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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.

Discovering Macedonia

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Pork pies


You'll need

1 pork hock (about 1.4kg) 2 pig trotters (about 650gm each) 1 onion, finely chopped 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 10 black peppercorns 1 fresh bay leaf 300 gm coarsely minced pork Pinch of ground mace 1 egg, lightly beaten To serve: cornichons and hot English mustard (optional)   Green bacon 200 gm sea salt 200 gm brown sugar 300 gm piece pork belly, skin removed   Suet crust 875 gm plain flour 435 gm chilled suet, coarsely grated 25 gm fine salt

Method

  • 01
  • For green bacon, stir salt and sugar in a bowl to combine. Scatter half in a non-reactive container, top with pork, rub with remaining salt mixture, cover and refrigerate to cure (3 days). Rinse under cold water, pat dry with absorbent paper, cut into 5mm dice and refrigerate until required.
  • 02
  • Bring hock, trotters, onion, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf and enough water to cover generously to the simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until meat falls from the bone (2½-3 hours). Remove hock and trotters and set aside. Strain liquid, transfer 1 litre to a clean pan (discard solids and remaining liquid), skim fat, boil until reduced to 500ml (20-25 minutes) and set aside.
  • 03
  • Coarsely shred meat (discard skin, fat, bones and sinew), coarsely chop, combine with bacon, minced pork, mace and 1½ tsp salt and refrigerate until required.
  • 04
  • Preheat oven to 180C. For suet crust, combine flour, suet and salt in a large bowl, add 550ml boiling water, stir with a wooden spoon, then mix with your hands to form a dough.
  • 05
  • Roll out pastry on a floured surface to 8mm thick and cut into eight 18cm-diameter rounds. Cut a wedge-shaped quarter from each round (reserve scraps), then line eight 7cm-diameter, 6cm-high pastry rings placed on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Press to even out folds and seal joins, then trim to leave a small overhang. Fill with pork mixture, press lightly to fill, then brush pastry edges with water. Re-roll pastry scraps, cut out eight 8cm-diameter rounds and cut a 1cm-diameter circle in centre of each. Place a pastry round on each pie, press edges with a fork to seal, brush with beaten egg, trim edges and bake until golden and cooked through (40-50 minutes).
  • 06
  • Warm reserved pork stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Push a funnel into hole in top of a pie, then slowly pour in stock, letting it settle before adding more. Repeat with remaining pies and stock (you may not need all the stock). Stand at room temperature until stock sets (2½-3 hours) and serve with cornichons and hot English mustard.

Note Lining deep ring moulds with pastry can be a bit fiddly. The best way to make sure you don't have too much excess pastry to deal with is to cut out rounds of pastry, then cut a wedge-shaped quarter from each round (imagine you're cutting a quarter of a pizza). When you line the rings, bring the straight edges of the pastry together to form a cone, place the point of the cone into the ring, and press the pastry against the sides of the ring and into the base. Make sure the joins are well sealed. It might sound complicated, but once you start it will all become clear. You'll need to begin this recipe three days ahead.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Jun 2012

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