I paid a flying visit to Hobart last week for work. Sadly there was little opportunity to enjoy the finer aspects of Tasmania during my day and a half sojourn.I can’t say that the food available on the flights has improved since I last flew. In fact I’d say it was even less interesting than it has been previously – which in some ways is quite an achievement. Qantas has clearly embraced the ‘new frugality’ quite whole heartedly. On the 3 legs I flew with Qantas, no matter the time of day, we were given a small bottle of water, an even smaller Toblerone chocolate bar (about 4cm long) and a sandwich. You could consider this as not necessarily a bad option, that is until you turn the packet over. I was stunned to see the ingredient list for my egg, ham and mayonnaise panini, with lettuce – see below. The ingredient list on my second sandwich was just as long. Thankfully the third which was ham, matured cheese and pickles, actually included a small number of ingredients which I could actually understand. Michael Pollen’s warning to eat only food that had five or less ingredients and included only words you can pronounce and no numbers was definitely ringing in my ears. As my work colleague remarked, “don’t read the back of the packet, you’ll only distress yourself”. To arrive in Hobart after the shops close at 5.00pm was to witness a scene reminiscent of Civic some 20 years ago – no-one was anywhere to be seen. Luckily we were only a short walk from Salamanca which is clearly where everyone else who hasn’t a home to go to in the suburbs retreats. Thankfully there are some signs of life in the city. Someone had yarn-bombed the bicycle rack outside the parliament building! A leisurely stroll back to hotel took us past St David’s Park which was beautifully shown off in the early evening light. However we were somewhat startled by signs of dangerous architecture that we saw nearby. We did at least manage to have a great meal at our hotel. I had fresh oysters with wasabi on the side. This is a fantastic combination that I will definitely try in future. I also had a tasty serving of roast quail. All was washed down with a really good Tassie sauvignon blanc, which sadly I didn’t get the name of as it wasn’t in the wine list. Our waitress provided it as a substitute when the wine we ordered turned out not to be available. A walk before breakfast around Constitution dock revealed an unusual factoid. Did you know that the foundry that cast Picasso’s sculpture ‘Negroid’ 1952, also cast the bollards which ships tie up to on the docks? Neither did I. Is there a resemblance? You be the judge (actually you’ll have to as I can’t find an image of the Picasso work). Sadly it was back to the ‘office’ after that. I did manage to make a flying dash down to the Lark Distillery on Davey St during my lunch break so I could get a bottle of their Bush Liqueur, which is flavoured by Mountain Pepper berries. This is a real favourite of ours. I also bought one of their single cask, malt whiskeys which the company now produces. There were several on offer and these are well worth considering if you are interested in single malts. While these whiskeys are produced using Tasmanian peat to smoke the locally grown barley, they are very different in flavour to the very ‘peaty’ tasting Laphroaig. I found them to have a really complex ‘nose’, which was quite intriguing. By coincidence this week’s episode of the Gourmet Farmer showed Matthew Evans meeting Mr Lark (Bill) in the Tasmanian peat bogs! Anyway it was all too soon back to Canberra and a visit to my first Open Garden of the year.