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.

Shane Delia: Braised duck and chestnut kofta with king brown mushrooms


You'll need

50 ml ghee (see note) 8 pickling onions 2 tsp Aleppo pepper (see note) 55 gm butter 35 gm plain flour 1 litre (4 cups) hot brown chicken stock 5 king brown mushrooms 2 golden shallots, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, sliced 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked 1 tsp cumin seeds Juice of 1 lemon To serve: pea shoots, yoghurt and bread   Duck and chestnut kofta 650 gm minced duck leg meat (see note) 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (see note) 3 garlic cloves, crushed ¼ cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped 1 tsp ground coriander 10 large peeled chestnuts, coarsely chopped (see note) 200 gm caul fat, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, drained, cut into 10cm squares (see note)

Method

  • 01
  • For duck and chestnut kofta, combine ingredients (except chestnuts and caul) in a bowl. Pass twice through the mincing attachment of a mixer into a bowl. Knead the meat with your hands until elastic (2-4 minutes). Add half the chestnuts (reserve remaining), season to taste, then roll into 16 golf-ball-sized koftas and transfer to a tray. Wrap each ball in a piece of caul, set aside.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Heat ghee in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add kofta and cook, turning occasionally, until brown (3-5 minutes). Add onion and pepper and cook until onion colours (2-3 minutes). Remove kofta and onion from pan and set aside. Drain excess fat from pan, add 35gm butter and cook until melted (1-2 minutes), then add flour and stir until light brown (1-2 minutes). Gradually add stock, stirring until smooth and combined, then bring to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Keep warm.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, remove bases of four mushrooms, thickly slice tops and set aside. Finely dice bases and remaining mushroom and set aside. Heat remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add shallot, garlic, thyme and cumin seeds and sauté until tender (1-2 minutes). Add diced mushroom and sauté to combine (1-2 minutes), then add to liquid with reserved chestnut (reserve a little for serving). Add kofta and onion to pan and cook over low heat until braised (30 minutes), adding sliced mushrooms during last 10 minutes of cooking. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and lemon juice, then serve topped with pea shoots and yoghurt and bread to the side.
Note Ghee is available from most supermarkets. Aleppo pepper is hot dried Turkish chilli, available from Turkish grocers. If unavailable, substitute roasted chilli flakes, available from Asian grocers. Ask your butcher to mince the duck meat for you. Vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts can be bought from select delicatessens. Caul fat is available from select butchers and will need to be ordered ahead.

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

“When someone talks about soul food, I think of cold rainy days sitting inside next to the heater with a big loaf of crusty bread and a dish just like this. A dish that’s not pretty or delicate in flavour like you would find in spring, more like a dish that you can break apart and destroy. Mix all the ingredients together into one ugly mess and then lap it up with loads of freshly baked crusty bread.”

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

Bold young Central Otago pinot noir.

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