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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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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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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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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.

Sebago chips


You'll need

1 kg sebago potatoes For deep-frying: sunflower oil

Method

  • 01
  • Scrub potatoes, peel (optional) and cut into chips about 1.5cm thick.
  • 02
  • Rinse chips in a colander under cold running water, then soak in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes to remove excess starch.
  • 03
  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and blanch chips, in batches, until just cooked through (5-10 minutes; do not overcook), drain.
  • 04
  • Pat dry with absorbent paper, then refrigerate uncovered until very dry (1 hour).
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 190C. Deep-fry chips, in batches, until crisp and golden (5 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper and serve immediately.

Note Try this recipe with smoked cumin salt and aïoli.


Take two ingredients - potatoes and oil - and you've got yourself one knock-your-socks-off snack: the chip. Choosing the right spud is the key. You want a floury potato, meaning it's high in starch, as opposed to a waxy one. As a rule of thumb when you're buying unlabelled potatoes, the floury varieties usually haven't been brushed and are still covered in dirt. If they're labelled, then the sebago, russet Burbank and spunta varieties are best.

Peeling is completely optional and you can cut your chips any way you like - we've gone for the peeled and classic fish'n'chip-shop cut here. Just remember cooking times will vary depending on the size of your chip.

If you don't have a deep-fryer at home, use a large deep-sided saucepan, with a sugar thermometer to read the temperature of the oil. Fill the saucepan two-thirds full so there's plenty of oil to fry in and enough to help regulate the temperature. This also gives the oil room to bubble up in the pan when the chips are added. (Oil that is at 190C has a tendency to spit, so be careful whenever you're deep-frying.)

Use vegetable, canola or sunflower oil - they have a high smoking point, meaning they can be taken to a very high temperature (around 230C) without burning, and the subtle flavour won't overpower the flavour of the potato like an olive or nut oil would. The oil should be clean - if it's already been used for cooking, the potato can absorb a tainted smell and taste. Drain used oil through a muslin-lined sieve to help remove the sediment. Taste the cooled oil; if the flavour is still okay it can be used again.

The secret to a great chip is to blanch it before deep-frying. Depending on your taste, there are two ways of doing this. The first, which is the favoured method among many chefs, is to blanch in preheated oil at around 130-140C for 10-15 minutes. An alternative is to blanch in boiling water briefly (as we've done here) to just cook the chip through. Blanching in oil will give your chip a crisp finish, while blanching in water creates a fluffier centre (but be careful not to overcook - floury potatoes tend to fall apart more easily when boiled).

Once your chips have been blanched, let them dry out, draining all excess oil or water. Arrange the chips in a single layer on a tea towel or absorbent paper placed on a tray, and pat dry with more paper. The refrigerator or a draughty area is a good place to leave them while they dry out.

Now you're ready to deep-fry. Make sure the oil has reached the desired temperature (about 190C) before adding the chips, and cook them in small batches so the temperature remains steady. Drain them briefly in a bowl lined with absorbent paper, season them while they're hot so the seasoning clings to the chips, and eat them straight away - before the seagulls get their chance.


At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Aug 2009

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