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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. 

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.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

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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.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Pea and ham soup

Apple-vanilla teacake with thick vanilla custard


There's a hidden layer of thick vanilla custard in the centre of this cake that takes it from good to great - serve it warm, but not too hot.

You'll need

280 gm caster sugar Scraped seeds of 2 vanilla beans 200 gm softened butter, plus 10gm extra, melted, for brushing 1½ tsp ground cinnamon 2 eggs 1 egg yolk 375 gm self-raising flour 200 ml buttermilk 2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced into rounds   Thick vanilla custard 300 ml milk 60 ml dessert wine 1 vanilla bean split, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste 110 gm (1/2 cup) caster sugar 5 egg yolks 20 gm each plain flour and cornflour   Apple-vanilla compote 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 330 gm (1½ cups) caster sugar 75 ml dessert wine or brandy 5 small Granny Smith apples, each cut into 8 thin wedges Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon

Method

  • 01
  • For thick vanilla custard, bring milk, wine and vanilla bean and seeds to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar and yolks to combine, then add flours and whisk until smooth. Slowly add hot milk mixture, whisking to combine, then return mixture to pan and bring to the boil, whisking continuously until thick (2-3 minutes). Discard vanilla bean and pour into a buttered 20cm-diameter round cake tin. Smooth top and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
  • 02
  • For apple-vanilla compote, stir ingredients and 180ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until apples are tender and a syrup forms (10-15 minutes). Strain, reserving apples and syrup separately, and refrigerate apples until cool (30 minutes).
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Rub 20gm sugar and half the vanilla seeds in a bowl with your fingertips to combine, then set aside. Beat butter, remaining sugar, cinnamon and remaining vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl, then add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour, then buttermilk, then remaining flour, stirring between each addition, then spread half the mixture in a buttered 23cm-diameter round cake tin lined with baking paper on the base and smooth top. Unmould vanilla custard and place in the centre, scatter with apple compote, spoon remaining cake batter over, smooth top, then arrange sliced apple in a circle, overlapping the edges. Drizzle with melted butter, scatter with vanilla sugar, then bake until golden and cooked though (1½-1¾ hours; cover with foil partway through cooking if cake starts to brown too quickly and remove foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking). Stand for 15 minutes in tin, then run a small knife around the side and turn out onto a rack to cool slightly (30 minutes). Serve warm, drizzled with reserved syrup.

At A Glance

  • Serves 10 - 12 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 10 - 12 people

Featured in

Jul 2014

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