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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

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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.

Falafel


You'll need

200 gm (2 cups) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water 200 gm podded broad beans (about 600gm unpodded) 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tsp each ground coriander, cumin and cayenne 1 cup each coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley and coriander 1 lemon, finely grated rind only 3 tsp plain flour 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda For deep-frying: vegetable oil To serve: pickled chillies, mixed herb leaf salad (see note) and warm flat-bread   Lemon, cumin and chilli salt 2 tsp cumin seeds 2 tbsp sea salt flakes 1 lemon, finely grated rind only ½ tsp dried chilli flakes   Yoghurt-tahini sauce 55 gm (2½ tbsp) tahini 2 tbsp lemon juice 150 gm Greek-style plain yoghurt 1 garlic clove, crushed

Method

  • 01
  • Drain chickpeas (discard liquid) and process in a food processor with broad beans, onion, garlic, spices, herbs and rind until a fine paste forms. Stir through flour and bicarbonate of soda, season to taste and roll into walnut-sized oval balls. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until chilled (15 minutes).
  • 02
  • For lemon, cumin and chilli salt, dry-roast cumin seeds until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Pound with remaining ingredients in a mortar and pestle until coarsely ground, set aside.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for yoghurt-tahini sauce, whisk tahini and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth, add yoghurt and garlic, season to taste and set aside.
  • 04
  • Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or large deep-sided saucepan to 170C. Deep-fry falafel in batches, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (3-5 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm. Season to taste with lemon, cumin and chilli salt and serve with yoghurt-tahini sauce, pickled chillies, herb salad and flat-bread.
Note You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. You could use any delicate herb for the salad; here we’ve used flat-leaf parsley, chives, mint and dill.

This recipe is from the September 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Forget the precooked, dried-out ones to be found sitting in the bain-marie at the dodgy kebab shop – homemade falafel are a world apart. It’s a crime, really, that such negative associations abound. Perhaps we should start calling them by their other name, ta’amia, to indicate the difference.

These little rissoles are a staple of Egyptian food, their provenance extending way back to the Egyptian Copts. They’ve since made their way through the Middle East in various guises, most popularly in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The Egyptian version uses dried white broad beans, while in other areas,some recipes call for half broad beans, half dried chickpeas or even all chickpeas. Of course, each group claims their own recipe to be the best and looks askance at the others.

Regardless, the common theme is that, unusually, the dried pulse isn’t cooked before it’s used. Rather, it’s soaked in cold water to soften, then ground finely and mixed with chopped onion, a good measure of garlic, a hint of spice – ground cumin and coriander are de rigueur – and finely chopped herbs such as parsley and coriander. We’ve gone fresher still for our variation and used fresh broad beans, which are at their peak right now. The result is a vibrant green colour and earthy, herbaceous flavour. While purists may be up in arms at this development, our tip is to give broad beans a go while they’re still in season and by all means revert to the dried variety at other times of the year.

The mixture is rolled into walnut-sized, torpedo-shaped patties and deep-fried until browned and crisp on the outside, yielding to a fluffy interior. We’ve added another layer of flavour by tossing the freshly cooked falafel in a spiced chilli and cumin salt spiked with fresh lemon rind.

Traditionally, falafel are wrapped in warm pita bread along with chopped herbs and a tahini sauce. Pickled chillies add heat and piquancy, lifting the whole thing above and beyond the negative connotations of fast food. Dodgy kebab shop, eat your heart out.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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