THIS island needs a rename (as above).
There are so many opportunities to try new foods and drinks here that my taste buds are overwhelmed.
We have been based in Launceston for almost two months now, and are in full culinary overload.
Right now I am picking the tail end of free-range pork and fennel sausage out of my teeth. We bought them from the local farmers market this morning, as I breakfasted on a potato rosti burger with cabbage, apple and a walnut sauce, accompanied by caffeine from the 50th coffee establishment we have tried so far. Other farmer’s market delights have been mead, freeze-dried blueberries, delicious sourdough and Tassie honey.
Buying the best coffee in the world at the farmers market didn’t go down so well though. It was a bit runny… very bad joke – but I wasn’t joking about it being the 50th coffee shop we had visited. Several times a week Chris walks to walk with me, and we stop at a different cafe each time for a morning cappucino. Add weekend coffees in, and we are heading to 50, with the majority in the 2.5km between our beautiful heritage cottage Air b’n’b and work at Launceston General Hospital. When we starting having to go to coffee shops a second time, we shall know it’s time to move on.
Great food and drink have been so easy to find. Our first Tassie tipple was on a boat as we cruised up the Tamar River. Wine tasting was part of the experience, and it was rounded off with some Boag beer (the Boag brewery is almost in our back yard).
The trip took us up the Tamar as far as the Batman Bridge (Batman being a historical Tasmanian, not a superhero), and into Cataract Gorge as far as is possible. It was a lovely introduction to areas we could later explore by car and foot.
Then there was the great gourmet bike ride, starting at nearby Deloraine. It followed a trail described by the internet as a country ride – apart from the long stretch on the Bass Highway with speeding trucks. We stopped by a raspberry farm, but the queue was too long to even think about getting inside, so we continued to Ashford Cheese Factory, where I made friends with cows, we sampled cheese and coffee, and bought some produce (loved the wasabi cheese).
We continued on to a salmon farm, where hot-smoked salmon was the lunch order of the day, and it was taste-bud bliss. We passed up a winery tasting – not needing the challenge of riding bikes after wine tasting, and cycled our way back along quiet country roads.
Off the bike, I’ve discovered the allure of scotch on the rocks, after a visit to a Launceston bar called The Grumpy Piper, which features about 200 different whiskies and a bagpipe museum. My Scottish heritage has kicked in, and we have made it our Friday after-work spot, for a wee tipple under the stuffed deer head.
A weekend trip to Burnie reinforced the whisky addiction, this time at the Hellyer Road Distillery. Those three half nips meant I slept all the way to the next attraction – puffing our way up The Nut at Stanley.
The next most delicious part was a stop at the Anvers Chocolate factory on the way home. A divine chilli hot chocolate warmed me up, and I’m sure they didn’t notice I ducked into the sample room three times for more dark chocolate buds.
The drive to a bike ride along the Tasmanian north-east rail trail took us past Bridestowe lavender farm. Although not in flower at the moment, the scent was obvious. Lavender hot chocolate accompanied lavender fudge on this occasion. I had already sampled lavender ice cream earlier in the trip.
We went to a five-course seafood degustation event at nearby Westbury, which has only whet our appetite for when we take some time off and explore the east coast.
But before then, we have seven days of tramping through the wilderness on the Overland Track, eating dehydrated food and scroggin. Dried camping food may usually be boring, but there is a good chance there will be some very special choc chips and gourmet cheese samples hidden away in my bag.