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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.

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.

Spelt and poppy-seed bagels with sugar-cured mackerel and mustard


You'll need

250 gm white sugar For scattering: poppy seeds 150 gm good-quality mayonnaise 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 150 gm (6 cups, loosely packed) spicy salad greens, such as mustard greens, watercress and wild rocket, to serve   Sugar-cured mackerel 100 gm coffee sugar crystals 100 gm coarse cooking salt 1/3 cup finely chopped dill 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 500 gm skinless Spanish mackerel fillet, bones removed 20 ml vodka   Bagel dough 400 gm (2 2/3 cups) “00” flour 100 gm (2/3 cup) white spelt flour 10 gm (2 tsp) fine sea salt ½ sachet dried yeast

Method

  • 01
  • For sugar-cured mackerel, combine sugar, salt, dill and mustard in a bowl, spread half over the base of a shallow tray and place mackerel on top. Spread mackerel with remaining salt mixture, cover tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate until lightly cured (18 hours). Drain mackerel (reserve 1 tbsp curing liquid), rinse quickly in cold water, pat dry with absorbent paper, transfer to a plate, brush with vodka and refrigerate until required.
  • 02
  • For bagel dough, mix flours, salt and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 600ml warm water and knead until a stiff dough forms (1-2 minutes), then stand to rest (10 minutes). Repeat kneading and resting four times, then cover dough with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1¼ hours-1¾ hours). Gently knock back dough, divide into 10 pieces, roll each piece into a small ball and poke a hole in the middle of each with a floured finger to form a ring. Place 10 11cm squares of baking paper onto two large oven trays and place each bagel on a square. Spray with a little water and stand in a warm place until each bagel is 1½ times its original size (30-40 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, bring sugar and 5 litres water to the simmer in a large wide saucepan over high heat.
  • 04
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Carefully slide bagels with paper attached into sweetened water in batches, and simmer, turning occasionally, until blanched (2 minutes; remove papers from water and place in a single layer on two large oven trays, leaving space between each). Remove bagels with a slotted spoon and place each bagel on a square of reserved paper. Bake until light golden (13-15 minutes), spray with a little water, scatter with poppy seeds and bake until golden and cooked through (5 minutes). Cool on a wire rack.
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, mustard and reserved curing liquid in a large bowl until smooth, season to taste, add salad leaves and toss to combine.
  • 06
  • Just before serving, pre-heat a char-grill pan over high heat and grill cured mackerel, turning once, until just turning opaque on outside edges (20 seconds each side). Thinly slice. Halve bagels, fill with salad leaves and warm mackerel and serve.
This recipe is from the March 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“The characteristic chewy, dense texture of bagels comes from blanching them in sweetened water before baking,” says Biron. “The spelt adds texture and also gives a deep flavour. Resting the dough makes the kneading a lot easier and dramatically improves the structure of the bread. Professional bakers call this step ‘autolyse’: you can use this technique for all breadmaking.” You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. Bagels are best eaten the day they’re made.


At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people

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