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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.

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Discovering Macedonia

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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.

Dhal with crisp cauliflower and rasam


Rasam is a sour, fragrant and refreshing broth that can be enjoyed on its own or served alongside a curry-style dish, as it is here.

You'll need

400 gm mung dhal (see note) 20 gm ginger, coarsely chopped 3 long green chillies, coarsely chopped 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped 50 gm ghee 4 golden shallots, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds 3 tsp ground turmeric To serve: coriander sprigs and steamed basmati rice   Rasam 1 tbsp ghee 2 golden shallots, thinly sliced 1 tsp brown mustard seeds 2 small dried red chillies, coarsely crumbled 1 tsp whole black peppercorns 1 tsp cumin seeds 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tbsp tamarind purée, or to taste ½ tsp ground turmeric   Crisp cauliflower 120 gm ghee 3 golden shallots, thinly sliced 2 long green chillies, thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 2 tsp brown mustard seeds 200 gm cauliflower, cut into florets To taste: fresh curry leaves

Method

  • 01
  • Soak mung dhal in cold water for 1 hour, drain and transfer to a large saucepan. Add 2 litres cold water, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and skim any scum that rises to the surface.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, process ginger and chilli in a food processor to a coarse paste, add tomato and process to combine. Heat ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallot and garlic, and sauté until tender and lightly caramelised (4-5 minutes). Add mustard seeds and turmeric, sauté until fragrant (1 minute), then add chilli mixture and sauté until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add to mung dhal, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until mung dhal is very tender (1¼-1½ hours). Season to taste with sea salt, whisk to break up dhal and keep warm.
  • 03
  • For rasam, heat ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallots, mustard seeds and chilli, and sauté until lightly caramelised and seeds start to pop (6-8 minutes). Meanwhile, coarsely crush peppercorns and cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add garlic and pound to combine, then add to the shallot mixture with tamarind purée, turmeric and 500ml water. Season to taste with salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Keep warm.
  • 04
  • For crisp cauliflower, heat ghee in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, chilli and garlic, and sauté until tender (2-3 minutes). Add mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop, then add cauliflower and sauté until crisp and golden (8-10 minutes). Add curry leaves, season to taste with salt and keep warm.
  • 05
  • Serve dhal, topped with crisp cauliflower and scattered with coriander, with steamed rice and rasam.

Note Mung dhal (dried mung beans) is available from Indian grocers and select delicatessens.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Coriander-scented wheat beer.

Featured in

Aug 2013

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