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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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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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

Perfect match: onglet with cabernet merlot


You'll need

4 onglet steaks (about 220gm each) 2 tbsp olive oil To serve: watercress salad (optional)   Béarnaise 100 ml white wine vinegar 1 golden shallot, finely chopped 2 black peppercorns, crushed 4 egg yolks 250 gm butter, melted (keep warm) 1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste 1 tbsp each tarragon leaves and chervil sprigs, finely chopped   Pommes Pont Neuf 4 large russet Burbank potatoes, or other floury potatoes 850 gm (4 cups) duck fat (see note)

Method

  • 01
  • For béarnaise, simmer vinegar, shallot and peppercorns in a small saucepan over high heat until reduced to 1 tablespoon (5-7 minutes). Combine vinegar reduction and egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl, whisk to combine, then whisk over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure to scrape sides) until thick and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat, place bowl on a tea towel to secure, then add melted butter in a thin steady stream, whisking continuously until thick and incorporated (2-3 minutes). Season to taste with lemon juice and freshly ground pepper, stir through herbs, cover, set aside and keep warm.
  • 02
  • For pommes Pont Neuf, cut potatoes into 1.5cm-thick chips, soak in cold water for 1 hour. Preheat duck fat in a deep-sided saucepan to 140C. Drain potatoes, pat dry with absorbent paper, fry in batches until tender (5-7 minutes), drain on absorbent paper, set aside to cool. Increase temperature to 190C, then fry chips in batches until golden and crisp (3-5 minutes), drain, season to taste, keep warm.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, bring a large chargrill to medium-high heat. Drizzle steaks with oil, season to taste and cook to your liking (4-5 minutes each side for medium). Cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes, then serve with béarnaise, pommes Pont Neuf and watercress salad, if desired.

Note Canned duck fat is available from select delicatessens.


Looking for more bistro classics? Check out our French recipe slideshow.

It's a Parisian bistro classic, isn't it? Steak, chips, béarnaise, watercress and a glass of "claret" - that wonderfully old-school name given by the Brits to the red wines of Bordeaux. It works with this dish because the firm, elegant, mouth-drying tannins of the cabernet and merlot grapes used to make red wines from Bordeaux are softened by the protein of the steak, and the herbal lift of tarragon in the sauce matches the cedary, aromatic quality of the wine. Although there are some brilliant clarets around, there are also some wonderful Australian cabernet merlots that might make an even better match, thanks to the extra weight of blackcurrant, mulberry and plum fruit. Look for cab merlots from the very good 2006 vintage in the eastern states, and from the superlative 2007 vintage in Western Australia.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Jul 2009

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