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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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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.

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: beef ribs with cabernet shiraz


You'll need

50 ml olive oil 6 beef short ribs (about 500gm each) 1 each onion and carrot, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 250 ml red wine 400 gm canned crushed tomatoes 500 ml (2 cups) veal stock 2 thyme sprigs   Kohlrabi and silverbeet gratin 700 ml pouring cream 2 thyme sprigs 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 2 tbsp olive oil 600 gm rainbow silverbeet leaves, thinly sliced 1.5 kg kohlrabi, thinly sliced on a mandolin 1 kg large waxy potatoes (about 3), such as Desiree, thinly sliced on a mandolin 100 gm Gruyère, coarsely grated   Parsley sauce ½ cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 2 tbsp rosemary, coarsely chopped Finely grated rind of 1 lemon ½ garlic clove, minced 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add ribs, cook, turning once, until golden (3-5 minutes), remove ribs and set aside. Reduce heat to low, add onion, carrot and garlic, stir until golden and tender (8-10 minutes). Add wine, bring to the simmer, add tomato and stock, bring to the simmer. Add ribs and thyme, cover, braise in oven until tender (2½-3 hours). Set ribs aside, strain liquid into a saucepan over medium heat (discard solids), reduce to a thick sauce (15-20 minutes). Just before serving, add ribs, stir to combine and warm through.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for kohlrabi and silverbeet gratin, bring cream, thyme and garlic to the simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, then set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add silverbeet, cover, stir occasionally until wilted (2-3 minutes), season to taste and drain in a colander. Layer kohlrabi and potato in a 3-litre baking dish, scattering silverbeet and Gruyère between layers, and finish with Gruyère. Pour cream mixture over, season to taste, bake until golden and bubbling and kohlrabi is tender (40-45 minutes).
  • 03
  • For parsley sauce, pound herbs, lemon rind, garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until a coarse paste forms, then stir in oil. Spoon over hot ribs and serve with kohlrabi and silverbeet gratin.

Back in the good old days, Australian wine labelling was simpler. There was none of this new-fangled varietal identification. If you wanted a red, you simply asked for "Burgundy" or "claret". It didn't matter what grapes were used; what mattered was the style. As it happened, many Aussie "clarets" were blends of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. This wasn't unique to Australia; in 19th-century Bordeaux it was common practice to add plump syrah from the Rhône Valley to often-austere-tasting local cabernet. But the cabernet shiraz blend has come to be seen as an Australian classic, and with good reason: it's a terrific partner for robust wintry dishes, such as this one. The dark fruit sweetness of shiraz soaks up the earthy bitterness of the kohlrabi and silverbeet, while the grip of the cabernet sauvignon is exactly what you need to engage with the savoury meatiness of the ribs.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Aug 2012

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