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).


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