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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.

Farro recipes

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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.

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.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

Sticky rice lotus dumplings with roast chilli vinegar


Many versions of dumplings are wrapped in leaves - banana, bamboo, pandan or lotus, as in this recipe. The leaves help the filling to steam and impart a subtle aroma when you unwrap them.

You'll need

6 lotus leaves (see note) 400 gm (2 cups) glutinous rice, soaked in cold water for 1 hour 1 tbsp peanut oil 15 gm ginger, finely grated 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces 60 gm lap cheong (about 3), thinly sliced (see note) 20 gm dried prawns, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and coarsely chopped 80 gm dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained, stalks trimmed and coarsely chopped 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine 2½ tbsp dark soy sauce 2 tsp sesame oil 1 tsp caster sugar 6 spring onions, thinly sliced 4 salted duck eggs, yolks only, coarsely crumbled (see note) To taste: freshly ground white pepper   Roast chilli vinegar 2 tbsp each grapeseed oil and rice vinegar 1 tbsp soy sauce 3 tsp dried chilli flakes 1 tsp each sesame oil and caster sugar

Method

  • 01
  • Cut central stalk from each lotus leaf with scissors. Place the leaves in the sink, cover with hot water and soak until softened and malleable (2-3 hours). Drain before using.
  • 02
  • Drain rice, spread in a large steamer basket lined with muslin, cover with a lid and steam over a saucepan of simmering water until tender (40-45 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally with a flat wooden spoon to break up clusters.
  • 03
  • Heat oil in a wok over high heat, add ginger, garlic, chicken, lap cheong and prawns and stir-fry until chicken is opaque (2-3 minutes). Add shiitake and Shaoxing, and stir-fry until liquid evaporates (1 minute). Add rice, stir, then add soy, sesame oil and sugar, and stir-fry until combined. Remove from heat, add spring onions and salted egg yolk, and season to taste with white pepper.
  • 04
  • Place a lotus leaf on a work surface, then take a sixth of the sticky rice mixture and, with wet hands, shape into a rough 5cm x 10cm rectangle, place on the leaf and wrap, folding in sides to enclose, and secure with kitchen string. Repeat to make 6 bundles. Place in a large steamer over a large saucepan of simmering water and steam until fragrant and soft to touch (20-25 minutes).
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, for roast chilli vinegar, combine ingredients in a bowl and serve alongside hot sticky rice lotus dumplings.

Note Lotus leaves, lap cheong and salted duck eggs are available from Chinese grocers. If lotus leaves aren't available, substitute blanched Chinese cabbage, though you won't get the same fragrance. Lap cheong are dried Chinese pork sausages that don't need refrigeration after opening.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Full-bodied textural pinot blanc.

Featured in

Jul 2014

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