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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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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.

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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.

Quail ballotine with freekeh, cranberries and goat’s cheese


You'll need

4 quail, butterflied, wings and thigh bones removed 24 thin slices flat mild pancetta 60 gm butter, coarsely chopped 1 celery stalk, finely chopped 1 leek (white part only), finely chopped ½ carrot, finely chopped 1 golden shallot, finely chopped 4 thyme sprigs 750 ml (3 cups) hot chicken stock 200 gm cracked freekeh ½ Granny Smith apple, finely chopped 40 gm dried cranberries Finely grated rind of 1 lemon 1 preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rind rinsed and finely chopped 2 tbsp finely chopped chives and flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve 40 ml olive oil 100 gm soft goat’s cheese   Chicken mousse 20 gm butter, coarsely chopped 3 golden shallots, finely chopped ½ garlic clove, finely chopped 100 gm skinless chicken breast, coarsely chopped ½ egg, lightly beaten 100 ml pouring cream 10 gm mixed dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained, finely chopped

Method

  • 01
  • For chicken mousse, heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add shallot and garlic, stir occasionally until tender (5-6 minutes) then set aside to cool. Process chicken and egg in a food processor until smooth (1-2 minutes), then slowly add cream and process until combined. Transfer to a large bowl with shallot mixture, stir in mushroom and season to taste. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm round nozzle and refrigerate until required.
  • 02
  • Place each quail between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin to an even thickness. Place 6 pancetta slices on a sheet of plastic wrap, slightly overlapping longest sides. Place a quail skin-side down lengthways across pancetta, pipe chicken mousse along centre of quail, season to taste and use plastic wrap to carefully roll into a cylinder (starting with pancetta ends and rolling away from you). Tie ends to secure. Repeat with remaining pancetta, quail and chicken mousse. Wrap each ballotine tightly in foil to seal, then poach in a large saucepan of simmering water in 2 batches until just firm (weight with a plate to keep submerged; 16-18 minutes). Refresh and set aside.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, heat 40gm butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add celery, leek, carrot, shallot and thyme and stir occasionally until tender (6-8 minutes). Add stock and freekeh, bring to the simmer, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender and liquid is absorbed (20 minutes). Spread on a large tray and set aside to cool. Heat remaining butter in a small frying pan over medium heat, add apple and stir occasionally until just tender (2-3 minutes), then set aside to cool. Just before serving, stir apple, cranberries, lemon rind, preserved lemon and herbs into freekeh mixture and season to taste.
  • 04
  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, place a round of baking paper inside pan, add oil and cook ballotines, turning occasionally, until golden and warmed through (6-8 minutes), then thickly slice and serve with freekeh mixture, scattered with goat’s cheese and extra herbs.
This recipe is from the February 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“I’d love to attempt the quail ballotine from Brisbane’s Stokehouse. Will you oblige?”
Peter Maher, via email

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To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email us. All requests should include the restaurant’s name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

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