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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.

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.

Mussel and saffron soup


You'll need

2 kg black mussels 30 gm unsalted butter 1 onion, finely chopped 1 celery stalk, finely chopped 1 leek, white part only, finely chopped 1¼ tsp curry powder ¾ tsp cayenne pepper Pinch of saffron threads 1 thyme sprig 1 fresh bay leaf 750 ml white wine 400 ml fish stock 500 ml heavy cream (45% milk fat) 8 oysters 1 potato, diced and cooked until soft To serve: paprika

Method

  • 01
  • Rinse the mussels in cold water, remove beards, then wash again. Discard any that won’t close when tapped on a work surface.
  • 02
  • Melt butter in a large, heavy-based pan and gently sweat the vegetables until soft, without allowing them to colour. Add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, saffron and herbs and sweat them for a little longer, then add the mussels. Continue cooking gently, with the lid on, for another 2 minutes.
  • 03
  • Add the wine, and replace the lid to allow mussels to steam open. Once mussels have opened, remove pan from heat and pick mussels out of the pan, discarding any that have not opened. Return the pan to the heat and reduce the wine by half. Add the fish stock and reduce by half again.
  • 04
  • Strain stock through a muslin cloth or very fine sieve into a clean pan. Add cream and reduce a little further, until it has a coating consistency. Season with a little salt to taste.
  • 05
  • To serve, remove mussels from their shells (ensuring there are no beards), place some at the bottom of each soup bowl, along with one oyster and a few pieces of diced potato. Heat the soup to just below boiling point and pour it over the mussels and oyster. Dust with a pinch of paprika.

Note This recipe is from Marco Pierre White's Great British Feast (Orion, $55, hbk). In editing this recipe for publication we have made minor changes to bring it into Gourmet Traveller style.


This soup is relatively simple to make but tastes totally lavish. The oysters are optional - they make the soup that little bit more special but it's equally good without. Mussels are a particularly versatile seafood, and some of the best mussels in the country come from Jersey. I like them steamed with a little onion but, instead of using white wine, I like to use cider; try it once and you'll be hooked.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Sep 2008

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