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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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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.

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.

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.

Lamb baked in lavender salt with mustard beans


Lavender and lamb is a Provençal classic. If you use a very coarse rock salt you may need less liquid in the salt crust, so add it judiciously.

You'll need

2 lamb backstraps (about 240gm each) 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 tbsp Dijon mustard 300 gm coarse rock salt, lightly crushed 2 tbsp dried lavender, plus extra to serve 1 tbsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns 1 egg, lightly whisked   Mustard beans 100 gm green beans, halved widthways 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 golden shallot, finely chopped 25 gm mizuna or rocket leaves 1 tbsp lemon juice ½ tsp Dijon mustard

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Place lamb on a baking tray, rub all over with garlic and brush with mustard. Combine salt, lavender, pepper and egg in a bowl, adding a little water if necessary to make a thick paste. Spoon salt mixture over lamb, press firmly to form a crust, then roast until cooked to your liking (12-15 minutes for medium-rare). Rest for 5 minutes, then crack salt crust just before serving.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for mustard beans, blanch beans until just tender (1-2 minutes). Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add shallot and sauté until just softened (2-3 minutes), add beans and sauté until just warmed through (1-2 minutes). Add mizuna and sauté until just wilted (30 seconds-1 minute), then stir through lemon juice and mustard, season to taste.
  • 03
  • Brush excess salt from lamb, slice thickly and serve scattered with extra lavender, with mustard beans on the side.

At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people

Drink Suggestion

Pale, dry but full-bodied Provençal-style rosé.

Featured in

Feb 2010

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