Given our warmer than usual summer here in South East Queensland, I thought I’d take the opportunity to escape for an extra long weekend to Tasmania. So I managed to swing an extra, extra long weekend, packed a bag and jumped on a plane to visit The Apple Isle.
While the apples (and cider) are amazing, Tassie has so much more to offer – it’s a foodie paradise!
No sooner had my friend picked me up from the airport, than our adventure began because it’s barely a hop, skip and jump from Hobart Airport to where the fun begins. After a quick stop for some bacon and lamb at a local butcher, we headed for Coal River Farm. You’ll be surprised at quite how close to the city this farming district is (20 minutes). I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I wasn’t there! After a wander past the chocolate and cheese rooms, we grabbed some tubs and headed off berry picking. Coal River Farm uses organic growing methods so there’s no need to worry about sprays or chemicals. We may or may not have sampled a strawberry or two to check their sweetness as we loaded up (okay, I’ll be honest… once I realised I needed to watch out for slithery critters as well as bees I was not the major contributor to our collection).
Back in the store when we had finished picking, I selected some cheeses to add to our bounty. So far, so good. I’d been in the state for less than 2 hours and I already had the beginnings of a delicious picnic.
By now I was starting to get hungry for lunch (I’d skipped breakfast to make my 6.30am flight). Fortunately for me a truly amazing experience was literally around the corner. After turning down a side lane and twisting and turning a few times we found Riversdale Estate and their astounding French Bistro. Picture rose lined paths, green lawns, white linen cloths and window-side tables. The food was to die for, and it was matched by service that simply could not be faulted. For dessert I had a cheesecake made with fresh raspberries to a recipe that was handed down through the owner’s family. As family legacies go, this one was definitely worth it.
Our afternoon continued with a few more farm stops for more cheeses, jams, peaches, blueberries, cherries and all the local product we could fit into the esky. Then we headed for my friend’s property in the Central Highlands. We were definitely stocked up for my stay! And we found all manner of ways to enjoy the produce (in cocktails, tasting plates, desserts, side dishes…).
As with my previous visit, I enjoyed the charm of stores in New Norfolk (I may or may not have stocked up on craft goodies at the local craft store and astounded once again at bricks handmade by early convicts at the secondhand store). I also spent hours wandering the stalls at the Salamanca Market. My purchases there included locally handcarved trinket boxes, a tidy bottle of single malt and some fossils sold to me by an 8-year-old (my nephew loved them).
Quite conveniently, a farm-based ale and cider brewery has opened about 5 minutes down the road from my friend’s house. How could we resist popping in to meet the neighbours and support them in their ventures? Two Metre Tall cider is crisp and refreshing and perfect for a summer’s day (perfect for other season’s too). The fiercely independent business sell their product at the cellar door and online (which is fortunate for those of us who live elsewhere in Australia).
Eventually, it was time for me to head back home. There was time for one final southern dining experience to be had. Being Sunday it seemed appropriate that we chose Twelve Stones, in Pontville, for lunch. The restaurant is a converted church. We chose a table outside and relaxed in the shade to enjoy the grounds while waiting on our food. My cheesy soufflé with spiced cauliflower was delicious. I love the trend toward using edible flowers and found the visual presentation of the dish just as delicious as the flavour.
I’m very much looking forward to my next visit to Tasmania, and to exploring more local produce offerings (and a friendlier climate).