First off on our final day of my Tassie trip, saw me in the stunningly beautiful Huon Valley and after a quick visit to a lovely chocolate shop; the Cat's Tongue Chocolatiers, we were off for some cider! I wasn't aware until I got to Tassie, just how strong the cider making business is in Tas. I found a lot of the ciders I tasted to be more old-style in taste, flatter and not as fizzy as a lot of the more mainstream commercial ones you find in most pubs. Having grown up in Ireland where Bulmer's Cider is very popular, I was used to ciders which can be a little sickly sweet, especially after one glass, so I was pleasantly surprised and likes the style of ciders currently being produced in Tas. At Willie Smith's, I met the lovely and afficable Andrew Smith. Andrew joined this family business 26 years ago and quickly saw how important good produce was to his customers and to people who eat the apples everyday. After some investigation he decided that the only thing he could do to improve the already great fruit was by doing even less to it and made the move the business into the organic space. Andrew was a great bloke and gave us a quick tour of the cider farm including the orchards where they grow apples to produce a cider which takes its inspiration from the traditional cider making techniques of Northern France.
Michelle and I then jumped in the car and headed to the most impressive 'Apple Shed' which is run my Willie Smith's. An incredibly striking space which is a restaurant, cider house and museum. It is decorated and fitted out beautifully and all credit to the design team who have produced an really cool and hip space akin almost to something you'd find in Bondi in Sydney, yet set in the beautiful countryside. Here I managed to get some shots of the museum area which was really impressive and very detailed in its presentation, and then in true Tassie fashion, we were invited to do a cider tasting at 10.30am!
You can find out more info on all the ciders produced at Willie Smith's here.
The Lotus Eaters is seemingly Michelle's fave spot for lunch. The staff were brilliant, very friendly and welcoming. The portions of food were massive ~ be warned when ordering. Each of our choices could have served 2 easily.
I am not a huge fan of dumplings/pot stickers, but these chicken filled one's were very good, served with a great broth and egg omelette noodles. Michelle opted for a ploughmans platter-style dish that had everything on it from local cheddar, to cured meats, smoked salmon, olives, roasted veg and salad. Let's just say we both left The Lotus Eaters with very contented bellies :)
Ok, so who's up for a
little lot, house envy?
This is Michelle's house. We visited it on the third day of my stay, and it is totally. utterly. gorgeous.
I adored it. I could have spent the whole day photographing it, Michelle almost had to drag me out of the place kicking and screaming.
There were antiques and collectables through-out the house fit enough to make any Sydney stylist or prop house, seethingly envious.
We stopped off here for a little bit in-between things and after I drooled at all her lovely home wares for about an hour, Michelle kindly gave me a pot of her fab jam which she hand makes herself in her kitchen and types up the pretty little labels on a funky old, retro typewriter... Very cool.
I am a total stickler for a puddy cat ~ especially one as handsome as this fella...
Patch aka Tassie's best canine fly catcher...
Michelle's gorgeous 'Apple Town' Handmade Apricot and Vanilla Jam ~ complete with super cute custom typed labels.
I am very familiar with Matthew's work through his Gourmet Farmer TV show and Books. Also my good photographer friend Alan Benson, is Matthew's photographer of choice for all of his work, due to their friendship of some 20 plus years, and Michelle and Alan and Matthew all work together on a monthly food column for Feast Magazine where all 3 of these amazingly skilled people come together to produce a visually stunning feature each month. So I was delighted when I found out the final stop of my three day whirlwind Tassie adventure, would be a visit to meet Matthew and his gorgeous wife Sadie and their little boy, at their Fat Pig Farm when they raise Wessex Saddleback pigs and milk a beautiful Guernsey cow; Elsie.
Nestled in a narrow gully near the Huon River, Fat Pig Farm is where Matthew and Sadie raise 30 grass grazing, dirt digging Wessex Saddleback pigs, a few pocket rocket low line angus and a couple of dairy cows. They are grafting an old orchard with new (well actually really old) varieties and planting a new orchard and vegie garden. You can buy their ham and bacon sometimes at The Bruny Island Cheesemonger in Salamanca (as mentioned in my day 2 post here).
After Sadie gave me a tour of the pigs and their impressive and extensive veggie garden, we all enjoyed some of Matthew's food around a campfire next to his beautiful lake on the farm along with some great Tassie pinot including some of Matthew and Sadie's own home-produced wine. It was an amazing way to end my trip before heading back to Hobart.
I ended up staying and extra two nights and pottered around the famous Salamanca markets on the Saturday, returned to Mona for a second visit (it's that good), walked up in the glorious sun to the stunning Battery Point area where I ooohed and aahhed at the beautiful, quaint houses and stopped off at Pollen Tea Room for a cuppa, and the divine bakery and coffee house JACKMAN & MCROSS
THE GORGEOUS LITTLE HOUSES IN BATTERY POINT
BELOW ~ TASSIE RECIPE INSPIRATION DAY 3. SOFT SHEEP'S CHEESE, SMOKED SALMON, BABY PEA AND MINT PASTA ~ Recipe Here
So I hope I have given you all a decent idea of whet it's like to spend a few days in Tassie and the immediate surrounding areas outside of Hobart. I really had an amazing time.
I think Hobart is a really funky little town. I was surprised at the edgy feel to a lot of the places I visited and Hobart's forward thinking approach. I think it's a brilliant place to head to for a weekend or long weekend if you are based in Sydney or Melbourne as it's just a quick 2 hour flight. Jetstar fly direct from Sydney and I found them to be brilliant to fly with. I normally am a strict Qantas flyer but I really was impressed at how friendly and cool it was to fly with Jetstar for the first time.
I have to say thanks for Tourism Tasmania and their Go Behind the Scenery Campaign for offering me this amazing experience. They were brilliant in covering my flights and accommodation and I look forward ot working with them again soon.
On a side note details of the WKA workshop in Sydney on Saturday November 29th will be up on Saturday coming. My second book is due for release next Wednesday October 22nd so I have been up to my tonsils juggling work and blog and book commitments. Stay tuned for more info but I can say it will be a 1 day course covering cooking, styling, shooting and editing. Followed by a sit down fun dinner. Cost is $850 per person and limited to 16 people.