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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.

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.

Rum baba with orange cream


You'll need

65 ml milk 35 ml thickened cream 1¾ tsp dried yeast 210 gm plain flour 2½ tbsp caster sugar 2 eggs, lightly whisked 65 gm butter, melted   Rum syrup 750 gm caster sugar 150 ml dark rum   Orange cream 30 gm caster sugar 2 egg yolks 2 tsp each plain flour and cornflour 150 ml milk 400 ml orange juice ¼ tsp agar-agar (see note) 400 ml thickened cream, whisked to soft peaks

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan until lukewarm, add yeast and set aside in a warm place until foamy (5 minutes). Mix flour, sugar and 1 tsp sea salt on low speed in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, then add egg and yeast mixture and mix to combine. Increase speed to medium and mix until smooth (5 minutes). Reduce speed to low and gradually add butter, mixing until combined, then increase speed to high and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (5 minutes). Divide dough among 4 greased 150ml dariole moulds, cover with a tea towel and set aside to prove until dough reaches tops of moulds (1-1½ hours). Bake until golden and cooked through (15-20 minutes), cool slightly in moulds, turn out to cool completely, then transfer to a large airtight container until required.
  • 02
  • For rum syrup, stir sugar and 1 litre water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer until syrupy (5 minutes). Set aside to cool, then stir through rum, pour over rum babas and set aside to soak (2 hours), turning in syrup occasionally.
  • 03
  • For orange cream, whisk sugar and yolks in a bowl until pale (3-4 minutes), sift flours over, stir to combine and set aside. Bring milk to just below the boil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add milk to egg mixture in a thin, steady stream, whisking continuously, then return to a clean saucepan and whisk over medium heat until mixture comes to the boil and thickens (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover closely with plastic wrap and set aside to cool. Reduce orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat to 125ml (15-20 minutes). Add agar-agar, whisk to combine and bring to the boil. Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl and refrigerate to cool. Fold in milk mixture, then fold in whipped cream. Serve with rum baba, with extra rum syrup drizzled over.
Note Agar-agar is a setting agent derived from seaweed; it’s available from health-food shops.

This recipe is from the December 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“I’m tempted to ship straight to dessert at Subo in Newcastle – their rum babas are superb.”
Meredith Garland, Newcastle, NSW

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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

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