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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Farro recipes

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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.

Hot cross buns


You'll need

  Buns 750 gm (5 cups) plain flour, sifted 55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar 2 tsp (14 gm) dried yeast 1 tsp allspice ½ tsp cinnamon 250 gm (1½ cups) sultanas 100 gm candied orange peel, coarsely chopped 1 orange, finely grated rind only 300 ml milk 100 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped 1 egg   Glaze 55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar ¼ tsp mixed spice

Method

  • 01
  • Combine 700 gm flour, sugar, yeast, spices, sultanas, orange peel and rind and 1 tsp sea salt in a bowl. Gently warm milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts and mixture is tepid. Add egg to milk mixture and whisk. Make a well in the centre of flour mixture, add milk mixture and stir. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Knock back dough and cut into 16 equal pieces. Knead each piece into a ball, place in a lightly greased 22cm-square cake pan, cover with a damp tea towel and stand in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 220C. Combine remaining flour and ¼ cup water and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Pipe lines down each row to form crosses. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200C and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden. (They’re ready when they sound hollow when tapped).
  • 03
  • For glaze, combine ingredients with ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Brush glaze over hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

We'd be slightly remiss if we didn't begin any discussion of these most familiar of religious sweet breads with the classic children's joke: what do you get if you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? Hot cross bunnies.

Thigh-slapper that it is, the gag belies the more brutal aspects of the hot cross bun's lineage. There is discussion under the bun's entry inThe Oxford Companion to Foodof the hot-cross' ancient origin as a substitute religious offering made in place of blood.

That, of course, was way back when; today, the association is more typically a secular one of oozing hot butter and rich spice, though Good Friday continues to be the day they're eaten most. The delightfully curmudgeonly Elizabeth David notes, in herEnglish Bread and Yeast Cookery, that some bakers superimpose strips of peel or little bands of ordinary pastry to emphasize the cross. "Both of these methods involve unnecessary fiddling work," she writes. "Neither, in my experience, is successful. There is no need to worry overmuch about the exactitude of the cross. You have made the symbolic gesture. That is what counts." Wise words for all bakers to live by, even if the tradition in this country sees the crosses reinforced with a little flour-and-water paste.


At A Glance

  • Serves 16 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 16 people

Additional Notes

WHERE TO TRY IT

Baker D. Chirico

Topped with a dark Callebaut chocolate cross and heady with spices and ginger, get these while you can. Shop 3/4, 149 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, Vic., (03) 9534 3777.

Bruno's Truffels

Pick up port-soaked sultana-filled buns and diving chocolate eggs, too. 2/106 Mawson Pl, ACT, (02) 6286 6377.

Hominy

Hand-ground spices are the secret to Brent Heresee's buns. 185 Katoomba St, Katoomba, NSW, (02) 4782 9816.

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