Some areas of Tasmania seem to focus on promoting locally produced food more than others. Cygnet and Bruny Island (that will be another post), both close to Hobart, are good places to start.
If you are travelling down to Cygnet from Hobart it is well worth a side trip to Bridges Bay to visit Grandewe a sheep’s cheese producer.
Here are some of the breeding stock coming up from the paddock. The sheep are a mix of the East Friesland and Awassi breeds. The cheesery produce several soft cheeses, from fresh curds with basil to washed rinds and strong ‘blue’ cheeses.
It’s also well worth stopping for a bite at their cafe where you can have a very well-made ‘ewecino’ and some great sheep’s milk icecream. I tried the wattleseed and macadamia, very nice, but it was definitely outshone by the Belgium chocolate icecream. If you are feeling more adventurous they also make a whey-based liqueur. It tastes quite good, indeed it tastes strangely like an alcoholic version of the milky-chew lollies I liked as a child – weird but good.
Arriving in Cygnet its worth taking a walk up and down the main street to check out the cafes, galleries and providores. The town obviously takes it’s food seriously as can be seen by the ’emergency butcher’ contact number! although I’m not quite sure what an ’emergency’ butcher is. I expect its nothing to do with calling up for an extra few chops because the rellies have dropped in unexpectedly.
There are at least two well known eateries in town to consider for a meal – The Red Velvet Lounge and the Lotus Eaters Cafe (I’ve since heard of another but don’t recall seeing it when we were there). We were contemplating a meal at the former establishment when a large party of lycra-clad bike tourers arrived, so not surprisingly we decided to try the Lotus Eaters instead.
Friend M had been suffering a certain degree of stirring about the accuracy (or not) of her Rough Guide to Tasmania and on this occasion we were debating whether the signature dish of wild mushroom pie would be on the menu (as it wasn’t mushroom season), however on this occasion she was proved correct. The pie was available, but made with cultivated rather than wild fungi. Not that it made too great a difference – the meal was fantastic!
The pie included among other ingredients, mushrooms, both fresh and dried, truffle oil, almond meal, cream and sage leaves on top. It was properly moist without any trace of the rubbery texture that often occurs in a quiche-like dish. The meal also included some lovely fresh and interesting salads. To wash it down we tried the locally brewed Ginger Chilli Beer and Raspberry with a touch of chilli. Great flavours and the labels are fun as well.
Last but not least we wandered into Cygneture a lovely chocolate shop. We interupted proprietor Gillian Ryan while she and her staff were catching a quick bite of lunch, however she quickly leapt up to take us on a tour around her case of chocolate delights. We selected Rhubarb and Fig, Gum and Blueberry, Rose Petal and Gooseberry chocloates. Now I only have a photo of what was left when we got back from Tassie and both rose petal choccies are missing. (Please note that any apparent problems with the chocolate is a result of our lugging them round Tasmania for nearly two weeks and doesn’t reflect their condition when we bought them).
If you can’t travel down to Cygnet you may be lucky enough to find Gillian at the Salamanca Market in Hobart on a Saturday.
The Lotus Eaters is open Thursday to Monday 9.00am to 4.00pm and provides breakfasts and lunch.