Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Island Olive Grove Tasmania

Tasmania possesses an abundance of exceptional produce, although embraced lovingly by locals, it is also awarded with international recognition and prestige. Island Olive Grove fall most gracefully into this league with a modest range of marinated and prepared olive products.  I remember when they first appeared at Salamanca Market in the mid 90's, even though I was a young tacker I possessed a taste for new and exotic flavours.  As the years have gone by, Island Olive Grove have expanded, now exporting their products yet maintaining quality that is intrinsic to Tasmanian gourmet produce. I have known people to try their classic olives and not thought much of them due to the intensity of flavour, as a result of using dried herbs and spices.  However, I have found the intensity of the olives in their herby brine delightful.  I particularly like their spicy black olives and plump kalamatas, a must for any robust antipasto platter. Olive Grove also offer marinated fetta cheese, which I personally don't enjoy, as I prefer the softer Danish varieties.  As well as this Olive Grove make an olive tapenade/pesto, flavoured either 'Classic', 'Chilli', 'Port' or 'Herb', and make the classic by-product of olives, our favourite virgin olive oil varieties.  Situated outside of Hobart on way to Richmond, Island Olive Grove is part of the Riversdale Estate winery which also offers accommodation. You can find their products in most delicatessens, as well as many gourmet outlets. If you are stuck and don't want to take a trip out to the winery you can order online off their website.

Here it is:

© Tasmaniasfeast 2013.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Sea Eagle Seafoods

This little business is situated at Eagle Hawk Neck on the majestic Tasman Peninsula. They are family run and dedicated to sustainable local fishing, by only taking what they need and releasing the by-catch. As with other proponents for sustainable fishing, such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from 'River Cottage', Sea Eagle Seafoods promote the use of local and unpopular varieties of fish rather than species that have been popularised by the market, costing the earth of it's precious deep sea resources. Species such as mullet, mackerel, couta and pilchards, often tossed aside for bait or pet food, are of high quality flavour and full of healthy fatty acids due to their oil content. All their products are free from nasty ingredients and use the freshest quality fish that they source themselves. I have tried many of their pates, including the flat-head one, which is absolutely delicious. I was skeptical at first, thinking that it was sacrilege to put flat-head into a pate, flat-head being my favourite fish having spent many summer afternoons with dad and friends fishing for it, cooking it right there and then in butter and letting it mellow in its natural flavours of the sea.

Alongside this, Sea Eagle Seafoods offer pickled and smoked products, such as Tasmanian octopus in a sweet marinade, exhibiting absolutely divine classic flavours that will accompany any platter of pickles and cheeses. I love their products and I am extremely supportive of their aims and goals. I was particularly pleased when they came out with their own rollmops, especially after a ban to import them to Tasmania due to the salmon industry meant that all us eastern European food lovers had to go without or rely on our friends to smuggle them into the state. Although not the same, they exhibit tasty qualities that promote the flow of knowledge and ideas into locally provided resources. Sea Eagle Seafoods' products can be found in many small delicatessens, fish markets and local grocers, such as Hill Street Store. If you are ever out Tasman way, you will find many of their products at the Murdunna store, alongside many other local products. Happy fishing.

Sea Eagle Mackerel Rollmops

Here is an article from 'The Mercury' explaining more about them and the challenges their industry faces:

© Tasmaniasfeast 2013.

Westend Pumphouse

I was apprehensive at first, having had a quiet coffee here in the morning with a 25 min wait, I was expecting service in the evening to be slow and disappointing.  However, I was put in my judgmental place when service was swift and professional.  Our waiter had energy and was professionally cool and collected during service, even though he possessed extensive knowledge of the food and produce on offer he failed to tell us at the beginning any changes to the menu, making it awkward when both first and second preferences were unavailable.  But such is life and lucky for us there were plenty more delicious options to fill the gap.

I was a little disappointed with the baba ganoush, always a hit and miss dish with the humble egg-plant, and the corn bread served with it was a little greasy, as it was more like a fried corn batter.  The crispy chicken with hot sauce was tasty and spicy, presented as a bar snack with the sauce in a little bottle, a perfect starter to stimulate the digestive system.  I ordered the sardines with rye and lemon, which I was slightly hesitant as I imagined a nightmare of tinned sardines on toast, but again put in my place with some lovely cured sardines that tasted like my childhood favorite roll-mops. Sadly importation to Tasmania is now banned as a consequence of the salmon industry.  Still Tasmanian producers are coming up with their solution by curing local fish. Anyway back to the 'Westend', served with the sardines, came some lovely rye bread and fresh lemon which cut through the oiliness of the fish, providing a classic salty, sour flavour atop the rustic, earthy notes of the rye.

For mains I had the wallaby fillet cooked medium-rare and served with chimichurri, my first time tasting the Argentinian sauce.  The pangrattatto, a fancy term for chunky bread crumbs, unfortunately resembled the dregs of a deep fryer, however, delicately scattered around the centerpiece were absolutely delicious! There was a mystery sauce, like a  savoury mousse, which took me a little while to pick the flavour as it was so delicate and subtle.  I am making a guess here that it was horseradish, absolutely delicious with the rareness of the game and the hints of preserved lemon in the chimichurri. The Pork chop was exceptionally grilled remaining succulent without drying and the fatty side crisp.  It was served with a fresh coleslaw salad lovingly made with all the classic ingredients, along with a pineapple pickle, a perfect accompaniment to the sweetness of the pork meat and the apple in the slaw.  Our meals were a perfect size, not too big, rich or too little, I was very satisfied with the presentation and assembly of aesthetics and flavours of the dishes.

The Pumphouse is also renowned for its exceptional coffee, and I must say it is very good, offering different roasts for different tastes and experiences.  Alongside this, they offer an extensive wine list, promoting Tasmanian wines (a must for any island state restaurant and bar), offering it by the litre if you wish, alongside an abundance of beer varieties and cocktails for something a bit extravagant.  The restaurant is set out with couched seating and tables for cafe and bar use towards the front, where you can relax and enjoy company, towards the back is a more formal dining area with set tables.  Our table unfortunately had a sticky residue, but we were not sure if this was a non-slip element to the finish of the table, as the waiter seemed to be skilled in lifting up the plates without them catching, and the table itself seemed clean, interesting as I have never seen this before.

The term 'westend' usually implies a classy, and expensive experience, taken from London's more ritzy and glamorous entertainment scene.  Although elements of the Westend Pumphouse inspire this, especially the food, without the expense, the building itself does not exhibit this, having exposed air-ducting, wires, walls cleverly made from recycled milk cartons and untreated timber beams.  Being converted from an old car garage, the Westend Pumphouse fits into a relaxed urban warehouse vibe, enhanced cleverly by opening the front right up in an attempt to capture the energy of the street.  Unfortunately Murray street is not buzzing with urban vibe, dominated by car traffic and views of chemist warehouse.  Whatever, Westend is conveniently located a stones throw from the CBD, with reasonable prices, and relaxed atmosphere I highly recommend trying Westend Pumphouse, for food and drinks.                                      

Here is their link:

The Westend Pumphouse on Urbanspoon

© Tasmaniasfeast 2013.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tynwald Estate

It's always good exploring your own backyard, and deciding to do so my partner and I went on a weekend adventure to Tynwald Estate located in the picturesque upper Derwent Valley.  Tynwald is a grand colonial building of the 1830s and has been impressively restored and maintained since then.  It offers B&B style accommodation with various rooms presenting in a mish-mash of colonial style decor and early 20th century antiques that will transport you back in time.  The 'Lachlan' room, in which we stayed, had its own en suite and was fitted out in a light green floral motif, invoking a sense of theatrical quality fit for an Agatha Christie 'Miss Marple'.  The establishment is run by a lovely couple who do all the work by themselves.  They are very friendly providing a warm welcome when you arrive and are more than happy to provide you with what you need.  An added bonus is that they are both qualified chefs, and provide excellent fare which is served in the intimate dining space in one of the front rooms.

The food combined contemporary and traditional flare with the flavours literally bursting in your mouth, exquisitely showing off what can be achieved with our local produce.  We started with a taster plate, comprising of smoked salmon rosettes and house made caraway lavosh and Cwikla, duck liver pate with fresh red currants, spicy harissa, sweet potato and chickpea salad, and pork rillettes served with slivers of polski orgorki.  For mains I had pork fillet, generously dressed in a rich creamy mushroom sauce, served with goats cheese souffle and fresh garden vegetables of green and butter beans, potato and dutch carrot.  My partner had a Chinese inspired cinnamon and orange marinated roast duck breast which was served on lightly steamed wong buk , bean sprouts and snow peas with a spicy plum sauce.  Both meals were outstanding, although I did find my sauce a little rich and the size of the meal quite large, but very enjoyable over all.  Due to the size of our meals we decided to opt out of dessert and go straight for coffee and petit fours.

The next day breakfast was served in the decoratively country style kitchen quarters with continental provisions of toast, home made preserves, yoghurt, and muesli with freshly grated apple.  There was also opportunity for a cooked breakfast for those seeking a getaway fry-up.  The coffee is excellent, strong and pungent and I was very impressed with the preserved fruits and jams.  If you are looking for something a bit different, are relaxed about character and impressed with originality I would recommend Tynwald, whether you stay for a night or just choose to dine, you will be pleasantly surprised and much appreciative of the efforts these two put into your experience.

Check out their site:

Tynwald Willow Bend Estate on Urbanspoon

© Tasmaniasfeast 2013.