Mountainous terrain, thick bush and a pounding ocean: Tasmania’s beauty is undeniably raw and wild. But over generations the island’s farmers and growers have tamed the landscape and harnessed the elements to produce high-quality ingredients. It’s this blend of rugged and refined that makes the state a utopia for food-lovers.
Let your stomach be your guide as you drive through the scenic North-West; its rich soil, pure air and clean water inspiring dedicated growers to produce truly authentic food experiences.
The Cradle Coast region is a fantastic place to learn about and try fresh produce. You can find it at farmers’ markets and in local eateries, from pubs to high-end restaurants. You can even stop and buy from roadside stalls with good old-fashioned honesty boxes.
But one of the most exciting things a true foodie can experience is going straight to the source – seeing how the ingredients are grown, talking to the producers, watching delicacies being harvested or made by hand and sampling them straight from the maker. Here are some suggestions for a gastronomic adventure across the North-West Coast.
Time for a truffle hunt
Where better than to start than with one of the most exclusive and expensive ingredients you can find. Head to Cradle Country Farm at Lower Barrington, the only truffière to offer you a genuine hunt and harvest where you can join Jennifer Hunter, the owner and truffle farmer herself, to experience the excitement of a truffle hunt. Jennifer will introduce you to the most experienced handlers and her amazing truffle hunting dogs, Toby and Chicken, who will guide you to discover and locate the elusive, expensive and extraordinarily delicious black Perigord truffle.
“Unearthing your first truffle is an experience to remember,” Jennifer said.
“There is an anticipation, an excitement and a distinct scent in the crisp, wintry air. It is like waking up to your very first Christmas. At the end of your hunt, you will hold, smell and taste the most prized ingredient of the culinary world – the black Perigord truffle.”
The 2018 Truffle Hunting season runs from June to August, with sessions available every Saturday, but they sell fast, so bookings are essential. The hunt begins at 11am and lasts for about an hour, including walking for about 1km on gently sloping terrain.
Afterwards you can warm up by the roaring fire in the new Truffledore and enjoy a special ploughman’s cheese and truffle toastie – a generous slice of rustic, home baked ciabatta covered with Ashgrove’s finest cheddar, a light spread of truffle creme, all topped off with lashings of your freshly harvested truffle, drizzled with a little Truffledore Truffle oil and grilled to perfection.
Or for a serious indulgence you can celebrate the success of your truffle hunt and harvest with a long-table truffle lunch. A delicious truffle-inspired lunch with your fellow truffle hunters carefully prepared by Jennifer and the Truffledore chef.
You can also learn to cook with truffle, take year-round farm tours if you aren’t lucky enough to visit during the hunting season (with tastings and products available for purchase) then stay on site in one of the comfortable self-contained cottages.
Check out the website, truffledore.com.au or call Jennifer on 0456 621 089.
This little piggie …
For another fantastic farm experience head to Mount Gnomon Farm, which rests against the Dial Range – a tract of wilderness that stretches from Penguin to Cradle Mountain.
Guy Robertson welcomes you to the farm to taste the ethically raised meat in the dining room, to wander through the paddocks on a guided secret life of pigs tour, and to learn from a farmer how good, honest food is produced.
Starting out as a hobby farm in 2009, the 35 hectares of beautiful red soil has grown to become a pretty serious free-range pig farm, then the cows and sheep arrived, and now there’s a restaurant, butchery and cider bar sitting in the front paddock overlooking 1000 apple trees.
The farm’s produce is on the menu of some of Tassie’s and Australia’s best restaurants and they visit farmers markets across the state selling pork, beef, lamb and hand-crafted smallgoods. If you go to a food, art, or music festival you’ll likely see Mt Gnomon’s flavoursome, meaty dishes.
While the farm dining room closes for the winter there are often events hosted there during that time, so keep an eye out on the Facebook page or visit them at Dark Mofo Winter Feast in Hobart. Throughout the year the farm also hosts live music events with fun activities for kids of all ages including piglet patting, gumboot throwing and straw-bale cubby house contests.
If you’re interested in a longer stay of at least a month, the farm offers a huge range of experiences for volunteers who can live on site, learn about running the farm and explore the region on their days off.
Visit mountgnomonfarm.com.au, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0448 067 779.
A fish farm with a difference
For a unique experience take the 45-minute drive from Launceston or Devonport to the salmon farm, ginseng nursery and wetlands at 41° South Tasmania near Deloraine.
A family-owned and run business focused on ecologically sustainable aquaculture, the farm grows salmon in natural conditions, without chemicals or antibiotics, using environmentally sustainable practices. Take a self-guided walking tour of the farm where you will see how the fish are raised and the water re-circulated through the natural bio-filter system.
There are 20 fresh-water ponds which at any one time house around 10,000 Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon in various stages of growth – the smallest are 10cm in length and the salmon are generally harvested at about 45cm. All salmon grown in Tasmania are born in fresh water in a hatchery and then usually farmed in the ocean. However, the salmon at 41° South live in fresh water throughout their life.
41° South is also a pioneer of commercial ginseng farming in Tasmania. You can visit the shop for lunch or just to sample 41° South hot-smoked salmon products and explore the range of organic ginseng products, honey, spices, chocolate, nougat and essence. Open seven days a week at 323 Montana Rd, Deloraine. Visit 41southtasmania.com, email email@example.com or call (03) 6362 4130.
Sample sweet treats
What better way to finish off a foodie adventure than with dessert? There are plenty of options along the way, or why not indulge yourself and combine them all!
For the berry lovers there are plenty of options, even if they aren’t freshly in season. If you’re coming from the east, start with Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Café at Elizabeth Town. A 30-minute drive from Devonport the cafe offers breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, a quick takeaway or the famous chocolate coated raspberries. In winter, sit by the fire overlooking the beautiful lakeside setting. The Farm Shop offers free tastings, fresh raspberries during the season and frozen raspberries in winter along with jams, sauces and lots of other products made from raspberries. Open seven days at 9 Christmas Hills Road, Elizabeth Town. Visit raspberryfarmcafe.com or call (03) 6362 2186.
What goes better with berries than ice cream? Make sure you pop across the road to Van Diemens Land Creamery for its artisan ice cream and gelato. All 40-plus flavours are handmade at the Christmas Hills factory using fresh, natural produce where possible and minimal processing. Free ice cream tastings at the cafe are always welcomed and if you’re lucky you might even see it being made through the production room window. Open seven days at 10 Christmas Hills Rd, Elizabeth Town. Visit vdlcreamery.com.au or call (03) 6362 4200
Your next stop is The Cherry Shed at Latrobe, a 10-minute drive from Devonport. Open all year round offering a cafe menu with a hint of cherry, real fruit ice creams, cherry-based jams and sauces, coffee, and house-made cakes. The cherries are grown in Tasmania with most grown in the fertile, volcanic soils and temperate climate of the North-West. Many products sold at The Cherry Shed are produced from their own fruit and are processed on site, including cherry ice-cream, port, liqueur, jam, pickle, chutney, relish, sauces and much more. They also offer free sampling of their delicious cherry products. Open seven days at 243 Gilbert Street, Latrobe. Visit thecherryshed.com.au or call (03) 6426 2411.
Another perfect accompaniment for berries is chocolate, and you can’t go past the House of Anvers Chocolate Factory, just a short drive down the road in Latrobe. The ultimate chocoholic’s experience, you can explore the chocolate museum, watch the confectionery experts at work – if you time it right, and pick up some delicious products to take home. Hand-made chocolate truffles, chocolate oranges, fudge and pralines, using fresh Tasmanian cream and butter, single-origin chocolate, fruits, nuts and liqueurs. Igor Van Gerwen, owner and head chocolatier, acquired his know-how from his birthplace of Belgium. Indulge in a Belgian-style breakfast, hearty Tasmanian lunches as well as morning and afternoon teas, hot chocolate and chocolate desserts by the open fireplace in the cafe, located in the 1930s Wyndarra Lodge, set in 2.5 hectares of mature tree gardens. Open seven days at 9025 Bass Highway, Latrobe. Visit anvers-chocolate.com.au or call (03) 6426 2958.
Your final sweet stop in this itinerary is Turners Beach Berry Patch, a family-run pick-your-own berry farm, shop and licensed cafe. The cafe specialises in real fruit ice creams, wood-fired pizza and quality Tasmanian ingredients. Pick your own berries from the patch between October and May or purchase pre-picked berries and homemade jam from the farm shop. There’s fun for the kids and they often host special events and concerts throughout the year. Open seven days at Blackburn Drive, Turners Beach. Visit theberrypatch.com.au or call (03) 6428 3967.
For a more comprehensive list of local makers and growers make sure to check out cradletocoasttastingtrail.com.au