Friday, December 22, 2006

Georgie Goes Abroad ... Again!

Don't love Christmas? Join the club! My best mate and I decided to avoid the blasted business this year and jetted off this morning like a couple of naughty girls sneaking off for a fag behind the bike shed. Currently I'm in the international departure lounge chomping on bad sushi, which I don't mind at all cos ... We're going to Vietnam! She's been before, but the closest I've been to Vietnam is learning how to make rice paper rolls. But I don't do that particularly well, so I'm excited to taste the real delight.

Have a merry Christmas all. Thanks for the lively debate in 2006, looking forward to boring you senseless in 2007!

GW xx

p.s. The REAL hot gossip is ...

Santa WON'T be coming to:
  1. Francisco's - for being miserly with the seafood on their banquet
  2. Chris Jackman - for making me wait so damn long for Ruby Chard (Pleeeeeeassse Chris, I'm dying here!)
  3. Island Cafe and Criterion Cafe - For taking their reputations for granted and providing crap customer service
  4. Georgie Weston - For being a grumpy old bitch (but I'll be in Vietnam without a chimney, so bah humbug!)
Santa WILL be coming to:
  1. Marque IV - For maintaining high standards in the kitchen (if not the bedroom) all year
  2. Chris Jackman - For every fab minute of Choux Shop
  3. Three Windows in Oatlands - For making THE best coffee on the Midlands

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hot Gossip

Now that we've all finished fantasising about lapdancers (see previous comments), I thought I'd share a tantalising piece of gossip that recently filtered through the mire.

Ms Read (of Mercury fame) plus Ben (of fab coffee at Marque IV fame) are reported to be an item. We probably don't care. We probably don't care that Ms Read wrote a fabulous bit about Marque IV in the Merc on 18 Nov. We probably don't care that she quoted chef Paul Foreman waxing lyrical about the delish coffees produced by said Ben. We probably also don't care that apparently Ben is a part-owner of Marque IV.

Not that you care, cos none of us listen to gossip anyway.

GW ;-)

p.s. Got goss you want to share without getting busted? Email me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tinkering for Tinkering's Sake


Breakfast at Timeless Way ...

Cafe Latte:
  • Hot milk in glass Irish Coffee mug, dash of cinnamon on top
  • Coffee served in a separate steel jug
Pour coffee into your mug of milk - lose crema along the way

Poached eggs on toast:
  • Two eggs poached in egg rings served on a large white plate
  • Two slices of toast in a basket wrapped in a napkin
Place toast on plate, then carefully lift egg onto toast. This is only achievable if your eggs are poached to almost 'hard boiled' standard (which, of course, they were)
Need I say more?

GW.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Ugly Fish Unmasked

To all you Ay-mairy-cens, Happy Halloween. To myself I say, Happy Belated 2nd Birthday, HRB. It was a bit of an anti-climax.

It started with a hangover.

How unusual, you might say.

It is truly a sad statement of fact. Sen's was closed so I had no alternative. Sunday lunch at Fish 349. Why have I been so reluctant to try this place? Is it the polished concrete floors? Is it the colouring-in pencils? Is it the 'we cater to all tastes' menu? Or could it be the proclamation that "Take Out" is available?

So. Sen's was closed. No duck rolls for me. No wonton soup. Just a hangover and a second choice for lunch. We huffed in through the sliding glass doors and sat ourselves down. Thankfully there were no children screaming about the place. I was in the mood to stab someone with a fork.

My spirits lifted when I spied yummy-sounding stuff on the specials menu. Coconut prawns sounded good. But tempura oysters? Why, why, why? We ordered some oysters, au naturel of course. We had some garlic prawns on skewers and (to be perverse) some "tempura" scallops.

This is becoming a bit of a catch-cry of mine, but the tempura was "not a tempura's arse hole". The oysters were much less than fresh (trust me, I've been hoovering oysters into my face all month). The grilled prawns had that whiteness to them that whispers "I've been frozen for months", and they tasted a bit like garlic infused old bus tickets.

Having a hangover, one tends to scoff what is placed before one. With or without grace. So we scoffed and grumbled through full mouths. I muttered something about "see I told you so" and "could have had duck rolls" and "how dare Sen's be closed". We sat for a while, nattering. The plates sat and listened. They sat and listened so long that I detected a waft of foul prawn guts coming from the leftover tails. The Fish wasn't full; there weren't many people about at all. But still the plates sat.

Fish 349 is the kind of place where you stand at the counter to order and pay on the spot. As classless as I find this practice, at least it meant we could walk out without delay when the smell became overpowering.

Phew. What a stench. But you know what they say … ‘never eat an ugly fish’*.

GW the HRB
;-)

* Ellis RM, Jelinek GA. Never eat an ugly fish: three cases of tetrodotoxin poisoning from Western Australia. Emerg Med 1997; 9: 136-142

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Spice Up My Life


Sigiri used to do an authentic curry. A chicken curry consisted of a bowl of curry with a chicken drumstick sticking out. Similarly, a crab curry was a bowl of curry with a crab sticking out. I’m not kidding. Indie’s mother was in the kitchen doing all the cooking; Indie did front of house. The plastic table cloths mattered not a jot because the meals were cheap ($6 for a main) and damn good.

Sadly Sigiri went the way of all good things and invested in a bain marie. Standards dropped and Melbourne is now the worse for it.

So, when I read (admittedly a while ago) GP’s review of The Spice in Sandy Bay my curiosity was somewhat aroused. Allegedly, The Spice would prepare an Indian feast akin to what one might find in an Indian kitchen back home. All one had to do was ask.

Sadly, this wasn’t what we found. My sisters invited me out to The Spice recently in search of a Sigiri-style inspiration. We were very politely informed that the kitchen would prepare our dishes – from the menu – a bit hotter if we liked. That was it. Because, of course, all the dishes on the menu are ‘authentic’.

Well, bugger me.

The service at The Spice was very friendly and welcoming. We were quite happy with the dishes we ate (although they weren’t hot enough after all, but that’s just us being bogans). The ambience was a bit too bright though, dampening the mood.

GP’s review was stuck to the wall inside the front door. Mocking me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Taking It Sloe

Accidental discovery.

Leaning against the bar at T42 last night waiting for a friend, watching the night unfold. I spied a table of revellers. They all seemed to be drinking the same thing. It looked like Ribina on ice. Surely that can't be right.

I waited.

Sure enough one of the party approached the bar. A long explanation to the bartender followed her request for "More Icelandic vodka please."

Que?

Turns out this Icelandic vodka is called Ursus Roter. It is red. That's right, red vodka. From Iceland. Not only is it red vodka from Iceland, it's infused with sloe berries. Yes, the berries that aren't fast. And are famous for being a part of the Sloe Gin phenomenon.


Being the adventurous type I said to the barkeep "Barkeep ... I'll have what she's having."

Two shots of Ursus Roter, juice of half a lime and quarter of a lemon, over ice. No soda.

Ohmygodeffie, that's amazing!

The first sip bites your tongue, but from then on it's smooth sailing. It's tart, yet sweet, without being girlie (there were definitely blokes at the revelry table drinking it). The bottle has cavorting pandas on the label. After a couple of these babies I was ready to cavort with a panda or two myself.

My friend duly arrived. Noting my bright cheeks she asked if I'd just jogged to Teef in my stilettos. Nah, much better. I introduced her to the Icelandic bears. We were very happy.

GW.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stuff and Nonsense

Holy dooley, a month has flown by and where have I been? Nowhere good it might seem, but not exactly true!

Attended the Stephen Snow (Fins in Byron Bay) degustation at Barilla Bay. Food was awesome, but nothing less than would be expected of Mr Snow. Stand out dish (surprise, surprise) featured Barilla Bay oysters touched with a light puff of wasabi foam (tasting for all the world like sea water - beautiful). Seems that this is likely to be a semi-regular event so watch out for future offerings at Barilla Bay who, by the way, are now open for Friday night drinkies. Cool if you live out that way, expensive if you're relying on taxis to avoid the booze bus.

Following recent chatter about Choux Shop in Victoria Street I wandered by to see for myself. The menu on the wall did indeed declare that Choux was on a winter break until some date long past. Indeed, they would reopen under the name "Ruby Chard". I am led to believe (from a very unreliable source) that a personal tragedy is behind the closure [** this rumour since reported to be false**]. We all wish Chris and the staff well, and hope to see them in their new guise soon.

Marque IV's star chef is leaving the apple isle to work in the big apple with the loud-mouthed pommie bloke. To celebrate/commiserate his departure there is to be a $200 per head degustation at M-IV at the end of the month. Blast and damnation, I will be away that weekend! Will be very interested to note their progress following his departure, but I'm sure a strategy has been nutted out (fingers firmly crossed).

GW

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I've Got the Googles


Following a tip from Binjeing Ninja, I googled myself and found that Elizabeth Meryment, aka the Food Detective from the Weekend Australian (clearly lacking in the "detective" department), had quoted liberally from this blog in a discussion about Choux, but somehow managed to get the name of the site wrong. Hark, we have been rechristened the Hobart Dining Bitch.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20009601-32683,00.html

And here I was, thinking journalists always checked their facts. Silly me! But c'est la vie, nice to be noticed on the big island (even if only because she was trying to track down Choux).

But never fear, Ms Meryment (surely that's not your real name), according to word on the street, Choux is closed for renovations. Shame about the answering machine, I agree. This issue of unanswered phones does seem to be a recurrent problem at Choux. I wonder if they've thought of call diversion?

On the topic of googling oneself (admit it, we all do it), I also found Restaurant 373 had cut and pasted my review onto their website for promotional purposes. An unexpected outcome, but I can't grumble. I like to give praise where it's due. And then I like to rip out the eyes of unsuspecting waiters and eat their children.

Oh, whoops, maybe that's the Hobart Dining Bitch?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dinner with The Don

No, not THAT Don!

Recently talk of Italian got me hungry for pasta. Off we trotted to Don Camillo in Sandy Bay. I always liked their "Streets of San Francisco" styled decor. It's gone. Well, some of it's gone. They still have the red and white check table cloths, and the very chic retro 70s table lamps. But the room is a bit too white, and the black venetian blinds don't grab me. But the menu hasn't changed a jot.

Forgiving my Italian, the Scallopini al Funghi (veal with creamy mushies) was devine. Tender (mooooo) and juicy. The Fettucine Puttanesca (anchovies, olives and spicy tomato - scrum!) was great too. Oysters were ocean-salty and fresh. The slow-roasted goat was succulent, but a bit fatty.

Great gelato, but fabulous affogato. Mmm, coffee, frangelico, and home made vanilla ice cream! And might I add, the coffee was one of the best darn espressos I'd had in a while.

Good one. Shame the new decor feels a bit cold, but the food made up for it on the night.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Breakfast at Sweetheart's


... the coffee's hot, and the toast is brow-ow-own


I'm not going to talk about breakfast, but thinking about coffee got me humming some tasty Chisel. Pardon my inner shazza rising forth.

My day typically starts with a large plunger of strong black coffee. I tend to guzzle the lot and am surprised when visitors to my office look thirstily at said plunger expecting me to share. Later in the day I might have a latte followed by another plunger if I'm struggling to maintain consciousness. Well all right, that's an exaggeration. But I have become rather partial to my plunger, long and black.

Having given the supermarket brands the heave-ho I've fallen in lust with the java from Tas Coffee Roasters in Sandy Bay. The raven haired girl behind the coffee counter told me she mixes a bit of this and a bit of that to create her own personal blend. Perhaps it's time I started a bit of alchemy myself. Ah, the next step in my coffee edumacation.

Looking back over very early entries to this site sees me enjoying a Hudson's latte. My how a girl can change. I can't drink their coffee now. Maybe I've grown up. Regular readers will know my fave haunt recently has been Lansdowne Cafe (they use robusta beans, not arabica, much bettera). Took a luscious latte away from Criterion St the other day, but can't say much for Dukkah or Delicious in Elizabeth St. Of course I still heart T42.

But all you uni students ... how do you survive on that coffee from Lazenbys? It is atrocious.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Guts on the Loose in Melbourne

Aaah Melbourne. Don't you just love it?

We lunched at Verge (http://www.vergerestaurant.com.au/) on the corner of Flinders Lane and Spring St. Just a hop-skip-jump across the road to Treasury Gardens. From the outside Verge looks little more than a bar-slash-cafe, but inside the warehouse-style environs is an airy loft-like upstairs dining room. The food is modern-European with a distinct Japanese influence. Stand-out dishes were the Zensai Moriawase (Japanese horses' doovers) and the Scallop Gyoza. Stylish, gorgeous. Just adored the wee baby-baby broad beans and the teensiest baby shitakes I've ever seen. Staff were excellent, although shaved eyebrows aren't the prettiest, boys.

Bellies full, we staggered around the city killing time. Aaah, Melbourne.

Dinner? What dinner? We hit the bars at 4:00pm and didn't look back. Starting at Syracuse ("Please", I said, "do you really want that Gunns-owned Tamar Ridge on your wine list? And how about some Jansz please??" - Ooops, is that the lawyer at the door again!). A bit stuffy (am I surprised after that outburst!), so we moved on to something a little more my style: The Love Lounge at Tony Starr's Kitten Club (http://www.kittenclub.com.au/splash.php) in Little Collins St. The Kitten Club, up a steep staircase, is famed for slinky martinis and if you find a nook in the Love Lounge (all pink velvet and dim lighting) you could wind up with pash rash before the night's out. Naturally I was very well behaved.

Next stop: Double Happiness in Liverpool St, Chinatown. This is the home of espresso martinis, Maoist propaganda posters, and little padlocked cubby holes for you to store your very own bottle of whiskey for next time. I don't have a bottle of whiskey but mmmm ... Espresso martiniiiiiiiiiis.

Next day we started all over again at Bokchoy Tang in Federation Square (http://www.bokchoytang.com.au/). The decor here is stunning. Cuisine is Northern Chinese with a modern edge. Being mere mortals (read: lazy/guts), we ordered the Banquet Menu II. Soon I was so stuffed I almost couldn't finish my share of the lobster. If I hadn't been gas-bagging when I should have been studying the sincerely comprehensive menu, in hindsight I would have ordered individual dishes - the dim sum or one of the prawn dishes. Needless to say, we came, we saw, we disgraced ourselves.
A tip for newcomers: Although you might think the toilets here are broken, the flush button is a mysterious dot on the chrome panel behind you. Very modern, very tricky.

We waddled back to our digs in St Kilda for a Nanna-nap. Stuffed and chockers are two words coming to mind. Star Wars are two more. We were slated for dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant, but couldn't face it. Stayed in with delish Thai take away and a DVD. I'm not match-fit, it's true.

Next day we did St Kilda, starting with a lazy breakfast and newspapers at Mash in Fitzroy St(http://www.mashrestaurant.com.au/). Great Eggs Benedict and damn good coffee. Lunch was at Purple Sands, a little yum cha joint in Acland St. Cheap and tasty. For dinner we trotted round the corner for tapas at Pelican in Fitzroy St. This place is fairly casual, but a bit of a 'scene', if that makes sense. The food is good and it's a favourite with the locals, I'm told.

I love Melbourne (does it show). Not so sure my arteries would agree. But as if to say "don't even think about it", the view from the aircraft as we flew over Tassie was crystal clear and stunning. A long trailing plume of bushfire smoke. Polished-glass lake-tops. Sun sinking behind Mt Wellington as we came in to land.

Aaah, Hobart. Such simple pleasures.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Have We All Finished Yet?

Right. That was fun. I've finished sitting in the corner with my arms crossed, holding my breath till I went blue. Thanks for all the great and most entertaining comments. Welcome Hobart Restaurant Veteran and Garrulous Gourmet, thank you Stephen, Zelda, and Christina, and Lord love all you anonymice!

Recent experiments with a low-carb high protein diet have left me vicious. Suddenly I want to take up smoking again and drink smooth neat whiskies. I've been gorging mega rib-eye steaks from the Hill St Butcher ... mmmm mouth is watering as we speak. But damn that protein's a killer. So today I let slithery oily salmon and prawn linguine slide down my throat at the Cornelian Bay Boathouse. Tasty, but way too oily. Coffee was average. Service was bloody excellent.

Speaking of coffee, what has happened to Dukkah? With the move to new premises we seem to have succumbed to the cafe-as-franchise model. I don't know what a "Red Star Concept" is, but they are now fully emblazoned with it. Coffee was good, but not as good as I remember.

On a musical note: Beertallica at The Trout on Saturday night was hilarious. My bladder barely withstood the mirth of be-locked boys thrashing their hair to and fro, arms around one another in a medieval embrace. Bless.

Sad news: One of the chefs at Lebrina is giving up on the chefing world. Recently overheard to say something along the lines of: Chefing in Hobart, what's the point?

Another one bites the dust, and my heart breaks.

GW the HRB (and lovin' it)
;-)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bad Hair Day



We're all human, we have bad hair days, bad moods, lazy can't-be-bothered days. But when a much-loved restaurant has a bad night, it can be truly miserable. Such was my experience at the Choux Shop recently.

Usually Choux is a shining example of how everything can go right in restaurant-land.

Sadly on this occasion the usual gold-star service let them down. It began with a phone that wasn't answered and was followed by terribly slow drinks orders, a gin and tonic served with mostly melted ice, and waitresses who had lost their normal sparkling manner.

I love Choux, but the staff were clearly having a bad night. Perhaps something had gone wrong, as sometimes happens. Perhaps someone hadn't shown up for their shift. Perhaps someone was ill. Perhaps there'd been a blazing row in the kitchen. Or perhaps something terribly tragic that is none of our business had affected everyone's mood. Most likely we'll never know.

Choux. A great restaurant - but human after all.

GW.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mothers Day


Happy Mothers Day to those that have 'em.

GW xx

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Restaurant 373 - North Hobart


Not to be confused with Fish xyz ... Restaurant 373 is a newbie in North Hobart in the old Lickerish spot next to the State Cinema.

That's right. Black Pepper has gone.

Restaurant 373 opened last week and we managed to stumble in spontaneously (see, this is how being a last-minute-larry can work in your favour). Menu was enticing and not too pricey (pork bellies, scallop risotto, kangaroo, and so on). Mains were under $30. Wine list was well put together and reasonably priced. Decor: Dark and moody with splashes of deep red. Service was personal and attentive, if a little too on the "everything ok?" side of things - but they've just opened and are naturally keen to see that all is as it should be.

Best of all ... we were surprised by their very generous take on the 'amuse-bouche' so popular in New York (yeah, as if I'd know). We sat, we drank, we ordered entree and mains. Out came a little plate with skinny bread sticks and olives. How pleasant. We drank some more. Then came some little bread rolls with some white bean dip. Nice. Then came an outstanding consomme of roast tomato with a disc of minted jelly (best stirred through we were advised). THEN came our entree and then our main (nicely timed, good portions). We drank some more and contemplated dessert (I really do promise it's unusual for me to have dessert!). Anyway, to my surprise, out came a little shot glass of a delicious little white frangelico thingy that wasn't a pannacotta and wasn't a mousse, but somewhere in between. THEN came our desserts.

Oh my lord, when they say soft-centred chocolate pudding, they really mean SOFT-CENTRED DEATH BY CHOCOLATE!

Anyway, putting my tongue back in my head for a minute, Restaurant 373 is very keen to provide a wonderful dining experience in the North Hobart strip. Picking up where Lickerish left off, they are having a damn good stab at it. It's early days, but all indicators are that they are on the right track.

Hurrah!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Astor La Vista, Baby

Oh Dear.

I like to think we're spontaneous. What we are is a couple of last-minute larries. None of our favourites had a table free. So through a process of elimination, we ended up at The Astor.

We arrived five minutes early. The table wasn't ready, so we were asked to wait in the (cold) corridor. We waited for 15 minutes. If I'm asking a business client to wait, I'll at least offer them a tea or coffee to while away the time. Were we offered a drink? Another couple, who arrived after us, also waited. The "maitre d' "(she says through gritted teeth) invited the other couple to come to their table (hang on, we were first). Then he looked at us:

"You might as well come in too, your table's ready."

Right. Off to a flying start.

The Astor has such a lovely ambience, especially in the main dining room. There are two, but the main dining room has the bar and the flash and sizzle of the kitchen. Quite lovely. And embarrassingly let down by the menu. Uninspiring, dull, boring, see-Dick's-appetite-fly-out-the-window.

I had rather foolishly talked myself into being excited about an 80s style fug-fest, having fantasies about lobster thermidor and the like. No lobster on the menu. Never mind, what were the specials? No specials, except the fish of the day: Trevalla done two ways. Trevalla was already on the menu as a regular dish. Crikey. Desperation set in. For entree I ordered tempura prawns and bloke ordered salt and pepper squid. The 'battered' (not a tempura's arse-hole!) prawns were reminiscent of dagwood dogs. At least the squid was not overcooked (perfectly done, actually) ... but what the hell was that McCormick shake n bake bloody salt and pepper? To be frank, based on these two dishes, there was no evidence that this chef had ever set foot in an authentic Chinese or Japanese restaurant in his life.

Thank God we played it safe with the mains: Steak. Perfectly cooked, tender and juicy. Phew. And the panna cotta dessert was nice. But I can get a decent steak at the Cascade Hotel. And I don’t usually order dessert.

The Astor is a beautiful old restaurant crying out for someone to come and take the reins and return it to the quality of its glory days. The awards on the walls (circa 1986, 1988, etc) tell of a time when this was a grand dining establishment. Now it is just Hogsbreath Cafe in a fancy frock. Prices are low enough to attract the Hogsbreath crowd, who behaved throughout the night in a Hogsbreath manner: loud, mobiles going off, shouting by the end of the evening. Even the alleged maitre d' was dressed as if he was ready for a shift at the all-night Waratah Hotel bottle shop after the restaurant closed.

Apart from the d├ęcor, which on a cold wintery night always looks so warm and inviting, there is nothing to recommend The Astor in its current guise. I won’t be back.

Sad really.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Looking for Mr Goodbar/Restaurant


Having often considered myself something of a Dianne Keaton post Annie Hall
but pre First Wives Club, I find myself strangely attracted to sitting alone at a bar waiting. Don't do it often. Did it on Friday night.

I'd been stood up, which is a rarity, let's face it. So I took myself out for a night on the town.

Not much happens in Hobart for a young woman out and about on her own at 2:00am, let me tell you. So I found myself at Syrup dancing to "Blame it on the Boogie" (complete with disco spins), having my hips, back, thighs vaguely touched by drunken men vaguely dancing. I was sober enough (honest I was, officer), so found the experience immensely entertaining. Eye opening. Eye polishing even.

Smiling, I asked one guy to not touch me so much. He got sheepish and said "sorry, I'm a bit pissed". Another bloke tried to impress with lambada moves which didn't. After a couple of hours the music got sad and the DJ got sour when I asked him to play something funky. So I went home.

Nearly a week has passed and now I find I need to drag myself out into the cold night air again for a special occasion. Ricky Mullet and I went through the phone book wondering where we'll go. The list:

Marque IV – will go back when the menu changes (know it by heart now)
Choux Shop – number of visits would be considered stalking by some
Sirens - yeah, but no, but yeah, but
T42 - prefer brunch
Henry Jones - Mmmm, nah
Prossers - Only if I'm stoned
Mures - Only if I'm paid
Revolving Restaurant - Now there's a cubist angle

Will let you know where we end up. Maybe I'll wind up back at Syrup with my own special lambada action.

Nighty night for now campers,
GW xx

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Welcome to Spud Country


How awesome is this autumn weather (Cyclone Larry not withstanding)? Just back from the North-West, where the weather is a frad warmer and ...

I sat on the deck of, where else The Deck in Devonport. What a funny little place (with a lovely big view). The Deck is trying very hard to be a fine dining establishment, and good on them. The menu is a bit confused, ranging from Slow Roasted Goat to Sushi. The wine list tries hard to impress with more wines in the three figures than is really necessary. But, the service is very friendly, and the food is pretty good. Oysters were fresh, and those served with Champagne Jelly were lovely.

On the topic of oysters ... can we please get over our insecurity and just let Oysters Kilpatrick go? Please.

In a fit of excitement (how often do I get offered goat?), I ordered the Slow Roasted billy-goat gruff. Flavours weren't bad, but possibly not roasted quite slowly enough. Goat can be utterly fab when it falls apart in the mouth. Sri Lankan and South Indian curry chefs do this best. This dish was passable, but a disappointment.

Overall, The Deck is good for the food fans of Devonport. But the table of Grannies nearby spent the entire evening looking perplexed. I think I can see why.

On my way home from the upper reaches of the state I was spoilt for time and like the three little pigs rolled into one I cried "wee wee wee" as I stopped at foodie attractions all the way home. Not in order of appearance ...

Anvers Chocolates impressed with their pralines (especially the white ones), but honestly, I can't stand their "truffles" - not a truffles arse really - and their "fudge" - tasted better plastic. Coffee was a real disappointment.

Ashgrove Farm Cheeses - what a gorgeous bloke the cheese maker is. Made me laugh, didn't make me feel like a little glutton (even though I am) when my taste buds stopped working cos I'd tried too many cheese varieties. Walked away with some cloth-matured cheddar (the prize-winner) and some cloth-matured rubicon red (I love the taste of soil in this cheese - trust me, it's delightful).

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm represents my excellent powers of restraint. Did I buy ice cream? No. Raspberry Sauce? No. I bought two 500g punnets of raspberries ($8 each) - and saved them til I got all the back to Hobart. Good on me. They're all gone now of course.

And best of all? I stopped off at the Big Spud (it's not that big) in Sassafrass. Sassafrass is that spot on the North-West route where the soil is rich chocolate. The grass seems greener and the sky bluer. It was late in the day and the sun seemed to fall in a golden haze. Like Jake and Elwood Blues, I felt that I was on a mission from God to buy spuds. So I did. I bought fresh corn on the cob, two varieties of freshly dug spuds still dusted with that gorgeous Sassafrass soil (bismarks and dutch creams), and fresh marties.

What a road trip!
GW ;-)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Spring Vale Wines


While meandering aimlessly through the countryside t’other day, I stumbled across the Spring Vale winery near Cranbrook. Imagine my delight. (Some of you may recall my excitement when I first met their desert wine at Taste.)

The cellar door at Spring Vale is a lovely rustic old stable with bits of rusty farm-type stuff and half-barrels and the like. According to their web site (http://www.springvalewines.com/), it was built by convict labour in 1842, but thankfully the folk at Spring Vale have resisted the urge to capitalise on this too much (cos that would be tacky).

At first I stood there alone wondering how to attract someone’s attention when out of nowhere a studdly and spunky bloke came riding out of the vines on the back of a noisy stead (a quad bike), glistening grapes in hand. I told him I was there for the desert wine, but asked for a taste of the pinot clean skin, which was a bargain at $10 a bottle on special. I chatted to the bloke for a while, flirting not too much, while munching undaintily on red and green grapes. I would have stayed longer and tasted more, but nature was calling and I didn’t want to disgrace myself.

I walked away with the intended desert wine, some of the clean skin shiraz (which has since been guzzled with much delight), and some of Spring Vale’s very delicious olive oil.

Spring Vale is a lovely little winery, just south of my beloved Craigie Knowe (which, sadly, was closed that particular day).

GW.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Cascade of Steak

Popped into the Cascade Hotel the other night for the first time ever. Ordered what I thought was the smaller of the steak options. Bloody enormous, tender and juicy, and only slightly overdone for a medium rare (which isn’t bad for a pub). The poker-faced lady behind the bar (who I actually suspect is a warm and jolly delight away from the hordes of uni student punters ordering dinner) patiently walked me through the ordering process. This involves going behind the bar into the bottle shop to select a bottle of wine to enjoy with your dinner.

Anyway, it’s been ages since I’ve had a decent pub steak, and this was definitely a decent pub steak. I think I’ll keep all those shopper dockets from now on after all.

GW xx

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Choux Shopping


I'm trying really hard to think of something I don't like about the Choux Shop.

Ummm ...

Still thinking ...

Nuh, it's gone.

Dipped my toe in gently, initially, and went for lunch. Grilled sardines on toast never tasted so good! Well they were the proper sort of sardine, grilled flat. And they sat proudly on crostini ... not toast at all, silly me ... with a splodge of pesto and a splash of salad. Yum. And perfectly portioned for lunch. Coffee was tops.

After obsessing all week about the dishes I didn't order at lunch, splashed out and went back for dinner. Sadly, the restaurant was quiet ... a little too quiet. But not the ambience. The place felt warm and intimate. And the food? Rich, dark pigeon livers. Thinly sliced grilled duck breast and sweet duck leg wantons. Oyster terrine - challenging to look at, but sparkling to the tongue. The wine list was very entertaining, we chose a French Bordeaux (around $66), which was delightful. The cheese plate was perfect. And it all came in at around $200 (on par with Marque IV).

And who can argue with a restaurant respectful enough of its diners to provide individual hand towels in the bathroom?

Big fat French Provincial thumbs up from me. I anticipate I'll be stalking the place from now on.
GW.

p.s. Jack, ceci est votre magasin, n'est-ce pas ?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bait. White. Bait.


Pure dumb luck.

I love tiny weeny fish being plucked from the ocean, choked in flour, and then fried to excruciating death in a vat of hot oil. Who would have thought I'd have the opportunity to experience this delicacy twice in one week.

Pure luck.

'Devilled' whitebait is what they call it at the Beach House Cafe in Lower Sandy Bay. I remember that much. Unfortunately I was too pissed to now recall how they labelled the dish (other than just 'whitebait') at Mezethes in Salamanca Quarry. Needless to say, both dishes entailed a roughly similar preparation to the torture outlined above. Both were around the $12 mark.

I love whitebait. To do this at home (without contravening the Geneva Convention) take some whitebait (teeny weeny white fish, about as long as my little finger and just as thin); flounce the fish about in a bowl of flour (usually seasoned with salt and pepper, and whatever else you'd like); fry in very hot oil. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. Munch and moan to your heart's content.

I first discovered this dish when I was an underage drunk at a Greek take away in Lonsdale St, Melbourne. My friend Corrina and I thought we were ordering hot chips from the bain-marie. Boy, did we get a surprise. I spent the next six months trying to find the exact same Greek take away on Lonsdale St (the phrase 'needle in a haystack' comes to mind), pathetically asking all: Do you sell those fish-chip-things?

So, I love whitebait. Clearly. And when it comes down to a two-up contest between Mezethes (Greek) and Beach House Cafe ("new Australian"), I'm surprised to say that Beach House Cafe won hands down! Not soggy, not oily, just gorgeous.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tamar River Odyssey


In the wake of America's recent Martin Luther King holiday, I'd just like to say (forgive me Dr King) "I have a dream". My dream isn't as auspicious or as philanthropic as Dr King's dream (not that I don't share that dream too) ... my dream is one of a Tamar Valley odyssey.

In the humblest of ways, I discovered the Rosevears district the other day. Took a long drive and ended up in Launceston visiting my Gran. Gran's a top chick, and she suggested a "picnic by the river". So we packed cheese, crackers, pate, grapes, and hand-picked peas-in-the-pod from her garden. We drove along the west Tamar for 20-odd clicks out of Launceston. The time passed very quickly (we tend to natter, my Gran and I). Taking the turn off the highway at the Rosevears sign, just as the Tamar re-emerges into view, I found myself in a lolly shop for grown ups. On the right, magical unending river views with the rolling hills of the east Tamar beyond. On my left ... oooh, on my left was heaven.

Strathlynn, St Matthius, Rosevears, Ninth Island. The vineyards snuggle against the side of the road, and the road hugs the river. It's beautiful!

But Gran's not silly, there was no vineyard-hopping for me that day. We settled at a solitary picnic table under a lonely Norfolk Pine on the edge of a bend in the river. Gran said that years ago vandals had stripped the tree of all its branches, leaving just a sad old trunk. The branches were slowing returning, and they were glorious.

We had only a couple of hours to enjoy the sun and the blue sky and each others company (and of course, the picnic). Road signs sat insolently behind my back, whispering "Geoooorrrgieeeeeee ... come driiiiiiiiiiiink with uuuuuuuuusssss".

But I didn't.

I was so excited, and so astounded that I'd never been there before. Now I can't wait to go back. But I'll do it properly. None of this spur of the moment stuff. I'll book a cottage so I can stagger from cellar door to cellar door to bed.

Some call the Tamar Valley the "Valley of the Senses". I prefer to think of it as the "Valley of the Sensualists". One could end up on an express train to hell, or a slow boat to heaven (I'll leave that up to you to figure out).

But who'd have thought heaven could be so close by?

Yours with bated breath,
GW ;-)

p.s. Yes I know there is a boat called the Tamar Odyssey.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Farewell Meyjitte


Zelda was right.

According to Graham Phillips in today's Sunday Tas, Meyjitte Boughenout has left our shores for the Gold Coast. For good, it seems.

If I was to live only one more day, my last meal on earth would be that prepared by Meyjitte last year at Franklin Manor in Strahan (see review May 2005). But Franklin Manor has been sold and Q1 has opened its flagship restaurant, Absynthe, with Monsieur Boughenout at the helm.

More than a chef, in my mind Meyjitte had become something akin to a super-human god. I clung to the promise that he could run Absynthe in Surfers Paradise's sky-high heaven, while simultaneously running a magical restaurant in Hobart. A restaurant that would command waiting lists several months long.

But alas, as many have suspected, I am deluded.

Sigh. Heart is breaking. A great loss.

Farewell Meyjitte, and thank you,
Georgie. xx

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Marque IV Revisited

Marque IV for my birthday dinner was such a treat. We'd tried to go back several times since my last visit (see July 2005 review), but each time they were fully booked. We went the whole hog - appetiser, entree, main (the stomach didn't quite stretch to dessert though, I'm afraid).

It was a lovely night, and our waiter was attentive and helpful. He recommended the Domaine Laroche chardonnay ($40) to accompany our meal. I'm not a real fan of chardonnay, but having decided to place my trust in his recommendation was pleasantly surprised. The French chardonnay was not as dry and dusty as an Aussie chard. It was very pleasant indeed, and a great match to our dishes.

As appetisers we'd ordered the Bothwell Goats Cheese and Lime Raviolo (big fat pillow stuffed with goats cheese, with a lovely beetroot marmalade on the side) and the Seared Spring Bay Abalone (divine). Our entrees were the Seared Spring Bay Scallops with smoked salmon and a delicious beurre blanc and the West Coast Crayfish Panna Cotta. Both were fabulous, the scallops were little clouds of moan-worthy heaven, while the crayfish was as delicate as a panna cotta should be, with a smooth ocean flavour.

In short - appetisers and entree were exquisite.

Mains were a bit heavy-handed for a balmy summer's evening. I'd had the Three Degrees of Macquarie Harbour Ocean Trout on my last visit. Not wanting to order the same dish again, I realised how winter-oriented the rest of the mains menu is. In the end we settled on Pork Saltimbocca (nice, but a bit of a confused dish) and the Spatchcock Poached in a Chinese Master Stock. The latter was difficult to eat: Spatchcock and noodles floating in a soy-heavy broth. Trying to eat this with a knife and fork was clumsy, and dangerous given my lovely white cocktail dress was making its debut.

I'd love to see a summer mains menu from Marque IV, or at least a specials menu (if there is one in existence, we weren't offered it on the night). Monsieur Foreman's handling of his appetisers and entrees is divine, but the mains left me slightly disappointed. A refreshed mains menu with more of a seafood focus, akin to the appetisers/entrees, would be a sight to behold.

I know the restaurant is young and the work involved in designing a seasonal menu of the complexity of Marque IV's style is a mammoth task. But a girl can dream, can't she?

Four kisses,
GW.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hip Hip Hooray!

Now that we've all vented about Taste, it's time to move on.

I would like to say a great big fat well done to my picks of the wine guzzling season. Firstly, as mentioned before, Lalla Gully is the business. Congratulations on their successful first outing at Taste (in cahoots with stable mates Clover Hill). I have raved about the Lalla Gully sauvignon blanc before (see Saltwater River Cafe review), but this year it is their pinot gris that has got me all a-flutter. Love it, love you, love your style. Secondly, I would also like to thank Spring Vale for dazzling me with their utterly delicious desert wine. I am besotted (or is that besozzled?). Can't mention wine without saying how much I (still) adore the Craigie Knowe cabernet sauvignon. In my humble opinion the only "heavier style" Tasmanian red worth bothering with.

Aside from that ... It's my birthday! I'm feeling like a princess, it's a beautiful day, and I'm being whisked off to a surprise venue for dinner tonight. Ah the joys of advancing years.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

NYE 05/06 - Saddest Forty Bucks Ever Spent

I am sad, sad I am.

I have never spent New Years at the waterfront before; have never spent New Years at Taste before.

And you know I love Taste.

Last year I grizzled about New Year’s at Prosser’s. This year we paid our forty bucks per person for our table at Taste, hoping for something special. In the daytime, to me, Taste is a little slice of heaven. You take yourself down, you find a seat or two, you hunt for food and wine, and you while the hours away.

It was raining, but we were in the right spirit. We arrived at Taste in a party mood. Until we found our $40-ish seats. We had booked outdoor seats. Foolishly we assumed the organisers had followed the same weather reports that I had been reading all week. Sun umbrellas covered tables along the waterfront side of the outdoor “apron”. Nothing protected tables along the wall-side. Guess where our table was.

Empty wet tables and chairs outside, ridiculous over-crowding inside. This was my only bad Taste experience ever, and along with many others I’d paid an entry fee for the privilege. How hard is it to hang up a few Bunnings shade cloths to protect local, interstate, and foreign visitors to Tasmania’s pride of the season? Inside we huddled like frightened little sheep inside that vast great shed, smelling like wet blankets.

Thanks Hobart Summer Festival organisers. Our guests were left bemused about where they hell they’d ended up on New Year’s Eve. I was left fuming at having been let down and embarrassed.

Class act. Good on ya. Learnt my lesson, won’t bother with Taste on New Year’s ever again.

GW