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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.

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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.

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This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Fried potato skins with fonduta sauce


Little chat potatoes fry up surprisingly well and don't need to be blanched beforehand. We've made a cheesy sauce for dipping, so they're perfect party food. You can use any cheese you like - aged cheddar is a real treat. We used a melon baller to remove the flesh of the potato; keep these rounds of potato in water and use them in another dish - they would be lovely boiled and added to the fish or chicken recipes here.

You'll need

10 chat potatoes, such as kestrel For deep-frying: vegetable oil 1 spring onion, thinly sliced   Fonduta 65 gm coarsely grated Emmenthal 50 gm finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve 2 tbsp each milk and pouring cream 2 egg yolks

Method

  • 01
  • Heat vegetable oil in a deep wide saucepan to 190C. Halve chat potatoes, then use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh, leaving just the skin and a little flesh on the sides (reserve the potato balls in water for another use). Deep-fry potato skins, turning occasionally until golden brown (2-4 minutes). Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • 02
  • For fonduta, whisk ingredients in a heatproof bowl and stir occasionally over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth (5 minutes). Season to taste.
  • 03
  • Reheat oil when ready to serve and refry potato skins until hot and golden (1-2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels briefly, then scatter with finely grated parmesan and spring onions and serve with hot fonduta to the side for dipping.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Nov 2015

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