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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. 

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.

Farro recipes

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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.

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2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

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.

Lasagne


You'll need

60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil 150 gm pancetta, finely chopped 2 stalks of celery with leaves, finely chopped 2 onions, finely chopped 1 small carrot, finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 500 gm each of minced veal and pork 50 gm (2 tbsp) tomato paste 125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine 1 400gm can whole tomatoes 250 ml (1 cup) beef stock 60 ml (¼ cup) balsamic vinegar 80 gm (1 cup) finely grated parmesan   Besciamella 1.5 litres (6 cups) milk 1 onion, cut into wedges 1 clove of garlic, halved 1 tsp cloves 2 fresh bay leaves 120 gm butter, coarsely chopped 120 gm plain flour ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or to taste   Pasta (see note) 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour 55 gm (1/3 cup) coarse semolina, plus extra for dusting 2 eggs

Method

  • 01
  • For pasta, using a food processor, pulse flour, semolina and 1 tsp of sea salt until combined. With motor running, add eggs and process mixture until it just comes together (if necessary, add 1 to 2 tsp of cold water). Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth (about 5-10 mins). Wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
  • 02
  • Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add pancetta, celery, onion, carrot and garlic and cook until soft (10-12 minutes), season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add combined mince and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until brown (5-7 minutes). Add tomato paste, stir to combine, add wine and cook until evaporated (1-2 minutes). Add tomatoes, stock and vinegar and season to taste. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until sauce is thick (1 hour 15 minutes). Keep warm.
  • 03
  • For besciamella, combine milk, onion, garlic, cloves and bay leaves in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and keep warm. Melt butter in a separate heavy-based saucepan, add flour and stir over medium heat until combined and starting to colour (1-2 minutes) then remove from heat and gradually whisk in milk until well combined and smooth. Return pan to low heat and cook, stirring, until sauce thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon (10-15 minutes). Season to taste with nutmeg, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.
  • 04
  • Using a pasta machine with rollers set at the widest setting, feed through half the pasta dough. Fold in half lengthways, feed through again, repeat, reducing settings notch by notch, feeding and rolling until 2mm thick. Repeat with remaining half and place onto a tray between sheets of baking paper.
  • 05
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 2 litre-capacity ovenproof dish. Spread one third of meat sauce over base, spread over one third of besciamella, scatter with quarter of a cup of parmesan. Top with three overlapping pasta sheets, trimmed to fit. Repeat twice, finishing with besciamella, and scatter with remaining parmesan, then bake until golden (25-30 minutes). Stand for 10 minutes, then serve.
Note This dish may be assembled the day before, refrigerated then cooked as per recipe. Fresh or dried pasta sheets may be substituted for making your own.

“I’ve never met a lasagne I didn’t like”, declared Garfield, the comic-strip cat, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d disagree with the chubby talking tabby. One of Italy’s most popular culinary exports, the word ‘lasagne’ derives from the Latin word ‘lasanum’ meaning cooking pot but the term has now come to describe the dish itself, which is typically made with sheets of wide pasta, layered with a savoury mixture and baked in the oven. Everyone has their favourite lasagne recipe and there are many variations on the theme. Lasagne can be also be made with vegetables or seafood, and as testimony to its wide-ranging appeal, there’s even a Mexican version that features chillies and layers of corn tortillas instead of pasta. But, however you like to make or eat it, there’s just something about lasagne that exudes the Italian qualities of warmth and hospitality, and makes you feel instantly at home – wherever you happen to be.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

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