Posts Tagged Tasmanian food

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:

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


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Melville Street Market at last


We made it to the Melville Street Market in Hobart this past weekend. We live some four hours drive away so it is not possible to drop in each Sunday and since we had a special party to attend in Hobart on Saturday evening we decided to get up early on Sunday to visit the market and still head back in good time to the Bay of Fires. The market is held on Sunday mornings each week and very well patronised so I had to get used to queuing. Even though many Hobart residents are used to visiting the Salamanca Market on Saturdays to buy fruit, vegetables and comestibles this market is still filling a vital need  for people to buy high quality food and plants from Tasmanian growers and makers.

Callington Mill flour and bread from Oatlands

Callington Mill flour and bread from Oatlands mill and shop

It is a Farmers Market people, you must bring your own stylish shopping bag, French market bags, recycle bags or buy one from the market organisers, as plastic bags are a no no here. A couple more rules to follow and you will be set so leave your dog on a leash outside the entrance and there is no smoking allowed and the best rule of all is that as a stall holder, you must grow, pick, raise, produce, or extract within the geographical Tasmanian boundaries.

Elgar cheese

Elgaar cheese and next time we will try the advertised mascarpone

After we left the market we headed for a petrol station to buy a bag of ice to keep our fresh food cool.

A lovely bright couple

A well dressed couple


Coffee stall had a monopoly

The market could do with more Coffee stalls

These ladies sold out quickly

These ladies sold out their strawberries quickly

We did not buy the peonies as they would droop on a long drive on a sunny day.

Peonies in a bucket

Peony is the new rose, in my opinion anyway

Best array of herbs I have seen

Best variety of herbs I have seen ever at Provenance Growers

Red is the colour of the day

Red is the colour of the day

Garlic grows well here
Garlic grows well here



Tasmanian walnuts in Date Nut Loaf

Tasmania produces fresh large walnuts so I looked for my old cylindrical Willow brand tins I had found years ago in a charity shop and looked for some recipes. The tins are different designs although both Willow brand. This one is easier to fill but harder to clean.IMG_9166

The tricky tin, I defy anyone else to fill it with one hand whilst holding it upright with the other hand, unless someone is around to help it just falls apart. I doubt a ‘patent pending’ ever became legal for this tin design.IMG_9167

Looks OK when closed. My grandmother made these regularly and I recall they always made an appearance on the ‘take a plate’  morning and afternoon teas back in the fifties and sixties. 

You simply must slather the round thick slices with cold butter as it is not called a loaf for nothing. If you don’t eat butter at all don’t bother to make it.


I consulted all the old-fashioned community recipe books in my possession and they all have the same measurements for ingredients and tin size which is doubly perplexing because they all say, ‘use two cylindrical round tins’. They are all misleading – the ingredient measurements are wrong. The mixture quantity they give is not enough for two of the traditional tins, therefore I doubled the recipe and since I could not manage the second round tin that kept falling apart, without a helper I used a conventional loaf tin. You can see that by doubling the mix I would have had a little left over if I had used the two round tins.

The walnuts are Tasmanian, fresh and whole, not like the supermarket ones that are all broken into bits, and if you add up the cost of those small packets the price exceeds the health food price where I get these fresh Tasmanian nuts. No one is growing dates in Tasmania to my knowledge so I could not boast it is entirely Tasmanian.


Preheat oven to 180c

If you use fan forced then turn the oven down to 170 degrees C.

1 cup dates, chopped

1 tsp Quatre Epices, four spice blend (this is my little improvement)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup boiling water
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten

Place dates, walnuts, sultanas, sugar, bi-carb and butter in a bowl.
Pour one cup of boiling water over contents of bowl.
Mix well, then add flour, salt and beaten egg.
Mix only till well blended.
Placed in two greased round nut loaf tins, replace top caps and stand upright in oven (or place all mixture in greased loaf tin).

Bake in moderate oven for 50-60 minutes.

Here is my printer friendly Date and Nut Loaf recipe



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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In My Tassie Kitchen

Thank you Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog, you have encouraged me to keep stock of my kitchen. Lobster season is now open and here is our latest catch. The amount of fresh produce and processed food in Tasmania is increasing and we always find new brands and many of them are artisan brands with small productions so we like to support them when we can.

My lead photo was nearly todays salad with nasturtiums picked on my walk and chive flowers from my garden.

Rhubru is the brand name of  the bottle of rhubarb vinegar we bought from Launceston’s Farmers Market.

We also bought a rhubarb and lavender base for our new welcome drink. Not a great lover of cordial but this one is for those special occasions when someone arrives, doesn’t drink our Tasmania sparkling but likes to feel they are also celebrating being in Tasmania. 

I love organic rolled oats and I found another Tasmanian brand.

We don’t have three ducks on the wall, just three starfish drying on kitchen sill.

The camellia was picked from the car park at our local plant nursery. I was inspired to buy some camellia plants for the house here. I bought three E.G. Waterhouse camellias, for horticulturists – official name Camellia x williamsii. They will look something like this one.

Our brand new ice cream maker, bought in Launceston. We have a red version of this brand in our Brisbane kitchen and for the price we are happy with it. I used to have a large one with a built in compressor but it died after many years of good service and we could not get it fixed, bet we could if we lived in Vietnam…

We have two cheeses from Yondover goat dairy, a fresh chevre style cheese (I am sure the French don’t like the chevre word along with champagne pinched either) and this firm goats cheese known as Bella. Now out of its wrapping and ready to serve. Yondover Farm House Cheese, Lilydale on the road between Lonnie and Scottsdale.

They offer visits – Farm open 10 – 4  seven days a week, take the children to see milking at 4pm.

Also from the versatile people at Yondover a salami made with goats meat.

All about hazelnuts is the name of Elaine and Steve Rayner’s hazelnut farm in Exeter, but unfortunately they do not have a website to share with you. We bought this bag from their stall at the Deloraine Craft Fair.

An apricot jam purchased from a Tulendeena farmers honour box stand. We bought it when we drove up to Scottsdale this week. ‘Like you have never tasted’ printed on the homemade label. I had a taste before taking the picture and it is different, reminiscent of dried pureed apricots. Maybe they dry apricots and use it for the jam. Not what I was expecting. I am contemplating ringing the farmers to see if I am right. I wonder what they will make of my phone call.


Harvest Farmers Market, Launceston

Never found before at a Farmers Market, fresh bunch of Angelica

As soon as we arrived back in our second home in north eastern Tasmania we headed off to the new (since February 2012) Harvest Farmers’ Market  in Launceston.  We set the alarm early for our 2 hour drive from Binalong Bay.

Cimitiere Street car park, Launceston – every saturday 8.30am-12.30pm.

We have shopped at many Farmers Markets over the years on our travels through Australia and abroad and this one is the real deal. Owners, growers, makers, producers fronting their wares therefore possessing the vital knowledge sought when selecting and buying.

I had no idea what I would do with the angelica, just bought it to be inspired.

We could not resist the big bunch of Angelica (a biennial and perennial herb from the Apiaceae family), sold by Rosie MacKinnon alongside her fresh garlic.

Small but juicy garlic bulbs

There were two bakers present on this day and we bought from Sandy Baines, and next time we will try another. We also bought a bottle of award-winning Coronea Grove Olive Oil after a taste offered proved it had the peppery aftertaste we love. No wonder they won a medal this year.

A bottle of rhubarb vinegar and rhubarb lemonade cordial went into our straw market bag

Here the tent sports the website address so it cannot be missed

Cute labels for Thirlstane Gardens coriander and rocket

A few fruit loaves left made by Sandy Baines baker by weekend, studying nursing by day

We admired the wood bread crates Sandy commissioned for transporting his bread

Red butter lettuce sold out quickly

Ginseng in honey and other products but it is now the sideline to the successful 41 degree South salmon farm

The Laotians gardeners are here

We bought rabbit hindquarters and rabbit sausages

 Yondover cheese is new to us so we bought two types and Yondover’s goat salami



Amaretti for Christmas

Amaretti just out of the oven

These biscuits are one of many versions of Amaretti. If you need a quick recipe for biscuits or even as a food gift for Christmas these will be appreciated by all. Since I am currently in Tasmania I tried to use as many Tasmanian ingredients as possible. A recipe with so few ingredients did not give me much scope but the egg whites are Tasmanian free range. When I tried this recipe the first time I found I had to add more egg white to make a firm but soft mixture. You may need extra egg white on hand. Some recipes call for almond essence. That can be dangerous if you are heavy handed as almond essence can be acrid and ruin the taste completely. Since using vanilla extract in place of almond I find the taste is subtle and it suits the soft and delicate texture.

Almonds on top – I keep almonds with skins on in my cupboard rather than blanched almonds, they have a fresher taste. I brought water to boil in a small pan on the cook top, added the almonds and waited 2 minutes and quickly removed them. When they were cool enough to handle I slipped the skins off easily.
Open print friendly Amaretti recipe


Makes 18-20

1 cup caster sugar

125g ground almonds

2  large free range egg whites

½ tspn vanilla extract (I use Sevarome vanilla)

Blanched and halved almonds

Mix together sugar and ground almonds, and the egg whites and vanilla extract. Mix well with electric mixer and beat for 3 minutes. Put aside for 5 minutes.

Use 2 dessertspoons to shape Amaretti and place on greased and floured oven trays. Or use non-stick baking paper to line trays.

Place a split almond half on top of each and lightly press. Bake in a moderate oven 165c for around 12 minutes. Check on the Amaretti as they can brown quickly. Remove and cool on racks.

Store in an airtight container.



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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Tetsuya at Australian Wooden Boat Festival

If you asked the world’s top chefs the name an Australian chef, then Tetsuya Wakuda’s name is probably the first one mentioned.  So I thought carefully about whether to put this post on my tastetravel blog as it concentrates on food and travel all over the world or post it here on my little homely Tasmanian blog. But it did take place in Tasmania and he used the famous produce the Southern Rock Lobster which is a premier Tasmanian product.

The Japanese chef who has adopted Australia as his home – and in fact trained to become a chef here, is very well-known to Tasmania. He is reputed to visit often to look for wonderful food sources and to enjoy the relaxed life when he needs a break. The Wooden Boat Centre in Tasmania is currently constructing a 38 foot motor sailer in Huon Pine and Celery-Top designed by Naval Architect, Mike Hunn for Tetsuya Wakuda and no doubt when it is ready he will be considered an honorary Tasmanian.

So it is fitting that Tetsuya was invited to give a cooking class at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival and concentrated on lobsters. The fish and chips – well we ate them whilst waiting for the demo to begin. They came from the nearby Fish Frenzy restaurant, they prepare fillet the fish as the order comes in. That is the way we like it!

Only in Tasmania would you be able to play with so many live lobsters. The co-host of the presentation was Rodney Treloggen, Chief Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Rock Lobster Fishermen’s Association. It is a coincidence that we live in Treloggen Drive in Binalong Bay. The Treloggens were on the local council (back in the 50’s) and applied for the first subdivision in Binalong Bay. Rodney Treloggen was a competent MC, adding useful information about the Southern Rock Lobsters between Tetsuya’s demonstrations.

The crowd was surprised when Tetsuya began to cook the live lobsters without first attempting to put them to sleep. I know the Japanese prize freshness in their seafood but it was disconcerting for most to watch the lobsters legs waving at us as they were placed on the hot grill. Tetsuya was careful to explain that you don’t keep turning them over, just watch until all the meat looks cooked through by the heat under the shells.

Another way he prepared them was to hold the tail in boiling water for about 1 minute and then plunge into icy water. The lobster is not even par cooked!  Tetsuya then prized the barely cooked meat out by cutting along both sides of the tail. This meat he put aside to later make a mousse in a Thermomix. 

We were staying with friends in Hobart who are both food lovers and came with us to the demonstration. And we had come prepared with lobster we had caught in our pot in Binalong Bay.

Taking one of the recipes very seriously I wrote down the ingredients and back at our friends home we followed the steps. First we halved our lobster, sat it in a baking tray and filled it half way with boiling water, and exactly following Tetsuya, put it in a hot oven until the flesh turned white. The only point of difference was that our lobster did not feel any pain. We had put it to sleep.

When it cooled down we removed and sliced the cooked flesh and replaced the meat in the shells. We cut the spring onions. A tip from Tetsuya worth noting and I will do in future is to prepare the onions early (he finely slices them) soaks in icy cold water so they curl.  Next we added finely sliced fresh ginger, chopped garlic that was all placed on top as in the picture.


The sauce –  put soy sauce, sugar and mirin (Japanese rice wine) in a pyrex jug and heat in the microwave. At same time in a small saucepan on the stove we heated grape seed oil. Poured over the hot soy mixture first and then the hot oil that made the whole dish sizzling. I did not look at my notes and we forgot the orange zest but that is for next time also. I immodestly tell you we all thought it wonderful and we will be making it again very soon.

We feasted that night – after the lobster we had our Striped Trumpeter caught by our fishing mate in Bicheno. This was not a Tetsuya recipe but an Indian style paste we made up and smeared over the top and inside.

If you would like some more information about the preparation and recipes for rock lobsters here is the recipe page on the website of Australian Southern Rock Lobster.

Just before you leave me, here are a couple of photos of the Japanese noodle makers showing us how to make soba noodles, it seems Tasmania is growing buckwheat.

The visit was twofold for them to share their skill and visit the source of the grain/seed that is grown and sent to the Shiratori Flour Mills in Japan.

A lonely potted plant at the side of the stage – it is the revered and quite pretty (Soba)Buckwheat plant. The only thing missing was the opportunity to slurp on some buckwheat noodles.



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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