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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.

Pork chops with romesco and crackling


Choose pork with good marbling.

You'll need

165 gm piece of pork skin (see note) 2 slices crusty white bread 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling 8 pork loin chops (about 160gm each)   Romesco 3 dried ancho chillies (see note) 2 vine-ripened tomatoes 25 gm blanched almonds 1 small red chilli, finely chopped 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped 25 gm roasted hazelnuts 3 store-bought roasted red capsicum (see note) 2 tbsp red wine vinegar 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 220C fan-forced. Score pork skin, place in a small roasting pan, rub with olive oil, season to taste and roast until golden and crisp (15-20 minutes), adding bread to pan for the last 5 minutes of cooking to toast in fat. Remove crackling and bread and set aside (discard pork fat).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for romesco sauce, soak ancho chilli in warm water until soft (15 minutes), drain, coarsely chop and set aside. Roast tomatoes and almonds separately until skin blisters on tomatoes and almonds are golden (8-10 minutes). Peel tomatoes, remove seeds and set aside with almonds. Pulse ancho chilli, red chilli and garlic in a food processor to a coarse paste. Add almonds, hazelnuts and reserved toasted bread, pulse to combine. Add tomato and capsicum, pulse to combine, stir through vinegar and olive oil and season to taste.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, preheat a char-grill over high heat, drizzle pork chops with olive oil, season to taste and cook until just cooked through (2-3 minutes each side). Serve with romesco and sliced crackling.

Note Pork skin may need to be ordered ahead from your butcher. Ancho chilli is available from Herbie's Spices. You can roast your own red capsicum instead of using the store-bought kind by placing on an oven tray in an oven heated at 250C, turning occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. Leave to cool, then peel and remove seeds.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

Young tempranillo.

Featured in

Feb 2009

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