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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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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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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.

Eggplant, goat’s curd, katsuobushi and sesame


"I love the eggplant dish at Monster so much I find excuses to visit Canberra. May I have the recipe?"
Sue Ward, Croydon, NSW

REQUEST A RECIPE
To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via Facebook. Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

You'll need

3 eggplant (about 425gm each) 50 gm sea salt flakes 180 ml vegetable oil, for shallow-frying 1 tbsp each roasted black and white sesame seeds 3 radishes, thinly sliced into rounds on a mandolin 30 gm goat’s curd 2 nori sheets, coarsely torn (see note) To serve: shiso leaves and katsuobushi (see note)   Soy marinade 125 ml (½ cup) light soy sauce 125 ml (½ cup) rice vinegar 2 tbsp white sugar

Method

  • 01
  • Cut eggplant lengthways into 2.5cm-thick wedges, sprinkle with salt and stand in a colander for 10-15 minutes.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for soy marinade, stir ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat just until sugar dissolves (2-3 minutes). Set aside.
  • 03
  • Rinse salt from eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add 60ml vegetable oil and shallow-fry eggplant in batches until golden-brown on both sides and tender (6-8 minutes), adding oil as necessary. Transfer eggplant to a bowl, pour soy marinade over and marinate at room temperature (1 hour).
  • 04
  • To serve, drain eggplant from marinade and arrange on a serving platter, dot the goat’s curd around. Scatter with sesame seeds, radish, nori sheets and shiso leaves and serve topped with the katsuobushi.

Note Nori sheets and katsuobushi, or dried bonito flakes, and are available at Asian supermarkets. Monster's chefs smoke their goat's curd but here we've gone with plain goat's curd instead.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Dec 2014

Recipes (14 )

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