Healthy Eating

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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.

Mushrooms and grains


You'll need

100 gm (½ cup) whole spelt (see note) 100 gm (½ cup) roasted buckwheat (see note) Juice and finely grated rind of 1 lemon 3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped 2 tbsp olive oil 1 golden shallot, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 50 gm shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced 50 gm enoki mushrooms, trimmed   Ajo blanco 50 gm blanched almonds 100 gm crustless sourdough bread 125 ml (½ cup) milk 1 tbsp olive oil 1 garlic clove, finely chopped Juice and finely grated rind of ¼ lemon

Method

  • 01
  • Cook spelt in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water over high heat until just tender (18 minutes), drain (reserve cooking water) and transfer to a bowl. Return cooking water to pan, add buckwheat and cook until just tender (10 minutes). Drain (discard cooking water), combine with spelt, season to taste, add lemon juice and rind, parsley and half the oil, then set aside and keep warm.
  • 02
  • For ajo blanco, preheat oven to 180C. Roast almonds on an oven tray until golden (6-8 minutes), then set aside to cool. Combine bread and milk in a bowl until bread is softened (2-3 minutes), transfer to a blender, add roast almonds, oil, garlic, lemon juice and rind, season to taste, blend until a smooth thick paste forms, adding extra milk if necessary, and set aside. Makes 250ml.
  • 03
  • Heat remaining oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat, add shallot and garlic, stir occasionally until softened (4-5 minutes). Increase heat to high, add shiitake, stir until just starting to soften (40 seconds), add enoki, stir until just warmed through (10 seconds), season to taste and remove from heat. Transfer grains to a platter, top with mushrooms, dollop with ajo blanco and serve warm or at room temperature.
Note Whole spelt and roasted buckwheat are available from select health-food shops and delicatessens.

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

“This dish has been a favourite in Bronte,” says Robertson. “Grant, our gardener, grows a lot of our mushrooms, so we get to try them straight from the garden. This dish also works really well with other mushroom varieties; if you can’t get your hands on shiitakes, the king brown, nameko and wood ear mushrooms also make interesting variations.”

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

William Downie Gippsland pinot noir.

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