When I was in my early twenties I used to visit my friends who were at uni in Hobart and the resounding feeling that I had coming away from each of those catch ups was, why would you ever want to live in such a place. While there were always aesthetic qualities to the Tasmanian capital, it was primarily the lack of culture and events that really gave me that slightly depressed feeling, or as I probably would have put it back then ‘there’s just nothin’ to do’.
With Tasman Sea Salt now established at Mayfield –halfway up the east coast of Tassie (about an hour and half from Hobart), we find ourselves having to head to the big smoke (well, by Tassie standards at least) about once a fortnight. And far from those gloomy feelings that I once experienced, I now really look forward to our trips there and enjoy the many things that Hobart has to offer - and entwined through all of these things and events that are occurring is a really good (and still growing) food scene.
We came across the best example of this last weekend at the Dark Mofo festival – even the name is great. In what is traditionally a cold, dark and rather depressing time of the year in Hobart, it may still have been cold and dark but the Dark Mofo event has brought a real life and vibrancy to the city and has drawn out Hobartians (not sure if that’s the right word but lets run with it anyway) as well as the tourists from their warm fires and heated hotels to get out there and have some fun and celebrate a brilliant culmination of art and food.
Walking through the Winter Feast (a gathering of a lot of Tasmania’s best food and wine/cider/beer producers) it was actually a bloody frustrating job working out what to have as the range of absolutely incredible produce on display was overwhelming. It may surprise many, but even with the staggering amount of delicious produce coming out of Tasmania (and I challenge anyone to find a place that has such a vast array of top quality stuff coming from such a small area), for a long time there we didn’t actually do a very good job (read terrible job) of serving, presenting or even just telling people about the great food and booze from our little state. Well last weekend was all the evidence that you need that that has now completely changed. I stayed as long as my cold hands could stand and I ate as much as my ever growing stomach could take, and the only depressing thing that I felt when I left was that I hadn’t been able to try a lot of stuff I really wanted to.
And it’s not just the annual events such as Dark Mofo or the Taste of Tasmania that are showcasing Tassie’s great produce. There is a great food scene that has developed in Hobart with really cool restaurants, cafes and providores popping up all over the city. And when I mean cool it doesn’t always have to be hipster cool (although there are a few of those places - check out Franklins or the Pigeon Hole Cafe), it can be traditionally cool (take the drive to the Signal Station Brasserie on Mt Nelson) or even gourmet cool (both the Providore and the restaurant at Ethos are simply about great local produce cooked really well).
I realise this sounds like I’m going slightly over the top with it all but I promise you that if you’re like we are and you plan your holiday or even just your working day around what you’re having for lunch and dinner (and if you are on holiday lets face it, breakfast should get some planning as well), if you happen to find yourself in Hobart, rather than scratching your head and wondering where to eat (as I used to do), the question is now – where to start.