Tasmania’s Devilishly Good Island Food
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Out of the six Australian states, Tasmania is like the last kid to be picked in gym class, taunted and made fun of by its northern classmates, but Tasmanians like it that way, because modestly, they know the truth; that it’s overlooked.
It would be hard to pick a culinary "hot spot" in Tazzy, since almost everything you will eat there originates from the island itself. Tasmania is wildly proud about that fact, and even the local pub will outshine most farm-to-table restaurants in the States. It’s not for show, it just is the way of life.
In Hobart, the first place anyone will send you is Salamanca Place, which hosts a now-famous Saturday market that attracts thousands of attendees and hundreds of vendors. Eateries abound, but for a truly unique Australian specialty, delight in a lamington cake at Jackman & McRoss in the Battery Park section. Have a flat white (espresso with full-cream milk) and take in the view up Hampden Road to the peak of Mt. Wellington, standing vigil over the town at 4,170 feet.
For dinner, go local and join the salty fisherman at the Prince of Wales, a typical Australia pub directly across the street from Jackman & McRoss. Order at the bar and enjoy one of their extraordinarily delicious rump steaks. They are also a bottle shop (liquor store), so you can pick up something to go if you like.
For a more upscale meal there is Garagistes, which doesn't take reservations… or orders. You will get seated as you come, and you will be fed what they give you on the set pre fixe menu. The highlights are the Bruny Island oysters, wild but "controlled" oysters from the bay just miles from where you sit. They look like a sunny-side up egg, where the yolk is a creamy vanilla color and the "white" of the oyster is the color of a storm cloud. They pop in your mouth like a piece of Freshen-Up gum. The taste is creamy and delicate with no slime to them at all, and just a hint of sea salt in the juice — they're the oyster for someone who is afraid of oysters.
To quench your thirst, try a Boag's Draught, a local Tasmanian beer, or if you want something even more local, order a Cascade. Cascade is Australia’s oldest operating brewery, and it's located right up the street. And don’t be afraid of ordering a light version of either, as they are as flavorful as any microbrew in the U.S.
When driving north from Hobart to Cradle Mountain, halfway between the two is the Red Bridge Café and Providore in Campbell Town. You can’t miss it, because it is located directly next to the only red bridge that runs through the roughly 1-mile-long town artery. Local wines, fresh baked pastries and bread, along with local jams and nuts are all on offer.
Have a wrap with local poached chicken, spinach, and pancetta and an orange fizzy from New Zealand and take it down to the picnic benches by the stream, under the weeping willows, and watch the ducks navigate the gently rocking lily pads.
If you want more time outdoors, Cradle Mountain has hundreds of walking trails, an abundance of wildlife, and a view of the mountain itself at Dove Lake. After a long hike, the chef at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge feed hungry bellies. Jee Whan Lee is a classically trained graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Canada, and works almost exclusively with native meats and seasonal vegetables.
For a first course, try the Macquarie Harbor trout tataki. The vibrantly orange fillets set atop a palm-sized mound of saffron sticky rice will pleasantly surprise you and the complements of citrus fennel salad, glace ginger, and wasabi mayonnaise will do more than that. The second course might be a medium-rare Springfield venison primal or a twice-cooked Westhaven goat cheese soufflé, broccolini, a spicy chile jam, and a dark chocolate jus.
And at the end of the meal, you may just decide to stay another couple of weeks in Tasmania to take in all the delicious and surprising food.
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