Monday, September 3, 2012

Eating my way through Tasmania

G'day there. It's been awhile since I wrote ... sorry about that. I've been busy enjoying myself. One of the things I'm particularly enjoying is the fabulous food on offer here in Tasmania. To start with, there's so much fresh local produce on offer ~ and you don't have to go very far to find it. In Hobart, the Salamanca and Farm Gate markets have stallholders selling fresh produce straight from the farm gate. If you prefer to visit the farm gate or cellar door yourself, a trip South to Margate, Cygnet, Huonville and surrounds offers plenty of options. I quite enjoyed Grandvewe Cheesery ~ the Pinot Paste is divine!

But Tassie isn't all about fresh produce for you to take home and cook. There's an abundance of fabulous restaurants to visit everywhere you go. I thought I'd share a couple of my favourites so far with you.

Red Velvet Lounge ~ Cygnet
I walked by the Red Velvet Lounge one weekend when hubby and I were visiting Cygnet and liked the look of it. So I went back on a weekday when there were tables available (for a weekend visit, book!) and fell in love as soon as I set foot inside. The decor is beautiful. Big, solid, dark tables and chairs, red walls, metal detail and plenty of retro knick nacks to keep things interesting. Before I even saw the menu, I wanted to move in. And then I saw someone else's meal come out and my mind was made up!

The food is made using local produce and is unique and inventive, but not so out there that you don't know what you're eating. I dined with my Dad and his partner and they both agreed that the food lookd great, tasted amazing and was very filling.

After lunch, we rolled down the street to Cygneture Chocolates ...

Cygneture Chocolates ~ Cygnet
I'm a born and bred Victorian (please don't hold that against me!) and while I haven't lived there for nearly 10 years now, I visit often. Most of my time is spent on the Mornington Peninsula, which is home to the most amazing chocolates I have ever tasted ~ Mornington Peninsula Chocolates in Flinders. I was missing my chocolate fix until I stumbled across Cygneture Chocolates. Now ~ I won't lie ~ they haven't knocked MP Chocolates off the top of my list, but they are a very close second. The chocolate is extremely good, and the service even better. The very delightful Gillian is a font of knowledge about the area and passionate about how wonderful Tassie is.

I love the pretty patterns painted onto the chocolate blocks ~ they make perfect little gifts, although I think they're almost too pretty to eat!

Ball and Chain ~ Salamanca
If you appreciate good steak, this is a must. I'd heard Tassie beef was pretty good before we moved here. I now know it is very good (understatement of the year!). The quality and size of the steak was impressive. And for the price it was amazing. However, Ball and Chain isn't a cheap restaurant, and even though I thought it was great value for money (especially compared to my favourite steak restaurant in Darwin), I would think of it as a special occasion restaurant. So for a meal with my Dad while he was visiting, it was perfect. See, my Dad couldn't cook to save his life when he was married to mum. When he met his lovely partner, she taught him to cook and we got to know Dad as a person (rather than 'Dad') over steak. Lots and lots of steak accompanied by lots and lots and lots of red wine. Becuase of this, steak is a bit of a special meal to our family and we definitely enjoyed our night.

Bark Mill and Tavern ~ Swansea
The Bark Mill is in Swansea, just on the other side of the town if you're driving from Hobart. Hubby and I stopped by the bakery when we were on a Sunday drive one weeked, and we took Dad to the Tavern for lunch while he was visiting. The goodies at the bakery are worth the drive alone! You can even buy freshly made brandy snaps to take home and fill with cream (so you can say you made them!).

The Tavern was a surprise. I thought I would find standard pub grub on offer and didn't have any expectations about the food. So when it came out I was well and truly impressed. I ordered a garlic pizza. This is what I got.

The others ordered scallops and oysters ~ fresh from the oyster farm down the road. I was told the oysters didn't smell at all, and apparently that is the sign of fresh oysters (who knew!). I pinched a couple of prawns, and they were pretty good. Hubby enjoyed the scallops too. 

Finally, for somewhere to stop for an informal lunch in town ...

Fish Frenzy ~ Hobart
Fresh seafood is just so good. And Tassie has it in spades. I popped down to Fish Frenzy for lunch today and enjoyed crumbed fish and calamari, thinking that my cheap and easy lunch was some of the best seafood I've had. It's really not worth eating seafood in Canberra (you can be pretty confident it's been frozen at some stage) and I wasn't much of a seafood fan when we lived in Darwin. But I am making the most of the fresh seafood in Tassie.

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