New Tastes Of Tassie
The southern capital has a long-standing reputation for top-notch produce and now Hobart’s burgeoning foodie scene is finding its feet, says Tatyana Leonov.
The world is fast discovering that Hobart is an ultra-fashionable destination. There’s the quirky-cool Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – the kids’ playground for adults, a bevy of luxury hotels, markets like Salamanca with its fresh produce, and culinary showcases like The Taste of Tasmania (thetasteoftasmania. com). The fine-dining scene is catching up thanks to talented young chefs, hands-on growers and entrepreneur-producers who are achieving world’s firsts.
The best way to get the lay of the culinary landscape is by signing up for a guided walk with Gourmania Food Tours (gourmaniafoodtours.com. au). Company director Mary McNeill knows her stuff. A former pastry chef, she guides gastronomes who sign up for offerings like Tea to Tapas, the City Tour and the new Café Tour, which takes in a wide range of culinary hot spots.
On weekends, visitors to Hobart’s Farm Gate Market (farmgatemarket.com.au) are given the chance to gain insights into the many products that are grown, picked, raised or produced in any number of other ways in Tasmania. Here you’ll find local jams, fresh- baked pastries, just-picked fruits and vegetables along with a selection of decadent snacks. For lovers of fine dining, Garagistes (103 Murray St, garagistes.com.au) remains one of the city’s top restaurants. It’s so popular that there’s a no-reservations policy and wait lists are the norm. Once you snag a seat, treat your taste buds to seasonal dishes like lamb rack teamed with native Australian saltbush or steamed venerupis clams with sea succulents.
Ethos Eat Drink (100 Elizabeth St, ethoseatdrink. com), one of the stops on Mary’s Tea to Tapas tour, is the place to go if variety is your thing. Among the options is a meal made up of many little dishes, each one showcasing local, seasonal produce that’s served on the same day it arrives.
Over at MONA, executive chef Philippe Leban is the brains behind the spectacular molecular creations at modern marvel The Source Restaurant (mona.net.au), which are made in cooperation with local producers and growers. Born in Paris but a resident of Australia starting in his teenage years, Leban draws on his bi-cultural background and his experience at Michelin- starred eateries to create fascinating French fusion dishes using Tasmania’s freshest produce.
“Hobart has seen the emergence of some very committed people in the food scene,” he says. “The farmers, growers and fishermen here have taken the route of small production to attain quality. I think we‘re the incubator for a change in the industry where the people who supply the raw product and the restaurants who receive it work closely to improve the quality.”
Even if fine dining isn’t your thing, Hobart still spoils all comers. “Hobart is going casual,” McNeill says, citing quirky-cool newbie Crumb Street Kitchen (144 Harrington St, tel: (03) 6234 7002) as one of her favourite haunts. Visit at peak time and you’ll find yourself queuing up with foodies eager to sample the superb smoked meats.
However, it’s not just newbies making the most of Hobart’s laid-back vibe. The Taco Taco Mexican food van proved so popular that its operators decided to open brick-and-mortar eatery Chulo (98 Patrick St, chulocafe.com).
If you don’t get to Garagistes, intimate bar Sidecar (129 Bathurst St, garagistes.com. au/sidecar) is owned by the same people.
Elsewhere, Ethos Eat Drink has set up a casual eatery just opposite, transforming a space that was once home to a restaurant called Piccolo into a casual café that goes by the name of Berta (323A Elizabeth St, tel: (03) 6234 4844).
Beyond its culinary offerings, Tasmania is renowned for producing quality, cool-climate wines. That said, locally made ciders are fast gaining popularity. Australia’s first organically produced cider, Willie Smith’s (williesmiths. com.au) is available at Grape Bar (55 Salamanca Pl, tel: (03) 6224 0611). Pagan Cider (pagancider.com.au) produces some unique fruit mixes, including cherry (40% cherry juice), rose (15% cherry juice) and the exceptional quince cider. Visitors can grab a pint (or a few) at Westend Pumphouse (105 Murray St, pumphouse.com.au). And Red Sails Cider (redsails.com. au) makes great traditional ciders using heritage cider apple varieties.
“We have two of Australia’s premier apple-growing areas in the Huon Valley and at Spreyton,” McNeill says. “Many cider makers use dessert apples with a natural sweetness, while others use unpasteurised apples, which means the flavour of the fresh fruit is captured in the bottle. It’s a really exciting time for Tasmanian cider right now.”