A Little Bit of Hobart – Part 1.

Despite having attended several Falls Festivals in Tasmania, I’d never actually spent more than a few hours in Hobart until this year.  After working at a music festival, the two things you desperately want and need are a long hot shower and a comfortable bed, so when we were booking our flights, Glenn, Isaac and I decided to spend a few extra days in Hobart, “recuperating” in a nice hotel.

Note: This post is rather long and image-heavy.  Sorry!

IMG_4119IMG_3924IMG_3925Clockwise from top left: Hotel Collins; The Royal Tennis Court; The Hobart City Council Building – isn’t it pretty?

Leaving our accommodation booking a little late, we ended up staying somewhere that was a bit more than just nice.  Although it was over our desired budget, Hotel Collins provided us with everything we could have wanted: an apartment room with a nice bathroom and a mini kitchen.  If I had one criticism, it would be that the air conditioner is in the lounge area, and doesn’t circulate into the main bedroom very well – but it was unnaturally hot for Hobart when we were there, and the problem was solved by sleeping with the door open.  Other than that, the hotel was perfect; very clean, with friendly and helpful staff.

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IMG_3869IMG_3870Clockwise from top left: New Sydney Hotel; Isaac and me pulling stupid faces [I’m not quite sure why]; My dinner – fish & chips with brown vinegar and mushy peas [it was divine!]; A shared garlic pizza entrée.

Our first night in town, we were all craving a good pub meal.  One of the ladies in reception gave us a few tips on where to go, and we chose the New Sydney Hotel.  A homely Irish pub, they had great food, and all sorts of drinks on tap [I had a really delicious cider, but the ginger beer wasn’t quite right].

The next morning, we headed out to the Cascade Brewery.  We were lucky to have a friendly and informative taxi driver for the trip there.  He told us all about Hobart’s taxi system – apparently there are too many cabs in the city, which is great for passengers, but not so good for drivers.

 

The Cascade Brewery.

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A few tips for people visiting the Cascade Brewery:

  1. Book in advance – the website doesn’t mention this, but it’s a good idea to call up to confirm your place on one of the tours.  We just showed up, assuming that there would be plenty of tours, and were lucky to be squeezed in due to a cancellation.  It wouldn’t have been good if we’d missed out.
  2. Make sure you’re wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes.  These are both safety requirements for the brewery tour.  As it was a sunny 38 degrees on the day we were there, none of us had long pants on – but luckily they have a selection of pants and shoes that can be borrowed when necessary.

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IMG_3886IMG_3898Clockwise from top: I really wish I could give you a better idea of the process that takes place in there, but whenever I try to talk about beer with people I get all the terminology wrong and sound like a bit of an idiot; Inside the brewery; Beer kegs on some sort of trailer.

The tour itself is very informative.  We were told all about the history of the place, and how the clean water makes for the best-tasting beer around [or so they say].  The entire beer-making process was explained in great detail, and we also learnt about some of the other products that Cascade make, like ginger beer, fruit syrups , soft drink, and sparkling apple juice.

The $25 ticket price entitles you to taste three different Cascade beverages back at the Visitors Centre, so we ordered a little bit of food to go with our drinks.  I tried the Cascade Pure lager – which was quite nice, as well as the Mercury Sweet Cider [nothing special really], and the Sparkling Apple & Raspberry Juice – which was absolutely delicious.

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IMG_3901IMG_3900Clockwise from top: Just some of the beers available for tasting [although you have to pay to try First Harvest, because it’s a limited run] – check out the stuffed Tasmanian tiger on the shelf at the back; Damper made from Cascade Stout; A glass of Cascade Pure.

The gardens around the Visitors Centre are really pretty, although that may have been magnified by the bright and clear day that we experienced.  They also run historical tours, which I intend to check out next time I’m in Tassie.  I don’t really know much about the history of Hobart, but I imagine that it’d be quite interesting [I do know, however, that Napoléon Bonaparte and his wife Joséphine were both very interested in Tasmania, so that’s got to be worth something…].

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IMG_3918IMG_3876Clockwise from top left: The Visitors Centre; Glenn taking a picture of the brewery; Isaac and me walking through the gardens; Everything was so pretty and green.
The Taste Festival.

IMG_3949Trout sausage.  It was rather tasty.

After Cascade, we headed down to the Hobart Waterfront to grab a late lunch at the last day of the Taste Festival.  There were so many stalls, all selling food and drink made locally from Tasmanian ingredients.  It was at this point that we realised that our holiday was turning into a bit of a foodie retreat – dividing our time between food festivals and breweries – and we were more than okay with that.

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IMG_3938IMG_3946Clockwise from top left: Glenn’s Ethiopian chicken lunch; Gillespies alcoholic ginger beer; Glenn tasting some very strong Tasmanian mead; Gillespies ‘Extra Zing’ non-alcoholic ginger beer.

At the 2011/2012 Falls Festival, they had Gillespies alcoholic ginger beer on tap at the Field Stage.  At the time, it was the best alcoholic ginger beer that Glenn or I had ever tasted.  We were rather disappointed to see that they hadn’t come back for the 2012/2013 Falls Festival, so you can imagine our delight when we spotted their stall at Taste.  We picked up a pack of their alcoholic brew [which we later confirmed to still be the best alcoholic ginger beer around – it’s such a pity that you can’t get it on the mainland!], and I also tried their ‘Extra Zing’ non-alcoholic ginger beer.  It has double the ginger, which gives it quite a bit of bite.  I love ginger, so I thought it tasted beautiful – and so refreshing on a hot summer day – but if you prefer your ginger beer to be sweet, then I wouldn’t recommend it.

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A slightly outdated sign.

After taking a walk around town, we returned to the Taste Festival for dinner.  I decided to have cheese, which was served in a pizza box, with an accompanying sheet to explain each cheese.  I grabbed a cup of cider from the nearest stall, which happened to be Tasmanian Inn Cider, and by complete fluke it was the perfect drink to accompany my cheese.  Unlike most of the ciders there, this was more of a traditional French brut cider, and drinking it with cheese brought back fond memories of France and all of the cheese and cider that I consumed there.

Most of the cheeses on the platter were goat’s cheese, except for one made from sheep’s milk, and the camembert [which used traditional cow’s milk].  My favourite was the ‘capricious’, a tough cheese with a soft middle and a smoky bite, but all of the cheeses were pretty good.

For dessert, I had a cone of Valhalla raspberry sorbet [which I didn’t photograph, because it was too hot to leave it for just a second, and it was so delicious that I needed to inhale it as quickly as I could].  Valhalla is a locally-made Tassie brand, which I’ve just discovered they sell at my local independent supermarket.  It seems not all the nice food is unique to Tasmania after all.

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A cheese platter served in a pizza box.  This is how all the cool kids have their cheese.

Coming up in part two: MONA, the Cadbury Factory and the Salamanca Markets.

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