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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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Pine mushroom salad with Gruyère beignets


You'll need

9 pine mushrooms (about 600gm), trimmed, wiped clean with a damp cloth 40 gm butter, coarsely chopped 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 8 golden shallots, thinly sliced into rings 2 thyme sprigs 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling To serve: lemon juice (to taste) and baby parsley   Gruyère beignets 120 ml milk 1 fresh bay leaf 1 thyme sprig 6 black peppercorns 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped 100 gm (2/3 cup) plain flour, sieved 50 gm Gruyère, finely grated 2 eggs, lightly beaten 100 gm soft fine white breadcrumbs For deep-frying: vegetable oil

Method

  • 01
  • For Gruyère beignets, bring milk, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns to the simmer in a small saucepan over low heat, then set aside until milk is infused (15-20 minutes). Strain (discard solids), set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming, add half the flour and stir continuously until incorporated and sandy coloured (3-5 minutes). Gradually add milk, beating continuously until mixture is thick and smooth, then remove from heat, stir through cheese until melted, season to taste, cover directly with plastic wrap and set aside to cool to room temperature. Roll mixture into 3cm-diameter balls, then refrigerate until well chilled (20-30 minutes). Place remaining flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls, roll beignets first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, shaking off excess in between, and set aside. Just before serving, preheat vegetable oil in a deep-sided saucepan or deep-fryer to 180C. Deep-fry beignets, in batches, until golden (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, refrigerate 5 mushrooms until required. Coarsely chop remainder and set aside. Heat 30gm butter in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and half the shallot and sauté until tender (10-12 minutes). Add thyme, chopped mushrooms and 50ml water and cook, covered with a lid, until mushrooms are tender (4-6 minutes). Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat, discard thyme, process in a food processor until finely chopped, season to taste and set aside.
  • 03
  • Heat olive oil and remaining shallot and butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Cut four of remaining mushrooms into wedges, then add to pan with 20ml water and fry, turning occasionally, until tender (5-6 minutes). Set aside. Keep warm.
  • 04
  • Place quenelles of chopped mushroom mixture onto a serving platter, add sautéed mushrooms, top with Gruyère beignets and thickly sliced remaining mushroom, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, scatter with baby parsley and serve.
This recipe is from the July 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

"This is one of my favourite entrées. Pine mushrooms are great when they're in season. This dish caters to vegetarians, but also tastes great with the addition of grilled bacon. It features mushrooms three ways: raw, puréed and cooked."

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Pinot from the Côte-de-Beaune Villages. These wines have plenty of red-fruit aromas and great texture.

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