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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. 

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.

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This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Pea and ham soup

Tony Tan's Malaysian-style roast turkey with cucumber acar


You'll need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.

You'll need

1 free-range turkey (about 5kg) 2 onions, cut into wedges 500 ml dry white wine 375 ml (1½ cups) chicken stock 40 ml brandy   Cucumber acar 4 Lebanese cucumbers, unpeeled, halved lengthways, seeds removed with a spoon, cut into 5cm batons ½ garlic head, cloves separated and thinly sliced on a mandolin 90 ml vegetable oil 1½ tsp ground turmeric 180 ml white vinegar 80 gm caster sugar 3 each long red chillies and long green chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced   Brine 250 gm rock salt 200 gm white sugar 1 tbsp each whole allspice and whole black peppercorns 5 fresh bay leaves   Chestnut and lemongrass stuffing 100 gm butter, coarsely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped ½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary or sage 2 tsp thyme leaves 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, minced 250 gm coarse fresh white breadcrumbs 150 gm peeled cooked chestnuts, coarsely chopped (see note) 2 eggs 2 tbsp finely grated lime rind, plus juice of 1 lime

Method

  • 01
  • For cucumber acar, combine cucumber in a bowl with a heaped teaspoon of fine salt. Transfer to a colander to drain (1 hour), rinse under cold running water, pat dry. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 100C. Scatter garlic on an oven tray lined with baking paper and dry in oven (25-30 minutes), set aside. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and, when just warm, add turmeric. Remove from heat, add vinegar, sugar and 180ml water and season to taste with salt. Return to heat, stir until sugar dissolves, set aside to cool. Place cucumber, garlic and chilli in a non-reactive container. Add cooled pickling liquid to cover, then refrigerate for 2 days before eating. Cucumber acar will keep refrigerated for 1 month.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for brine, bring rock salt, sugar, bay leaf, spices and 8 litres water to the boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium, simmer for 5 minutes, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate to chill completely (1-2 hours). Submerge turkey in brine in a non-reactive container and refrigerate (24 hours). Before roasting, remove turkey from brine, pat dry inside and out with absorbent paper and stand at room temperature (1-2 hours).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for chestnut and lemongrass stuffing, melt butter over low-medium heat, add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is translucent (6-8 minutes). Stir in parsley, rosemary, thyme and lemongrass, stir occasionally until fragrant (1 minute), transfer to a large bowl, add remaining ingredients, season to taste and cool completely.
  • 04
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Spoon stuffing into turkey cavity, truss legs with kitchen string. Scatter onion and a few bay leaves from brine in the base of a large roasting pan, place turkey on top, rub with butter and season to taste. Add wine and 250ml stock to pan, cover breasts with foil and roast, basting frequently, for 1 hour, replenishing with more stock, water or wine to stop juices from drying. Remove foil from breasts and roast, basting occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through (25-35 minutes; juices should run clear when thigh is pierced with a skewer). Remove turkey and onion from roasting dish, cover loosely with foil, rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Spoon excess fat from roasting pan (discard), return pan to stove over medium heat, add brandy and remaining stock. Stir to deglaze, simmer until reduced to a rich sauce (10-15 minutes), season to taste and strain through a fine sieve into sauce jug. Carve turkey and serve with onion, pan juices, stuffing and cucumber acar.

Note Cooked chestnuts are available from select delicatessens and grocers.


"I don't remember when we started cooking turkey for Christmas but I have vivid childhood memories of picking bits of delicious meat from the bird. Perhaps it was during the days when my mother worked as a cook for the British, perhaps it was for friends and neighbours who dropped by when service was over in the Chinese restaurant we had. I do, however, remember that we brined our turkeys to make them juicy and tender, as free-range birds in the tropics were rather chewy. I also remember we ate the turkey with Indian acars, roast vegetables, potato salad, beef rendang and lots of salads. This cucumber acar or pickle is perfect with all kinds of roasts and curries. I make large batches of pickle at once to save time."


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Sparkling shiraz.

Featured in

Dec 2011

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