The Taste of Tasmania, Round 2 – Hobart, Tasmania

On this day 12 months ago, these Two Clowns emerged battered, bloody, bruised and just a little psychologically traumatised by the epic event that is the Taste of Tasmania. Thank goodness the food was great!

Being gluttons for punishment, and generally just gluttons all round, we couldn’t resist the lure of The Taste in 2013. Up to 70 food and drink stalls cooking up all manner of Tasmanian delicacies, green grass on which to perch your ample derrière, looking out over the gorgeous Sullivan’s Cove with the buzz of the Salamanca markets to your right and Mt Wellington at your back, sun beating down and no wind to speak of (in Hobart of all places!), and well needed time off work…where else would you rather be?!

It was time to strap on the boxing gloves, assume the ‘crowd plough’ position, and enter the breach for Round 2!!

Oh…you haven’t tried the ‘crowd plough’…?

Prior to any attempt at traversing the length of Princes Wharf at Taste time, you must:

  1. Lock your eyes on a point on the ground no more than 3m ahead;
  2. Keep your head down and at no time are you to make eye contact with anyone in front of you (this renders the crowd plough ineffective);
  3. Extend arms and/or elbows horizontally to their fullest and lock in position;
  4. Repeat the following mantra:

I am woman/man, feed me more,
In crowds too big too ignore,
and I’ve been down there on the floor,
No one’s ever gonna block my path again,

Oh yes, I am wise,
But it’s wisdom born of pain,
Yes, I’ve paid the price,
But look how much I gained.

If I have to, I can do anything.
I am strong,
I am invincible,
<shouted> I am woman/man!!

5. Proceed with pace, commitment and endeavour.

Note: a pram is an effective and more than adequate substitute for elbows, with many observed in operation on the day.

Welcome the The Taste!

If you’d like a more detailed description of the various personality types you’ll encounter in your day at The Taste, feel free to drop by my blog entry from 2012, here.

From this point onwards I’ll be focusing on the food 🙂

Our day started with the obligatory lap of honour of the Princes Wharf shed, map in hand, getting a feel for the layout and noting particular dishes for future consumption.

Something we agreed on for this year’s event is that we were only going to try dishes that would not otherwise be easily available in Hobart at any other time but at The Taste.

So first up it was a couple of ‘stuffed’ scallops and a box of chilli mussels from Waji Catering.

Waji’s scallops and mussels, with a couple of glasses of Campania Hills Sauvignon Blanc

Unfortunately the scallops were cold by the time we had grabbed a couple of glasses of wine and found a bench at which to consume our meal. Even with some heat though I can still imagine they they would be a little stodgy.

On the other hand the mussels were fantastic. Not overly salty, good spicy heat in the broth, with the capsicum being an interesting, and very effective companion to the mussels.

The real winner though was the wine! Despite living just down the road from them, it’s the first time I’ve come across the Campania Hills winery. A little bit of research shows that their first vintage was only in 2005, so they’re still relatively new to the scene, yet recent wine show results suggest that they are already making an impact! We tried the Sauvignon Blanc and it was the perfect accompaniment to the seafood. Thoroughly recommended for consumption this summer!

Next up was Ethiopian. There were two stalls to choose from, so we went with Blue Nile, as there was a relatively empty grassy knoll on which to sit, just out front.

Blue Nile Ethiopian

The specialty here was a dish called a beef ‘key wet’. A traditional Ethiopian dish comprising stewed beef in a rich and mildly spicy stew, served with a piece of flat, pancake-like bread called injera.

Ethiopian beef key wet, with injera

Some really good, wholesome flavours going on with this dish. I suspect it is normally more spicy than what we were served, perhaps to cater to Western palates. A necessary, yet unfortunate, adjustment for an event like the Taste I guess. The bread was also good, acting as the perfect sauce/beef sponge!

From here we wandered across to some of the other outdoor stalls (less crowds and more room to sit, despite what it looks like in the photo below, made this an attractive option!).

Sirocco South

Confit possum anyone?!!

Confit possum with water crackers

Sirocco South were on a massive winner with this dish. Bruny island possum, slow cooked with duck fat, garlic, Tasmanian pepperberries and garlic. So moreish, I could have eaten this by the bucket!!

Confit possum, on a hairy leg of clown

Just next door was the bright, vibrant, and very enticing stall run by Pacha Mama.

Pacha Mama

After thoroughly enjoying our possum, how could we resist eating another piece of Tasmanian wildlife? It was the slow cooked wallaby with bush pepper cheese, baja sauce, lettuce, chilli beans and salsa burrito for both of us!!

Toasted wallaby burrito from Pacha Mama (sans cigarette butt)

The most filling of the dishes we tried on the day, but so worth it! A seamless combination of flavours, with the wallaby working brilliantly with the two hot sauces that were also on offer.

By this stage our savoury compartments were just about full, meaning it was time for dessert!

After another lap of the shed I couldn’t go past the Elgaar Farm brie, raspberry and Belgian chocolate toastie.

Busy creating my dessert toastie!

Brie, raspberry and Belgian chocolate toastie

Bugger me this was good! I wasn’t sure how the brie would match with the chocolate, but in the end there was nothing to worry about. The brie was quite mild, acting as a smooth creamy base that accentuated the contrasting rich chocolate and tart berries just brilliantly. To top it off we also receive a tiny container full of cherries and raspberries to cleanse the palate. The perfect dessert!

While we were there, I noticed that they also offered an incredible Elgaar raclette plate. We had moved on from the savoury dishes, but if we’d had room left we definitely would have given this a try!

A plate of gherkins, boiled potatoes and pickled onions, with toasted raclette cheese shaved straight off the wheel to be drizzled over the dish!

Elgaar raclette plate (pre-cheese)

Raclette cheese under the grill (pre-shave)

Karen’s choice for dessert was a salted caramel ice cream cookie from Strawberry Avenue.

Salted caramel ice cream cookie from Strawberry Avenue

How good does that cookie look?!

It was melting fast, but it was eaten even faster! Awesome dessert and a great way to finish the day!

In conclusion?

It was a fantastic day out, and one the whole family can enjoy, with so many options on offer that even the most fussy eater should leave satisfied!

One of my criticisms from last year was the predominance of the big players in the Tasmanian food scene. This time around it seemed that there was more variety, and that there were a lot more smaller companies represented. This is what The Taste is all about for us, shunning the Mures’ and the Fish Frenzy’s of the world, and making room for the obscure, the unique and the mouth-wateringly delicious!

Now where’s my gym pass…