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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.

Steamed rice noodles with dried shrimp and cucumber


You'll need

2 spring onions, thinly sliced 150 ml peanut oil 4 large red shallots, thinly sliced 450 gm fresh rice noodle sheets cut into large squares, at room temperature (see note) 1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into thin, long wedges ½ cup bean sprouts, trimmed ½ cup each (loosely packed) coriander, Vietnamese mint and mint leaves 40 gm dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes, drained (see note) To serve: long red chilli, seeds removed, cut into julienne (optional)   Nuoc cham 80 ml (1/3 cup) fish sauce, or to taste 80 ml (1/3 cup) lime juice, or to taste 2 tbsp caster sugar, or to taste 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar 2 red birdseye chillies, finely chopped 1 coriander root, cleaned, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed

Method

  • 01
  • Place spring onion in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat, add shallot and stir occasionally until golden (3-5 minutes). Strain shallot through a fine metal sieve over spring onion. Set aside spring onion oil and fried shallot separately.
  • 02
  • For nuoc cham, combine ingredients and 1 tbsp water in a bowl and set aside, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves (10 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, separate noodles slightly, then steam in a large bamboo steamer placed over a saucepan of simmering water until softened (5-10 minutes). Transfer to serving plates, top with cucumber, bean sprouts, herbs, shrimp, fried shallot and chilli. Pour over nuoc cham and serve drizzled with spring onion oil to taste.

Note Fresh rice noodle sheets and dried shrimp are available from Asian grocers. Some grocers will have a selection of sizes; opt for the largest shrimps you can afford because they'll have the best flavour.


Slippery rice noodles are great stir-fried with pork and egg or in a soupy broth, but this Vietnamese way of serving them, with a chilli and lime dressing and herbs, makes a really fresh alternative. Cut the noodles any way you like, or even buy the noodles rolled or pre-cut - the flavour will be the same.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Apr 2010

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