Posts Tagged Eating out in Tasmania

Slow Food Hobart Tour de Tasman

Now we are living in Tasmania permanently we have finally had a chance (last month) to join the Slow Food Hobart Convivium on a field trip – it was to the southern region known as the Forestier Peninsula. John and I have been members for many years and in Brisbane where I was a co-founder of Slow Food. Some encouragement was offered by Australian food legend Maggie Beer. Maggie said to me that I should start-up a Slow Food Convivium when I complained we did not have a branch in Queensland.IMG_3183

Here are some photos of the day that began at 9am on a chartered bus from Hobart with about 48 other people. A special tour guide assisted with a commentary on what to expect, how to behave and generally took us to task if our Tasmanian history was rusty. At first when I spotted our guide I was concerned that we would slip back into our ‘ten year old’ attention deficit personalities but our chef who was moonlighting from his ‘real’ job as a member of the Blue Cow Theatre Group kept our attention.

IMG_2887First stop was the Bream Creek Farmers Market where we all dispersed and bought up big, the bus opening its luggage compartment to fit in the produce. Once tasted we had to have a bottle of Honk mustard.IMG_2885

Sea Eagle Seafoods had good array of seafood products, but we could not buy this day as we did not have our ice packs with us but these products are available elsewhere.IMG_2886

Then it was on to the picturesque Marion Bay to visit the Daly family potato farm. Tasmanians are leaders in potato growing and this large farm and its processing shed made potatoes more interesting than usual.IMG_2879

Back at the market, we could not resist the Tasmanian grown walnuts.IMG_2880

A pie maker – these pasties were beautiful but knowing we had a special lunch ahead we decided on one of their pork pies for later consumption.IMG_2881

We then headed off to the historic property Bangor.  Its owner Matt Dunbabin greeted us at the relatively new vineyard he has put in and our surprise treat was that his friend and fellow farmer Tom Gray who has oyster lease No 170 nearby brought oysters to eat in the vineyard. In the near future a tasting room will be built here and both Tom’s oysters and Matt’s wine will be on offer in the same location.IMG_2898

Matt hopped into the bus with us and as we drove around his large farm he gave us some information on the long history of Bangor. He selected a place to stop on his property just by the water and we had our lunch. A special picnic lunch made for us by the Dunalley Primary P & F  along with local producers; Little Quoin and Eloise Emmett. Little Quoin and Eloise Emmett .

Lots of  cool climate wines were generously poured and we tucked into quiches, heirloom tomatoes, potato salad, baked ham and salmon, followed by summer puddings and the best Tasmanian creams, thick and clotted.IMG_2902

By now you should be wishing you were there. Should you wish to join SF Hobart here is the contact:  slowfoodtas@yahoo.com.au

or visit the Slow Food organisation’s website for more information.

 

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Bicheno Food and Wine Festival 2012

The food and wine festival in the Tasmanian east coast town of Bicheno is still young but since last year has had a growth spurt. This year we hoped for a better layout and more seating and we were not disappointed.

These cheeky boys were having some fun. Maybe this young man was on a dare or a stag day. Not sure about the black fish net gloves, but love the beading. He was not carrying a wedding bouquet but a baby doll in a pink car seat.

Cooking class in progress. Lots of food for snacking, some really good, some lacking in appeal, we were with three other people so we looked for some dishes we could share. Some priced too high, others fairly priced. There were food operators new to the scene whilst the wine producers were seasoned and priced wine consistently. One stall’s fare disappointed us so much that we returned the dish (a pizza) and they immediately refunded our money ($30) no questions asked. Not the price which was exorbitant for the diameter of the pizza but because it was not cooked well enough.

Over at the craft hall natural dyes and knitted mittens, gloves and toys. Even Shane Gould a Bicheno resident and fine art graduate had a stand with her photographs. Knut the jeweller from St Helens Spiral Creations exhibited his take on the popular Tassie devil and Tree of Life jewellery. The art and craft shed was across the road, we felt for the exhibitors, not very connected and many would not make the effort to leave the vibrant atmosphere of the food and wine festival to visit it.

Michelle of Spiral Creations in the background.

Quilt is being raffled for the Bicheno Mens Shed.

Children were not forgotten, the ubiquitous yet always popular face painting.

Donna of Leavenbank Bread in St Helens teamed up with Kelly who was selling the Red Cow Dairies fetta cheese. Love the way you can return the empty jars for a refund like the soft drink bottles in South Australia. They offered a tasting plate of cheese, pate and sour dough bread for $12. Ideal for sharing.

The art and craft shed was across the road in the school hall and annoyingly, we felt for the exhibitors, not very connected and many would not make the effort to leave the joy de vivre of the food and wine festival to visit it.

We are lucky to have this bread in St Helens but it is only baked once a week now as Donna is studying for a degree.

An exhibition of surf boards from the last century lined the adjacent tennis court.

Pasini’s the cafe and deli in Bicheno joined in this year and offered simple calamari on the barbecue.

The crowds seemed happy to stay at this festival as everything was close to hand, except the craft hall of course.

Hay bales scattered around provided extra seating.

Inside the memorial hall, a chocolate cake competition had been held at the beginning of the day with the winning cake and other entries being sold off, sliced and served with cream. You had to be early to get slice of the winning cake.

The tacos people had a nice looking stand.

Eureka farms represented again this year with summer pudding.

Market and festival stalls are never short of olive oil sales in Tasmania.

A nice place to rest and listen to the bands. Next year we will bring chairs so we have a seat no one else will pounce on when we leave to buy food and wine and a place to rest our drinks.

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A dinner at The Islington Hotel, Hobart

Whilst I am a modernist at heart there is something about the historic building that houses The Islington Hotel that makes me hanker – just a little, for a stone period house, preferably Georgian in Tasmania where they are abundant. I do have an old house, my other house in Queensland is a traditional wood house on stilts. I don’t want to live totally in the past though specially with all its inconveniences so we have modernized the bathrooms and kitchen and kept all the important original features, they have creatively and  sensitively done the same here at The Islington.

So if you don’t have a grand house to live in, and you want some timeless elegance mixed with some contemporary facilities, you can check into a place like The Islington. This post is about a meal we had there recently.

We were a party of four and the Manager on duty, Sarah deemed we would be comfortable in the Library. Sarah set up the long table and we felt like we had booked for a very special occasion. We began our evening in one of the drawing rooms with a glass of champagne admiring a painting by Bill Yaxley an artist who has lived in both Queensland and Tasmania. He also has a winery in Tasmania Yaxley Estate that is certified organic. The sculpture is by Bill Yaxley. Other wonderful art, antiques and personal memorabilia collected over time by the owners make this an original hotel.

Menus are created each day and there is a marked emphasis on as much Tasmanian produce as possible. We began with some Bruny Island oysters, freshly shucked as they should be.  My lamb rack from Longford above was perfectly cooked. I am a big fan of native pepperberries and here they were used in the jus.  Another dish of the night was the pan seared local hapuka with white been puree and Filet mignon wrapped in pancetta.  Since we were four and there were about four choices in each category without any prior calculations we managed to order almost all the menu.

The local asparagus and green bean risotto with its central highland goats cheese was considered a major success. And we all know risottos are risky. The spring pea and mint soup along with the scallop, prawn and white fish chowder was another entrée for our table.  We also ordered the plum, pear and yoghurt cheese salad as an entrée.

We were satiated but tempted by the pannacotta of Canadian maple syrup, perfect texture, flavour and wobbly consistency. The small square dish has an apple sorbet from Lucaston Park , a juice I seek out often but I queried the logic of this combination before ordering. After eating the sorbet (on its own tasted good) it still made no sense to me as an icy accompaniment. My instinct was right and it really needed a something more like a tart fruit, a poached plum which I know they have growing in the garden. My only criticism.

The sourdough bread they served was from the bakery Summer Kitchen is the best in Hobart – in my opinion.

After the meal we went into the kitchen to talk to the chef. It was an outstanding dinner, all created in a smallish open kitchen with standard domestic equipment. Limitations aside, it all worked in the hands of a professional and passionate chef who sources the best ingredients. If you were staying at the hotel you would be crazy to bypass a meal here.

Photos for this post were taken by iPhone and not up to my usual standard, so sorry about that. Hopefully you will look at the Islington website to see what a truly beautiful and charming place this is.

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Taroona community garden, near Hobart

I was staying in Taroona last weekend and went for a walk and came across a community garden, so good for those people who want to grow their own produce but either do not have enough room or not enough knowledge. I like the idea of suburbs offering a space for this purpose and there are many small redundant parks around or space that could be dedicated toward a garden within a public park. All it takes is members of the suburb to lobby the local council, easier said that done I know. The community garden was not open so I took as many photos on my iphone as I could from around the fence line.

War memorial in the park with a bed of rosemary behind, I did pick some and remembered those who lost their lives

The war memorial is in the park that leads to the community garden.

One of several entrances to the park

A view of the beautiful waterside suburb

Taroona is the next suburb along from Sandy Bay and here residents can pretend they live in the country growing their own food. The garden is also used to educate children locally and now there are around 50 family or group plots of about 4 square metres each. There are also 4 communal beds with a rotational system in place, and other ‘community’ areas around the perimeter fence. There is a herb garden on the outer perimeter on the Chiton Place frontage. I found that information on the dedicated website for the Taroona communal garden.

Looks like your plot is numbered

Quinces espaliered on fence

Raised beds, maybe I would need higher ones

Even room for flowers or are they sweet peas...

There seems to be plenty of room

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My copper pan finally retinned, Tasmania

I am very pleased with the re-tinning of my copper frying pan. I sent it to Launceston to be re-tinned and at the same time Ludwig cleaned the copper base for me so now it looks almost new, but not that new. The Lara stamped brand on the back is losing its final ‘a’ and therein lies the charm, it looks like an antique. A useful antique.

If you are a subscriber and read my post last year on Lara Copper you will see that I wrote a general story about this Launceston based artisan – this was before the re-tinning you see now.
The re-tinning is done by hand and that means the surface has brush marks, all characteristics of the artisan.

And now here is the ‘before’ photo I asked Ludwig to take, it is a bit fuzzy but really you don’t need more ugly. I have been using too high heat on my pan so I am now turning over a new leaf and using it for gentle sauteing, not rapid frying of Tuscan eggs in olive oil which was one of my favourite uses for it. So last night I used it to braise green peas gently with anchovies, olive oil, butter and a little water. A recipe from Neil Perry that I will use again.

Maintaining copper is a bugbear I must admit but Ludwig put a tip sheet in the packing.

I am so annoyed that I forgot to pack my French saucepan for him to re-tin surface inside is overdue. There is something about copper cookware that is irrestible for cooks and hopefully the tradition and craft will continue, particularly as we are lucky to have someone in Australia who can make these and even more fortunate for all Tasmanian food lovers that he is based here. For the record I sent my pan to Ludwig by Calows Coaches which I just have to give a plug as they run an excellent service to and from St Helens to almost anywhere in Tasmania.

This kind of craft is rare and I hope someone can take over when Ludwig gives it away.

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Moorilla Estate, Tasmania

The big news here in Tasmania is that a world-class art gallery is about to open at the Moorilla Winery. We wanted to see the grounds and taste the wine before the crowds descend. The wines no longer carry the label Moorilla (all packaging has a simple M lable) after tasting its Praxis and Muse wines I was ready and willing to join its Cellar Door club. These guys are working to a deadline to smooth out any rough edges.

The wine bar has both inside and outside seating and is very elegantly furnished. The estate also has a more formal restaurant and function room in the ‘Claudio’ building and you go to this building if you wish to taste the wines.

View from the Cellar Door – looking back toward the restaurant. Note the John Perceval painting on the ceiling.

But this day we took our lunch in the wine bar building where they serve high quality tapas style snacks.

A venison terrine with bread $14.00 and a platter of roasted vegetables, $10.00 both reasonable prices and serves large enough for lunch.

Entrance to the accommodation at Moorilla Estate.

Another view of the accommodation pavilions, each one has its own name and a matching car parking space.

You can take a boat from the Hobart waterfront for the opening of MONA. Keep in mind that you will not be able to park at Moorilla for the opening celebrations and the nearby Entertainment Centre will be used by the estate and they have organised shuttle buses from there.

David Walsh is the visionary new owner to succeed Claudio Alcorso here at Moorilla and I recommend you look at the website of the Alcorso Foundation if you and have not been to Moorilla Estate in Berriedale, Tasmania. I will write another post once I get a chance to visit the new gallery MONA after its opening. In the meantime I hope I have wetted your appetite!

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Meadowbank Estate restaurant

A short drive out of Hobart on the Coal River winery trail is Meadowbank Estate. We learned on arrival that Frogmore Creek winery, an organic winery that is directly across the road facing the car park have recently bought Meadowbank. If you are interested in wines, check the website, they have even added a blog.

The yellow sign with cut out of an arrow is a convict trail marker. The history of the surrounding area is on the sign. Some idiot had put two beer bottles and a used nappy bag behind the sign. What kind of people were visiting the winery? I know but I won’t put it in this post.The views from the winery are worth the trip out to Cambridge and it is only around twenty minutes from the city.But we came for the food. Of course I was up for an obligatory wine tasting before we took our table in the restaurant.

The head chef at Meadowbank is Wayne Smith and up until last year he was in our nearest town of St Helens here in the north east of Tasmania with his French restaurant Margot and we were missing his brand and style.

My entrée of  zucchini and flowers filled with seafood mousse.

Johns entree with Serrano ham, finely trimmed asparagus. The nuts were lightly spiced.

Johns braised lamb main. We noticed Wayne has scaled his food down a little which is sensible as his serves at Margot were large and I suspect he did it that way for the locals here who like to eat big! But the downside was they did not eat often enough at his restaurant.

My main of pork, two cuts of pork and the pork belly is hard to beat anywhere. Love the yellow beetroot.

We chose and entrée and main course each. No desserts for us this day.  I normally cannot resist Wayne’s desserts, even John who rarely eats them will succumb to his chocolate dessert but we were meeting friends back at the Taste festival in Hobart and the in season berries were beckoning.

I chose a Grace Elizabeth chardonnay wine by the glass that I had not tasted in the wine tasting area. Our bill for 2 people, 2 courses, 2 glasses of wine for me was $126.00.

Grace Elizabeth is the name given to Meadowbank’s reserve Chardonnay. Here are the tasting notes ‘This wine has an excellent fruit driven nose with hints of French oak. Subtle French oak handling highlights the powerful fruit driven palate balanced by creaminess from barrel fermentation and maturation for 10 months’.

We had a quick visit to the gallery upstairs which doubles as a private tasting room and meeting room. The exhibition is by Dan Giselsson a nature photographer. I did not take any photos as you can see his work on his website.  If I had to create a brochure for Tasmania, he is the man.

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