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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. 

Secret Tuscany

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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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.

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.

Roast pumpkin, pancetta and Gruyère tarts


You'll need

800gm small Jap pumpkin, cut into thin wedges Olive oil, for drizzling 200gm firm ricotta 50gm Gruyère finely grated 1 egg 1 tbsp each coarsely chopped thyme and flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon 375 gm sheet butter puff pastry (see note) 6 thin slices round mild pancetta 1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 tsp red wine vinegar 1 tsp Dijon mustard 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped Baby kale leaves, to serve (see note)

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 220C. Spread pumpkin on an oven tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with a little oil, season to taste and roast on top rack of oven until tender and browned (15-18 minutes).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, stir cheeses, egg, herbs and lemon rind in a bowl to combine, and season to taste.
  • 03
  • Cut pastry into four, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, score a 1cm border around each and dock inside the border with a fork. Spread cheese mixture over pastry inside the border and bake until puffed and golden brown (15-18 minutes). Place pancetta on a separate baking tray lined with baking paper and bake until crisp (4-5 minutes), then break into coarse pieces.
  • 04
  • Meanwhile, combine extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic and lemon juice to taste in a jar, shake to combine and season to taste.
  • 05
  • To serve, top tarts with roast pumpkin, pancetta, baby kale and extra herbs and drizzle with dressing.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Additional Notes

We prefer to use Carême puff pastry, which comes in 375gm sheets. If it’s unavailable, substitute another butter puff pastry. Baby kale is available from select supermarkets and greengrocers. If it’s unavailable, use regular kale torn into bite-sized pieces.

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