Tuesday, July 22, 2008

eating Hobart

The Apple Isle

With so many great suggestions in hand, our trip to Hobart was one, long picnic (albeit in slightly Arctic weather).

The first meal was on waking bright and early. We’d planned to get up at a decent hour and head off to the Salamanca market. Just after opening the place was buzzing already and we dived into the first café with a name I recognised and fortified ourselves with caffeine and sustenance.

Retro Café, reminded me of something out of Brunswick Street in the ‘80s. Fortunately I’m fond of Fitzroy boho so I warmed to it immediately. As promised, the coffee was excellent. In fact it was the pick of the crop in my time in town. Food included the usual hot and cold breakfasts on the menu but the specials board had a number of enticing options. My friend went for a veggie stack of roasted tomatoes, other vegetable offerings, poached eggs and pesto while I opted for some local smoked salmon served with eggs, spinach and hollandaise. Serving sizes were decent and though the most expensive of the three cooked breakfasts I had in town (still reasonably prized in the teens) it was the largest and left us feeling satisfied.

Stepping out the door of the cosy café and back into the market I wished we were staying somewhere we could cook, as the fresh produce looked great. The next few hours were spent wandering and grazing. Taking in Battery Point, scoping out Jackmas and McRoss, looking at the scenery and making a final market sweep (and sampling some tempura mushrooms from a market vendor that we just had to try) before entering Knopwoods for some mulled wine by the fire.

Berries in winter - Salamanca market

Though we’d been eating all day, there was still dinner to look forward to. Orizuru a modest Japanese restaurant on the water came highly recommended and despite the weather sushi was just about all we were able to fit into our stomachs. Sharing a dinner platter for two ($47) – the sushi, sashimi and nori rolls were fresh and certainly up to standard. Being Tasmania this also came with oysters that I am told were excellent. Considering the location, the restaurant was surprisingly understated.

Fortified by warm sake we headed off to the wilds of North Hobart in search of entertainment. But that’s another story!

Sunday started considerably later than the day before. With aching eyeballs we headed off for a bracing walk to Jackman & McRoss, the much talked about bakery in Battery Point. Scoring a table beside the window we finally managed to get the eye of the hesitant young waitress a to order some much needed coffee. My long black, though drinkable lacked substance and I’d rank it bottom of the three brews I had in town. While the hot breakfast specials were modestly priced my eggs and spinach with aioli on a chunk of white sourdough was more entrée sized. The aioli was a little sparse and appeared to have been grilled. Though tasty it left me wanting. Or at least that was the excuse I used to justify ordering a more jumbo sized chocolate croissant. My friend was seduced by the porridge, scented with orange and served with glazed figs. The little soufflé dish of cooked oats looked good but wasn’t quite as exciting as she’d have hoped. Sadly there were no carnivores with us to taste test the savoury pastry topped with a slice of black pudding, which was one of the most unusual ‘danishes’ I’ve ever seen on offer.

All the lovely bread for sale at Jackman and McRoss, Battery Point

Our final dinner was a stunner. It had taken a little coaxing to talk my companion into walking past the nearby Thai restaurant and trek up Elizabeth Street once more, in the gentle rain and darkness. But dinner at Royal Thai was definitely worth the journey. Recently relocated to flash new premises, this was some of the best Thai food I have eaten outside of Asia. I swear I have to go back to Hobart with a large group of people solely to sample a wider variety of dishes. We’d already decided that our bodies were craving vegetables and flipped to the vegetarian section at the back of the menu. There was a lot to choose from. Feeling a little tired and cold we opted for comfort choices of noodles and curry. What was delivered to our table by the friendly and efficient waitress was pad Thai and green curry at its best. The noodle dish was presented authentically with peanuts, chilli, bean shoots and lemon on the side to season ourselves, while the curry was freshly spiced with notable flavours of basil and chilli but balanced by a whole range of other notes. Not a huge fan of dessert, I couldn’t resist a combination of sticky rice, banana and black beans, wrapped and steamed, providing a satisfying and not too sweet way to finish the meal.

Our final meal of note was back at Salamanca place for breakfast at Zum. This sleek eatery would not have been out of place in Paddington or South Yarra and was buzzing at 9 o’clock on a Monday morning. There was even a local TV celebrity at the next table. Coffee was good and served promptly. Almost as enjoyable as Retro’s it made a close runner-up in my tally sheet. I succumbed to the delicious local smoked salmon once more, which was served on a well executed thick round of roesti with spinach and hollandaise. This was the winner, satisfying, well presented and a “potato pancake” cooked to perfection. We stayed awhile chatting and savouring both the food and the atmosphere.

With still so many unexplored food options, Hobart is a town I’d definitely return to. We filled three days easily, navigating the inner city on foot. With carry-on only luggage I was restricted in what I could bring back to the mainland but the market and nearby deli’s had so many treasures it was hard to restrain ourselves. I’ll give you a peak of those tomorrow!

Retro Café
31 Salamanca Pl
(03) 6223 3073

Knopwoods Retreat Tavern & Wine Bar
39 Salamanca Place
(03) 62235808

Orizuru Sushi Bar
Victoria Dock
(03) 6231 1790

Jackman & McRoss
59 Hampdon Rd.
Battery Point
(03) 6223 3186

Royal Thai
199 Elizabeth St
(03) 6234 1366

Zum Salamanca
29 Salamanca Place
(03) 6223 23239

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Blogger Lucy said...

Love the shot of whisks and hooks at Jackman and Ross. Lovely holiday, by the sounds of it!

Ah, you're making me want to get on a plane and have a little cold weather break somewhere slightly colder.

Tempura 'shrooms, you say? Yum.

9:45 am  
Blogger Thermomixer said...

Sounds delicious from start to finish. The roesti sounds good. Sounds like the Thai was a real winner - makes my mouth water just reading about it.

9:55 am  
Blogger stickyfingers said...

You gotta love Tassie, it's so beautiful and has such great produce. We came back from Salamanca Market with some lovely purple garlic.

12:31 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Lucy - cold weather, non-skiing holidays are so under rated. How else could I get a flight that cost less than the taxi fare back from the airport or stay in a 4 star hotel for the price of a room in a backpackers hostel?

Oh and the 'shrooms are definitely worth a return visit.

Thermo - I love spuds at breakfast so I know a good roesti when I find one.

Sticky - sadly not garlic season or I would have been tempted to upgrade my baggage allowance to bring some back- but the apples, honey and walnuts did them proud. Did you check out Sticky Fingers cafe on the water opposite the markets when you were there?

2:55 pm  
Blogger stickyfingers said...

Yes AOF, we saw Stickyfingers Cafe but weren't tempted - so many other venues to try as it turned out. We had one dire disappointment which within half an hour had pierced Mr Sticky's cast iron stomach and condemned him to a painful and feverish night in the hotel bathroom. But apart from that we had great meals all round.

One of he highlights was in Launceston at Lucks - a typical example of great, really fresh local produce cooked to show off it's flavour with being convoluted or overly tricked-up.

I'm really loving this series of posts ))

6:14 pm  
Blogger KittyMeow said...

Hobart is awesome! A total foodies heaven. Would you believe that it has only come this way in the past 8 years or so? When I lived there between 1998 and 2003, it was only then that people from the "mainland" started to realise how excellent to produce is from the ass end of the country. Lol!

I truly hope you had a very good sample of the Tasmanian wines - Particularly the Pinot Nior. If you're ever headed that way again I would recommend my parents tiny winery in the south (in Dover) called St Imre. My mum writes the blog which is all we have for a website at the mo.

Considering how damn cheap it can be to get down there (my last return trip cost $100 for the two of us), there is simply no excuse to not fully explore all that Tassie has to offer! :-D

9:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

berries in winter? what magical bush did they come from?

8:56 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

My thoughts exactly, anonymous. The berries made a colourful photo but there was not way I was going to buy any!

9:26 am  

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