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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.

Clambake


You'll need

48 Cloudy Bay diamond shell clams, or other small-sized clams 24 Cloudy Bay tuatua clams, or other clams 40 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed 16 uncooked medium tiger prawns 3 lemons, thinly sliced 8 thyme sprigs   Potato aïoli 150 gm sebago potato, diced 2 egg yolks 10 gm garlic, finely grated on a microplane 250 ml (1 cup) grapeseed oil 125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil To taste: lemon juice   Marie Rose sauce 200 gm good-quality mayonnaise 50 gm tomato sauce or ketchup 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 10 ml brandy (optional) To taste: few drops Tabasco sauce To taste: lemon juice   Drawn butter 200 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Method

  • 01
  • For potato aïoli, place potato in a saucepan, cover generously with cold water, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender (8-10 minutes). Drain well, pass through a ricer or coarse sieve and keep hot. Whisk yolks and garlic in a separate bowl to combine, then mix in hot potato. Whisking continuously, gradually add combined oils until thick and emulsified, thinning with a little hot water if mixture gets too thick. Season to taste with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and refrigerate until required.
  • 02
  • For Marie Rose sauce, combine ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and refrigerate until required.
  • 03
  • Build a fire in a kettle barbecue using fire lighters and hardwood logs or charcoal. Once fire has burnt down to hot charcoal, place sea stones in hot coals and leave for an hour to get very hot (add more wood or charcoal if necessary).
  • 04
  • Meanwhile, cut eight 40cm squares of muslin and place on a work surface. Divide clams, mussels, prawns, lemon and thyme sprigs evenly among muslin squares, season to taste and tie into pouches, securing with kitchen string (ensure string isn’t plastic-coated or it will melt). Refrigerate until required.
  • 05
  • When rocks are red-hot, place some wet seaweed over, then arrange pouches on top. Cover with a potato sack or pillowcase soaked in beer or water. Close lid and cook until clams open and prawns are cooked (35-40 minutes).
  • 06
  • Meanwhile, for drawn butter, cook butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until milk solids separate and are slightly caramelised on bottom of pan, creating a slight nutty flavour (6-7 minutes). Strain into a heatproof bowl, add remaining ingredients, season to taste and keep warm.
  • 07
  • Serve seafood pouches hot with scissors for cutting them open, and potato aïoli, Marie Rose sauce and drawn butter.

"This is one of my favourite ways to cook seafood," says Walton. "The secret to a great clambake lies in the quality of the seafood and the company you share it with." A traditional clambake is cooked in a firepit lined with sea stones and seaweed, although Walton cooks his in a coal barbecue. You can also place a heatproof bowl filled with water in a hot kettle barbecue, place the barbecue rack on top and then place the seafood bundles on the rack. Cover and cook until the clams open (12-15 minutes). Potatoes roasted among the hot coals make the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Choose small potatoes, wrap them individually in foil and place them in the coals when you add the sea stones.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Feb 2013

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