After an amazingly cosy night at Woodbridge Hill Hideaway, where Michelle and I stayed in two separate cabins, nestled in the trees and forest, high up in the hills of the stunning Woodbridge area about 40-45 mins south of Hobart, and a dinner comprising of some amazing meats, cheeses and goodies collected throughout day 1 of my Tassie trip in Hobart, we awoke the next day to some rather crappy weather. *Boo :(* BTW ~ Woodbridge Hill hideaway I have to add, is a gorgeous, cosy and romantic location ~ it would be amazing for a lovey-dovey romantic getaway with your 'significant other'. The cabins are beautifully fitted-out and very comfy. We arrived to a roaring fire in a pot belly stove nestled in the corner of each of our very large rooms. The place was spotless, bathroom huge, complete with spa bath and it was fab to hear the rain pelting down outside as we enjoyed dinner along with a bottle or two of great Tassie Pinot and a really good, girly natter. The view the next morning from the expansive outside deck was stunning and I looked forward to seeing more of the gorgeous surrounding countryside.
I had always sort of pictured Tassie as a place where it rained a lot ~ a bit like Ireland, but I was wrong, seemingly it’s a rarity to get much rain so we were a little unfortunate on day 2 when the sun failed to put on a show for us. But no bother, we weren’t going to let that stop us snapping away and enjoying all the beautiful scenery and surrounds of our next destination, which was; Bruny Island.
Bruny Island is located off the south eastern coast of Tassie and is home of the beautiful South Bruny National Park. The island is about 100KM long, home to about 620 people and separated into the North and South islands which are joined by a long, sandy strip of land called ‘The Neck’. If you head over to the island, you’ll see fur seals, fairy penguins and white wallabies. It offers visitors locally produced food and premium quality wines, hand made fudge, chocolate, truffles, cheese and fresh oysters. The Island is also home to Australia's southern-most vineyard and there are some excellent restaurants and cafés scattered across the island's townships.
After a 20 minute car ferry ride over to the island. Michelle and I drove to our first spot on our day 2 adventure; Bruny Island Cheese Co.
Started by a great bloke called; Nick Haddow who was incredibly welcoming and amicable. From the get-go Nick was offering us morning coffee and hot toast which we enjoyed in the cosy restaurant area of the cheese co. whilst we all had a chat and looked at samples of his new TV show and book.
Nick spent 10 years working with specialist cheese makers in many different countries around the world. He and his partner Leonie (remember The Maker Shop from Day 1 post ~ that is Leonie’s shop) settled on Bruny Island in Southern Tasmania in 2001 to start making cheese for themselves. Nick is a traditionalist, who recognises that great cheese was made for centuries before modern technology played a role and believes passionately in the old way of making and maturing cheese. For him, cheese making is a pursuit of integrity and flavour.
The cheeses Bruny Island Cheese Co. makes are very much the product of Nick's travels and training throughout the great cheese producing regions of France, Italy, Spain and the UK. They are the cheeses he loves to make and eat. Although Nick and his team are inspired by the artisan cheeses from their travels but they do not seek to copy them. Instead, he wants to make cheeses that are connected to their environment... cheeses with a distinctly Tasmanian character.
Bruny Island Cheese Co. use both cow's and goat's milk to make its range of cheeses. The animals are farmed in an environmentally sustainable way with the focus of the farming practices on producing the best milk possible. They believe profoundly that the milk is what makes the cheese and therefore the good treatment of animals and their milk is paramount.
The really cute little house at the cheese co. This used to be the house Nick and his wife Leonie lived in when they first opened the cheese company.
The wood-fired oven which the cooks at the Cheese Co. used to bake delicious pizzas, which are served in the restaurant.
So with rather fetching hairnets, white gum boots and Bruny Island Cheese Co. uniforms donned and a few giggles (note distinct lack of pics of either of us looking glam and gorgeous in our gum boot get up), Michelle and I were given a first hand tour of the cheese making process.
I was impressed how meticulously clean the cheese making area was, having been in a few cheese factories before, the guys here really take hygiene very importantly and it was good to see. All the guys working in the factory were really warm and affable, decent music was blaring and you could tell these guys really quite enjoyed what they did for a living, and there was a real team-energy amongst them all.
Nick gave us a run down too of the cheeses they make, including their most well known cow’s milk, hard, natural rind ‘Tom’ variety. Tom is in the tradition of the Tomme cheeses made in the mountainous French Savoie region. A cheese of simple integrity to be left on the table and eaten everyday. On the outside Tom has a natural grey rind that develops over five months of ageing. On the inside, really just great milk. Tom is a fast maturing hard cheese that shows both freshness and developed characteristics. You can read more about all of the cheeses Nick and his team have on offer at his website here.
Rows of 'Personalised' cheeses ~ you can have a whole cheese made and carved with a recipient's name which makes for a really cool, unique gift.
After our tour of the cheese factory and I regretfully had to remove and hand back my very attractive hair net, but on the upside, Nick really kindly offered to drive Michelle and I around the island for a bit of a tour.
Sadly it was still bucketing down with rain and really rather gloomy and miserable altogether, so there wasn’t much opportunity to get amazingly gorgeous ‘Sunny Tassie’ shots for the blog, but it was great to have a little look-see at how stunning Bruny Island is, even if on such a not so-great day weather-wise. I have to admit, the benefit of the weather was there was a wonderful stillness to the place, very tranquil and reminiscent for me of parts of the west coast of Ireland. Mystical and haunting.
After our drive around the island and many fields, (which involved the opening and closing of way too many fences in the drizzling rain), Nick dropped us back to his Cheese Co. where we said our farewells, and Michelle and I jumped in her car and we were, like billio, off to:
Here at Get Shucked I met a really lovely fella called Joe Bennett who runs the oyster farm with the support of his partner Nicole at Great Bay Bruny Island. In 2004 the farm was purchased as a barely going concern and Get Shucked was created.
I'll be honest, I am not an oyster fan at all. If someone asks me if there's anything I don't eat, it's these slimy little buggers. I have tried them ~ as I will try any food once, but sadly they, like a lot of shellfish, they are just not for me ~ it's a texture thing. However Michelle was thrilled, as she loves them and got to gobble up a load of amazingly fresh ones which Joe kindly offered to us. It was also pretty cool to see the groups of punters arriving at the shop, ordering buckets and buckets of oysters and champagne and getting well into the whole experience. I guess you either love of hate oysters, and this crowd clearly were flying the flag for the former camp...
After all that brisk sea air on Bruny, it was time to head back to the mainland and pop into a place Michelle had mentioned on a few occasions as being a very lovely space and beautifully decorated restaurant ~ Peppermint Bay. She thought it would be a good place for us to grab some dinner and and glass or two of red before she dropped me off to my accommodation for the night.
Nestled on four acres of waterfront headland in the southern Tasmanian village of Woodbridge, Peppermint Bay has commanding views across the d’Entrecasteaux Channel and north to Mt. Wellington. Set against a backdrop of the lush rolling hills of the Huon region, this award-winning building sits comfortably amid green lawns and shading trees, the ideal venue for a family outing, a quiet lunch, party, wedding or corporate event. it was really beautifully designed inside. As you walk in you do so into a great wine shop with some superb Tassie reds and whites and a decent selection of locally produced beers and ciders. Then it's into the bar and restaurant which adjoins an amazingly cathedral-like grand dining room. It was a modern space but sympathetically fitted perfectly into the beautiful natural surrounds.
Just a short 35 minute drive South from Hobart via the picturesque Channel Highway, or by water on our luxury high-speed catamaran, Peppermint Bay is a great place to head to for a dinner and drinks with a group of people. There was a great vibe in the place as more and more locals came into the bar area and the place was filled with a lot of laughter and
The village of Woodbridge is surrounded by small farms producing high quality food products, craft outlets, vineyards and an array of other attractions. As mentioned above, if you want to experience Peppermint Bay car-free, you can also grab a Peppermint Bay ferry direct to the venue from the wharf in Hobart. Details here.
BELOW ~ TASSIE RECIPE INSPIRATION DAY 2PAPPARDELLE WITH FENNEL INFUSED CRISPY PORK BELLY AND RICH, SPICY RED WINE SAUCE ~ Recipe Here
This above is a recipe which was inspired by a dish I ate at Peppermint Bay. The original dish was a spicy arrabiata style pasta with Guanciale. Guanciale is cured pork cheek and in the dish I ate at Peppermint Bay, it was diced into very small cubes and reminded me a lot of roast pork belly due to its crunchy texture. I have re-invented it at home using pork belly which I roasted with fennel. Then mixed it into a rich and spicy indulgent red wine tomato sauce. The result is really rich, more-ish and comforting, and brilliant for a dinner party main.
Please note the recipe above will be posted up on the blog on Friday as part of my 3rd and final post on Tassie, along with the recipe from Day 1 and 3.
So after a great dinner and a few wines at Peppermint Bay, I was off to my accommodation for the second night and Michelle, as she lives locally, decided to stay at home with her hubby and their two kids. The place booked for me for night three of my stay, was a venue I was really taken and impressed with.
After staying in some amazing hotels over the past while, I'll be honest I was expecting to be a little underwhelmed at the prospect of staying at a small B&B in the middle of the country, but (ignorantly) boy was I wrong. The Hillside at Woodstock totally blew me away. No jokes, it is probably one of the cosiest, accommodating and friendliest guest houses I have ever had the good fortune to stay at.
This Bed & Breakfast is situated on the Huon Trail, less than 3km from the village of Huonville just 40 mins south of Hobart, set in 1½ acres of beautiful gardens and surrounded by apple orchards and a stunning garden. From the minute I arrived and met Jayne ~ who runs Hillside with her husband Doug, I knew I was going to have a very cosy, warm experience.. Jayne and Doug were really so very lovely, very welcoming and immediately showed me to my room which is one of two separate suites located in a private area of the property. You feel very private and secluded in a very good manner. They leave you alone and don;t get in your way. There is a real sense of respect for their guest's privacy.
Jayne also showed me to what I think is the gem of their B&B property set-up ~ their Garden Room ~ a private sitting-room area for guests to use and unwind in and which, wonderfully, contained a roaring fire, relaxing music and a gorgeous verandah where you can sit outside and enjoy a glass of red and the cheese platter which Jayne and Doug kindly leave out for guests on their arrival. It was really incredibly relaxing and a unique property ~ and the cleanest I have ever stayed in, I was a little mind boggled how they get a shower door that clean?!.
At the risk of sounding a tad corny and OTT, it honestly was better than some 5 star hotels I have stayed at. It would make for a beautiful getaway for a couple or 2 couples where you'd get the whole place to yourself and I cannot wait to return.
Above ~ Hillside at Woodstock
Breakfast the next morning was fab too and it was lovely to have a chat to Jayne about her Irish heritage as she served me up a great, filling and healthy brekkie to set me up for the day ahead, which was taking me to the beautiful HuonVille and Cygnet areas, a fantastic visit to a cider producer and finally a great lakeside BBQ at Matthew Evans and his family at their Fat Pig Farm which served as a great way to round off an amazing three days in Tassie with Michelle.
Stay tuned for Friday's final post (teaser pics below) on Day 3 and all 3 recipes inspired from my Tassie stay.