Ex­cess all ar­eas

Ex­plore Ho­bart through its best din­ing and provi­dore ex­pe­ri­ences

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CHRIS­TINE MC­CABE

HO­BART is a walking city, which is just as well. Be­cause aside from ex­plor­ing its re­mark­ably in­tact built her­itage and ex­cel­lent art gal­leries, in­clud­ing the bril­liant Mu­seum of Old and New Art, the best thing to do here is eat to ex­cess. And then stride off the kilo­joules.

En­ter Mary Mc­Neill, former artist and pas­try chef, a Tassie na­tive who re­turned from New York and is now run­ning themed walking tours of her home­town. Her food cre­den­tials may be im­pres­sive (she’s a grad­u­ate of the French Culi­nary In­sti­tute’s pas­try course) but Mc­Neill’s Tassie con­nec­tions are im­pec­ca­ble. Her fam­ily ar­rived on the is­land in 1810 and great-grand­fa­ther Court­land Oakes was em­ployed by Cas­cade Brew­ery to sort out Ho­bart’s rough­est pubs.

No doubt he would have had lit­tle use for the Tas­ma­nian knit­ted woollen knee rug prof­fered at the groovy Tri­cy­cle Cafe & Bar (pick up your own at the Waver­ley Woollen Mills shop in Liver­pool Street). Tucked into the at­mo­spheric foyer of the old Pea­cock The­atre, off Sala­manca Place, this is one of Mc­Neill’s favourite break­fast bolt­holes and an in­clu­sion on her city tour.

Try the home­made crum­pets topped with Miel­lerie honey but­ter (made by Tassie-based French api­arist Yves Gi­nat), but don’t or­der the full cooked break­fast — Mc­Neill’s Gour­ma­nia walking tours in­clude enough graz­ing, tast­ing and sam­pling to for­tify even the most peck­ish trav­eller.

With a max­i­mum of eight par­tic­i­pants (though Mc­Neill is happy to set out with just one greedy gour­mand), the city tour takes about four hours and tra­verses, at a very leisurely pace, about 3km.

Groups meet at the Tas­sal Salmon Shop (tast­ing hot and cold smoked salmon and gravlax), be­fore go­ing on to sam­ple char­cu­terie at the very smart Wursthaus Kitchen, a dan­ish pas­try and cof­fee at the fa­mous Jack­man & McRoss, sushi at R. Tak­agi, a lo­cal drop or two at Cool Wine and yet more food at the 1827 Brunswick Ho­tel (Aus­tralia’s sec­ond-old­est pub and a lit­tle gas­tro haven serv­ing up the likes of wal­laby and rab­bit pie). The tour con­cludes at the stylish Smolt (where Mc­Neill worked as pas­try chef) with more food and a glass of wine or bub­bles.

Also fea­tured is A Com­mon Ground, wedged un­der the stairs in the Sala­manca Arts Cen­tre. It’s a joint ven­ture be­tween cheese­maker Nick Had­dow and food critic turned tele­vi­sion farmer Matthew Evans. Ev­ery­thing stocked here is Tas­ma­nian (ex­cept the cor­ni­chons). Be sure to pick up a jar of the de­li­cious baby rose olives from Bruny Is­land.

The quaint Retro Fudge Bar is a new ad­di­tion to the Gour­ma­nia tour. The great slabs of home­made con­fec­tionery, in flavours of but­ter­scotch, Turk­ish de­light and choco­late, rum and raisin, may look like grainy gar­dener’s soap, but they taste di­vine.

And af­ter the tour is over, if you fancy a bit of ex­tracur­ric­u­lar nosh­ing, it’s worth the long hike up Elizabeth Street to visit Sweet Envy, where former Gor­don Ram­say pas­try chef Alis­tair Wise and Teena Kear­ney whip up the most beau­ti­ful cakes, tarts and pies.

The spirit of a city do­ing funky even bet­ter than its main­land coun­ter­parts — Lonely Planet named Ho­bart one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2013 — is crys­tallised ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing at the waterfront Sala­manca Mar­ket, which has notched up four decades of al­fresco re­tail­ing.

About 300 stalls are crammed be­tween Sala­manca’s av­enue of plane trees and the Ge­or­gian sand­stone ware­houses fram­ing the waterfront. Even in win­ter, lo­cals dine on Per­sian wraps, wafer-thin crepes, el­der­flower cor­dial and mush­room tem­pura, while pan pipers and bag­pipers play to the crowds.



Go early — the mar­ket at­tracts as many as 40,000 vis­i­tors on a sum­mer’s Satur­day (about 25,000 in win­ter) and stall­hold­ers be­gin pack­ing up at about 2.30pm. There’s not much that can’t be had here, from vin­tage furs and hand-turned wooden spoons to home­made hats, leather bags and jew­ellery. There are sk­in­care prod­ucts fash­ioned from the botan­i­cals of a Ho­bart garden and crusty, knotty bread that looks al­most knit­ted.

For lunch, head to Ethos, tucked off Elizabeth Street, an easy walk from Sala­manca Place and set in a rus­tic sta­ble (one of the city’s old­est build­ings), where chan­de­liers are fash­ioned from 19th-cen­tury medicine bot­tles and menus are clipped in­side old book cov­ers. The smallplate menu is de­signed for shar­ing and features imag­i­na­tive dishes such as fer­mented ap­ple with potato and white miso.

Af­ter­wards you might like to stroll back to the waterfront to jump on the ferry to MONA, where the The­atre of the World ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til April 8. If you’re stay­ing more than a few days in Ho­bart or trav­el­ling with your fam­ily, Sul­li­vans Cove Apart­ments, lo­cated in four precincts around the waterfront, fea­ture ac­com­mo­da­tion with large gourmet kitchens and fridges stocked with lo­cal wine and beer (a 24-hour food mart is a short walk away). Set be­hind the Henry Jones Art Ho­tel, the apart­ments are huge and well kit­ted out with rather glam­orous ex­tras ( Ital­ian ce­ramic loo seats and L’Oc­c­i­taine ameni­ties). Chris­tine Mc­Cabe was a guest of Tourism Tas­ma­nia and the Mu­seum of Old and New Art.

above Mary Mc­Neill runs the Gour­ma­nia tour

left Ethos chef Iain Todd serves break­fast be­low Sweet Envy of­fers ex­cep­tional cakes

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