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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. 

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

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.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

Discovering Macedonia

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.

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.

Lightly steamed XO oysters with bacon crumbs


Oysters are popular at Christmas time, but many Australian varieties spawn at this time of year, making them fragile and creamy, so it's best to go with rock varieties, which are still in season. Make sure you buy them freshly shucked. If they're being shucked for you at your fish market, ask that they be washed only minimally so they lose as little juice as possible and retain their lovely briny flavour.

You'll need

80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil 2 red shallots, finely diced 2 rindless bacon rashers, finely chopped ¼ cup finely chopped garlic stems ¼ cup panko crumbs (see note) 24 rock oysters, freshly shucked 120 ml Shaoxing wine 2 tbsp XO sauce (see note) 2 tbsp light soy sauce 15 gm (3cm piece) ginger, cut into julienne To serve: thinly sliced spring onion

Method

  • 01
  • Heat oil in a saucepan over high heat, add shallot and bacon and stir until bacon is crisp (3-5 minutes), then add garlic stems and stir until tender (1-2 minutes). Add panko crumbs and stir until toasted (3-5 minutes). Season to taste and set aside.
  • 02
  • Remove any broken shell from oysters, then remove oysters from shells (reserve shells) and transfer to a bowl, strain juice from oysters into the bowl and set aside.
  • 03
  • Place oyster shells in 2 large bamboo steamers, divide Shaoxing, XO sauce and soy sauce among shells, place oysters back on top, top with ginger, then cover and steam over a saucepan of boiling water until just warmed through (1-2 minutes). Top with crumb mixture and spring onion and serve warm.

Note Panko crumbs, or Japanese breadcrumbs, are available from Japanese grocers. If they're unavailable, substitute dried breadcrumbs. XO sauce is available from Asian grocers.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Fragrant, hoppy pale ale.

Featured in

Dec 2012

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