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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. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

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.

Dandelion: Duck braised in mandarin juice and star anise with chilli, ginger and holy basil


You'll need

8 duck Marylands 2 tbsp vegetable oil 8 long red chillies, 4 cut into julienne, seeds and ends reserved separately 1 head of garlic, halved 6 spring onions, white part only, cut into julienne, green trimmings reserved 30 gm (6cm piece) ginger, cut into julienne, peelings reserved 400 ml mandarin juice (about 1kg mandarins), plus 4 unpeeled mandarins, halved 100 ml fish sauce 50 gm rock sugar, crushed (see note) 8 star anise 2 lemongrass stalks, coarsely chopped 1 piece cassia bark 1½ cups (loosely packed) holy basil, leaves picked, stems reserved separately 200 gm bean sprouts 100 gm cooked bamboo shoots (see note) To serve: Vietnamese baguette (optional) or steamed fragrant rice

Method

  • 01
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add duck in batches, skin-side down, then add half the oil and cook until duck is golden and fat renders (3-4 minutes on each side; be careful as hot fat will spit). Set aside.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Scatter 4 whole chillies, reserved seeds and ends, garlic, spring onion trimmings and ginger peelings in a roasting pan large enough to fit duck snugly in a single layer, then top with duck, skin-side up. Add mandarin juice, fish sauce, rock sugar, star anise, lemongrass, cassia and basil stems. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and roast, basting occasionally, until duck is caramelised (40 minutes-1 hour). Add mandarin halves, baste and return to oven until duck meat is tender and duck skin is golden (30-40 minutes). Remove duck from liquid, set aside and keep warm. Strain liquid through a fine sieve into a saucepan, skim fat, then reduce over medium-high heat to a syrupy sauce (about 400ml; 4-8 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a wok over high heat, stir-fry bean sprouts and bamboo shoots until tender (2-4 minutes). Divide among 4 warmed bowls, add 2 duck legs and a mandarin half to each bowl, pour sauce over, scatter with thinly sliced chilli, spring onion, ginger and holy basil leaves. Serve hot with steamed fragrant rice.
Note Rock sugar and cooked bamboo shoots are available from Asian grocers.

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

“This dish benefits from a combination of influences: the Chinese red braise of cassia, star anise and rock sugar is combined with fresh fruit (as per France’s duck à l’orange) and presented with Vietnamese restraint. It’s resplendent with fresh herbs,” says Lindsay.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

2009 Ocean Eight Pinot Noir.

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