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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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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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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.

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.

Tortellini of lardo with stemperata


These tiny morsels are luscious and silky in the mouth. The rich rendered lardo released from the tortellini is tempered by the sweet and sour flavour of the stemperata.

You'll need

250 gm lardo (see note), cut into 2cm pieces 1 egg, lightly beaten For brushing: eggwash To serve: finely grated parmesan   Pasta dough 220 gm (1 cup) plain flour 1 egg   Stemperata 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 3 celery stalks, finely chopped 1 small red onion, finely chopped 150 gm pitted large green olives, such as gordal or Sicilian green, finely chopped 50 gm raisins 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tbsp small salted capers, rinsed 30 ml white wine vinegar 1 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves

Method

  • 01
  • Place lardo in a saucepan with 60ml water, simmer over low heat until lard renders (40-45 minutes). Pour rendered lard into a bowl, refrigerate until solid, then whip with a wooden spoon until light and airy. Stir in egg, season to taste, refrigerate until required.
  • 02
  • For pasta dough, place flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre, add egg, then gradually add 30ml cold water and stir until mixture just comes together. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth (5-7 minutes). Wrap in plastic wrap, set aside to rest (30-40 minutes).
  • 03
  • Divide pasta into four pieces, then, working with one piece at a time and using a pasta machine with rollers at widest setting, feed dough through rollers. Fold in half lengthways, then feed through rollers again, reducing settings notch by notch until pasta is 1mm thick. Repeat with remaining pasta.
  • 04
  • Cut pasta into 5cm squares and, working with one at a time, place a teaspoon of lard mixture into centre of each, brush edges with eggwash, fold diagonally to form a triangle and press edges to seal, ensuring no air is trapped in filling. Bring bottom corners of triangle together, press to seal. Repeat with remaining pasta and filling. Place on a lightly floured tray, refrigerate until required.
  • 05
  • For stemperata, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add celery and onion and sauté until tender (3-4 minutes). Add olives, raisins, garlic and capers, cook until warmed through (1-2 minutes). Add vinegar and oregano and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Cook until vinegar evaporates (4-5 minutes), set aside.
  • 06
  • Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over high heat, add tortellini, cook until they float to the surface (2-3 minutes). Divide among bowls, spoon over stemperata, scatter with finely grated parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, serve immediately.

Note Lardo is pork back fat that has been salted and cured. The most famous lardo comes from Colonnata in Italy where it's salted in large marble tubs. It's available from select delicatessens.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Pear-crisp arneis.

Featured in

May 2009

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