Tantalising Tassie

Liliana Engelhardt | VOLUME 32, ISSUE 2

A cruise along Tasmania’s east coast will invariably lead up the Derwent River to Hobart, where a plethora of great food awaits.

Hobart pulses with a mix of urban vigour and earthy practicality and is fringed by rugged countryside overflowing with amazing produce and wilderness experiences. The city’s harbour district on the Derwent River buzzes with visiting and local boaties, tourists stepping off cruise ships and foodies eager to sample Tassie’s bounty.

We chose Hobart’s harbour district, with its many locales a stroll from the boat, for this edition’s Culinary Cruise – the abundance of fare on offer made it hard to decide where to begin, though, and the fish and chip vendors at Franklin Wharf were so distracting …

However, two relatively new restaurants soon caught our eye – Peacock and Jones (in the old IXL jam factory’s atmospheric sandstone building) and Frank Restaurant and Bar (in the Marine Board Building … its bulky façade is quickly forgotten once you step inside). Each influenced by very different cuisines, these restaurants serve inspired dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.

Meanwhile, at the harbour district’s southern end, Salamanca Place is a hub of activity well into the night, with revellers enjoying the 1830s sandstone warehouses with their boutique shops, eateries and bars, and lovely alfresco areas. If you’re there on a Saturday morning, visit Salamanca Market, a vibrant gathering of 300 stallholders with fresh Tassie produce, artisanal products and beautiful artwork.

We also stopped at Honey Badger Dessert Café for a quick coffee … but then, who goes to a dessert café and orders just coffee?

Then we walked off the sweet evidence with a tour of Battery Point, one of Hobart’s oldest suburbs dripping with historic charm. Take Kelly’s Steps (cut from the stone cliff face in 1839) to admire the 19th-century cottages and grand colonial mansions up the hill.

We stayed at …

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay close to Hobart’s harbour precinct with all the comforts of 4.5 stars, try Salamanca Inn. This spacious city hotel puts its guests next door to all the attractions of Salamanca Place, and is just a stroll across Parliament House Gardens to Hobart’s harbour district or inner city, and down the hill from Battery Point.

We left the car in the hotel’s secure undercover parking for the duration of our stay and explored Hobart’s many culinary (and other) attractions by foot. The central location also came in handy when quickly dropping off bags of Tassie produce and heading straight back out to find more, and for a quick afternoon dip in the indoor rooftop pool/spa before pre-dinner drinks at the in-house bar.

Salamanca Inn has 60 recently renovated suites – all with fully equipped kitchens and contemporary furnishings – along with conference rooms in case you want to combine business with your stay, and the in-house Beef & Seafood Grill restaurant where you can watch your steak being grilled to succulent perfection.

10 Gladstone Street, Hobart

(03) 6223 3300

SalamancaInn.com.au

We also explored …

While taking in the sights around Constitution Dock, we bumped into Bill Lark on his way to Lark Distillery Whisky Bar & Cellar Door and joined him for a yarn at the bar. A word of caution before you follow suit: the shop is fully stocked with Lark’s top-shelf range of whiskies, spirits, and Forty Spotted gin, while the bar serves a selection of 150 superb malt whiskies, a fleet of aromatic gin cocktails, and various Tassie beers, ciders and wines. Resistance is useless …

The Lark crew also conducts two-hour and all-day tours of Lark Distillery, in the Coal River Valley, departing from the Whisky Bar in their ‘drambulance’.

14 Davey Street, Hobart

(03) 6231 9088

LarkDistillery.com

FortySpotted.com

Where to eat …

Honey badgers have a ferocious appetite, which we recommend you bring along when you visit Honey Badger Dessert Café, because you’ll want to eat and slurp your way through the whole menu. The world needs more dessert cafés, and this one makes Hobart’s Salamanca Square a whole lot friendlier and sweeter.

We tried the infamous panookies (black, blonde and white, pictured) – essentially a large cookie baked in a cast-iron mini-pan that’s topped with marshmallow, ice cream and other delicious things. We didn’t think it could get any better … until the Berry Bang Bang was served (thick French toast covered in fruits, ice-cream and maple syrup), accompanied by a chocolate milk shake and a matcha latte. Judge it yourself – here’s the recipe …

7 Salamanca Square

(03) 6109 4943

Facebook: Honey Badger Dessert Cafe

French toast ‘Berry Bang Bang’

Serves two

2 slices brioche, 3cm-thick (HB uses Jackman & McRoss Bakery’s brioche)

3 eggs

30ml milk

Butter, to fry the French toast

2 bananas

Caster sugar

Cinnamon

Seasonal fruit, such as berries, kiwifruit and oranges

Ice-cream (HB uses Tasmanian Valhalla vanilla bean)

Whipped cream

Maple syrup

Berry coulis (recipe follows)

French toast: mix eggs and milk together (it will be quite thick). Working one slice at a time, soak the brioche in the egg mixture for about five seconds on each side.

Melt some butter on a hot plate or in a pan, and fry the French toast until golden brown.

Caramelised banana: cut banana in half, with the skin still on. Mix the caster sugar with some cinnamon to taste, and sprinkle over the cut side of the bananas. Using a chef’s blowtorch, heat the cinnamon sugar evenly and quickly until nicely golden brown and caramelised. Peel before putting on the French toast.

Serve with as much fresh fruit, ice-cream, cream, berry coulis and maple syrup as you like.

Berry coulis

100g frozen blackberries

100g frozen blueberries

100g frozen raspberries

100g caster sugar

1⁄8 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla essence

Put frozen berries, sugar and vanilla paste/ essence in a pan and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until thickened. Pour hot or cold over the ice-cream.

It’s evident that the team at Frank Restaurant and Bar is passionate about serving fantastic food in an exciting space … once you get past the building’s façade, that is (it’s in the uninspiring Marine Board Building). Prepare to dine and drink in a funky, colourful, but surprisingly calming ambience with quirky details that keep diners entertained in the small gaps between food arriving.

There are two zones – one just for dining, and the other combining dining with the bar and several long sociable tables, including a full-width wooden one fronting the waterfront windows and another inside a cage.

The menu showcases Argentina’s passion for the flavours that fire and smoke impart, made with local Tassie produce in share-size portions, and drinks from ‘local friends and trusted specialists around the globe’. The charcoal grill features meats from lesser cuts, as often eaten in Argentina, which also supports local producers by using meat not as easily sold at the farm gate.

We ordered the southern calamari on squid-ink rice with a Moorilla 2016 MOFO Riesling (on tap!), and the charred Tassie salmon with a Stoney Rise 2016 ‘No Clothes’ pinot noir … both flavoursome, well-balanced dishes with succulent seafood prepared so simply, but oh-so-wonderfully.

1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart

(03) 6231 5005

FrankRestaurant.com.au

Southern calamari

With ajillo and squid ink rice

Serves 4

400gm calamari, scored and sliced into pieces

1 tblsp garlic, finely chopped

2 tsps red chilli, finely chopped

100ml white wine

40g butter, cubed

2 tblsps coriander, chopped

20ml olive oil

Salt, to taste

280g jasmine rice, cooked

160ml chicken stock

20ml calamari ink

100g mizuna leaves

40g spring onions, thinly sliced

20ml Nikkei dressing (recipe follows)

Nikkei dressing

20g chipotle

40g honey

20ml soy sauce

150ml lemon juice

10ml Chinkiang vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a pan until smoking hot. Place the calamari in pan and sauté until golden. Season, add the garlic and chilli and continue to sauté on a lower heat to avoid burning. Once garlic and chilli has begun to colour, add the white wine and reduce by a third. Add butter and mix until it has melted and formed a sauce thick enough to coat the calamari. Lastly, add the chopped coriander and adjust seasoning if needed.

Heat the cooked rice with chicken stock and calamari ink over a medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. When ready, the rice will have absorbed all stock and ink and become a thicker consistency.

Combine all Nikkei dressing ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Combine mizuna and spring onions with 20ml Nikkei dressing and season to taste.

Charred Tasmanian salmon

With Meyer lemon, pickled witlof and radish, fennel, charred greens

Serves 4

4 x 150g salmon portions

1 bunch broccolini

2 fennel bulbs, shaved

1 small white onion, finely sliced

5 Meyer lemons, juiced

40g sugar

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp rocoto-chilli paste

½ bunch dill, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

100ml white wine

100ml white-wine vinegar

100g sugar

100ml water

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced

1 Meyer lemon, zest only

1 large witlof, quartered

4 radishes, thinly sliced

Separate the belly from the side (loin) of salmon. Portion the salmon pieces and season. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Combine Meyer lemon juice, sugar, paprika, rocoto paste, dill and salt. Add finely sliced (or shaved) fennel and white onion.

Smoke salmon lightly in smoker – not to cook, just to flavour softly.

Arrange salmon portions and belly on a tray and cover with the fennel and lemon mix. Leave for 60 to 90 minutes – this allows the lemon juice to begin cooking the salmon while flavouring it. Keep the marinade and fennel for the dressing.

Pickled witlof and radish: combine white wine, white-wine vinegar, sugar and water in a pot. Heat until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and add chilli and lemon zest. Cool to room temperature. In separate containers, add witlof and sliced radish to the pickling liquid.

Char-grill the broccolini and the salmon portions until medium rare, or to your liking. Slice salmon to size and arrange with fennel, witlof, radish and broccolini on plates. Dress with 40ml of dressing.

Dressing

150ml witlof pickle

25ml radish pickle

25ml fennel dressing

10ml olive oil

Combine dressing ingredients (it will keep well if refrigerated, so save the leftovers).

Peacock and Jones head chef Jeff Workman has a home-grown approach to feeding guests and doesn’t mind them watching over the counter of the open kitchen. He also says anyone who likes wine is a friend, and that a dish isn’t complete without a glass of something good … which is why the restaurant has an extensive cellar and staff are happy to pour a glass if you want just vino.

The menu is seasonal and supports local growers and producers, so guests go back again and again to find new and exciting items. Dishes are intentionally ‘simple’ in that there are few, carefully selected ingredients, but the level of finesse and flavour is sensational.

And then there’s the building – Peacock and Jones occupies part of the old IXL jam factory, which has been restored with great attention to detail and by preserving many original features. The restaurant has two zones – a dining room alongside the open kitchen, and an atrium space with bar, ceiling-mounted orb fireplace, leather armchairs and dining tables.

We chose an entrée and a dessert – a light-asair chicken liver parfait with warm, house-made brioche (Milton 2013 ‘Laura’ sparkling rosé), and refreshing buttermilk panna cotta with milk ice-cream. They’re both easier to prepare than one might think …

33 Hunter Street, Hobart

1800 375 692

PeacockAndJones.com.au

Chicken liver parfait

660gm chicken livers, cleaned and purged overnight in milk

5 eschallots, sliced

1 cup sherry

3 eggs

1 tblsp brandy

450g butter, melted and kept hot

14g salt

1g white pepper

1g saltpeter

Have hot water ready for a bain-marie and the oven pre-heated to 90°C.

Add eschallots and sherry to a pan and reduce until sticky.

Wash livers and blend with salt, pepper and saltpeter. With the blender running, add the reduction of sherry and the brandy. Slowly add the hot melted butter until fully incorporated, and then add one egg at a time.

Pass through a fine sieve into a terrine mould. Cover the terrine and put into a heatproof tray – pour hot water into the tray until it reaches halfway up the terrine. Cook in the oven for 28 minutes – there should be a slight wobble in the middle. Cool overnight. Serve with warm brioche, fresh radish and pickles.

Panna cotta

Milk ice-cream

225ml milk

100ml cream

62g caster sugar

13g milk powder

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Simmer milk and cream, add sugar and milk powder and dissolve. Whisk in vanilla for an even speckle. Cool over an ice bath, and then churn.

Buttermilk panna cotta

2 gelatine leaves, soaked in ice-cold water

600ml pouring cream

2 lemons, zested

1 vanilla bean

85g caster sugar

600ml buttermilk

Bring cream, zest and vanilla to a simmer. Take off the heat and add caster sugar. Squeeze out the gelatine and whisk into the cream, then add the buttermilk.

Strain and pour into moulds or a tray lined with cling film. Refrigerate until set.

Ours was garnished with freeze-dried raspberries, fresh lychees, strawberries compressed in elderflower syrup, and fresh elderflowers, but you can be as creative as you like using seasonal or even tinned fruits.


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