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.

Malaysian chicken curry


You'll need

4 each golden shallots, garlic cloves and long red chillies, coarsely chopped 20 gm (4cm piece) ginger, coarsely chopped 1½ tbsp vegetable oil 1 onion, thinly sliced 4 tsp ground cardamom 1½ tsp ground turmeric 8 chicken thigh fillets, cut into strips 400 ml coconut milk 1 fresh curry leaf sprig (see note) 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised 1 each cinnamon quill and star anise 1½ tbsp soft palm sugar, or to taste To serve: fried shallots (see note) and lime wedges   Coconut rice 400 ml coconut milk 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised ½ tsp each cumin seeds and coriander seeds, cracked in a mortar and pestle 400 gm jasmine rice, rinsed

Method

  • 01
  • Process shallot, garlic, chilli and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chilli mixture, stir occasionally until fragrant (2 minutes). Add onion and spices, stir for 2 minutes, add chicken, stir to coat well. Add coconut milk, curry leaf sprig, lemongrass, cinnamon, star anise and 100ml water and simmer until chicken is tender (20 minutes). Season to taste with palm sugar and sea salt.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for coconut rice, simmer coconut milk, lemongrass, spices and 200ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add rice and bring to the simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is tender and liquid absorbed (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, stand for 5 minutes and serve with hot chicken curry, scattered with fried shallots, with lime wedges.

Note Curry leaf sprigs and fried shallots are available from Asian grocers.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Aug 2012

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