Australian Traveller tracked down the best food and wine destinations in the country, from traditional favourites to up-and-coming foodie meccas, farmers’ markets and regional cooking schools. Bon appetit! Tried-and-tested gourmet destination
Following the Tamar River from Launceston to the mouth of Bass Strait, the Tamar Valley Wine Route meanders through lovely rural vistas taking in family-run vineyards and rustic cellar doors. The two-day route makes a great weekend gourmet getaway. Pick your own fruit at Hillwood Berry Farm and drop in on Lynton Farm Café to sample meals made from locally sourced produce. The menu at Rosevears Estate bistro (cnr Waldorn Dr and West Tamar Hwy) also features fresh seasonal produce. Black Cow Bistro in Launceston features premium dry-aged, free-range, grass-fed Tassie beef.
The details: tamarvalleywineroute.com.au
Up-and-coming gourmet destination
Just a short ferry ride across the d’Entrecasteaux Channel south of Hobart are the cutting-edge producers of Bruny Island. Drop in on the young oyster farmers at Get Shucked (Main Rd, Great Bay), sample the smoked trout and quail at the Bruny Island Smokehouse (360 Lennon Rd) and have a wood-fired cheese round wrapped in prosciutto at the can’t-be-missed Bruny Island Cheese Company (Main Rd, Great Bay). This a journey worth taking for the food alone. Don’t just go for the day – spend at least two days exploring and sampling the local produce. Head to the northernmost tip of the island at Dennes Point for a feed at the hearty Jetty Café. Before you head back to Hobart, take a side trip to Franklin (on the mainland), and drop in on The Wooden Boat School, where chef Tetsuya Wakuda had a custom vessel handcrafted from local Huon pine. If you’ve got a week or so up your sleeve, work more of the Huon Trail into your trip.
The details: www.brunyisland.com; www.huontrail.org.au
Old Cable Station Slow Food lunch
Tasmania’s north-west coast has long been a renowned foodie region thanks to Cape Grim Beef and King Island Dairy, but the Slow Food lunches at the Old Cable Station B&B unite all the local producers in one location. Visitors can graze for hours over seasonal six-course degustation menus. Ask about the timing of the next producers’ lunch.
If the timing of your visit is off, their everyday lunch and dinner menu is no less enjoyable, and is affordable at just $55 for three courses or $44 for two. Entrees may include Stanley scallops, char-grilled local octopus, carpaccio of grass-fed Tasmanian eye fillet or King Island blue cheese soup. Mains include Black River lamb backstrap, Stanley crayfish, Tasmanian Atlantic salmon and local veal. Desserts are accompanied by King Island cream and Tarkine honey.
The details: West Beach Rd, Stanley;(03) 6458 1312; www.oldcablestation.com.au. For more information on the Slow Food movement, go to www.slowfood.com.au
Country cooking schools
Red Feather Cooking School
Built by famous Georgian architect John Sprunt in 1842, the Red Feather Inn is a beautiful collection of historic sandstone buildings. The cooking school held here offers a generous selection of classes, inspired by owner Lydia Nettlefold’s European travels. Guests learn how to make traditional sauces, tricks for correctly stuffing sausages and techniques on preserving or smoking meat, fish and duck.
There are also varieties of overnight packages available such as the Wild Larder class, which offers a weekend of fishing, hunting and foraging then learning how to cook what is caught. The school promotes Tasmanian produce with ingredients plucked from Red Feather’s own vegie patch. Prices vary depending on the class, with day lessons from $195 per person. Weekend cook/stay packages start around $1095 per person all inclusive.
The details: 42 Main Street, Hadspen. (03) 6393 6506; redfeatherinn.com.au/school
Learn how to make perfectly crusty sourdough bread at Companion Bakery. Lessons are small with only eight people per class, and focus on kneading techniques of organic flour and natural fermentation processes. Guests are invited to stoke the wood-fired oven and watch their dough rise. Companion Bakery is in the quaint colonial town of Oatlands, which was recognised as a fertile grain-growing area in the early 1800s by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. The town has the largest collection of sandstone structures in Australia and bursts with historic buildings. As well as breadmaking lessons, participants get a tour of Callington Mill, built in 1832 and the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. An introduction to sourdough class is $275 per person. The advanced sourdough techniques class is run over two days at $545 per person.
The details: 106 High Street, Oatlands; (03) 6254 0088; companionbakery.com.au
The Agrarian Kitchen
Run by Gourmet Traveller magazine’s contributing food editor Rodney Dunn, the Agrarian Kitchen is a fully sustainable farm-based cooking school where guests are invited to pop on gumboots and collect their own ingredients for classes.
Fruit and vegetables are sourced from the kitchen garden, berry patch and orchard, with Barnevelder chickens providing eggs and two British Alpine goats fresh milk. The farm also has pigs and geese, which find their way onto the table for dishes such as rolled pork loin with lemon and basil pesto and goose charcuterie.
The school is a converted a 19th-century schoolhouse, with the kitchen in one of the original classrooms. Lessons include how to pluck a chicken, raise a pig and make pasta, ice-cream, butter and confectionery. Classes start at $295.
The details: 650 Lachlan Road, Lachlan. (03) 6261 1099; www.theagrariankitchen.com
Farmers’ markets for city folk
Tasmanian Farm Gate
Tassie farmers come from far and wide to sell their fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables, artisan food products, speciality beverages, plants, vegetable seedlings and more.
The details: Every Sunday, 9am-1pm; Melville Street, Hobart