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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.

Shane Delia: Guitta Maroun’s mint and yoghurt soup with grilled goat kofta


You'll need

500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock 100 gm carnaroli rice, rinsed ½ onion, finely chopped 10 ml olive oil 20 gm plain flour 800 gm thick Greek-style yoghurt 1 egg yolk 1 tbsp dried mint To serve: thinly sliced mint   Aleppo pepper oil 2 tsp Aleppo pepper (see note) 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil   Goat kofta 480 gm goat leg meat (see note) 120 gm lamb fat (see note) 1½ tbsp Aleppo pepper (see note) 3 garlic cloves 1½ tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  • 01
  • For Aleppo pepper oil, cook ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant (2-4 minutes). Strain through a fine metal sieve and set aside (discard solids).
  • 02
  • For goat kofta, mince goat, fat, pepper and garlic through a mincer or food processor until combined. Transfer to a bowl, add parsley, knead until mixture is pliable and elastic (2-4 minutes). Roll into 6 balls, place on a tray, refrigerate to rest (1 hour). Preheat a char-grill over high heat. Mould each ball onto a metal skewer and grill, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (5-10 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, combine stock and 1 litre water in a large saucepan and bring to the simmer over medium heat, add rice and cook until tender (8-10 minutes), keep warm.
  • 04
  • Combine onion and oil in a separate saucepan and sauté over medium heat until tender (5-10 minutes).
  • 05
  • Combine flour and 100ml cold water in a bowl, whisk to dissolve, add yoghurt and yolk, mix to combine. Whisk into rice mixture, add dried mint and onion mixture, season to taste and bring to the simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened and flour is cooked out (3-4 minutes). Serve drizzled with Aleppo pepper oil to taste, topped with sliced mint and kofta to the side.
Note Aleppo pepper is hot dried Turkish chilli, available from Turkish grocers. If unavailable, substitute roasted chilli flakes, available from Asian grocers. Goat meat and lamb fat are available from select butchers. If goat is unavailable, substitute lamb.

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

“The love and patience that Guitta and Toufic (my in-laws) give to the mint they grow in their backyard wonderland of Lebanese herbs and vegetables, the time they spend hand-picking each mint leaf, laying them out on old bed sheets to dry under the summer sun, inspires me. Then there’s days of bending over buckets, hand-flaking the mint until it becomes a fine, bright-green pungent powder to be used in Toufic’s special za’atar mix and, of course, the nana, or mint, that is the soul of this dish. You cannot do this dish justice with old, grey, tasteless dried mint.”

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Juicy, spicy Yarra Valley shiraz.

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