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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.

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

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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.

Filo pastry


Take a leaf out of Greece's cuisine and make its most popular and versatile pastry. Here are the filo facts.

You'll need

500 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting 200 gm butter, melted, for brushing

Method

  • 01
  • Combine flour, 250ml water and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl.
  • 02
  • Using your hands, mix until dough comes together.
  • 03
  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (3-5 minutes). The dough should be soft; you may need to add more flour as you knead if it is too sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 1 hour.
  • 04
  • Divide dough into eight and, working with one piece at a time, roll and feed through a pasta machine, dusting with flour and reducing settings notch by notch until you reach the last setting and dough is 4mm thick. Cut sheet in half widthways.
  • 05
  • Gently stretch filo sheet with your hands, pulling from the edges until it is almost transparent.
  • 06
  • Transfer sheet to a tray lined with baking paper and brush sheet with melted butter. Repeat with remaining filo, placing baking paper in between sheets to prevent them sticking. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until required. Bring to room temperature before using.

Note Makes about 16-20 sheets.


It's the papery, leaf-like thinness that gives filo both its characteristic texture and its name (filo, or phyllo, is Greek for leaf). As with all other forms of pastry, making your own filo gives you a far better outcome than buying it. The result is a more pliable raw pastry that gives a flakier finish. The downside is that it's labour-intensive and can be tricky to work with if the dough isn't just right.

There are two main components to filo: flour and water. Some traditional recipes call for the addition of a little oil and vinegar in the dough, but this isn't absolutely necessary. You can make any quantity of dough by using the simple ratio of two parts (by weight) flour to one part water, plus a pinch of salt.

You'll need to judge the texture of the dough as you make it, adding more flour or water if necessary to reach the right consistency. You're looking for dough that can be easily stretched, so it needs to be quite soft, but dry enough not to stick to the bench while you work with it. It should not be tough, firm or elastic. You can easily fix a wet dough by dusting it with extra flour as you work to prevent it from sticking, but if it's a very dry dough you may as well throw it out and start again. Trying to fix it with a lot of extra water is difficult, because the gluten strands become overworked.

Once you have the right consistency, the dough needs to be rested for about an hour. Place it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (the dough can stick too much if it is wrapped directly in plastic). Rest it in the fridge or at room temperature; the gluten strands will relax and the dough will soften.

The next step is to roll out your sheets. Greek-born Sydney chef Janni Kyritsis rolls his through a pasta machine, which makes the whole process a lot faster and easier. You'll need extra flour on hand for dusting. The trick is to roll it as thin as you can - this is going to create the flakiness when it is layered and baked. Alternatively, you can use a wooden dowel to roll it out, but this method, while more traditional, is time-consuming and requires a bit of deft technique, and you'll need to work quickly to prevent the dough drying out.

When you have rolled the sheet through the pasta machine as thin as it will go, you can then stretch it even further by gently pulling from the edges with your hands. (This is the same technique used when making strudel dough.) It should be thin enough to read through.

Because fresh filo is so fragile and difficult to store, there are really only two options for working with it. The first is to roll out and layer the sheets of dough (or line your mould if you're making a pie) as you go, brushing each with melted butter or oil. The alternative is to roll out the sheets, brush each one with melted butter, place baking paper in between each sheet and keep them refrigerated, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, until required. Stored this way, fresh filo keeps for three to four days. Brushing with butter prevents the filo sheets from drying out, but they'll need to be brought to room temperature again before you work with them, otherwise the cold butter could cause the sheets to break.

Once you have your perfect filo layers, all that's left to do is to add your filling and bake the pastry until golden (like we've done in this classic spanakopita recipe) - giving you the delicious flaky result that is so synonymous with Greek food, both savoury and sweet.


At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 10 people

Featured in

Mar 2010

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