Over Easter long weekend, The Angmoh and I crossed the Bass Straight over to beautiful hilly Tasmania. Our initial plans of landing early in Launceston and touring the Tamar Valley were ruined by Jetstar’s 2 hour delay. As soon as we hit Launceston, we quickly fuelled up (as Melbournians would) with a good hit of caffeine.
Amelia’s Espresso is a small café in the Launceston that offers coffees from Ritual beans and small array of sweets. It seems that magics (or barista lattes) are no longer just a Melbourne commodity. The Angmoh was extremely pleased when his magic was served, it was very well-made. And so was my piccolo latte.
After making a pit stop for groceries, we hit the high road for Cradle Mountain but not before stopping at Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm for scones and raspberry chocolate French toast. That evening, we did a leisurely stroll around the tranquil Dove Lake. The next morning, we attempted the Cradle Mountain Summit walk. Three hours of fog, rain, gale winds and hail later, we tucked tails and made a beeline for the car. We will definitely put this back on our future travel plans, and preferably in summer.
The drive into Hobart took up the rest of the afternoon. Dinner that night was at Smolt, a newish upcoming Italian restaurant in the popular Salamanca Square. To be honest, we were initially going to settle for pizza at Cargo but were informed that there would be a 70 minute wait for food. The waitress actually suggested that we check out other restaurants around the square, including Smolt. After we put our names down on the waiting list, the maitre’d encouraged us to have drinks across the lane at a tapas joint. I love that restauranteurs in Tasmania have such respect and amicability towards competing peers.
Smolt has a somewhat marine theme: from aqua-green tiles on the communal table, to a fishtank wall at the very entrance. I was in the mood for seafood pasta that night and the kitchen kindly agreeing to substitute shellfish with white fish. The broth was lovely and seafoody, with strong hints of garlic and white wine. The Angmoh’s pizza had a crisp thin base topped with quality ingredients of pancetta, mozzarella and cavalo nero. He devoured the entire thing deftly.
Our 3rd day in Tasmania had us on a coffee hunt around Hobart. Pilgrim was closed for the holidays so we marched back to Salamanca Square for brunch at Machine Laundry Café. The name says it all, part laundromat, part café, it was pumping that Saturday morning. I had the biggest serve of mocha that morning, with the coffee served in a bowl. My breakfast wrap of scrambled eggs in roti was a delicious combination. The drizzle of chilli syrup reminded me of poh piah. The Angmoh built his own breakfast and had poached eggs, mushrooms, smashed avocado and smoked salmon. Each side was of a generous serve and The Angmoh proclaimed defeat about three-quarters into the dish.
We quickly perused the stalls along Salamanca market, where I bought the famed Tasmania scallop pie. I didn’t really enjoy it with its odd curried flavour. In my mistake, I ate it four hours later, where it had gone cold and gluggy. However for $7, it does contain a fair amount of whole scallops; mine had 6.
That afternoon, we checked out Mona. We took the 1.15pm ferry and arrived just in time for The Cloaca Professional’s “evacuation” exhibit. I thought that everyone on the ferry would be making a mad dash to view said exhibit at 2pm, but I was the only poo-obsessed one. After waiting in a room of swirling vessels and pipes and breathing in pungent cheesy air, we watched The Cloaca do what it had to do before exploring the rest of the museum. 2 hours later, we returned to watch it feast on a meal of salad and meatball sub. We were told that it gets beer on good days and that vindaloo results in a potent aftermath.
Dinner was a much anticipated affair that night. Garagistes now takes bookings in a two week window and we secured a seat at 6.30pm. It is simple, minimalistic and dark, with just a handful of long communal tables and plenty of kitchen action. Dinner is a 5 course degustation for $90, with the choice of paired sake. Three of the courses have 2 options to choose from, including main and dessert. Garagistes, even without your reservations, you are worth queuing for. Every dish was stunning and a gourmet delight. My favourites that night have to be the dumpling with shiitake in chicken soup and the beef. The former is the epitome of umami, with chicken skins, and pickled and fresh shiitake giving pow and punch to flavours, only to be softly rounded up with a delicate cloud of ricotta dumpling. I’m not normally one to combine fruit with meat or sauce with steak but the main course of Wagyu bavette had both and boy did they work well. The beef had a crust of berries, some powdered and some dehydrated for maximum flavour concentration. The jus of native pepper and mustard seeds is possibly the only Diane sauce I’ll ever approve of. Dinner at Garagistes is a memorable one and could be worth moving to Tassie for.
Our final day concluded with a day trip to Bruny Island. We made a mistake of not researching opening hours of popular breakfast haunts and only found out at the very last minute that most cafes do not operate on Sundays or were closed for Easter. A trip back to Machine Laundry Café had us with takeaway coffees and the most endowed muffin I’ve ever come across. It was also one of the best muffins with a nice moist texture, the lack of overpowering sweetness and a crisp dome of deliciousness.
Once on the island, we visited Cape Bruny and took in the stunning views of the ocean. Culinary delights included lunch at Bruny Island Cheese, where I fell in love with the O.D.O, and bought 2 tubs home to crumble into salads or melt across pizzas. The Angmoh sampled a monster of an oyster at Get Shucked, while I slurped down a petite version.
And so, with our wanderlust satiated and bellies appeased, we headed back to Melbourne, albeit after yet another Jetstar delay.
56 George Street
Launceston Tas 7250
+61 4 38 448 199
Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm
9 Christmas Hills Road
+61 3 6362 2186
2 Salamanca Square
+61 3 6224 2554
103 Murray Street
+61 3 6231 0558
Bruny Island Cheese Company
1807 Bruny Island Main Road
+61 3 6260 6353
1650 Bruny Island Main Road
+61 4 28 606 250