Tasmania – Devilishly good!

Lobster Pots
Lobster Pots

Note: This is part 1 of a 2 part article. It covers the North Coast and Cradle Mountain National Park. Part 2 will feature the East Coast, Hobart and the Huon Valley.

In 2000 I spent three months working in Tasmania and was fortunate to enjoy a few weekends exploring the capital city, Hobart, and places further afield. I recall Hobart already having a vibrant cafe scene, lively restaurants featuring modern Australian and international cuisine, beautiful coastal scenery, plus lakes, mountains and forests in abundance. Keen to get back to the Apple Isle, my husband and I organised 10 days, joined along the way by our friend Amanda.

We arrived into Devonport on the overnight car ferry from Port Melbourne, across the Bass Strait, at first light. Amanda was to fly into Launceston the following day so we had time to explore the north coast before backtracking into Launceston. We headed west as far as the charming little town of Stanley where there’s a a unique geographic feature that begs to be climbed. It’s called The Nut and is an old volcanic plug with steep sides and a flat top. Attached to the coast, it rises up out of the sea to 143 meters. The views of the surrounding countryside are enormous.

Looking back at The Nut, Stanley, Tasmania
Looking back at The Nut, Stanley, Tasmania

We plied our way back east along the coast road, stopping at leisure to see the scenery, take in the brisk, fresh air and stretch our legs. Another volcanic plug, the only other in Tasmania, is in Table Cape Geological Site, more well known for its large scale tulip growing. It being autumn, we did not get to see the dramatic rows of flowers grown side by side in fields forming colourful stripes across the slopes of the cape.

Then we came to the lively little town of Penguin, named because of the numerous penguin rookeries along the coast. The only penguins we saw were the ones adorning, shops, signs and rubbish bins as well as the Giant Penguin, a very tall fibreglass statue representing what is really a very small penguin (formerly known as a Fairy Penguin – now called the less-interesting Little Penguin).

After a night in Launceston and a trip to the airport to collect Amanda, we headed to Cradle Mountain National Park. Halfway there the rain came and it seemed it would never stop. We passed soaked villages and crossed swollen rivers but the sun finally shown just before sunset and our arrival at our lodgings for the next two nights.

We rented a cabin at Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, just outside the park. It was perfect and warm – a lovely heat lamp in the bathroom – with a full kitchen so we were able to prepare some of our own meals. On that first evening we took advantage of dinner at the cozy Hellyer’s Restaurant. The standard of the meals was high with the Wallaby rump being a table favourite.

The next day we chose to walk the Dove Lake circuit which we did at a leisurely pace, punctuated by snacks and photo stops. The walk can be done in three hours but we stretched it out to just over four. The track itself is easy to follow and fortunately the rain of the previous day had not caused any serious mud! Vistas of Cradle mountain went in and out of cloud and we passed through different terrain and types of forest along the way.

Cradle Mountain National Park is a part of the UNESCO declared Tasmanian Wilderness, covering an area of over 1 million hectares. It constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. We only scratched the surface with just one walk and a little side loop near the lodge. A week would have done it more justice.

So, we left the park yearning for more and headed for the East Coast and then down to Hobart and the Huon Valley.

Cheese Masterclass with The Smelly Cheese Shop

Four of the cheeses tasted with some quince paste and dried sultanas to accompany.
Four of the cheeses tasted with some quince paste and dried sultanas to accompany.

A few weeks ago my friend Kat sent me a spreadsheet listing the dates of a number of cheese masterclasses run by the iconic  Smelly Cheese Shop at the Adelaide Central Market . With Kat’s birthday imminent and she being a fellow cheese-lover, we had a quick email exchange whereby she nominated a few dates she could be available. We agreed on the first in the 2015 series called Cheese and Sparkling Wine Pairing with the Italian Cheese and Wine Pairing class later in the year as a backup should this class be full.

As it turned out, the first choice was available and we toddled off on a hot summer evening to taste some delicious and refreshing sparkling wines from France, Italy and Australia with some familiar cheeses and a few that were totally new to us.

Our host for the evening was Valerie, one of the original founders of The Smelly Cheese Shop who is also a Frenchwoman from Normandy (home to Camembert cheese). Valerie gave us a tour of one of the three specially designed cheese rooms on the ground floor of the company offices, just  a street away from the Adelaide Central Market.  In the hard cheese room we learned about the ageing process of different cheeses and were told some seriously scientific terms about the moulds and bacteria that create the flavours distinctive to the different cheeses.

The cheese room was a chilly 12 degrees celsius so we were glad to head upstairs to the tasting area. What awaited us were two beautifully set tables with a board of cheese for each person, some tasting glasses, water,  plus a an extra round of cheese for each table.

A room full of cheese lovers, eager for a new experience waited patiently (well, I nibbled a few sultanas) while Valerie talked to us about the first cheese from Ile-de-France and called Brillat-Savarin. This is a soft white cow’s milk triple-brie named after the 19th century gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Monsieur Brillat-Savarin authored a book in 1895 that has never gone out of print; it is entitled – wait for it – The physiology of taste, or, Meditations of transcendent gastronomy; a theoretical, historical and topical work, dedicated to the gastronomes of Paris by a professor, member of several literary and scholarly societies. Amongst his famous quotes about food is this favourite of mine:

“Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.” ~ Brillat-Savarin

The Brillat-Savarin was paired with an exquisite sparkling Burgundian Chardonnay called Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blanc NV (Non Vintage) by the Andre Delorme estate. This was a brilliant pairing with the triple creaminess of the cheese just cut by the fine bubble of the wine. The wine itself has an elegant, not-too-sharp finish.

Our next pairing was an elegant goat’s milk cheese called Vermont Coupole, made by the Vermont Creamery in the US state of Vermont, alongside a local Adelaide Hills sparkling wine called Ngeringa Eclat NV from Ngeringa Vineyards. This pairing was spot on for me as the slight tartness of the goat cheese went well with this sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir. We were told that the wine was made in the ‘no dosage’ style, meaning that no extra sugar was added after the disgorging and before the final corkage. This makes for a less sweet sparkling wine and was, in my opinion, a great choice for the Vermont Coupole.

Pairing number three saw a washed rind cows milk cheese from Champagne-Ardenne in France married with a French Champagne called Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV. The cheese was a Langres AOP* in its own little box and had a sort of well in the middle that comes from it not being turned as are most cheeses during the ageing process. The well served a purpose. Valerie had us poke a few holes in the top of a round of the Langres and pour a bit of the champagne on top. As it absorbed into the cheese we were instructed to add another dose.

We then passed the cheese around and took a generous dollop each onto our plates. The Langres, even after being doused with champagne, had a smooth and creamy  yet firm texture that was a fine match with the elegant restraint of the tight-bubbled Billecart-Salmon. Flavour-wise, this cheese and the champagne were somewhat mild and a good middle point for my excited palette!

Our fourth cheese and bubbly pair was a Parmigiano Reggiano DOP** and a very refined lady called Eliza. Many folks use Parmigiano only for cooking but this crumbly, nutty gem deserves to stand alone. Just break off a chunk and eat it! The Padthaway “Eliza’ Late Tirage 2002 sparkling wine from the Padthaway region in South Australia had a lovely lemony nose and mineral finish that well complemented this gift from Emilia Romagna in northern Italy.

Cheese number five was a Gorgonzola Dolce DOP** from Piedmont in north-western Italy; a classic blue that even non-blue cheese eaters would have to love. The ‘dolce’ in its name comes from the sweet creamy texture. Punctuated with the slight tang and saltiness of the blue mould, this  beauty was paired with a Guerreri Rizzardi Extra Brut NV Prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy. This was no sweet, cheap and cheerful fizz. The Guerreri Rizzardi had a slight just-ripe pear overtone that was a welcome addition to the evening, freshening the palate after the last two salty cheeses. I loved every moment of this pairing.

In fact I loved every moment of this evening. I met other ‘cheesophiles’, got to hang out for a few hours in the presence of passionate food and wine experts and discovered some new and interesting taste sensations. Now where is that booking sheet for the next masterclass…?

To find out more about The Smelly Cheese Shop, their cheese club and their Masterclasses, visit the links in the first paragraph of this post.

*AOP – Appelation d’Origine Protégée (Protected Designation of Origin)

**DOP – Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin)

Pork chops and cabbage salad

It’s late spring and BBQ season here in Adelaide, so recently we have been giving our gas and charcoal BBQs a workout. We like cooking on the grill because of the ease of clean up, especially on a busy week night after work. Some simply seasoned meat, a salad and that’s dinner done.

Last night featured thick pork loin chops, marinated with a little soy while the grill heated up. The salad was a simple mix of two types of cabbage, purple and white, finely sliced on the mandolin,  a grated carrot, two spring onions cut into rings, a red capsicum (bell pepper) and some ripped coriander leaves.

To follow with the an Asian theme I whipped up a dressing for the salad with a combination of soy, canola oil, a drop of sesame oil, a squeeze of fresh lime and a few teaspoons of a sesame nut spread that we normally use for toast. The salt of the soy sauce was balanced by the sweetness of the nut spread and the addition of lime created a freshness that matched the season!

A grind of fresh pepper on the chops, toss the salad and serve up. A thirty minute meal for busy people. Leftover slaw for my lunch. What could be finer?

A simple dinner, yet so satisfying.

Spring round up

Adelaide’s spring is a fickle affair, one day 16 degrees (62F) and blowing a gale, the next 30 (90F) and clear blue skies. But one thing is for sure. After the winter rain, the weeds make an appearance along with the first buds and fruits. Andrew has pulled out the worst of the weeds and now the garden is looking grand!

We have a brand new fig tree planted about a year ago and it is already showing good-sized fruit. The apricot tree is full of small apricots this year and if the birds don’t get too many, it could be a bumper crop.  The first tomatoes and basil have been planted and the herbs are looking lush after all that rain and cool weather. Adelaide summers are long, hot and dry so this is probably the greenest our garden will be for a little while now.

The change of weather causes a craving for lighter meals and a few  Friday nights ago we dined at the very old school Ding Hao on Gouger Street by the Central Market where we enjoyed some sang choy bow and beer!

My Italian Language Meetup group gets together each fortnight on a Sunday morning for ‘un caffè e una chiacchierata’ – coffee and a chat – in italian. Where there’s caffè, there’s usually biscotti!

I welcome spring and riding my bike home from work in daylight, dining al fresco, watching the garden grow, breakfast on the verandah before work, long weekend breakfasts, planning BBQs and recipes we can make with the bounty from our garden and enjoying a cold beverage at the end of a long day while the sun goes down.

Felice primavera a tutti! Happy spring everyone.

Winter greetings from Adelaide

Hello everyone. It’s winter here in Adelaide and I’ve been a very busy girl. My blog has been somewhat quiet but that’s just because I’ve been busy setting up a companion blog about my Italian passion, particularly the Abruzzo region. The new blog is called ‘With my heart in Abruzzo‘. It combines stories from visits to Abruzzo as well as memories, heritage and food topics related to the region. I will continue to publish posts on this blog as well. I’m going to have to be a bit more disciplined I can see! So stay tuned to both blogs if you like and drop me a comment if you want. Ciao for now. MLT

P.S. My new blog is featured on the Abruzzo Blogger Community along with other blogs that promote the Abruzzo and all it has to offer. So pop over and have a look at some of the wonderful posts!

 

Pearilicious

Autumn is my favourite time of year. Finally, out come the cozy corduroy trousers, knitted vests and scarves, and bike commutes that don’t make you all sweaty and give you helmet hair. But best of all are the autumn fruits and veggies. Apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, grapes, cauliflower, garlic, butternut squash and the rest.

To celebrate the season we poached some d’Anjou pears in a local Shiraz and served with a quenelle of mascarpone.

The results were scrumptious.

No recipe required!

Published via Pressgram

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. — Epicurus

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 368 other followers

%d bloggers like this: