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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.

Panpepato


You'll need

2 sheets of confectioner’s rice paper (see note) 50 gm (1/3 cup) plain flour 40 gm Dutch-process cocoa 1 tbsp ground mixed spice 1 tsp ground coriander ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 tsp coarsely crushed pink peppercorns 200 gm candied oranges, coarsely chopped 80 gm (¾ cup) almonds, roasted 80 gm each walnuts and hazelnuts, roasted and peeled (see note) 150 gm caster sugar 150 gm honey To dust: pure icing sugar

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 150C. Lightly grease five 10cm-diameter springform pans, line bases with baking paper and then rice paper, trimming to fit. Sift flour and cocoa into a bowl, add spices, orange and nuts and toss to coat well in flour mixture.
  • 02
  • Heat caster sugar, honey and 2 tbsp water in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Do not stir again as mixture may crystallise. Bring to the boil and cook until mixture reaches 120C on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Working quickly with a lightly oiled spoon, pour caramel over nut mixture, mixing well. Spoon into prepared pans and smooth tops with an oiled spatula. Bake for 10-15 minutes (time it carefully because this cake will not firm up or colour as it cooks). Cool completely in pans, turn out, then dust liberally with icing sugar. Panpepato will keep, wrapped in baking paper and then plastic wrap in an airtight container in a cool place, for up to 1 month. To present as a gift, wrap panpepato in baking paper before wrapping as desired. Serve cut into wedges.
Note This recipe makes 5 cakes. Confectioner’s rice paper is available from The Essential Ingredient and other speciality food stores. To remove nut skins, roast nuts at 180C (8-10 minutes) until golden. Cool, then rub off skins between two ends of a folded tea towel.

It seems we have a predilection for dried fruit and spices at this time of year. We’ve inherited a love of all things fruity from the English, whether it be Christmas cakes, fruit mince tarts or plum puddings. The Italians like to get in on the act too, turning out golden fruit-studded panettone and Siena’s rich, dark panforte, a toothsome jumble of dried and glacé fruit, nuts and spices bound with honey and a touch of flour. Similarly, panpepato is a specialty of both the region and the season, differing by the addition of chocolate and a generous quantity of ground black pepper. Both confections date back to the Middle Ages and today the artisanal producers jealously guard the recipes. The history of panforte and panpepato are intertwined and it’s difficult to distinguish which came first and what their true provenance is. Some claim panpepato was invented first and then the flavours were changed and refined in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy’s visit to the town in 1879. Thus panforte Margherita was born. Other sources state that panpepato derives from panforte and was created by Sister Berta when Siena was under siege. She had become so concerned for the health of the residents that she set about making a cake based on the original panforte recipe. Instead of fresh fruit, she packed the cake with dried fruit, honey and nuts and spiked it with spicy pepper. Our version uses black and pink peppercorns and we’ve given it a distinct citrus flavour with the addition of candied orange. Legend has it panpepato possessed powerful aphrodisiac qualities and also had the ability to stop husbands and wives from fighting, both of which are great reasons to whip up a batch yourself. And then there’s the chewy texture and spicy flavour to consider. Get cooking.

At A Glance

  • Serves 5 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 5 people

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