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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. 

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Caponatina


You'll need

60 ml (¼ cup) red wine vinegar 50 gm sultanas 2 tbsp raw caster sugar 2 small eggplant (650gm), diced 140 ml olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 800 gm canned chopped tomatoes 10 large green olives, thinly sliced 4 celery stalks, diced 2 tbsp capers in salt, rinsed, drained To serve: thickly cut salami (optional) and Sicilian cheese, such as Piacentinu Ennese (see note) or Sicilian pecorino

Method

  • 01
  • Soak vinegar, sultanas and sugar in a bowl until sultanas are plump (1 hour) and set aside.
  • 02
  • Combine eggplant and ½ tsp salt in a bowl and stand until bitter juices seep from eggplant (15-20 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  • 03
  • Heat half the oil in a large deep-sided frying pan, add onion, stir occasionally until starting to caramelise (15-20 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
  • 04
  • Add half the eggplant to pan and stir occasionally until golden (5-10 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to bowl with onions. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant. Return onion and reserved eggplant to pan with sultana mixture, tomato, olives and capers and stir occasionally over low heat until tender (45 minutes-1 hour).
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, blanch celery in boiling water until just tender (20-30 seconds), drain, refresh in iced water and drain again. Stir into caponatina and serve hot or cold as part of an antipasti with salami and cheese.
Note Piacentinu Ennese, a Sicilian cheese made from raw sheep's milk, saffron and black pepper, is available from Formaggi Ocello (see stockists p225) and other specialist cheese shops.

This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Caponatina could be described as Sicily's national dish. There are many variations on this sweet and sour mixture of eggplant and other ingredients - capers, olives and celery, say - some with a heavier tomato-based sauce and others with orange juice, raisins or pine nuts. Along the coast, caponatina is often served as an accompaniment to grilled swordfish or tuna. But it's also popular served simply as part of an antipasti, as we've done here.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

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