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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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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.

Tortellini Bolognese


You'll need

50 gm butter, coarsely chopped 200 gm minced pork 150 gm mortadella, finely chopped 150 gm thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped 100 gm finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra to serve 1 egg Pinch of finely grated nutmeg   Pasta dough 300 gm (2 cups) “00” or plain flour 3 eggs

Method

  • 01
  • Heat 20gm butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add minced pork, stir occasionally until cooked through (3-5 minutes), season to taste and set aside to cool.
  • 02
  • Process mortadella, prosciutto and cooked pork in a food processor until finely chopped, add parmesan, egg and nutmeg, season to taste and refrigerate until required.
  • 03
  • For pasta dough, process flour, eggs and a pinch of salt in a food processor until combined, turn onto a work surface and knead until smooth (5-7 minutes). Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest (30 minutes).
  • 04
  • Divide dough in two, then, working with one piece at a time, feed dough through pasta machine, starting at the widest setting. Lightly flour dough as you fold and feed it through, reducing settings notch by notch until pasta is 3mm thick. Cut 6.5cm-diameter circles from pasta with a cutter, fill with a teaspoon of pork mixture, brush edges with water, fold to form a semi-circle and enclose filling. Brush one pointed end with water, bring edges together to form a tortellino, pressing to seal. Set aside on a tray dusted with semolina. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  • 05
  • Cook tortellini in batches in a large saucepan of simmering salted water until cooked through (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon, add remaining butter, toss to combine and serve scattered with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tortellini is one of Italian cuisine's most recognisable dishes. It's emblematic of the Emilia-Romagna region, but like most classic dishes, its origins are disputed - Bologna and Modena each claim the dish as their own.

References to the pasta's distinctive pointed hat shape date back as far as 1570, although the name didn't enter the vernacular until sometime late in the 17th century, and there's been heated debate ever since about what constitutes true tortellini. In 1974, in an attempt to codify the dish, the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, Bologna section, and the Confraternita del Tortellino registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce a recipe deeming pork loin, prosciutto crudo, Bolognese mortadella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs and nutmeg in specific proportions to be the true filling.

For many centuries, the tortellini were served in brodo - preferably a capon broth - but these days it's commonly seen with cream or with butter and parmesan, as we've prepared it here.

Purists say a tortellino must have a pointed top, and according to Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy inThe Geometry of Pasta, the pasta is "more elegant" when made from squares than from circles. Contrarily, we've opted for circles, but if you prefer to take the purist approach, cut the pasta dough into squares instead of circles in step three. Place a little filling in the centre, then fold the pasta to enclose it and form a triangle. Wind the bottom edge of the triangle around your fingertip, press the points together to seal and presto - a hat-shaped tortellino.

The myth surrounding the shape of tortellini is compelling: the pasta is said to have been inspired by a belly button spied through a key-hole. Said belly button has been variously accredited to the goddess Venus, or the Renaissance femme fatale Lucrezia Borgia. The eye doing the spying through the keyhole belonged, in both cases, to a peeping innkeeper. What that says about Italian men, we're not sure, but it certainly gives fresh meaning to the term navel-gazing.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

May 2011

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