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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.

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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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"This cake is the new religion at Flour and Stone, and never fails to send those worshipping it into a dream of billowy clouds," says Ingram. "It has come to many parties, including one where its name was changed to reflect the euphoric place it transports you to."

Tony Bilson: Babas with beurre Bosc pears and eau de vie


You'll need

250 gm (1 2/3 cups) “00” flour 15 gm caster sugar 7 gm dried yeast (about 1 sachet) 8 eggs, at room temperature 100 gm softened butter 100 ml eau de vie de poire (see note) 250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream, whipped to soft peaks with 2 tbsp caster sugar   Poached pears 250 gm caster sugar 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 1 cinnamon quill 6 small ripe, firm beurre Bosc pears, ends trimmed, thickly sliced crossways   Chocolate shards 200 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted For dusting: pure icing sugar, sieved

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Combine flour, sugar, yeast, 3 eggs and 2gm fine salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until dough pulls away from sides of bowl (1-2 minutes). Add 3 eggs, mix until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl (1-2 minutes), add remaining eggs and beat until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Add butter a little at a time, beat after each addition until well-combined, cover and stand in a warm place until slightly risen (8-10 minutes).
  • 02
  • Knock down dough and divide among six buttered 125ml metal dariole moulds, cover and stand in a warm place until dough rises to tops of moulds (12-15 minutes). Bake until golden and cooked through (12-15 minutes), turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for poached pears, bring sugar, vanilla bean, seeds, cinnamon and 500ml water to the simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, add pear and poach until just tender (8-10 minutes). Remove pear with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain syrup into a clean pan, simmer until reduced to 500ml (2-3 minutes), then set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel pears and set aside until required.
  • 04
  • Add babas to syrup and stand, turning occasionally, until saturated (12-15 minutes), then transfer to a wire rack. Then, 30 minutes before serving, spoon eau de vie over babas.
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, for chocolate shards, pour melted chocolate onto a large sheet of baking paper, top with another large sheet of baking paper and roll to form a thin sheet. Refrigerate until crisp (8-10 minutes), break into rough shards, refrigerate until required. Just before serving, dust with icing sugar.
  • 06
  • To serve, return babas to syrup and warm gently over low heat, then serve with poached pears, chocolate shards and whipped cream.
Note Eau de vie de poire is available from Spirit of France and select liquor shops.

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

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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