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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.

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Double plum pudding with brown sugar hard sauce


You'll need

125 gm softened butter 125 gm brown sugar 1 egg, plus 1 extra egg yolk 80 gm shop-bought plum jam 100 gm fine sourdough breadcrumbs 75 gm (½ cup) plain flour 1 tsp each ground cinnamon and mixed spice ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda 75 ml milk 600 gm dark fruit mixture   Brown sugar hard sauce 250 gm softened butter, coarsely chopped 165 gm each brown sugar and sieved pure icing sugar 2 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground nutmeg Pinch of ground cloves Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean 80 ml brandy ½ eggwhite

Method

  • 01
  • Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy (6-8 minutes), scrape down sides of bowl and beat in egg and yolk to combine. Beat in jam, then stir in breadcrumbs, flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in milk, then fruit mixture and spoon into a well-buttered 1.2-litre ceramic pudding bowl. Smooth top, cover bowl with 2 layers of baking paper and secure with kitchen string. Cover with a layer of foil, place in a large saucepan lined with a tea towel, then pour in enough boiling water to come just below the rim of the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and cook over high heat, topping saucepan up with extra boiling water if necessary, until an inserted skewer withdraws clean (3½-4 hours).
  • 02
  • For brown sugar hard sauce, beat butter in an electric mixer until light and very fluffy (6-8 minutes). Add sugar in batches, beating well to combine (10-15 minutes), then beat in spices and vanilla seeds. Beat to combine well (4-5 minutes), then, with motor running, drizzle in brandy, beating well to incorporate. Beat in eggwhite until light and very fluffy (4-5 minutes). Transfer to sterilised jars and refrigerate until required. Brown sugar hard sauce will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • 03
  • Serve hot pudding topped with brown sugar hard sauce.

Note If you have cooked the pudding in advance, cool pudding to room temperature in pudding bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pudding will keep for 2 weeks. To re-warm, remove plastic wrap, cover with foil and place in a large saucepan of simmering water, topping up with extra water if necessary, for 1-1½ hours.


At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people

Featured in

Dec 2012

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