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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.

Custard tart with rhubarb ice-cream


You'll need

600 ml pouring cream 100 ml milk 10 egg yolks, beaten 85 gm caster sugar Scraped seeds of 2 vanilla beans For dusting: finely grated nutmeg   Rhubarb ice-cream 375 gm rhubarb (about 1 bunch), cut into 1cm slices 235 gm caster sugar Juice of 1 lemon 100 gm egg yolks (about 5) Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean 500 ml (2 cups) milk   Sweet shortcrust pastry 50 gm caster sugar, chilled 2 tsp white vinegar, chilled 330 gm plain flour, chilled 200 gm chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Method

  • 01
  • For rhubarb ice-cream, simmer rhubarb, 100gm sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and rhubarb breaks down (10 minutes). Cool, purée with a hand-held blender, press through a fine sieve (discard solids) and refrigerate until required. Whisk yolks, vanilla seeds and remaining sugar in a bowl until pale. Bring milk to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then, whisking continuously, gradually pour onto egg mixture. Return mixture to pan and stir continuously over low-medium heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon or reaches 85C (6-7 minutes). Stir in pouring cream, then pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate to cool. Stir in rhubarb purée, then churn in an ice-cream machine and freeze until required.
  • 02
  • For sweet shortcrust pastry, stir sugar, vinegar and 110ml water in a bowl until dissolved. Mix flour and ½ tsp fine salt in a large bowl then scatter with butter. Rub butter into flour with your fingertips to partly combine. Turn out onto a work surface, sprinkle with sugar mixture and use your palm to “smear” mixture away from you. Scrape back and repeat smearing process twice, then bring pastry into a ball and flatten to form a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate to rest (2 hours or overnight).
  • 03
  • Roll out pastry to 3mm thick, place in a 28cm-diameter, 2.5cm-deep loose-bottom fluted tart tin, pressing sides and trimming edges. Place in freezer for 20 minutes to rest.
  • 04
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Blind bake pastry case (15-20 minutes), then remove paper and weights and bake until golden (15-20 minutes). Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  • 05
  • Reduce oven to 120C. Whisk cream, milk, yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large bowl to combine, strain through a fine sieve and spoon off any froth on surface. Pour into tart shell and bake for 30 minutes, then dust with nutmeg and bake until just set (30-40 minutes). Set aside to cool, then serve at room temperature with rhubarb ice-cream. Tart is best served on the day it’s made.
This recipe is from the April 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“This is an old-school favourite, elevated through quality pastry and a quivering, delectable custard,” says Paul Allam. “If my school canteen had this tart my parents would have been a lot poorer.”

At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people

Drink Suggestion

Centennial Blanc de Blancs, Southern Highlands, NSW, or Tertini Ice Riesling, Southern Highlands, NSW.

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