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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.

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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.

Oregano-braised lamb shanks with broad beans, peas and orzo


You'll need

8 French-trimmed lamb shanks Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons, plus extra to taste 3 tsp dried Greek oregano (see note) 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 160 ml (2/3 cup) olive oil 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced 1 onion, diced 3 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped 200 ml dry white wine 600 ml chicken stock 2 fresh bay leaves 3 fresh oregano sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve 230 gm (1 cup) orzo (see note) 250 gm podded broad beans (about 500gm unpodded) 100 gm podded peas (about 250gm unpodded)

Method

  • 01
  • Combine shanks, lemon rind and juice, dried oregano, half the garlic and 120ml oil in a non-reactive container, season to taste, cover and refrigerate to marinate (2-3 hours).
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 150C, and heat a large deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Drain shanks (discard marinade) and cook in batches, turning occasionally, until browned (4-5 minutes). Transfer to a roasting dish large enough to fit lamb in a single layer with a little room to move. Wipe frying pan clean with absorbent paper, add remaining oil, then add celery, onion and remaining garlic. Stir occasionally until tender (4-5 minutes), then add tomato and stir occasionally until beginning to soften. Deglaze with wine, simmer until reduced by half (4-5 minutes), then add stock, bay leaves and fresh oregano. Bring to the simmer, season to taste and pour over shanks. Cover with foil and braise in oven, turning shanks occasionally, until meat almost falls from the bone (2½-3 hours).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, cook orzo in boiling salted water until half-cooked (4-5 minutes), drain (reserve 125ml pasta water) and set aside.
  • 04
  • Remove shanks from pan, and skim fat from surface of liquid. Add broad beans, orzo, peas and reserved pasta water, return shanks to pan and return to oven. Roast, uncovered, until broad beans and peas are just cooked and pasta is tender (4-5 minutes). Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon juice and lemon rind and serve hot, scattered with fresh oregano leaves.

Note Greek oregano, also known as rigani, is more aromatic than the dried oregano sold in supermarkets. It's available in dried bunches from Greek delicatessens. If unavailable, substitute dried oregano. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta similar to risoni; it's available from select delicatessens and supermarkets.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Oct 2011

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