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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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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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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.

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.

Calamari tacos with chilli sauce


You'll need

1 kg calamari, cleaned, sliced into 2cm rings, tentacles halved 2 tbsp lime juice 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil 16 10cm-diameter warm corn tortillas 150 gm (1 cup) finely diced white onion To serve: coarsely chopped coriander, toasted sesame seeds and lime wedges   Chilli sauce 90 ml sweet chilli sauce 1 tbsp finely chopped white onion ½ spring onion, coarsely chopped 3 tsp each coarsely chopped Thai basil and coriander 2 tsp lime juice 1½ tsp finely chopped ginger 1½ tsp sriracha sauce (see note) 1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tsp dried New Mexico chilli (see note) 1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped ½ tsp toasted sesame seeds ½ tsp kochukaru (see note) ¼ red birdseye chili (see note), coarsely chopped

Method

  • 01
  • For chilli sauce, finely process ingredients in a small food processor, season to taste and refrigerate until required. Makes about 150ml.
  • 02
  • Combine calamari in a bowl with lime juice and half the olive oil and season to taste.
  • 03
  • Heat a plancha (see note) to high heat, or heat a large frying pan over high heat. Brush tortillas with remaining oil and cook in batches, turning once, until just warm and slightly crisp (1-2 minutes each side). Keep warm.
  • 04
  • Cook calamari on plancha until just seared (1 minute), then season to taste.
  • 05
  • Stack tortillas in piles of two, top with calamari, chilli sauce, onion and coriander, scatter with sesame seeds, squeeze over lime wedges and serve.
Note Kochukaru (Korean chilli powder) is available from Korean and select other Asian grocers. Sriracha is Thai chilli sauce available from Asian grocers and select supermarkets. Roy Choi uses serrano chilli and dried Anaheim chilli in his recipe. Both are unavailable in Australia so we've substituted dried New Mexico chilli and red birdseye chilli. Dried New Mexico chilli is available from Herbie's Spices. You can use the flat plate of a barbecue as a plancha.

This recipe is from the March 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

"I really don't respond to criticism that much but this was an exception. Everyone kept saying Kogi only does one thing and it all tastes the same. All they do is meat and drench it in sauce. I didn't even want to get into a debate about all the vegetables that hide in corners all throughout our marinades and sauces and relishes. People see what they wanna see sometimes. So instead of arguing and expending negative energy we just hit 'em hard with the sweet chilli calamari taco and things got quiet on the streets of LA for one hot minute. Welcome to the Kogi familia!"

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Drink Suggestion

Cold refreshing lager

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