Eat your heart out in Hobart

Judy Skatssoon

(Australian Associated Press)

Whether it’s oysters on the waterfront, handcrafted Coal River Valley chocolates or a herb-infused G&T sipped in a rustic leather armchair, there’s plenty to tempt the tastebuds in Hobart.


Mary McNeil is a true Tassie local who traces her ancestry back to the Second Fleet and counts among her forebears a swindler and a murderer.

You won’t find any swindling on a Gourmania tour but you might be murdered by the abundance of fine food and drink. McNeil shows you some of the city’s gastronomic highlights, while introducing you to the locals on one of the walking tours she’s been operating around Hobart for five years.

My personalised tour begins with a gin tasting at a pop-up cellar door at the Brooke St Pier hosted by Louise Radman, director of the Domaine Simha wine company, which she established with her husband Nav Singh.

“He makes the wine and I make the gin,” says Radman, offering us a sample of her deliciously pure Antarctic Sud Polaire dry gin.

Our next destination is the Wursthaus gourmet deli, owned for the last 15 years by Peter Trioli, brother of well-known Sydney journalist Virginia Trioli.

A big supporter of local industry, Trioli’s many products include cheeses, ham, salmon, Tassie wine and of course the finest Tasmanian truffles. Out the back I drink in the rich, fruity fragrance of a 50-litre vat of 2016 Forth Valley olive oil.

The sky’s clouding over and the already-chilly August temperature has dropped as we head to the cosy and atmospherically lit Lark Distillery, where we sip gin and tonics infused with rosemary and pepper berries.

Really more of a cellar door, and also well-known for its malt whisky, the bar has deep, leather sofas that invite you to while away an afternoon – and staff with tattoo sleeves and bushranger beards.

Last stop on the tour is Frank Restaurant on the waterfront, for some Blackman Bay oysters – natural with a cucumber and herb sauce and fire-roasted with chorizo, pepper and garlic.

Featuring an Argentinian-inspired menu and a chic, funky interior, Frank is perfect for large groups – and meat lovers.

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A brief post-Gourmania power nap and a refreshing, brisk walk along the waterfront from the Salamanca Wharf Hotel where I’m staying has me ready for dinner at Peacock and Jones Restaurant and Wine bar.

The waterfront restaurant is relaxed yet intimate with naked sandstone walls, friendly and attentive staff, and a menu offering the very best of Tassie food and wine.

The eight-course tasting menu, designed to be shared with a friend, is a feast for both the eyes and the tastebuds.

A personal favourite is the dill and brand-cured ocean trout in a creamy sauce gribiche served with wafer-thin melba toast and roe, washed down with a 2015 Clemens Hill sauvignon blanc from the Coal River Valley.

The succulent twice-cooked pork neck with blood sausage and madeira jus melts in your mouth, complemented by a local 2014 Glenayr chardonnay while the rare roasted wallaby with a smokey baba ghanoush, accompanied by a 2012 Bream Creek pinot noir, make for a creative and tasty twist.

By dessert I was well and truly satisfied. But there was no way I was passing up on what was placed before me: the famous “Mont Blanc” – a sort of deconstructed pav consisting of chestnut sponge, meringue, creme chantilly and honey chestnut ice cream.

It’s as light as a cloud, sweet without being overpowering, and almost too pretty to eat – with a dusting of coffee and sprinkling of gold flakes.

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The Coal River Valley wine region, a 15-minute drive out of town, is where Pooley Wines has been operating as a family business for three generations.

Pooley Wines is renowned for its award-winning, cool-climate wines, especially its Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot noir, which we sample while cellar door manager Kit Wilkinson talks us through the history of the business.

The family still lives in a heritage-listed, convict-built house dating back to 1832, and visitors can enjoy a cellar door experience and a wood fired pizza in its picturesque surrounds.

We lunch at the Frogmore Creek Winery, another cold climate wine specialist with an award-winning restaurant and sweeping rural views.

We order chargrilled scallops with spanner crab salad and crispy serrano, slow cooked pork belly with rhubarb compote and pickled cabbage, and feta, spinach and sundried tomato wontons with compressed watermelon and basil snow.

Each dish is an intricately constructed work of art with a delicate balance of elements based around the themes of the sea, land and garden.

There’s just enough time before the flight back to Sydney to pop into the Coal River Farm for a meet and greet with director Daniel Leeson, who established the operation 12 months ago.

All cheese and handcrafted chocolates are made on site and Leeson says he tries to ensure all produce is as organic as possible.

I sample his dreamy double cream brie, some ash log and a hand-spray painted caramel macaroon before the 10-minute drive to the airport and the end of a weekend that will linger in my memory – and on my waist.

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GETTING THERE: Hobart International Airport is about a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Have your camera ready for the stunning view of the Tasman Bridge and Mount Wellington as you approach the River Derwent.

Hobart is a city you can conquer on foot, with most major attractions within walking distance of one another in the CBD.

STAYING THERE: You can’t do much better than the Salamanca Wharf Hotel, situated only a few metres from Hobart’s waterfront, fronting Castray Esplanade and backing onto the historic and famous Salamanca Place. Rates vary. Visit

* The writer travelled as a guest of Salamanca Wharf Hotel.



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