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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.

Chilled corn soup with yabbies


The yabbies can be prepared ahead and the soup assembled just before serving. Take the soup out of the fridge about half an hour beforehand to take the edge off the chill.

You'll need

6 corn cobs, kernels removed, cobs and kernels reserved separately 500 ml (2 cups) pouring cream 2 thyme sprigs 1 garlic clove, crushed 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped 12 live yabbies 3 tbsp small basil leaves, plus extra to serve Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon To serve: extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  • 01
  • To make a stock, place corn cobs in a saucepan with 2.5 litres of water, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and discard cobs. Makes about 2 litres.
  • 02
  • Combine cream, thyme and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce by half (20-30 minutes). Season to taste, remove thyme and set aside.
  • 03
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent (6-7 minutes), then add corn and cook until starting to soften (3-4 minutes). Add 750ml of corn stock, simmer until kernels are tender (10-12 minutes), then add cream mixture and purée in a blender until smooth. Season to taste, strain into a bowl, allow to cool, then refrigerate to chill (1 hour). Makes 1.5 litres.
  • 04
  • Kill yabbies humanely (see cook’s notes p216). Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add yabbies and cook until just orange (1-2 minutes). Drain, then refresh in iced water and drain again. Working with a yabby at a time, hold and lift the middle flap on the tail and lightly twist from side to side to loosen. Carefully remove tail flap, pulling out the intestinal tract with it. Twist the tail and head in opposite directions to separate, then remove tail meat from shell and place on a tray lined with absorbent paper. Set aside. Repeat with remaining yabbies and refrigerate until required.
  • 05
  • To serve, coarsely chop yabby meat and combine in a bowl with basil, lemon juice and rind, season to taste, then scatter over corn soup with extra basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 - 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 - 8 people

Drink Suggestion

An aromatic hoppy IPA.

Featured in

Dec 2013

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