Tasmania – Bruny island, Sweet Envy and foraging at the Agrarian Kitchen

In December last year I went to Tasmania for my birthday. It was a very special trip that I have taken far too long to post about, probably (…make that definitely) because of my trip to Italy in March/April 2015. I am now back in Australia and with a very busy work schedule (and next to no cooking for the 6-weeks I was away). Before I tell you about the Tasmanian trip, a quick plug for the Lakehouse Regional Producers Day on 26 April 2015 in Daylesford. It will be a day full of music, tastings and “Shop, cook and eat the market” rolling cooking demonstrations where I will be cooking as will delicious. food editor Valli Little, chef Nicky Reimer; TV presenter Alice “in frames” Zaslavsky and food writer Dani Valent. If you live in the area, please come along, share some food at the glorious Lakehouse, buy seasonal local produce from the growers and say hello (I will be on from 11.45am to 12.15pm). It will be a fantastic day – I am super excited about it!

Now all about the Tasmanian trip – our accommodation was a rather wonderful Air BnB apartment in central Hobart called the Barn, which was originally built in the 1820s. The owners are architects and have renovated this tiny 2-level house with taste using several different natural materials and bespoke cabinetry to make a comfortable stylish space. I was half tempted to stay at the Barn for the whole time we were there: reading, cooking in the tiny well-equipped kitchen and taking photos of the gorgeous interior.

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The purpose of the visit to Tasmania was two-fold: to visit the Agrarian Kitchen again (I had booked a class as soon as I got back from the 2-day salumi making/charcuterie class I had participated in last August) and to visit Bruny Island, having heard so much about it through the Gourmet Farmer’s TV shows on SBS. Also because it was my birthday and I wanted to enjoy it quietly and without too much fuss – so Tasmania seemed the ideal place. We arrived on the actual day of my birthday and went for dinner at Franklin, a new restaurant that I heard about from my niece Claire (“Melbourne Gastronome“) via her article on Tasmanian food in the Guardian. What a place and what a meal!  There is a view of the open kitchen from all tables and the food was amazing – highlights were the periwinkles and aioli, the roasted and thinly sliced abalone and the grilled octopus, paprika and fennel. I took some photos for my instagram feed (a great way to remember what you ate on a specific date) but all were a bit on the dark side so are not in this post. The wine list leaned towards Italian and being my birthday, we had quite a bit of it…

The next day started off with (sweet ) breakfast at Sweet Envy in North Hobart. This cake shop is worth a visit even if you do not eat cake. It is a visual delight with Barbie-doll cakes in the window and gorgeous cupcakes with names like “pavlova”, “red velvet” and “bacon maple”. As the blackboard says “I pity the fool that does not eat delicious cake”.

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We then caught the ferry to glorious Bruny Island. In spite of the weather being cold, grey and wet, it did not detract from the glory of Bruny Island one bit! It is such an unspoilt place – sparsely populated, filled with birds (and sheep) and with lovely views of the L’Entrecasteaux Channel on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

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We visited the Bruny Island Cheese Company on the north island and had lunch at the winery on the south island. Bruny Island is such a special and rare place. I can imagine artists and artisans living there in peaceful solitude.

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The following day, Mark dropped me off at the Agrarian Kitchen whilst he spent the day at MONA (which I had been to in August). I adore visiting this place! After discussing the day’s menu, we spent a couple of hours in the garden, milking a goat, visiting the pigs and the chickens and collecting our ingredients for the class: various herbs, peas, broad beans, asparagus, elderflowers, alpine strawberries, artichokes, eggs, goat’s milk and so much more. Raspberry season was starting so I picked a couple of ripe ones to eat as I foraged, savouring their sweetness (photo above – before I picked them!). The garden is an absolute joy to walk around and Rodney Dunn, chef and owner, describes the garden beds and their contents and story in great detail, giving us tips on growing whatever we are picking. After cooking the meal under Rodney’s direction, we sat down and enjoyed the fruits of our labour over a glass or two of wine. It included a twice cooked soufflé and lamb baked in hay as well as an old-fashioned trifle made with sponge cake, custard, rhubarb and alpine strawberries. It was such a memorable day.

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I love visiting Tasmania. Every time I arrive home, I just want to go back again. If you are thinking of visiting Tassie, a food place to start looking for what to do is the Discover Tasmania website . I hope there will be an opportunity to visit it again later this year!

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7 comments on “Tasmania – Bruny island, Sweet Envy and foraging at the Agrarian Kitchen

  1. I’m certain I could live in this environment on Bruny Island….artisans living in peaceful solitude. The MONA farm is such a picturesque little farm. How did your goat milking experience go? Brought back memories…!

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  2. Hi Paola , I am hoping to get to Tassie this year for the first time and your post has me newly inspired to get there , how would I go about booking for your cooking demo at the Lake House ?

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